Know Your Shoreline

If you live on water, whether it be a lake, river, creek, or stormwater pond, low water during the summer months can provide a great opportunity for you to conduct a quick inspection of your shoreline condition. The very bottom of your shoreline, where it meets the water, is called the toe and is the most critical part for stability.

Low water often exposes the toe of the slope and allows you to identify areas of concern. For example, you might observe undercutting, where the lowest portion of the bank has been scoured away by flowing water or wave action. When problems are caught early, the solutions are often much simpler and cheaper. Addressing erosion concerns early also helps prevent more severe bank failures down the road.

Another good time to inspect your bank is in the fall once leaves have fallen and before snowfall. You can inspect the upper portions of your bank for problems like rutting from concentrated overland flow over the top of the bank.

If you have any questions about your shoreline or think a site visit may be warranted, please contact ACD staff. We're here to help. 

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119 Hits

Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species

Many invasive species are now beginning to develop mature seed. Here are some ways you can do your part to prevent spreading their seed:

  • Avoid mowing invasive species with seed. Seed will travel with the mower and likely remain on the mower to be spread into new areas.
  • Beware of seeds found on your boots or clothing. They may be in the mud between your boot treads or attached to your clothes like Velcro. Use a boot brush to clean your boots and check for seeds on your clothing.
  • Seeds may also attached to treads on bikes, ATV, and stroller tires. Spray down tires to remove mud and plant parts.


Invasive plants can harm ecosystems and choke out beneficial native plants. Always be vigilant to prevent the spread of invasive species!

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144 Hits

Adopt a Drain before Labor Day and Receive a Free Tote Bag!

Our local waterways need YOUR help! Sign up to adopt a storm drain before Labor Day and you'll receive a free tote bag*, perfect for showing off your dedication to your local environment. Program participants that refer a friend will also get a tote bag*!

Adopt a storm drain in your neighborhood to keep it free of leaves, trash, and other pollutants. Storm drains feed directly into our local lakes and rivers, unfiltered, so it's important to keep them clear for cleaner and healthier waterways. When pollutants reach our water, they feed the algae that turn lakes and rivers green, often choking out the food and oxygen wildlife needs to survive. Not to mention algae is ugly, stinky, and makes it difficult to enjoy our beloved water activities.

Adopting a drain FREE and so easy—it only takes a few minutes of your time each month. Do it at your convenience—whenever it works for you!

Though most cities sweep local streets about twice a year, debris collects and runs into local waterways year-round. Adopt-a-Drain asks residents to sign up to fill in the gaps in a city's capacity to keep streets clean. So far, over 12,000 drains have been adopted and over 200,000 pounds of debris has been kept out of our waterways by heroes who care about the environment like you. Will you be next to join the movement?

The Mississippi River and the 833 lakes in the Twin Cities metro area will thank you!

Learn more or sign up at https://www.adopt-a-drain.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/AdoptaDrainMN/



*while supplies last

Modified with permission from Clean Water MN

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135 Hits

Protecting Your Streambank without Breaking the Bank

Erosion along streambanks can cause pollution to local water resources and result in loss of property for landowners. Many times, developmental practices leave streambanks bare and without vegetation covering the soil which can lead to erosion.

Live staking is a practice that puts vegetation back into vulnerable areas. This practice is very low-cost when compared to other streambank stabilization practices and is also something that a landowner can do on their own.

Live stakes can be purchased but many times can be found actively growing in the wild. The most common species used for live staking are species of Willow and Dogwood.

Live stakes should be cut in 2-3 foot lengths and be between 0.5 and 1.5 inches in diameter. It's recommended to cut the stakes at an angle to make them easier to install.

Once harvested, live stakes can be stored for several days in a bucket of water out of the sun but it is recommended to harvest and install live stakes within the same day.

Install stakes in rows, two to three feet apart along the streambank. Planting needs to be deep enough so that the plants can reach water. The stakes are purposely planted densely knowing that not all stakes will survive.

Strong root growth is important during the first growing season. You may not see above-ground growth or budding but that does not mean plants didn't survive. A light tug on the stake can help identify if the roots have become established.

This practice is easy to maintain and additional stakes can easily be added in the future to improve bank stability and fill in any of the areas you may have missed. 

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160 Hits

Blue-Green Algae and the Value of Water Monitoring

Recent hot weather has put lakes in the news. Some, particularly those already polluted with too many nutrients, experience blooms of toxic blue-green algae that create a health concern about getting in the water. Sometimes beaches are closed. Each year there are a few reports in the state of dogs dying from drinking that water. They are dramatic reasons lakes and rivers are monitored, but not the only reasons.

