Rum River Cedar Tree Revetments

The Anoka Conservation District has been working hard in partnership with Conservation Corp of MN and the Anoka County Parks Department to implement Cedar Revetments along the Rum River. So far nearly 1,500 linear feet along the Rum has been protected using the bio-engineered practice. These practices have been installed on private lands as well as property managed by Anoka County Parks. This type of practice is effective at protecting the bank from erosion while also enhancing shoreline habitat for wildlife. Cedar revetments are also much less expensive compared to other stabilization techniques. Through a state grant awarded to Anoka County Parks, there is currently funding available to cover 90% of the total project cost.

If you own property on the Rum River and are interested in protecting your shoreline, please contact Kris Larson for more information. 763-434-2030 x110, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Rain Gardens for Rice Creek

Street reconstruction projects often provide opportunities to install new projects that can benefit water quality in nearby waterbodies. In the City of Fridley, up to six curb-cut rain gardens are currently being designed in conjunction with a street reconstruction project. The designs are being done by ACD in partnership with the City of Fridley, the Rice Creek Watershed District, and landowners. The rain gardens will capture stormwater runoff before it enters the storm sewer system, which discharges to Rice Creek.

Depending on the underlying soils at each site, rain gardens with sandy soils will use infiltration (i.e. the water will soak into the ground) while those with finer soils (e.g. silty soils) will filter the runoff before discharging the cleaner water to the storm sewer system. In both cases, Rice Creek will benefit from reduced loading of sediment and nutrients.

High priority properties with large contributing drainage areas were targeted. Those properties with landowners willing to transition some yard space out near the road from turf grass to garden area and agree to provide maintenance are being considered for rain garden installation. Funding will be provided by the City of Fridley and the Rice Creek Watershed District.

Watch for additional updates as designs are finalized and the rain gardens are installed. To see other rain gardens already installed throughout Anoka County, please see the virtual project tour on ACD's website.

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Please Water Responsibly

This summer has been very dry. As a result, many cities around the metro have implemented watering bans or restrictions. Watering daily during drought conditions puts further strain on water supplies than the drought is already causing. Watering allowance during restrictions (e.g. odd or even days only) should be thought of as the MAXIMUM you should water, not the minimum. If your grass is green and lush, consider shutting your sprinklers down for a day or two. Selectively water areas of your yard that may be sunnier or drier where the grass browns more readily, but consider skipping areas that stay green longer. In times like these, it becomes even more important that we share our limited water resources responsibly.

Use these additional tips to conserve water this summer:

  1. Use sprinklers efficiently. Align sprinklers to avoid irrigating roads, sidewalks, and driveways. Install a rain sensor on automated irrigation systems.
  2. Water deeply and less frequently rather than daily. The only exception to this is when you start seeds which require moisture for germination. When plants are watered less frequently they grow deeper roots and become healthier plants.
  3. Water in the morning. Watering in the morning prevents water loss from evaporation and also prevents possible fungal problems if plants remain wet in the cooler night.
  4. Mulch your garden beds with wood chips, leaves and unsprayed straw. Mulching around the plants in your garden will help conserve soil moisture.
  5. Add organic matter. Adding a layer of compost to your beds every season will increase the water holding capacity of your soil.
  6. Install a rain barrel. Harvest water from rooftops during rainstorms and use that water to water gardens.
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New Grants Secured in Northeast Anoka County

This spring, long time Martin Lake residents Wally and Nancy Olson challenged the other members of their lake associations: donate $3,000 for lake water quality improvement and we'll match it. In just a few weeks $3,600 in donations poured in, including 21 households that donated $100 or more. Total funds raised was $6,600. This followed a similar challenge and response in 2020.

The funds will go into the lake association's Water Quality Fund. In the past, this money has been used for a variety of projects including rain gardens, stormwater ponds, carp management, and aquatic invasive species prevention. In nearly every case the lake association and its partners have used the funds as match for grants, multiplying their cash by 4x to 10x.

