This project is a model for future drainage projects across the state and represents a fundamental shift in the way rural drainage systems interact with the landscape. This is a community-based water quality and treatment demonstration project in which landowners, local government, and state agencies have developed a watershed approach to improving water quality and replacing outdated drainage systems. The project will improve water quality, improve wildlife habitat, and develop a process for future projects by constructing water quality features within the 6,000 acre watershed.
Grassland ecosystems evolved to depend on periodic disturbances, such as fire and grazing, to maintain their health and stability. Periodic disturbances help control invasive species, add nutrients back into the soil, germinate plant seeds, enhance wildlife habitat, and more. In Minnesota habitat managers have used fire as a disturbance tool for decades but the use of grazing has been much rarer, mostly because of a lack of necessary infrastructure such as fencing.
The Minnesota County Geologic Atlas program is an ongoing effort begun in 1979 that is being conducted jointly by the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Geological Survey and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This portion, called Part B and conducted by the DNR, analyzes water samples to understand water chemistry and sensitivity to pollution.
Overall Project Outcome and Results
The Minnesota Valley Trust acquired 78.5 acres of priority lands in Lincoln Township of Blue Earth County to expand the Lincoln Waterfowl Production Area for the Minnesota Valley Refuge and Wetland Management District, US Fish and Wildlife Service. Of the 78.5 acres, 21 acres were acquired with Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund; the other 56.5 acres were acquired with nonprofit / other, non-state funds.
The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Trust is using this appropriation to purchase a total of approximately 80 acres of high quality grasslands and wetlands in Blue Earth or Le Sueur County to be managed as a federal Waterfowl Production Area (WPA) in the Minnesota Valley Wetland Management District.
With this appropriation, the Minnesota Land Trust plans to protect approximately 500 acres of critical shoreline habitat along Minnesota's lakes, wetlands, rivers, and streams by securing permanent conservation easements and dedicating funds for their perpetual monitoring, management, and enforcement. Lands being considered for permanent protection in this round of funding are located in Becker, Beltrami, Blue Earth, Itasca, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Le Sueur, Otter Tail, Pope, and Wabasha counties.
Pollinators play a key role in ecosystem function and in agriculture, including thousands of native plants and more than one hundred U.S. crops that either need or benefit from pollinators. However, pollinators are in dramatic decline in Minnesota and throughout the country. The causes of the decline are not completely understood, but identified factors include loss of nesting sites, fewer flowers, increased disease, and increased pesticide use. Developing an aware, informed citizenry that understands this issue is one key to finding and implementing solutions to counteract these factors.
Lakes and streams located in Blue Earth, Le Sueur, and Waseca Counties provide important public benefits such as hydrologic storage, economic and recreational opportunities, and regional water quality improvement. However, several of the lakes and streams have been listed as impaired because of excess nutrients and sediment from runoff.
Adoption of renewable energy technologies and energy conservation practices can contribute in a variety of ways to the environmental and economic health of rural Minnesota communities through costs savings and emissions reductions. Engaging and coaching students as the leaders in the process of implementing such practices provides the added benefit of increasing knowledge, teaching about potential career paths, and developing leadership experience.