The Anoka Conservation District (ACD) monitors water quality in 20 lakes and 20+ stream or river sites. Not all waters are monitored every year.This monitoring is used for:

  • Surveillance – Identifying problems early.
  • Diagnosis – Determining the cause of problems.
  • Project effectiveness – Track how efforts to improve waters are working, and adjust management to maximize returns.


ACD focuses on lake health and recreational suitability, and can highlight places where health-related monitoring is warranted. Public beaches are required to do other health-related monitoring.

During the summer months, use caution around algae blooms. Toxic blue-green algae cannot be identified just by looking at it, but algal slimes on the water are certainly a warning sign. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency advises, "when in doubt, stay out."

There is no practical treatment to remove blue-green algae from our lakes. It is part of the natural algae community. However, we can work to reduce nutrients that fuel algae blooms. In this way we can improve overall lake recreational suitability and reduce health concerns.

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229 Hits

Watershed Based Implementation Funding

A state strategy to move away from competitive grant funding and toward predictable and reliable allocations for water resource management is underway. The concern with competitive funding is the amount of staff time that is dedicated toward the preparation of project applications. With funding requests consistently exceeding available funding by a factor of four, the likelihood of success is slim. This creates a system of feast or famine project implementation, which leads to the highly inefficient cycle of building and dismantling programs and services.

The new approach, called Watershed Based Implementation Funding will eventually allocate up to 80% of available Clean Water Fund dollars to established partnerships that have ready-to-implement strategic plans. After the bugs are worked out, the hope is that water resource managers will be able to predict funding availability more accurately and be able to implement water quality improvement projects efficiently and systematically.

Anoka Conservation District is a member of four of these watershed-based partnerships: Rum River, Lower St. Croix, Mississippi West, and Mississippi East. Each group is in the process of meeting virtually to discuss how to distribute funds allocated to their watershed area. Allocations for watershed areas are based on land area and other factors, and vary greatly.

Funds can be distributed to partners to pursue the projects identified in their individual plans, or to a ranked list of projects compiled and approved by the partnership. Each group is likely to take a different approach. In the Rum River, a project list was developed by consensus of the partners, and was heavily influenced by project readiness. In the Lower St. Croix, there is a single master plan, called a 1-Watershed, 1-Plan that is being used to guide project selection. In Mississippi West, a ranking system has been developed and each partner may bring forward up to two projects for consideration. In Mississippi East, the preference seems to be to allocate funds to the three subgroups (soils and water conservation districts, watershed management organizations, and counties with groundwater plans) and have them work amongst themselves to develop a list of implementation activities.

How ever we get there, it will be exciting to see what projects and programs come to fruition through this new approach. 

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106 Hits

Anoka County Lakes and River Photos on Google Street View

The Anoka Conservation District has been collecting photo inventories of lakes and rivers around Anoka County and uploading them to Google Street View. We use these photos to look for restoration and stabilization opportunities at eroded or degraded shorelines. You can also view these photos just like you can view streets on Google Maps! All of our photos are available to the public, and so far we have over 618k views! All you have to do to see the photos for yourself is:

1. Navigate to Google Maps in a web browser,

2. Zoom to the lake or river you are interested in (current list of completed inventories below),

3. Grab and drag the "Little Orange Man" in the bottom right of Google Maps to a blue circle or line in the lake or river,

4. And finally, you can pan photos as 360° orbs by clicking and dragging your mouse around. You can also advance around the lake or down the river by clicking the floating gray arrows that appear on the water to zoom to the next picture.

So far we have photos available on the following waterbodies:

  • Rum River
  • Mississippi River (south of Coon Rapids Dam)
  • Lake George
  • Coon Lake
  • Linwood Lake
  • Martin Lake
  • Typo Lake


We are planning to do more inventories in the coming years, so check back into Google Maps periodically, or continue to follow us for more updates!

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299 Hits

ACD Staff Provide Virtual Tour for Metropolitan Area Conservation Districts Summer Meeting

Anoka Conservation District staff provided a 90-minute virtual tour focused on lake management and shoreline stewardship for the Metropolitan Area Conservation Districts summer meeting. Attendees included supervisors and staff from the 11-county metro area.

Typically, a bus tour is coordinated in order to highlight completed projects throughout the selected county. COVID-19 of course prevented this approach, but rather than cancel the tour, ACD facilitated a virtual tour. The novel approach was very well received by the approximately 30 attendees.

Topics included understanding your lake, assessing the health of lakes, recruiting and being a lake steward, and highlights of lake stewardship projects. Staff presentations used animations, pictures, and videos to demonstrate the complexity of managing different types of lakes and working with landowners to manage shorelines.

For more information about technical and financial resources available for lakeshore restoration projects, click here: https://www.anokaswcd.org/lakeshore-restoration.html/

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What can I do with my wetland?