Some of the money raised by the Martin Lakers is being used as matching funds toward a new grant secured from the Anoka County Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program for radio tagging carp. Linwood, Typo, and Martin Lake are each receiving $3,000 for carp management from the AIS Prevention Program. The lakes are part of a chain of lakes with active carp management led by the Anoka Conservation District. Carp are being removed where they are abundant, and harmful to water quality and habitat.

Along with matching funds from the Martin Lakers, the grants were supported by $750 in matching funds from the Linwood Lake Improvement Association and Sunrise River Watershed Management Organization.

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Staff Spotlight: Jamie Schurbon

Jamie Schurbon, ACD's Watershed Projects Manager, has lived a rich and varied life. He grew up in rural Iowa, earning his bachelor's degree from Iowa State University before moving to South Carolina to complete his Master's in Environmental Biology. He spent that time studying reptiles and amphibians in and around the Hell Hole Swamp. After school, he held a variety of short term natural resources jobs that took him from the mangroves of the Florida Keys, to the South Dakota Badlands, to coastal barrier islands. Ultimately, he decided to return to the Midwest and started his first full time position as a technician at the Anoka Conservation District.

Because of his diverse experiences with different environments, it makes sense that instead of a single favorite place in Minnesota, Jamie enjoys the variety, including the Boundary Waters lakes, southeast Minnesota trout streams, northern forests, and prairies. Locally, he especially enjoys spending time on and around the Rum River for its good fishing, quality habitat, and because it is a scenic and quiet getaway.

In his time away from work, Jamie enjoys coaching youth baseball, teaching confirmation classes at his church, playing softball, and working on home improvement projects. Some recent projects have included a kitchen renovation and a canoe rack. Jamie never finds himself short of new projects as one project always seems to turn into another. The old copper plumbing from a kitchen remodel, for example, was then crafted into jewelry.

Jamie indulges his love of the outdoors through hunting and fishing and is also a member of a few sporting organizations including the Isanti County Sportsman's Club, where outdoor enthusiasts both promote conservation and enjoy outdoor activities. Jamie, along with his wife and two sons (ages 11 and 14), have even raised ducks every summer for the last four years.

When asked to share a memorable story of local conservation efforts, Jamie had this to say:

"During my 20 years at ACD I've especially learned a lot from the "old timers" who grew up in the area. I find that today's conservation efforts are not all that different from the past, and these efforts do make a difference. For example, Andover resident, WWII veteran, and former teacher Lyle Bradley once described to me how he flew up and down the Rum River corridor to identify feedlots and dumps on the shoreline. The cleanup that followed made a difference and is a testament to what a committed person can do!"

To contact Jamie, reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (763) 434-2030 x210

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Linwood Elementary School Rain and Pollinator Garden

Turning a problem into a solution with the Linwood Elementary School rain and pollinator garden.

Construction and expansion took place recently at Linwood Elementary School resulting in a larger roof capturing and sending more rain water to an area in front of the school. This small area is surrounded by the building on two sides, the front sidewalk, and the sidewalk to the main entrance. The additional water produced a large deep puddle for several days and a mud pit after water finally infiltrated. There was a need to improve that area for safety and aesthetics especially since it is in front of the school entrance. The solution: a rain and pollinator garden.

The depressed basin provides a micro example of different hydrologic zones and plant communities ranging from upland plants on the perimeter of the area and wetland plants down in the basin. Parent volunteer, Jennifer Braido took the lead to help facilitate and three 4th grade classes learned about rain gardens so they could create a design for the rain and pollinator garden. ACD staff and Jennifer taught 4th graders about hydrologic zones, plant communities, wetland indicator status, plant adaptations including aerenchyma tissue in wetland plant roots and plant's seasonal bloom times. With all this information, the classes choose their favorite plants for different zones of the garden and did some math to determine how many plants they needed. Another parent volunteer, Robb Johnson, and ACD staff worked to increase water storage capacity by installing a French drain which has reduced the time of standing water after a large rainfall. Finally, the 4th graders were out planting their rain-pollinator garden with the upland species along the edges and the wetland species down in the basin. While they were planting, a monarch butterfly fluttered around appreciating this new habitat. An educational sign is posted to highlight the benefits of rain and pollinator gardens to all that pass by the main entrance to Linwood Elementary School.

