Save Money and Water!

Spring is here. If you have an irrigation system for your yard, you likely already have it up and running or are considering doing so within the next month. Now is the time when you're setting the watering duration and frequency for each zone in your yard. These settings often remain unchanged throughout the season, which typically results in over-watering. Over-watering wastes drinkable water, and assuming you don't have a private well, it also wastes money.

This year, in addition to following city restrictions (e.g. odd/even watering schedules), try actively managing your irrigation controller. Active management consists of adjusting run times based on local conditions. For example, during periods with sufficient rainfall, watering duration and frequency can be reduced. During these times, you can simply turn your irrigation system off. In contrast, during periods of extreme heat and drought, supplemental watering may be necessary. Watch your yard for signs of drought before turning on your irrigation system, and rely on rainfall as much as possible. When you need to use your irrigation system, water your lawn one time or less per week with a good soaking to encourage deeper root growth, and schedule watering times in the morning to reduce evaporation associated with midday heat and wind.

An alternative to active management is a smart irrigation controller. Smart irrigation controllers use an internet connection to actively monitor local precipitation patterns and automatically adjust watering frequency and duration accordingly. Regardless of whether you choose active management or a smart irrigation controller, both are effective options for reducing water use and saving money.

Visit the University of Minnesota Extension's Lawn Care website for additional lawn management resources.

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2020 St. Croix Virtual Workshops on the Water - for local community leaders

REGISTER TODAY

We'd like to invite you and your local community leaders to join us for a series of short educational webinars during the month of June. Presentation topics will include lakeshore and riverway rules, wildlife of the Lower St. Croix watershed, and policies to protect pollinators. Our partners in Washington County partners have collaborated to hold an annual St. Croix Workshop on the Water for the past 10 years. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they are offering this year's workshop as a series of free webinars instead.

This year's St. Croix Virtual Workshops on the Water are offered in partnership by EMWREP, MN DNR, Washington County, and St. Croix River Association.

Lake and Shoreline Management: June 3, 2-3pm

*Offered in place of the June water consortium meeting

  • Who's in charge? Understanding the different roles of state and local government - Jay Riggs, WCD
  • Common scenarios: Can I do that with my property? - Angie Hong, EMWREP
  • Vegetative removal and land alteration standards along shorelines - Matt Bauman - MN DNR

Landscaping and Habitat: June 10, 2-3pm

  • Planting for clean water and wildlife - Angie Hong, EMWREP
  • Policies to protect pollinators - Laurie Schneider, Pollinator Friendly Alliance
  • St. Croix virtual wildlife safari - Greg Seitz, St. Croix 360

St. Croix Riverway: June 17, 2-3pm

  • St. Croix Riverway land use regulations – Dan Petrik and Matt Bauman, MN DNR
  • Ideas for innovative local shoreland, floodplain, and St. Croix land use ordinances – Dan Petrik and Matt Bauman, MN DNR

Register online to reserve your spot.

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Clean Water Begins at your Curb

ACD, as a member of the Metro Watershed Partners Steering Committee, collaborated with Twin Cities Public Television to produce a 90 second interstitial to promote the Adopt-a-Drain program about how our storm drains and waterways are connected. This animated video, "Clean Water Begins at your Curb," first aired on TPT LIFE on April 24th and will continue to air throughout the summer.

Watch the video online here: https://www.tpt.org/clean-water-begins-curb/


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Spurge Euphorbia esula MN Noxious Weed: Prohibited – Control

  • 1-2 foot tall
  • Greenish-yellow flower bracts
  • Simple and opposite leaves
  • A white, milky sap exudes if the stem or leaves are cut
  • Grows in full to part sun in range of soil types and moisture

If you see leafy spurge, please report it on EDDMaps: www.eddmaps.org/

For more information and control methods see:

https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialplants/herbaceous/leafyspurge.html

https://www.mda.state.mn.us/plants/pestmanagement/weedcontrol/noxiouslist/leafyspurge

Biological control is an option for reducing large infestations of leafy spurge. Adult leafy spurge beetles (Aphthona lacertosa) feed on the leaves and lay eggs at the base of spurge plants. Larvae feed on the roots over the winter until they pupate and emerge as adults the following summer. See: https://www.mda.state.mn.us/plants/pestmanagement/weedcontrol/noxiouslist/leafyspurge/leafyspurge

Photo at Anoka Nature Preserve. 7.3.2019
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The Season of Spring Erosion (and Help for Those Experiencing It)


The excitement of spring often comes with high water, ice, and waves. This spring is no exception. Owners of property on lakes and rivers are quick to take note. And sometimes, feel a bit helpless. The Anoka Conservation District offers help to those landowners. We've got technical know-how to fix the problems. We focus on approaches that are lasting, create habitat, and improve water quality. The advice is free. As a bonus, financial help in the form of grants are often available.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, our staff are most easily reached by email, however, we are also checking voice messages. For contact information see https://www.anokaswcd.org/index.php/about-us/staff-directory.html

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250 Hits

Rain Guardian Pretreatment Chambers Featured on LIDBIT Vlog

Rain Guardian pretreatment chambers were recently featured in a new vlog focused on low impact development (LID).The vlog is called LIDBit and is coordinated by Rob Woodman with ACF Environmental.In the Rain Guardian episode, Rob interviewed Anoka Conservation District Stormwater and Shoreland Specialist, Mitch Haustein, about Rain Guardian pretreatment chamber functionality, configurations, installation, and maintenance.Check out the Rain Guardian episode and others on the LIDBit Video YouTube channel (https://tinyurl.com/vfmm9fc).