Whether you call it a swamp, marsh, or low area, it is most likely a wetland and it is most likely regulated by someone.

ExcavatingAnoka County residents frequently inquire how to improve their land for waterfowl or other wildlife. A common practice in Anoka County is pond excavations in seasonally saturated areas, or cattail-choked wetlands to provide an open water habitat. The Wetland Conservation Act regulates excavations in the permanently and semi-permanently flooded areas of type 3, 4, or 5 wetlands and also regulates the placement of spoil and the depth of the excavation in all types of wetlands. Other jurisdictions including the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources may have regulatory authority on wetland excavation projects.

DrainingThere is potential for pond excavations to drain adjacent wetland areas. Typically, in Anoka County, if the hydrology is predominantly groundwater driven, a pond excavation can be designed that will not drain adjacent wetlands. However, there is an increased likelihood that a pond excavation will drain adjacent wetlands when wetlands hydrology is primarily surface water, or when the excavation is connected to a drainage ditch. This is an issue that is best addressed by your local government or the Anoka Conservation District during review of a specific project.

Filling: Filling of wetlands must be avoided during pond excavations. The spoil from the excavation must be placed in an upland area. A qualified wetland professional may be needed to ensure that the destination of the spoil is upland.

Proper erosion control practices must be incorporated as well. If you have questions, contact the Anoka Conservation District for assistance. Contact us.

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181 Hits

Riverbanks, Lakeshores, and Rain Gardens, Oh My! - It's Been a Busy Spring

Anoka Conservation District staff have had a busy spring providing technical assistance to landowners for projects related to water resources. Inquiries about riverbanks, lakeshores, and rain gardens have been particularly common. In total, technical assistance has been provided to over 40 individual property landowners.

Active erosion is the primary reason that prompts people to reach out for assistance with their riverbanks and lakeshores. ACD staff have expertise in a wide variety of stabilization methods and know what it takes to complete a successful project. For example, stabilization projects typically require a formal design and coordination with a qualified contractor for installation. There are also a number of permits commonly required, which ACD staff have experience coordinating. Thus far in 2020, technical assistance has been provided for 13 riverbanks and 12 lakeshores.

Technical assistance has also been provided for 16 rain gardens so far in 2020. Rain gardens are generally categorized as either rooftop disconnect or curb-cut. Rooftop disconnect rain gardens receive runoff from downspouts. Driveway runoff could also be directed to rooftop disconnect rain gardens via a trench drain.Rooftop disconnect rain gardens can be a great do-it-yourself project. Curb-cut rain gardens direct water from the curb and gutter system into a shallow depression in your yard near the road and are primarily constructed by landscape contractors. Once the rain garden fills (typically 1' deep), the runoff bypasses the inlet so there is no risk of flooding your yard. This allows the 'first flush' to be treated, which typically has the most pollutants.

Available funding can be limited, but it's always a good idea to check because new grants may become available from year to year. If funding is unavailable, ACD staff can minimally provide technical assistance. That process typically begins with a phone call or email to learn about the site. ACD staff then conduct a desktop site assessment using available mapping data and schedule site visits when necessary. ACD will also provide assistance with design and construction management, which are sometimes covered by grants.

If you have questions about your property, please contact us. In addition to assistance with projects related to water resources, ACD staff are also available to assist with habitat restoration projects. 

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222 Hits

A Decade of Competitive Clean Water Funding: How Do Local Partners Stack Up?

The voter approved Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment increased sales tax in 2010 to create a constitutionally dedicated funding source so we could manage our natural resources for the enjoyment of current and future generations. The funds are distributed through the Clean Water Fund (CWF) to improve surface water and groundwater, the Outdoor Heritage Fund (OHF) to improve habitat, and the Parks & Trails Fund to improve local and regional parks. The amendment expires in 2034, 25 years after it was passed. Of the three funds, the Clean Water Fund is the one most relied on by local government units to implement locally important projects and programs. During the first 10 years of competitive Clean Water Fund awards, 582 local government units submitted 2,064 successful project proposals and secured over $279M in funds to make our water resources better.

In the first decade of Clean Water Fund awards, Anoka Conservation Districts comes in at a respectable 7th of 582. With 18 successful grant applications totaling just under $4M, we've been able to do a lot of work for those who live, work and play in Anoka County. Details of all CWF projects can be found at Legacy.MN.gov.

Of course, that is only a small part of the whole story. ACD works in tandem with many partners wholly and partially within Anoka County who have also been very successful securing CWF funds and putting water management into action. You may have noticed that three of the top ten recipients statewide serve all or portions of Anoka County, including the City of St. Francis and the Rice Creek Watershed District. In total, twelve of the twenty-one cities in Anoka County, along with three of the seven water management entities have all secured CWF funds to manage surface water and groundwater resources. Many of those not listed were critical partners in project funding, installation, and maintenance. We are all working together to ensure our water resources have a bright future.