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ACD Staffer Appointed By Governor to Water Advisory Committee

The Anoka Conservation District's Watershed Projects Manager, Jamie Schurbon, has been reappointed by Governor Tim Walz to the Metropolitan Water Supply Advisory Committee (MAWSAC). He was first appointed in 2012 by Governor Dayton. The committee advises the Metropolitan Council on regional water supply management. Topics addressed include groundwater contamination, protecting the Mississippi River as a drinking water source, water infrastructure, and water supply.

The committee represents diverse interests, with Schurbon as the only member from a local natural resources agency. Other members include public water supply managers, county commissioners, and state agency experts on health, pollution, and agriculture. Anoka County Board Chair Scott Schulte noted the need for balanced perspectives in his recommendation of Schurbon, noting Jamie "has an understanding of the need for both natural resources and community growth to support quality of life in Anoka County."

"I appreciate being part of regional efforts," noted Schurbon. "It's impossible to manage most water issues within one city or county. Groundwater, water supply pipes, and waterways all connect across communities."
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Lower Rice Creek Stormwater Retrofit Analysis

The Rice Creek Watershed District (RCWD) contracted with ACD to complete a stormwater retrofit analysis for the purpose of identifying and ranking water quality improvement projects throughout select drainage areas to Lower Rice Creek in Anoka County. The report is in final review by the Technical Advisory Committee, and the final report will be completed by July 1st.

A total of 145 projects were identified throughout the 1,115-acre study area and generally consisted of rain gardens, underground sediment collection chambers, and stormwater pond installations or modifications. Potential projects were ranked in order of cost-effectiveness. The report provides a tool for natural resource managers when considering the implementation of projects to improve water quality in Lower Rice Creek.

The project is funded by RCWD and a Metropolitan Conservation Districts Clean Water Fund Accelerated Implementation grant.

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Prairie Enhancement at Gordie Mikkelson WMA

There has been a flurry of activity in the Gordie Mikkelson WMA prairies this spring. ACD is working with the MN DNR, Native Resource Preservation, and Linwood Elementary School to enhance 9.3 acres of prairie and add more species of native grasses and wildflowers in the already established windswept prairie. The 840-acre Gordie Mikkelson WMA is ranked as high biodiversity by the MN Biological Survey, and is an example of the mosaic Anoka Sand Plain landscape, containing a diversity of native plant communities including oak woodlands, sedge meadows, wetlands, and swamps. The MN DNR restored three grassland areas in Gordie Mikkelson WMA to native dry prairie. A remaining 9.3 acres are now undergoing restoration/enhancement. The goal is to convert these areas mostly dominated by non- native smooth brome and quackgrass to a dry prairie plant community (UPs13/Southern Upland Prairie System). Native Resource Preservation (NRP) conducted site preparation herbicide treatments in fall 2019 and fall 2020. The MN DNR conducted a prescribed burn in spring 2021 and NRP spread a diverse seed mix following the Rx burn and will follow up with establishment mowing. The already established windswept prairie is near the Linwood Elementary School and along the trail to their School Forest. This location provides a great opportunity to create a diverse prairie for future seed collection. ACD staff and 16 Linwood Elementary School classes planted 28 different species of plant plugs to add diversity and start a seed source that can be collected and spread to other prairies in the Mikkelson WMA.

