SWCD News Archives

Partnering for Better Local Government

 

 

 

 

2018 Outstanding Conservationist

 

The Yellow Medicine Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) conservationist of the year for 2018 are Loran and Patricia Haas. Loran and Patricia are very active in participating in the Conservation Reservation Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, Environmental Quality Incentive Program, and the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program. They began with installing terraces 30 years ago and have continued implementing a host of other conservation practices.

            Loran and Patricia have a grain and haying operation near the buffalo ridge. Farming in this location has its challenges due to the change in elevation across a field. There are fields in this area that have an elevation change of 90 feet from one end to the other. To reduce soil erosion, they have installed practices such as water and sediment control basins, contour terraces, rotational no till, grassed waterways, and cover crops. They have been experimenting with cover crops for three years and have found this practice can also reduce weed and aphid populations. Filter strips had been installed on intermittent streams many years before the buffer law came along. They have taken marginal cropland that contains sensitive soils and converted it to grassland, creating habitat for pollinators and wildlife. They have also chosen to maintain an area of native prairie on their farm.

They have been working with their agronomist and precision agriculture specialist on their precision fertility program using grid sampling and using normalized yield data to insure that the fertilizer going on at the right rate, time, place, and source.

            We are proud to have Loran and Patricia as our Conservationist of the Year. They are always looking for ways to improve their farming operation in terms of its contributions to environmental health. They are model citizens, especially when it comes to conservation and agriculture. Loran and Patricia are making positive changes for future generations. As Yellow Medicine SWCD’s awardee, the Haas family was also nominated for the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts’ (MASWCD) Outstanding Conservationist Award. This honor also extends an invitation to the annual MASWCD convention.

This article on Yellow Medicine Soil and Water Conservation District’s (SWCD) partnership efforts is the first of a two-part series explaining how the SWCD is improving local government and conservation implementation by partnering with other public and private entities.

Famed football coach Vince Lombardi told us, “Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” What he is telling us is that when we all work toward achieving something, we get things done. That is what the Yellow Medicine Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) does every day. Through many partnerships and joint, amplified, not duplicated, efforts, the SWCD and its partners thrive toward accomplishing the mission of providing technical, financial, and educational support to its residents related to conservation soil and water resources.

The most all-encompassing of these partnerships is that of Yellow Medicine County and the SWCD. The County and SWCD share the same political boundary, responsibilities of implementing Minnesota’s Wetland Conservation Act (WCA), Statute 103F.48 (The Buffer Law), parts of Minnesota’s Agricultural Best Management Practices (AgBMP) low-cost financing program, partnering on Information Technology (IT) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) use, development, and progress, and the efforts in Yellow Medicine County to prevent the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS). Through delegation by the County, staff at the SWCD handle inquires and decisions on the prohibition of draining certain wetlands in Minnesota. The SWCD has taken the bull by the horns on Minnesota’s Buffer Law over the last couple of years, pairing affected landowners with technical assistance and financial programs to comply with the law, while the County handles enforcement. The SWCD handles financing available for failing septic systems that need to be fixed due to failure or local regulation through the AgBMP program. The SWCD and the IT department at the County, in 2019, will progress on making improvements in the application and maintenance of GIS mapping and data management. The SWCD receives top notch IT services and has expanded use of County servers and tools over the past several years. SWCD Technician, Brooke Buysse coordinates the implementation of State of Minnesota funding passed through the County to the SWCD. Her work includes public education, promotional product development and distribution, and partnering with neighboring Lac qui Parle SWCD in enhancing efforts in both areas. The SWCD also receives about a third of its annual revenue from Yellow Medicine County for operations along with Human Resources and a network of support from department heads and the administration department.

A new partnership of the last few years is that of the One Watershed One Plan (1W1P) effort in Minnesota. The Yellow Medicine River 1W1P is a partnership of 9 local units of government that all have state requirements to develop local water management plans. The 1W1P takes that requirement off of political boundaries and address the concerns of stakeholders on a watershed scale. Hundreds of thousands of funding is available to landowners in priority areas with priority practices.

The Cities of Canby, Porter, St. Leo, Clarkfield, Granite Falls, Wood Lake, Hanley Falls and Echo have all resolved to delegate responsibilities of local government administration of the Wetland Conservation Act to the Yellow Medicine SWCD. This provides expert local knowledge and access to a statewide network of professionals that deal with wetland regulation on the part of state law. This is similar to the partnership between the SWCD and Yellow Medicine County for areas outside of city limits. The goal of the SWCD is to provide those who have the potential to impact a wetland to be aware of that fact, and to be well informed of what consequences or alternatives there are to draining wetlands. The SWCD even reviews building permits in Canby and other communities to avoid issues.

Another example of the SWCD working with a community, is that shown by the upcoming involvement in Phase III of the improvement project at Memorial Park in Granite Falls, MN. SWCD staff have been following progress of improvements and restorations at the park. As 2019 approaches, staff will begin to formulate where potential Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Prevention, interpretive or educational items may be appropriate, along with options for further ecological restoration and water quality/quantity conservation measures.

In 2018, the SWCD rapidly expanded its public outreach programming. Specifically, staff began producing news releases for twice-monthly publishing in The Canby News and the Granite Falls-Clarkfield Advocate Tribune. A few articles have been included in Tri-County News and expanded on in the Marshall Independent when deemed regionally significant. www.yellowmedicineswcd.org/news also has an updated register of these stories. The goal is to make sure important information gets to those that it affects. Facebook has also proven to be a useful resource in getting messages on programs out. You can like and follow the SWCD on Facebook as “Yellow Medicine SWCD” in the search bar. Our website also shows the most recent posts that have occurred.