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274 Hits

Sheet Mulching

Sheet mulching – saves time, builds soil, and smothers existing weeds or lawn without using herbicide.

Sheet mulching is an excellent way to convert lawn to garden beds without using herbicides or excessive labor. Meanwhile it can build soil and be accomplished with readily available materials.

Begin by mowing grass or other vegetation in the area you want to convert into a new garden bed. It can be as simple as layers of newspaper or cardboard topped by four inches of mulch to smother grass and weeds underneath. If this is started in the spring, the underlying plants will have died from lack of light and the garden bed will be ready for planting in the fall.A more diverse layering of material will produce a compost that will break down and build your soil. For this, layer:

  1. Soil amendments if soil test results recommend amendments (lime, greensand, etc.). Recommended if you are creating a vegetable garden.
  2. Thin layer of compost.
  3. Wet newspaper or cardboard, 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick.
  4. Thin layer of nitrogen source such as manure.
  5. Layer of straw or leaves (carbon source).
  6. Continue to alternate layers of nitrogen and carbon sources.
  7. End with a top layer of mulch.

This type of bed is finished when these layers have decomposed. It may take the entire growing season to decompose sufficiently. If you start in the spring, the bed will likely be ready to plant in the fall.

See the Xerces Society Organic Site Preparation for Wildflower Establishment publication for more organic site preparation methods and directions:

https://xerces.org/publications/guidelines/organic-site-preparation-for-wildflower-establishment

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235 Hits

Oak Wilt

Oak Wilt is becoming an increasing problem throughout the State and kills off a large number of oaks every year. Even though oak wilt is active in a large area of Minnesota, effective management techniques exist.

Oak wilt in a healthy tree will begin wilting the canopy. This usually starts at the top of the tree and spreads downward. The tree then sheds leaves, which will begin individually wilting at the edges and spread towards the midrib of the leaf or at the leaf tip and wilt towards the stem. A discoloration or streaking of the wood just below the bark may also be present.

In Red Oaks, the deterioration process can take as little as 4 weeks. In White Oaks, the disease may come back every year but death of the tree could take up to 5 years or longer after the initial symptoms appear.

Healthy oak trees are usually infected by the fungus's ability to move underground through the roots of nearby trees that have grafted together. In general, trees more than 50 feet apart are less likely to be infected through grafted roots. Sap beetles also transport the disease above ground by moving from an infected tree to a healthy one.

Stopping the spread of oak wilt is possible. Breaking root connections between closely spaced oaks will reduce the chance of the disease spreading from infected trees to nearby healthy ones. This takes a specialized piece of equipment and can be difficult to achieve. This is way preventing infection in the first place is the recommended best management practice.

Even though the nice weather makes you want to head outside and work on your property, you should avoiding pruning and wounding healthy oaks in the spring and summer. Between April and July, oak trees are at a much higher risk of infection by sap beetles who are attracted to fresh wounds in the bark of oak trees and may be carrying the fungus. Oak trees should be assessed for storm damage and any wound should immediately be sealed with a water-based paint of another type of plant sealer.

Other techniques to stop the spread of oak wilt include; avoid moving firewood from known infected areas, timely removal and disposal of infected trees, and the use of fungicide when necessary. Many times multiple approaches are necessary to slow or eradicate the problem. Meeting with a local tree care providers can help create a management plan that will be effective on your property.

If you have more questions or are concerned about Oak Trees in your area, contact a local professional to inquire about what can be done on your property. Early detection is still the best method of control.

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Trim Oak Trees now to Prevent the Spread of Oak Wilt


Oak wilt is caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum. Oak wilt can be spread in two ways: 1) fungal spores travelling tree to tree through grafted roots, and 2) fungal spores spread by sap beetles that fly from infected trees or wood to healthy trees. The beetles are attracted to fresh wounds in healthy trees, and these wounds offer an introduction point for the fungus.Trimming or cutting healthy oaks from the months of November through March helps to prevent fresh wounds in healthy trees when the beetles are active. Trimming away dead and dying branches during this period can help prevent oak wilt spreading from neighboring areas to your trees. If your oak trees still need trimming before this spring, be sure to do it before the end of March. April 1 through July 15 is considered the high risk period, and all trimming of oaks should be avoided. July 15 through October 31 is considered low risk, but spread is still possible. Red oaks and pin oaks are especially susceptible to oak wilt, and once infected, a healthy tree is killed within ​months.