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Lake Water Levels

The Department of Natural Resources collaborates with Anoka Conservation District to collect lake level data from many lakes across the county. This partnership allows ACD to work directly with county residents who volunteer for the lake level program. These volunteers record the lake level from a staff gauge placed in the lake (typically close to their property) weekly. These data are then reported to ACD and the DNR, and are used on the LakeFinder website.

The DNR LakeFinder website is the best means for the public to access available data on more than 4,500 Minnesota lakes relating to fisheries information, lake area and maximum depth, depth maps, lake water levels, water quality and clarity, air photos, and topographic maps. About 1,450 of the lakes have a historical record of more than 100 water level readings.

At the LakeFinder main page, go to "Find a Lake" and search by county, lake name, or 8-digit identification number for any lake. Click on the lake in the Search Results. On the next page, click on Water Levels report in the left hand column.

The Lake Water Level report page contains information from reported data, including:

  • reported historical and current lake levels
  • period of record and number of readings
  • highest recorded lake level
  • highest known lake level
  • lowest recorded lake level
  • recorded range
  • ordinary high water level [also shown as the red line on the 10-year graph]
  • datum
  • benchmarks
  • most recent 10-year graph [X-axis Year tick mark references mid-year]

ACD is currently seeking a volunteer for Peltier Lake. The permanent staff gauge is affixed to the outlet dam and is easily accessible from the Peltier Lake and Rice Creek Boat Launch parking lot. Having consistent data will help keep the DNR's LakeFinder website up to date throughout the summer. If you are interested in volunteering in taking weekly readings at Peltier Lake, you can reach out to Mollie Annen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 763-434-2030 ex. 180

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Firsts for the Rare Plant Rescue Program

ACD, Critical Connections Ecological Services, MN Landscape Arboretum, and 17 volunteers salvaged 500 State Endangered rubus stipulatus plants from a proposed development site. This was made possible by working closely with the MN DNR Endangered Species Consultant to incorporate the group's permitted salvage plan with the developer's permit to Take Threatened/ Endangered (T/E) Species for development. If T/E species are found on a site, developers are required to apply for a Permit for the Take of Endangered or Threatened Species Incidental to a Development Project which includes compensatory mitigation. For the first time, the DNR also included our group's salvage plan in part of the Take permit. There was a short window of time between the paperwork and the construction to salvage and transplant. Thankfully volunteers showed up to help out despite the 90-degree temperatures. Plants were transplanted into experimental plots at Bunker Regional Park, City of Blaine Pioneer Park, and Lino Lakes Woolan Park. Plants were also taken to the MN Landscape Arboretum where volunteers potted them for safe keeping for future planting. These 200 potted plants will likely be planted into experimental plots in the fall at Bunker Regional Park, City of Blaine Pioneer Park, Lino Lakes Woolan Park, Blaine Wetland Sanctuary and Columbus Lake Conservation Area. This is the first Endangered Species the Rare Plant Rescue Program has salvaged. 

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Celebrating ACD Staff and Supervisor’s Anniversaries Including 30 Years of Service for District Manager, Chris Lord

On June 7th, 2021, the Anoka Conservation District celebrated its 75th Anniversary serving Anoka County. Coincidentally, District Manager, Chris Lord, also celebrated an anniversary that same day – 30 years with the District. To honor this significant accomplishment, we sat down with Chris to look back at what inspired him to pursue a long career in Natural Resource Management and revisit some memories of his time working at ACD.

Emily Johnson, Outreach Coordinator: Thank you for taking the time to chat today, Chris! And thank you from all of us for your 30 years of dedicated service to ACD and Anoka County. Before we get into what drew you to the field of Natural Resource Management, can you tell us more about yourself and what sorts of things keep your mind occupied?