Perhaps the most fiscally strong and valuable partnership for the SWCD is that of itself and the State of Minnesota. The Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) is a governor appointed board that acts as an intermediary for funding to make its way to SWCDs and other local units of government. Programs like the “state cost share fund”, “the buffer law”, “WCA”, and a host of others make their way to SWCD by way of BWSR. The SWCD also does some work with the Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) related to habitat and water regulation, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) related to watershed planning, and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) dealing with drinking water well boring and sealing. Many thousands of dollars in grant funds and allocations from these agencies ensure we can provide our services. In 2017, about half of SWCD revenue was from state funding sources.

Over the last few months, SWCD staff have taken some time out to keep providers of the ag community up to speed on our efforts. Through e-mail, the SWCD reaches out to crop consultants, financial institutions, insurance providers, cooperatives and other retailers. The idea has been to keep those who are paid to keep producers informed, sell products and provide services updated on what we are working on and have available. This year into next year, staff will be continuing to partner and pursue competitive funding to expand and foster the cooperation between local government and private partners. Further information will be shared with the public on exciting implementation of these activities.

In 2017 and 2018, the SWCD was able to share resources with the Yellow Medicine River Watershed District (YMRWD) and Lincoln SWCD by utilizing Yellow Medicine SWCD staff to provide services to those organizations. When Water Resources Technician Brooke Buysse was brought on board, the intent was for her to work out of the YMRWD’s Minneota, MN office one day per week. Through this period, more and less time was utilized for this purpose and Brooke’s added capacity was found to be needed in the form of a more regular watershed district staff person. While Brooke will continue to work as needed at the WD, the WD has hired former SWCD part-timer Michael Luke who will work out of Minneota at least until he is done studying at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, MN. On July 2, 2018, Brayden Anderson, Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) Technician joined the SWCD in Clarkfield, MN. He is also dedicated in part to Lincoln SWCD out of Ivanhoe, MN. Into 2019, Brayden will be transitioning to another position in the Yellow Medicine SWCD. The SWCDs in partnership will monitor funding sources to understand if there is value and stability in continuing to utilize a shared position.

Over the course of the last half-decade and earlier, the SWCD has received funding to promote and implement federal farm bill programs and other programs including the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Walk In Access public hunting allowance (WIA), Wetlands Reserve Easements (WRE), Reinvest In Minnsota (RIM) Easements, and many more. This funding requires some degree of local match. During various ebbs and flows of SWCD funds, it was necessary to reach outside of the SWCD coffers to local non-profit partners. This led to seeking a total of 5-10% of the grant amount from a combination of donations from the Yellow Medicine County Pheasants Forever Chapter and the East Medicine PF. This partnership also led to The YMC PF Chapter, based in Canby, to share local funding with CRP contract participants to soup up seed mixes to add additional beneficial wildflowers to seed mixes. About 18 years ago, the Upper Minnesota Valley National Wild Turkey Federation sought national funding to supply the SWCD with a tree planter to provide additional wild turkey habitat. This machine is still in use and establishing habitat today.

The most critical partnership is that of which is with YOU, our stakeholder. Your interest in this article gives you ownership of the SWCD and its efforts. We are the local government unit tasked with providing technical, financial and educational support to our residents. We work with landowners, farmers, ranchers, city folk, country folk, homeowners, business owners… you get it, everyone.

       The AgBMP Loan Program is a water quality program that provides low interest loans to farmers, rural landowners and agriculture supply businesses. The purpose is to encourage agricultural Best Management Practices that prevent or reduce runoff from feedlots, farm fields and other pollution problems.

       The AgBMP loan program funds activities or practices that help to improve water quality. If a project manages or reduces the inflow of agricultural waste into surface and groundwater systems, it could qualify for the AgBMP Loan Program.  If you are planning a structural project that will help reduce soil erosion, which adversely effects water quality, it could qualify for the AgBMP Loan Program. Looking to purchase tillage equipment to help manage erosion?   It could qualify for the AgBMP Loan Program. 

       AND, if you need to install or upgrade a septic system, it could qualify for the AgBMP Program.  County residents also have the option of choosing Yellow Medicine County as their local lender when borrowing AgBMP funds for septic projects or qualifying well projects.  In this case, the payments can be assessed to the resident’s tax statement.

To seek approval for an AgBMP Loan:

  • A borrower reaches out to their local county government contact to propose a project or purchase that can help maintain or improve water quality. If that project or purchase meets state and county eligibility requirements the county may approve the project or purchase.   NOTE: application approval must be obtained prior to purchase or construction of project.

  • The borrower meets with their local lender to verify their credit for a loan and to see if the lender is willing to work with the AgBMP loan program.

  • Purchase or complete the project or practice.

   Once all three of the above steps are complete the borrower then will need to take their approved AgBMP application form and any related project receipts, invoices or equipment purchase orders to their local lender to process the loan.

 

       Residents can reach out the Yellow Medicine Soil and Water Conservation District or your ag lender to get more information on the AgBMP Loan Program.  You can also go to  MN DEPT of AG website at www.mda.state.mn.us.  On the funding tab, select Loans, then AgBMP Loans.  You’ll find more information on the program, examples of eligible projects, local lender information, and loan contact information for other counties.

