The Hubbard County Community Partners Conservation Program will give community groups the resources necessary to build interest in, and awareness of, the water quality challenges facing their lakes and empower them to make positive improvements in the form of reduced stormwater runoff. Through the design of a collaborative effort, the Hubbard Soil and Water Conservation District and Local Water Plan Task Force will enable Hubbard County residents and lake home owners to work together to address the effects of development with stormwater runoff solutions.
The north-central Minnesota counties of Cass and Hubbard share large portions of the Crow Wing River, Leech and Upper Mississippi Watersheds, all of which play an important role in providing clean drinking water to over one million Minnesota residents. Each county assumes the responsibility of inspecting and evaluating the judicial and county ditch systems that drain directly into these watersheds. The two counties together share two judicial ditch systems and combined have an additional 42 ditches within their borders.
Northern white cedar wetland plant communities provide unique ecological, economic, and wetland functions, including high value timber, long-term carbon storage, winter refuge for deer and other wildlife, wildlife habitat, and thermal buffering for brook trout streams. However, these plant communities have been declining in Minnesota for decades mostly as a result of development impacts. The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources is using this appropriation to continue efforts aimed at improving the quantity and quality of white cedar wetland plant communities in Minnesota.
The 400-mile stretch of the Mississippi River from its headwaters at Lake Itasca to Morrison County near Little Falls is the focus of this project. Working in cooperation with the eight member counties, this project will develop implementation plans and strategies geared specifically for the Mississippi River and incorporate them into the individual County Comprehensive Local Water Plans. These recommendations will be for specific strategies, often crossing county boundaries for implementation.
This pilot program protected 1,210 acres of wild rice lake shoreland habitat in the Northern Forest Section by securing 14 permanent RIM conservation easements and four fee-title acquisitions, surpassing our goal of 700 acres, and doing so $250,202 under budget.
A new GIS technician will help prioritize and target conservation activities and protection strategies in nine north-central Minnesota counties. The GIS technician will create GIS products, assessments, and watershed analysis to identify the high priority areas in each County or watershed in need of protection or restoration using all available data, including LiDAR, soils, land use, completed WRAPS and other datasets. These areas will then be targeted for future resource management efforts, Clean Water Fund projects, and additional conservation activities.
This project will build off the success of the additional geographic information system (GIS) and water planning expertise the TSA8 added in 2016 to provide consistent mapping, water planning assistance and training to partners. This project will help soil and water conservation districts prepare for the 1W1P process before the planning starts. A unified protection methodology is essential for the 1W1P process to be successful. This project will include: unified GIS mapping and protection model for all nine counties respectively.
Twenty six easements protecting 1,173.3 were recorded which exceeded the original proposal by 173 acres (15%). 11.6 miles of shoreline were protected which exceeded the 8 acre goal by 30%. Total expenditure was $1,355,000 which was 17% lower than originally budgeted. No fee-title land acquisition opportunities on wild rice lakes that fit within DNR and other government agency land plans were available during this time period thus DU did not expend any of the $100,000 budgeted for fee-title acquisition. Instead the program focused on RIM easements.