Chris Lord, District Manager: I'm a solitary soul. Fortunately for me, my beautiful wife is too. We enjoy solitude together, and often spend it puttering around the house with home improvements, working in the yard, and enjoying a good show. When I want to be solitary alone, I am drawn toward quandary solving. I love a good puzzle. Not the jigsaw kind. The logic kind. I think this is one reason I like working in the natural resources stewardship field. To understand the problem, you need to consider physics, chemistry, geology, hydrology, and biology and to address the problem you need to layer in politics, sociology, economics, psychology, and diplomacy. On a simpler level, give me a good killer Sudoku with a ridiculous set of rules and I'll be content solving it for the better part of an hour.

Johnson: Managing our natural resources can certainly be a puzzle at times with many interconnected factors to consider. It's a good thing you thrive when solving complex problems! I understand you grew up in Blaine; can you share some of your favorite memories of your childhood growing up in Anoka County?

Lord: I grew up in a neighborhood in northern Blaine with many kids in every house. We all belonged to multiple crews depending on interests, and as our interests ebbed and flowed, so did our allegiances. One contingent of kids to which I belonged spent many of our summer days out in the woods, wetlands, and fields. We'd build and use BMX and motocross tracks, build forts, transplant trees to our yards, and explore. On one outing we discovered that cattail seed heads when full ripe could be turned into an enduring cloud of downy fluff. We proceeded to release every seed in the swamp until the entire crusted over swamp was four to five feet deep in downy whiteness. This set the stage for the most unique game of tag I'd ever be involved in. Despite it being broad daylight, intermittently we were unable to see two feet in front of our faces due to the calamity of seed and had to play mostly by sound. There were some collisions. On one occasion, we decided to clean up our daytime retreat and so traipsed out to the woods with garbage bags in hand. We returned with what seemed to us to be a ton of trash and were thereafter dubbed the Swamp Dusters; a moniker not likely to strike fear in the hearts of the other neighborhood crews, but we kept it nonetheless. The woods, fields, and wetlands that were our stomping grounds are now the Majestic Oaks Golf Course south nine.

Johnson: Like many of us in the natural resource and stewardship field, it sounds like you grew up with a deep love and reverence for our natural world. When you think of your connection to nature and our natural resources today, what do you think of?

Lord: For me, the best part of nature are the quite places that make the worries of life fade into oblivion. The movement of leaves in treetops giving voice to the wind, the layers of aroma hinting at the often unseen players in the landscape, the darting action of little critters seen only in the periphery; these are the distractions and attractions that connect me to nature and make possible exploration all while sitting motionless, not making a sound.

Johnson: It certainly makes sense why you've dedicated your life in service to our natural resources! Can you tell us about a lasting memory you have of your career in natural resources and your time working with ACD?

Lord: The memories that stand out most clearly are the times things didn't go well. In my early twenties, I offended a public official by repeating a question in a public forum after she had just tried to dodge it. That simple act of political tone-deafness had repercussions that extended for many years. A resident threatened to throw me in a wood chipper because I undiplomatically pointed out that he shouldn't have built his pole building in a wetland and was consequentially prohibited from creating a wide driveway all the way around it. Another landowner seeking a favorable wetland delineation asked what would happen if he dropped a hundred dollar bill. I assured him I'd return it to him. I once overheard a well-respected and well-compensated wetland expert explain to his new staff member in the field that because they were considered the experts, they could convince the local government staff and officials of anything because the locals didn't understand the science and would trust expert testimony. These memories, along with countless other experiences, did more to sharpen my diplomacy, political astuteness, customer service, communication, and ethical fortitude than did my successes or mastery of the sciences. Overall, the public is better served by civil servants with well-honed soft skills than those who talents are limited to technical proficiency.

Johnson: Your stories show that we often learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. While it's true we face many challenges in our line of work, what has kept you motivated all these years?