Intake Removal and Drainage Management Slow Flows, Save Water, Support Yield

2019 Tree Sales and Planning Underway now!

Since 1961, the SWCD has planned, planted, sold and established trees for windbreak rows in fields to mitigate soil erosion from wind. Today, the SWCD still sells, plans, advises, and provides for the sale and installation of products to ensure a successful planting. Much like shingles on your roof or siding on your house, a farmstead shelter belt or grove is necessary to keep energy costs low and control snow in your yard when you live in a rural setting. While field windbreaks still have their place in high erosion settings, groves and the renovation of them are the bread and butter of our Tree Program.  

The Yellow Medicine Soil and Water Conservation District is now taking orders for spring of 2019 tree planting projects.  Autumn is the perfect time to take a walk through your grove to see if there are any rows that need to be replaced, maybe preparation for replacing rows in the future or if you just want to add a new row of trees to have some new fall color.  This year is the perfect year to start your project.  Stop into the office or call to talk with one of our technicians who can meet with you to discuss your needs, we can also meet at your site.   By ordering early in the season you have more options available for your planting and allows ample time to complete a design for your project before the busy planting season arrives.  We offer potted evergreen trees in various sizes, and bare root trees and shrubs.  Along with supplying the trees we offer installation services of planting, matting, and installing tree tubes. 

 Tree planting is done with a tree planter that is pulled behind a tractor.  The planter can plant bare root trees and shrubs up to an evergreen tree in a number 1 (#1) pot size.  Plastic mulch comes in both continuous fabric and individual fabric squares.  Continuous fabric is installed with a fabric machine that attaches to a Category 2 tractor three-point hitch. Plastic mulch around trees and shrubs can increase soil moisture near the roots and reduce competition of grasses and weeds.  Tree tubes installed in conjunction with matting will give newly planted trees the best chance at getting rooted in the initial planting year and surviving through the winter.  Tree tubes act like a greenhouse around each tree allowing the tree to gain additional height the first and second growing season.  Tubes also protect the trees from depredation by deer and rabbits, reducing losses. 

Ask us about Plantskydd to reduce deer and rabbit depredation on your trees and shrubs.  Applied by sprayer or in a granular form this organic mixture is effective at repelling deer and other herbivores for most of the winter. 

 If your project is going to be used to protect livestock buildings, pastures, or a feedlot you may be eligible for cost share funding through EQIP.  Stop into or call the NRCS office and see if you could be eligible for available cost share.  To learn more about renovating your grove or establishing field windbreaks, Contact Kurt Johnson or Ian Olson at the Yellow Medicine SWCD today!

Tile drainage is nearly a universally applicable investment made into cropland in our area. While the benefits of tile drainage are improved traffic-ability and increased crop yields from the removal of excess water, open inlets or intakes can convey not only corn stalks, rodents and other obstructions into your drainage system, but also can deliver sediment and phosphorus to stream systems which have a detrimental impact on water quality. Some intakes are needed to act as somewhat of a relief valve for tile flow or to act as an outlet for a conservation practice. Intakes that are necessary for operation should be utilizing a “riser” type inlet to meter water flow and prevent debris from entering the system. While many landowners and producers have seen the benefit of removing the open inlets that are malfunctioning, accidentally buried or not needed, many folks who may be even have thought about it have not. The SWCD has funding available to you that can be made available within a month of a request to assist in the cost of removing these intakes. Many type of intakes exist some utilize rock, geotextile, pipe or just perforated plastic tile. Not only does it block the path of sediment, debris and potential lost nutrients, but it slows the velocity of water making its way to ditches and streams which aids in the reduction of streambank erosion, a known source of sediment in the Minnesota River.

 

Tile systems are also known to deliver Nitrates into surface waters. One strategy that can be used to reduce nitrates in tile drainage water is drainage water management. With drainage water management, water level control structures are included as a part of the tile drainage system. These structures are used to manipulate water levels at different times during the year. The greatest nitrate removal benefits occur when water levels are maintained in the biologically active zone during the growing season where nitrates can be converted to nitrogen gas by denitrifying bacteria or taken up by a crop when most readily available. A properly managed system can also increase crop yields by conserving water in the soil profile for crops to utilize. Like the removal of open inlets, this practice retains water in the soil profile for a longer period of time.

 

When is drainage water management a good fit for a new or an existing tile drainage system? Generally, drainage water management is unfeasible on land slopes greater than about one percent. It may be possible to retrofit existing tile installations with water level control structures depending on how the tile layout fits with the field topography. Tile systems utilizing drainage water management do not require closer tile spacing, but tile layout should be aligned with the field’s contours as much as possible in order to provide the most complete coverage and consistent water levels across the field. State and Federal funds are available for assistance in planning and installing these type of systems. Retrofits can also be added in some situations to implement subsurface irrigation in feasible locations.

SWCD Technical Director Graduates from Statewide Leadership Program

Clarkfield, Minn. – The Yellow Medicine Soil and Water Conservation District is proud to congratulate Tyler Knutson, Technical Director for successfully completing a one-year leadership development program sponsored by the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD).

 

The 2017-2018 MASWCD Leadership Program brought together 32 participants from across the state to strengthen their leadership capacity for conservation work in Minnesota.  The group was comprised of locally elected Soil and Water Conservation District supervisors, local SWCD staff, staff from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, and regional staff from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. 

 

The group met for seven multi-day sessions to study and practice leadership topics including: , building personal leadership skills, the leader-follower relationship, developing a vision, practicing ethical leadership, strengthening team leadership, facilitation as a leadership skill, and working with stakeholders in public issues. Knutson says he has already put the invaluable skills, relationships and confidence in his leadership and followership abilities to work at the SWCD and in the community.