Outdoor Heritage Funds have also been a critical source of funds to support habitat management in Anoka County, but that's another story.

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Buffer Law Update

Erosion along streambanks causes pollution and loss of property for the landowner. Current development practices often leave streambanks bare and without vegetation. These conditions can lead to erosion occurring on the banks since there is no longer plant material holding the soil in place.

ACD is continuing to work with landowners in 2020 to help bring Anoka County into 100% compliance with the State Buffer Law. The law that was passed in 2017 requires a perennial vegetated buffer along waterways across the state:

  • 50' average and minimum of 30' along designated public waters.
  • 16.5' minimum along designated public ditches.

The goal of the law is to improve water quality in Minnesota as these buffers help filter out phosphorus, nitrogen, sediment and other pollutants.

With the growing season underway, ACD staff is actively checking properties for compliance and providing direction to landowners.

As of July 2019, the state was 98% compliant but this is an ongoing effort and will continue to update and develop as local land use changes.

The next phase, includes another professional review of properties throughout Anoka County to identify non-compliant parcels. This review will be based on 2019 aerial photos that will be released later this year.

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230 Hits

Take a Kid Fishing

This past weekend (June 5-7) was the MN DNR's annual Take a Kid Fishing Weekend, but if you missed out, it's not too late to introduce a kid to the outdoors! Fishing is a great way to get kids off the couch and outside while also being a great family bonding activity. Kids under the age of 16 do not need a license to fish, and very little equipment is necessary to get started.

Anoka County offers many locations and opportunities to fish from shore, fishing piers, or other structures in all of its regional parks. No boat required! Additionally, the MN DNR's Fishing in the Neighborhood (FiN) program offers easily accessible fishing for kids and families at many other locations. All of the FiN lakes and rivers in Anoka County can be found online at: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fishing/fin/anoka.html

Fishing is a relaxing activity that can get kids interested in the outdoors, and teaches skills that can be used for a lifetime of enjoyment. Even if you don't have a boat, you can spend sunny, summer days reeling in supper for the evening, or the "big one" for a picture. Either way lifelong memories will be made.

The fun doesn't have to end with summer! Fishing can be great through the fall and winter from shore, or on the ice. Fall hunting seasons in Minnesota offer up extensive outdoor recreational activity as well, with many publically accessible areas all over the state.

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254 Hits

ACD Receives Aquatic Invasive Species Behavior Change Grant through DNR

Anoka Conservation District, in partnership with Anoka County Parks, received a MNDNR behavior change grant in the amount of $4,992.74 to pilot a strategy to reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species. The pilot behavior change intervention strategy will be delivered to the target audience of boaters and anglers through the installation of new boat cleaning equipment at 5 high traffic boat launches and education provided by on-site AIS inspectors. The project will influence positive behavior change in boaters and anglers by removing barriers such as lack of access to tools/equipment for properly cleaning boats/trailers, lack of space to clean boat or pressure caused by high-traffic boat launches, and lack of knowledge of how to use cleaning tools/equipment. We will lay the groundwork by conducting research on baseline boater behavior this summer, install the weed removal stations in spring of 2021, and collect observational data on weed removal station use and commitments to use the stations from boaters throughout the 2021 boating season. The results of the pilot study will be used by the DNR in future AIS behavior change strategies throughout the state.

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228 Hits

LCCMR Environmental Education Grant Application

In collaboration with the Metro Conservation Districts, ACD applied for a 2021 LCCMR Environmental Education grant in the amount of $546,000. If funded, the proposed project would influence perceptions, practices, and policies surrounding ecoscaping in the 11-county metro area by launching a multi-pronged outreach campaign, elevating the educational value of high-profile demonstration projects, and engaging local leaders to adopt eco-friendly policies. The proposed project involves a rigorous barriers and benefits analysis using the proven Community Based Social Marketing framework to identify common barriers faced by residents that limit the widespread acceptance and adoption of eco-friendly lawn care practices. The project will promote the benefits of ecoscaping and create a widespread conservation ethic, particularly in suburban Minnesota. This work is important because turf lawns are unsustainable for the long-term health of our waters and wildlife. While eco-friendly lawn care practices are growing more popular, social norms and misinformation hinder widespread adoption of these practices. Only by addressing the public's perception of ecoscaping, the policies related to preserving and restoring native landscapes, and the practices at all levels of the community will we be able to eliminate barriers and motivate large-scale behavior change.

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195 Hits

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