Lord: ACD has been a wonderful place to work on several levels. The natural resource base in the Anoka Sand Plain is interesting and unique and the land use varies from densely urban cityscapes to prehistorically pristine open space. The variety keeps things interesting and the people keep it enjoyable. While I've seen a lot of colleagues come and go over the decades, I can count on the lesser part of one hand the number that I wouldn't fully enjoy working with. The elected Board of Supervisors during my term at ACD has always, without exception, served to the best interest of the natural resources and residents without ever putting self-interest first. I find this extraordinary. The Board manages to provide an optimal balance of guidance and flexibility. This has allowed ACD staff to innovate extensively in our pursuit to fulfill ACD's objectives. None of it would have come together without partnering with other local government staff and residents. Working hand-in-hand with these cohorts in conservation is very gratifying.

Johnson: Thank you, Chris, for sharing your stories and thank you again for your continued service to Anoka County!


In this year of milestones, we want to recognize and thank the rest of our staff and supervisors who are also celebrating anniversaries with the District. The District has many things to celebrate, but the most important is the Staff and Board members that have worked hard to make ACD so successful in their conservation efforts. Some have been with ACD for a short time, while others have worked at ACD for decades. Below is a list of employees and supervisors along with their length of time with ACD. They all deserve a big shout out!


ACD Staff:

Chris Lord, District Manager – 30 years

Jamie Schurbon, Watershed Projects Manager – 20 years

Kathy Berkness, Office Administrator – 16 years

Becky Wozney, Wetland Specialist – 16 years

Mitch Haustein, Stormwater and Shoreland Specialist – 11 years

Jared Wagner, Water Resource Specialist – 5 years

Carrie Taylor, Restoration Ecologist – 5 years

Kris Larson, Water Resource Technician – 5 years

Emily Johnson, Outreach and Engagement Coordinator – 3 years

Mollie Annen, Natural Resource Conservationist – 1 year

Kat Dickerson, District Technician – 2 months


ACD Board Supervisors:

Mary Jo Truchon, Board Chair – 25 years

Jim Lindahl, Vice Chair – 12 years

Glenda Meixell, Treasurer – 4 years

Sharon LeMay, Member – 4 years

Colleen Werdien, Member – 6 months

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ACD's 75th Anniversary Tree Planting

2021 marks ACD's 75th Anniversary serving Anoka County! To celebrate, District staff planted trees throughout Anoka County. The tree planting occurred on May 6th at the Cedar Creek Conservation Area, Rum Central Regional Park, and the Anoka Nature Preserve. The tree planting is in line with the District's mission to holistically conserve and enhance Anoka County's natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations. 

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Rum River Streambank Stabilization – Grants Available to Landowners

The Anoka County Parks Department recently received a grant to implement conservation practices along the Rum River. Landowners on the Rum have access to funding to address riverbank erosion with a unique method known as cedar tree revetments. Cedar tree revetments are a low cost, but effective, means to address minor to moderate bank erosion before it gets worse and more expensive to fix. The technique involves cable-anchoring cut cedar trees alongside the bank. Cedar tree's dense branches are naturally rot-resistant and can provide many years of bank protection. This armoring technique helps protect property value, improves water quality in the river, and provides quality fish habitat.

Residents interested in having their riverbank evaluated for a cedar tree revetment should contact Kris Larson at the Anoka Conservation District (763-434-2030 ext. 110; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Installation of revetments will occur throughout the summer in 2021-2022. Most projects cost $5,000-$10,000. Landowners must provide 10% of the total project cost; the remaining 90% is grant-funded.

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Stop the Spread of AIS

Summer is coming! Warmer temperatures and fishing opener mean aquatic invasive species and MN boaters are ramping up activity on Minnesota lakes and rivers.

Do your part to prevent the spread of invasive plants and animals by cleaning, draining, and drying all recreational equipment that goes into a Minnesota lake or stream.

To help protect our lakes and rivers:

  • Clean and drain boats and equipment before leaving the water access.
  • Dispose of all unwanted bait, worms, and fish parts in the trash.
  • Learn to recognize aquatic invasive species (AIS).
  • Follow Minnesota's AIS laws and regulations.

Share this information with others who spend time fishing, boating, or recreating in Minnesota.

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