 

This was the eleventh group to complete the statewide leadership program; more than 225 SWCD staff and supervisors have completed the program since 1996. The content is designed and delivered by current and former staff of the University of Minnesota Extension.  For further information about the MASWCD Leadership Institute, contact the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts at 651-690-9028 or visit the MASWCD website at www.maswcd.org.

BUFFER UPDATE:  November 1, 2018 brought about the final statewide deadline for vegetated buffers to be installed bordering certain waters in Minnesota. While you may have everything completely taken care of, have no plans to gain compliance or are already enrolled in a program, letting us know what your status is will be very helpful to continue an efficient implementation of the buffer law. Currently, the SWCD has documented about 324 parcels out of 2,365 as non-compliant in the county, regardless of intent or a plan to get compliant. This number does not include one-year waivers that were signed in 2017. As of the SWCD Board Meeting on September 27, 2018, Yellow Medicine County was 86.3% compliant. After November 1, it is very difficult or impossible to sign up for technical and financial programs to be compliant with the law. Once the law actually takes full effect, the SWCD and Yellow Medicine County will begin to formulate a final plan to notify landowners of official non-compliance, contact them with options to correct the situation, and indicate the enforcement actions to ensue. This process will likely begin in early 2019. Yellow Medicine SWCD also expects new aerial imagery to be published mid-summer 2019 to give clear indication of buffers that have been established in 2017 through 2018. Tentatively, a landowner can expect action to be taken in Mid-2019, at the earliest. The only certain way to avoid compliance issues to verify, verbally or in writing, that the SWCD is aware that you have taken care of your buffer requirement. On 50’ streams, alternative practices still are available and applicable. On 16.5’ public drainage systems, while not common or available after a redetermination of benefits, alternative narrower buffers are available. Redeterminations of Benefits are a process that reassesses the benefits that a drainage system provide owners. During this process, Since the early 1970s, Minnesota Statute requires the drainage system purchases a 16.5’ vegetated easement along the drainage system, also known as a 16.5’ or one rod buffer, similar to that which is required for the buffer law. For more information on completing this for your system, contact the Yellow Medicine County Drainage Department. The only way to know if you can utilize an alternative practice is to contact the SWCD and discuss those options. The SWCD is available to provide measuring service for your buffer. However, you can feel free to measure your buffer from the highest point on a ditch bank. 50’ buffers have site specific requirements that depend on a lot of factors. Buffers are a complex and ongoing issue for many operations. The best way to achieve or ensure compliance is to involve the SWCD so you know all of the options and the SWCD knows of all of your plans and intents. To be accomplish this, Contact Tyler Knutson at the SWCD, as soon as possible.

SWCD Hires Anderson

Brayden Anderson has joined the Yellow Medicine Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) as the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) Technician. He will be working with Yellow Medicine and Lincoln SWCD landowners implementing the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).

 He was born and raised in Lake Lillian, Minnesota and attended BOLD High School. He is a recent graduate from Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall MN, with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science.

As the SWCD’s CREP technician, Brayden’s duties will be to increase the acres signed up and improve public knowledge of the CREP program which is a partnership between the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) program and the state Reinvest In Minnesota (RIM) programs. Pooling the resources of two SWCDs and those of the federal and state government conservation programs is key to getting the right program for the right marginal cropland.

The Lincoln and Yellow Medicine SWCDs have partnered to share the resource of one hired position working in both counties. This specializes and focuses efforts on this one program to ensure efficiency and follow through. While soon to be located in Ivanhoe, Brayden will be an employee of the Yellow Medicine SWCD and conduct promotion and easement processing in both SWCD through a shared services agreement.

His favorite part about this job so far is that all the staff encourages questions and they all willingly have answers for him. Brayden realizes that knowledge is power, so he excitedly attends many trainings for all aspects of the environmental field. Tyler Knutson, Yellow Medicine SWCD Technical Director says, “Brayden has hit the ground running over the last couple of weeks. We are excited to be getting him up to speed when it comes to CREP and working with our landowners. He is a great addition to both of our offices!”

Brayden has a passion for the outdoors with a love for hunting and fishing. He is excited to be able to watch poor producing cropland be converted back to a natural permanent habitat that will benefit wildlife and water quality. He is eager to begin his new career and to see where it takes him.

SWCD welcomes Conservation Corps Apprentice and Summer Help

The Yellow Medicine Soil and Water Conservation District is excited to provide a summer job to Chyenna Julius. Chyenna reports to the Yellow Medicine SWCD everyday but is employed by the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa. The Conservation Corps is a great way for its members to gain hands-on experience in different conservation fields.

 “I am excited learn about the different conservation programs and how they benefit the land, I am a soil nerd”, said Julius.

Her favorite part about being at the YMSWCD is the relaxed atmosphere and that all the employees are willing to answer all her questions to help her learn as much as she can.

Chyenna was born and raised on farm outside of Titonka, IA. While growing up she enjoyed working on the farm with her dad. She graduated from Algona High School in May of 2014 and is currently a student at Iowa State University (GO CYCLONES!) where she majors in agronomy and minors in forestry. At Iowa State, she is involved in the Soil and water Conservation Club and the Agronomy Club. After she graduates she hopes to get a job as a Soil Conservationist with NRCS.

When Chyenna isn’t trying to save the soil and water quality and quantity of Yellow Medicine SWCD she likes to day golf, spend time with her awesome dog, and go fishing. Chyenna’s idol is her dad because she hopes to someday be as resilient, hard-working and supportive as he is.

“Chyenna is a positive part of our team,” said Technical Director, Tyler Knutson. “She is already proving to be a problem solver, and has a future in being a great conservationist!”

Michael Luke has joined the Soil and Water Conservation District as a summer intern. He is a senior at SMSU pursuing a degree in Environmental Science. Since moving here from Idaho in late 2012, he has become acquainted with the farming community, working as a farmhand south of Marshall for the last 4 years to help get through school. “It's a funny thing that in one moment back in Idaho I was singing songs of big green tractors, and in the next moment, in the twinkling of an eye, I was driving one through a field in Southwest Minnesota. Although that chapter is coming to an end, the skills and experiences were worthwhile in the pursuit to work in the line of conservation. Some of the best opportunities I've had come from simply asking, and hoping for the best. This internship opportunity was no different”, said Michael. Michael is building on some other past experiences including working with fire on a twenty man crew in Idaho, working with cattle in a feedlot south of Saint Paul, and working with the Conservation Corps stationed out at Camden State Park. Michael continues, “It was at Camden state park where I met the former DNR employee Brooke Buysee, an SMSU environmental science grad who was influential in my decision to go to SMSU. Three and a half years later, my school advisor is recommending that I look for summer internships. I figured I’d get around to asking the watershed district in Minneota where I currently live, and when I heard Brooke moved nearby and worked at that watershed I got on the phone right away. We caught up a bit and she told me about the job opportunities in the area, and before I knew it I was packing a lunch pail getting ready for day one in Clarkfield at the SWCD. Although summer has just begun, I have already been a part of some unique opportunities. My favorites so far have been sitting in on conversations between producers from Yellow Medicine county and specialists in the office, and learning how to provide the technical, financial, and educational support to keep farming going in the right direction”. Tyler Knutson, Technical Director of the SWCD says, “Michael has a “no-quit” attitude, and proves to be a positive and curious character. He has proven to be a great asset for the SWCD this summer”.

Above and at right are two

articles provided by BWSR's Information Officer Ann Wessel. Both will be distributed in local and regional newspapers.

Protecting Our Local Lakes and Rivers from Invaders

Many people believe the fight against Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) is hopeless and they will end up here anyways. That statement is incorrect, AIS are being spread across the state at a rapid rate due to human transportation. Single fragment of Starry Stonewort or Eurasian water milfoil can be transported though water in your boat if you do not plug the plug, drain the live well, or drain your motor. These single fragments can take root and establish new populations in uncontaminated lakes. Zebra mussel veligers can also be transported in the same manner. Veligers are the free swimming larval stage of a zebra mussel and undetectable to the naked eye. These AIS are not only threatening to our native species but cause potential problems for boaters, fisherman, and swimmers.

            Starry Stonewort and Eurasian Milfoil create thick vegetation at/near the water’s surface. This thick vegetation gets tangled in boat propellers and not enjoyable for swimmers. Zebra mussels multiply at a very rapid rate, a single female can produce 100,000-500,000 eggs a year. Once in an adult form, the mussel stage, they have sharp shells. These shells can cut swimmers feet or the pads of dogs. Studies are beginning to show that Zebra Mussels are impacting game fish populations by depleting food sources on the bottom of the food chain.

            Please take a few minutes when you leave ANY lake or river to check your boat and trailer for these aquatic invaders. We can continue to protect our lakes and rivers in the area by doing these 3 simple steps:

  1. Remove any visible vegetation from your boat & trailer

  2. Pull the plug, drain your boat motor, and drain your live well.

  3. If your bait has encountered lake/river water either throw it away or replace the lake water with tap water/bottled water.

Everyone is an essential part in helping us maintain our lakes and rivers for our future generations.

 

  • Eurasian Water Milfoil

  • Zebra Mussels

  • Starry Stonewort in Lake Koronis 

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The AgBMP Loan Program is a water quality program that provides low interest loans to farmers, rural landowners and agriculture supply businesses. The purpose is to encourage agricultural Best Management Practices that prevent or reduce runoff from feedlots, farm fields and other pollution problems.

       The AgBMP loan program funds activities or practices that help to improve water quality. If a project manages or reduces the inflow of agricultural waste into surface and groundwater systems, it could qualify for the AgBMP Loan Program.  If you are planning a structural project that will help reduce soil erosion, which adversely effects water quality, it could qualify for the AgBMP Loan Program. Looking to purchase tillage equipment to help manage erosion?   It could qualify for the AgBMP Loan Program. 

       AND, if you need to install or upgrade a septic system, it could qualify for the AgBMP Program.  County residents also have the option of choosing Yellow Medicine County as their local lender when borrowing AgBMP funds for septic projects or qualifying well projects.  In this case, the payments can be assessed to the resident’s tax statement.

To seek approval for an AgBMP Loan:

  • A borrower reaches out to their local county government contact to propose a project or purchase that can help maintain or improve water quality. If that project or purchase meets state and county eligibility requirements the county may approve the project or purchase.   NOTE: application approval must be obtained prior to purchase or construction of project.

  • The borrower meets with their local lender to verify their credit for a loan and to see if the lender is willing to work with the AgBMP loan program.

  • Purchase or complete the project or practice.

   Once all three of the above steps are complete the borrower then will need to take their approved AgBMP application form and any related project receipts, invoices or equipment purchase orders to their local lender to process the loan.

 

       Residents can reach out the Yellow Medicine Soil and Water Conservation District or your ag lender to get more information on the AgBMP Loan Program.  You can also go to  MN DEPT of AG website at www.mda.state.mn.us.  On the funding tab, select Loans, then AgBMP Loans.  You’ll find more information on the program, examples of eligible projects, local lender information, and loan contact information for other counties.

Contact the Yellow Medicine Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) office in Clarkfield to find out more information about our programs, or call the office at (320) 669-4442 ext. 3. Our website also has a lot of information on all of our programs and services. Visit www.yellowmedicineswcd.org to learn more and stay up to date on all Yellow Medicine SWCD has to offer and what we are working on. You can also LIKE US ON FACEBOOK!

Drainage Water Management Yields!

Tile drainage has become popular in areas where soils have poor internal drainage because it helps to convert land that would otherwise be too wet to consistently farm into highly productive cropland. While the benefits of tile drainage are improved traffic-ability and increased crop yields, the practice also delivers nitrates and phosphorus to stream systems which have a detrimental impact on water quality. One strategy that can be used to reduce nitrates in tile drainage water is drainage water management. With drainage water management, water level control structures are included as a part of the tile drainage system, and these structures are used to manipulate water levels at different times during the year. The greatest nitrate removal benefits occur when water levels are maintained in the biologically active zone during the growing season where nitrates can be converted to nitrogen gas by denitrifying bacteria. A properly managed system can also increase crop yields by conserving water in the soil profile for crops to utilize. When is drainage water management a good fit for a new or an existing tile drainage system? Generally, drainage water management is unfeasible on land slopes greater than about one percent. It may be possible to retrofit existing tile installations with water level control structures depending on how the tile layout fits with the field topography. Tile systems utilizing drainage water management do not require closer tile spacing, but tile layout should be aligned with the field’s contours as much as possible in order to provide the most complete coverage and consistent water levels across the field. State and Federal funds are available for assistance in planning and installing these type of systems. Retrofits can also be added in some situations to implement subsurface irrigation in feasible locations.

 

Contact the Yellow Medicine Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) office in Clarkfield to find out more information about our programs, or call the office at (320) 669-4442 ext. 3. Our website also has a lot of information on all of our programs and services. Visit www.yellowmedicineswcd.org to learn more and stay up to date on all Yellow Medicine SWCD has to offer and what we are working on. You can also LIKE US ON FACEBOOK!

AgBMP offers 3% loans to fund water quality projects

Becoming a certified farm shows the community that farmers are doing what they can to protect our water. This is voluntary program for farmers and agricultural landowners to show what conservation practices they are implementing for protecting our water. The certification is valid for ten years, for that ten years farmers/agricultural landowners in turn obtain regulatory certainty to any new water quality rules or laws. Farmers seeking certification can get specially designated and financial assistance to implement practices for promoting water quality.

 

The process to becoming a certified farm is a fairly easy process. If you are interested contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District, SWCD. You will have fill out an application and that starts the process towards certification. Once the application is completed you will be contacted by a local certifying agent to go through the assessment process. The assessment process is when the certifying agent will ask you for information regarding your farm such as soil tests reports, nutrient application, manure application, and pesticide application. The certifying agent will also conduct field visits to look for soil erosion or other potential impacts to water quality. If issues were to be found they would need to be included in the certification agreement.

MAWQCP Recognizes Farmers

Minnesota CREP Sign Up Taking Enrollments NOW!

In September 2017, the Minnesota Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (MN CREP) sign-up began taking applications for floodplain and wetland restorations, filter strips, and wellhead protection areas.  Marginal cropland is the focus of this program to provide permanent protection for Minnesota’s most important resource, water. MN CREP is a partnership between the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the states Reinvest In Minnesota (RIM).  This is a voluntary program that allows landowners to enroll land into a permanent easement to protect Minnesota’s water resources as well as retain ownership and still control access to the land by the public.

Wetlands and floodplains are important areas that allow infiltration of water that recharge ground water aquifers and provide important habitat for Minnesota wildlife.  Floodplains and wetlands also store water on the surface, and reduce peak discharge in flowing water systems like those of drainage ditches and streams.  Reducing peak flows in these systems reduces bank erosion and sedimentation of stream beds, and is an incredibly high priority to improve water quality. Reduction of sedimentation can reduce the frequency of ditch cleaning that needs to be done to maintain drainage.

Filter strips keep tillage equipment and sprayers away from the edge of ditches and streams. They reduce the amount of sediment and spray drift that reaches water.   Buffers also stabilize banks and filter subsurface water that flows into streams and ditches. Native vegetation roots grow deep, slowing the horizontal flow of ground water from the water table to the ditches. MN CREP filter strips are also an option to comply with Minnesota’s Buffer Law. These are just a few benefits that MN CREP provide to you and our water. 

Contact the Yellow Medicine Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) office in Clarkfield to find out more information about this program, or call Ian Olson at (320) 669-4442 ext. 114. Our website also has a lot of information on all of our programs and services. Visit www.yellowmedicineswcd.org to learn more and stay up to date on all Yellow Medicine SWCD has to offer and what we are working on. You can also LIKE US ON FACEBOOK!

Walk In Access Sign Up Open Through 4/27/18

The Minnesota Walk-In Access (WIA) program is opening new opportunities for hunters and hikers to have access to excellent habitat for outdoor recreation.  The Conservation Reserve Program CRP and Reinvest in Minnesota programs protect Minnesota’s endangered prairie habitats to ensure, rare and unique native species of plants and animals have the necessary habitats to be successful and thrive in the landscape.  These lands are privately owned and the WIA program allows individuals with a validation access to these CRP and RIM lands to view rare species and hunt game species. The WIA program compensates landowners for allowing access of these individual onto their private lands. 

After several successful WIA signups, beginning January 22nd 2018 through April 27th 2018 you can re-enroll and sign up new acres into the program.  The WIA field boundaries are determined by the landowner and need to be a minimum of 40 acres.  There are incentive payments for specific qualifications.  Landowners can get a minimum payment of $10 per acre, with an additional dollar per acre incentive payment for; multi-year contract, being within ½ mile of another WIA or public Hunting land, and being over 140 ac with a maximum payment of $13 per acre. 

Contact the Yellow Medicine Soil and Water Conservation District office in Clarkfield to find out more information about this program, or call Ian Olson at (320) 669-4442 ext 114. Our website also has a lot of information on all of our programs and services. Visit www.yellowmedicineswcd.org to learn more and stay up to date on all Yellow Medicine SWCD has to offer and what we are working on. You can also LIKE US ON FACEBOOK!

Minnesota's Buffer Law -- January 2018

The Yellow Medicine Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and other SWCDs have been tasked to implement Minnesota’s buffer law. The law is now partially in effect. Buffer zones consisting of a minimum of 30 feet and an average of 50 feet of perennial vegetation are now required on waters that were included on Minnesota’s Buffer Protection Map. At the end of 2018, public drainage ditches that are named County, Judicial or Watershed Ditches will require 16.5’ (one rod) wide of perennial vegetation if they don’t already have a one-rod right of way easement. There are many options to comply with this law that can work with and for your land. Some of those include cost share programs, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), and establishing your own forage to harvest. Alfalfa is allowed exclusively in the law. Another option to comply with the law is to implement alternative practices. The annual use of cover crops, using a no-till or strip-till system or installing grass buffers around tile and culvert inlets on ditches are all acceptable alternative practices. The SWCD can help with guidance, cost share and incentives to implement these alternative practices or to simply install the buffers. Our office also utilizes a list of diverse local vendors who are qualified and willing to provide buffer seeding services, along with other services. The SWCD also has a broadcast seeder available for rent to seed the buffers. The seeder can be attached to the back of tractor on the three-point mount. It is the goal of our staff and board of supervisors to provide the best guidance and all available options to landowners on the buffer law and all questions and goals. While many are looking toward CRP to comply, there is currently a national acreage cap on how much land is allowed in CRP. Therefore, all land that is enrolled in CRP must be approved by the national office of the Farm Service Agency. This situation has stopped CRP in its tracks. It will be important to consider this as you make decisions about how to deal with the buffer law. Contact Ian Olson for information on CRP and the broadcast seeder. For more information on the law and how it affects you contact Tyler Knutson at the SWCD at (320) 669-4442 x 3 or tyler.knutson@co.ym.mn.gov. Our website also has a lot of information on all of our programs and services. Visit www.yellowmedicineswcd.org to learn more and stay up to date on all Yellow Medicine SWCD has to offer and what we are working on. You can also LIKE US ON FACEBOOK!

STAFF AND SUPERVISOR OF YELLOW MEDICINE SWCD MEET WITH LOCAL LEGISLATORS

 

Supervisor Jerry Nelson and Tyler Knutson, Technical Director, from Yellow Medicine Soil and Water Conservation District, attended a legislative briefing and meetings at the State Capitol March 12-13 in St. Paul.

 

They joined a group of other officials from the state’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) who met in St. Paul to gather support for conservation districts’ programs and issues.

 

“It is important for us to get the conservation message out to our elected officials in St. Paul,” said SWCD Board Supervisor Jerry Nelson of Granite Falls.  The 2018 Legislative Session will be important to the future of conservation programs in the state, noted Nelson. “This year, legislators will address issues including state funding for programs and projects across the state including SWCD grants, the Reinvest in Minnesota Reserve conservation easement program, appropriations of constitutionally dedicated sales tax funds through the Outdoor Heritage Fund and the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, as well as various policy issues.  We have to work hard to make sure local soil and water conservation issues don’t fall by the way-side.  Local Soil and Water Conservation Districts play an integral role in enhancing Minnesotan’s quality of life through conservation on private lands, which yields environmental, wildlife and aesthetic benefits to the public.”

 

During the visit to St. Paul, Knutson and Nelson met with local legislators Representative Chris Swedzinski (R-Ghent) and Senator Gary Dahms (R-Clements)

 

The event was sponsored by the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Local Conservation Leader Visits Washington, D.C. on Leadership Program

Tyler Knutson the Technical Director for the Yellow Medicine Soil and Water Conservation District is among a group of 23 conservation leaders from across Minnesota who visited Washington, D.C. February 11-15 as part of a leadership development program sponsored by the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD). Program participants include locally elected SWCD supervisors, staff, and representatives from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources. While in Washington, the group met with Minnesota and federal lawmakers, including the United States Department of Agriculture and Natural Resource Conservation Service. The Washington D.C. seminar is one of seven sessions that are part of MASWCD’s Leadership Program led by the University of Minnesota Extension. The year-long program is designed to strengthen the leadership skills and capacity of local natural resource agencies to better serve the public and address the complex natural resource conservation issues found in communities throughout Minnesota.

 

“The MASWCD is proud to sponsor a training program that provides leadership development for our members,” said MASWCD Executive Director LeAnn Buck. “Conservation Districts and our partners work every day with local, state and federal conservation programs and this experience highlights the collaborative process needed to advance public policy at all levels.”

 

“A great opportunity was given by the Leadership Institute to connect with others around the state and country” added Tyler Knutson. “All levels of local, state and federal government are in need of strong leadership qualities. The concepts I gained the most experience in are the benefits of connection power, or combining what you know with who you know, building shared vision to get things done, and bringing forward a clear message of what needs to be accomplished.”

 

MASWCD is a nonprofit organization which provides leadership and a common voice for Minnesota’s 89 soil and water conservation districts; maintains relationships with rulemaking agencies, partners and legislators; and provides educational opportunities for districts so they may carry out effective conservation programs.

Meeting set to discuss Yellow Medicine County conservation priorities

Farmers, Landowners, Organizations, and Agencies Encouraged to Attend

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Minnesota requires each Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and field office to host or take part in an annual Local Working Group (LWG) meeting. Meetings will be held across Minnesota this year to gather input and help set priorities for USDA conservation planning and resource concerns under the 2014 Farm Bill for the near term implementation of those programs.

This year’s LWG will be convened by the Yellow Medicine SWCD during its regular board meeting on March 29, 2018. The Board will recess the meeting by 10:30 AM to convene the LWG meeting for those in attendance. The SWCD Board meeting and LWG will take place at the Ag Service Center located at 1000 10th Ave Clarkfield MN.

“Local Working Groups offer a seat at the table for interested individuals and groups to advise NRCS on how best to set priorities and focus locally on specific resource concerns,” said Danielle Waldschmidt, District Conservationist at the Clarkfield Field Office. “Members are diverse with an interest and focus on local agricultural and natural resource issues,” added Waldschmidt. Farmers representing a variety of crops and livestock raised within the local area, private landowners, representatives of agricultural and environmental organizations, and representatives of other agricultural and natural resource agencies are welcome and should be represented.

While the goal of the meeting is to set local conservation planning priorities, USDA conservation programs may be discussed, as well as important resource concerns. USDA programs can help implement practices for the conservation of water quality, soil health, wildlife habitat, energy, and other natural resources.

LWG meetings are open to the public.  Anyone interested in becoming a member and participating in LWGs should contact the Yellow Medicine SWCD at (320) 669-4442 ext. 3. If you need special arrangements for a disability or access to the meeting facility, please contact the SWCD at least one week in advance.

Our website also has a lot of information on all of our programs and services. Visit www.yellowmedicineswcd.org to learn more and stay up to date on all Yellow Medicine SWCD has to offer and what we are working on. You can also LIKE US ON FACEBOOK!

SWCD Hires Technician

The Yellow Medicine SWCD would like to introduce the newest member of our team, Brooke Buysse. Brooke has been hired by the SWCD as a Water Resource Technician. The position became open after the retirement of District Manager Lou Ann Nagel, and the shifting of duties at the SWCD office. She began working for Yellow Medicine SWCD in August and previously worked for Jackson County as the Feedlot Officer and Septic Inspector for over two years.  She is a graduate of Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall where she received a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. Her education and experience will serve her well at the SWCD. Brooke will be working mainly in Clarkfield but will also being working occasionally at the Yellow Medicine River Watershed District office in Minneota. The SWCD has been contracted by the Watershed District to provide some services to their office. Brooke’s hobbies include her horses and enjoying the outdoors. She resides between Ghent and Minneota with her husband, Nathan. Brooke and the SWCD are excited to continue working for you! You will find her working with the Watershed District, the Wetland Conservation Act, Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention, and various Farm Bill and Minnesota conservation programs. Feel free to contact Brooke at our office at (320) 669-4442 ext. 3 or her email brooke.buysse@mn.nacdnet.net

Seeking Landowners for Pollinator Habitat Research Project

University of Minnesota entomology researchers seek Southwestern Minnesota landowners for a study on beneficial insects in agricultural landscapes. We will lease between 1 to 15 acres for pollinator habitat for five years. We're reaching out to you as you would be most familiar with people who might be receptive to leasing land to help Minnesota bees.

This research aims to understand the impacts of pollinator plantings on honey bees, native bees, and natural enemies of soybean pests. These beneficial insects are a vital part of the row-crop equation, and this study will identify win-win opportunities for conventional row-crop agriculture and pollinators to benefit one another most cost-effectively.

YMSWCD cohosts the Environmental Fair

The Environmental Fair is a learning event in the "outdoor classroom" for sixth grade students from a 11-county area. Students attended sessions of hands-on activities and presentations on a variety of topics including trees, soil, water quality, wetlands, recycling, household hazardous waste, native prairie, watersheds and creatures that share our environment. The Environmental Fair provides a unique, interactive learning experience for students to understand the importance of our resources and realize that what people do affects all aspects of the environment.  Educators from the Science Museum of Minnesota, Minnesota Zoo, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, counties, University of Minnesota Extension, Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service were among the presenters. 

2017 Outstanding Conservationist

The Yellow Medicine Soil and Water Conservation District would like to acknowledge Dybsetter Farms Inc. of Porter who were selected as the 2017 Yellow Medicine SWCD Outstanding Conservationists. They are grain farmers on the North Branch of the Yellow Medicine River. This family farm is dedicated to conservation and constantly looking to implement conservative practices. The family has switched to a strip till and no till practice and have been implementing cover crops. Eric works with local NRCS as a technical service provider designing drainage water management plans. We thank them for their commitment to conservation!

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Corn Harvest with Cover Crop