Unfortunately, oak wilt is very common in Anoka County. More information on prevention of the disease in your yard can be found at https://extension.umn.edu/plant-diseases/oak-wilt-minnesota
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Trees for Bees (and other pollinators)

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Where the Anoka Conservation District Money Goes

ACD finances historically experience dramatic variability from year to year due to activities being driven by competitive grants, several of which have been in excess of $400,000. Many state grants are from sales tax revenue dedicated to natural resource activities. ACD is committed to accessing these funds so Anoka County taxpayers will benefit from them in proportion to sales tax paid in the county. Also of note is how consistent ACD's operational and personnel costs have been. ACD staff and supervisors strive to keep overhead costs down, while expanding service

Making Sense of the Dollars: Although governed by an elected board, conservation districts do not yet have taxing authority and must secure funds from many sources to maintain programs and services. State grants are the primary funding source for project installation, while the county provides seven times what the state does to support general district operations. County funds are critical because many grants do not cover overhead expenses. Unfortunately, many grants also require matching funds, so county funds must serve as match and cover all costs ineligible under complex grant rules.

Making Dollars of the Cents: To provide comprehensive natural resource management, ACD collaborates with cities, watershed management entities, state agencies, county departments, non-profits, and landowners on projects of mutual interest. The 2019 revenue chart begins to convey this but does not show the 68 projects and programs supported by 26 distinct funding sources, many of which supported multiple projects and programs. For example, County Project Funds alone is comprised of 12 projects, and State Grants were used in part to fund 35 different initiatives 


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348 Hits

Stop the Spread of GARLIC MUSTARD


Garlic Mustard / Alliaria petiolata

An invasive Species you can eat.

Garlic mustard is a highly aggressive invasive species, growing in woodlands and woodland edges. It is one of the first invasive species to emerge and flowers in May – June. It is a biennial forb, producing a basal rosette the first year and bolting to produce an elongated stalk, flowers and seed in the second year. Since garlic mustard is a biennial the main goal is to prevent the plant from going to seed. The best way to control garlic mustard is to hand pull the entire plant (including the roots). If flowers or seed pods are present, it is necessary to compost at a facility that composts at high heat. Plants can produce viable seed even after pulled.

Garlic Mustard is edible and has medicinal uses

Garlic mustard leaves are available very early in the spring as soon as the ground begins to warm. Like all greens, leaves taste better when leaves are young and before the plant has bolted. Leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and have a mild garlic and mustard flavor.

Popular recipes include:

  • garlic mustard potato salad
  • wilted greens in stir fry
  • tabbouleh
  • garlic mustard pesto

Medicinal properties of garlic mustard leaves and stems: antiasthmatic, antiscorbutic, antiseptic, deobstruent, diaphoretic, vermifuge and vulnerary (Grieve 1984 and Chiej 1984). Greens are high in Vitamin A and C.

Important! Never eat wild plants unless you are certain about identification. Some plants are poisonous. Know the site rules about harvesting plants on public and private lands. Determine past management of the area. Don't consume plants from areas that were treated with herbicides.

Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin 1984 ISBN 0-14-046-440-9

Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald 1984 ISBN 0-356-10541-5

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455 Hits

METRO-WIDE TRAINING PROVIDED ON URBAN SUBWATERSHED ANALYSIS PROTOCOL

The Metro Conservation Districts (MCD) received a Clean Water Fund Accelerated Implementation Grant to conduct analyses that identify cost-effective water quality improvement projects for priority waterbodies.The Subwatershed Analysis (SWA) process includes protocols for both rural and urban subwatersheds.Anoka Conservation District (ACD) employee Mitch Haustein provided training on the urban protocol and modeling process to over 30 staff from counties, soil and water conservation districts, and watershed districts throughout the 11-County Metro.

Since the SWA program began in 2010, over 60 analyses have been completed throughout the 11-County Metro that have identified more than 4,000 projects and resulted in the installation of hundreds of cost-effective water quality improvement projects.

The $200,000 grant awarded to MCD, which requires a $50,000 match, will result in the completion of an additional 15 SWAs.Previously completed SWAs in Anoka County are available on ACD's website (www.AnokaSWCD.org).

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306 Hits

Our Groundwater Connection: Contamination Video

The second in a series of videos about groundwater was published on March 3rd, 2020. "Our Groundwater Connection: Contamination" is a follow-up to the original "Our Groundwater Connection" video published on June 11th, 2019. The video builds on the information viewers learned from the first video, focusing on how groundwater becomes contaminated and what we can do to prevent contamination. The video explains different sources of pollution, how pollutants travel and build up over time, and what happens when wells become contaminated. The video concludes with the message that "everyone has the responsibility to stop contamination from getting into our groundwater. When we work together to prevent pollution, we can ensure clean drinking water now, and for many generations to come."

The project was made possible because members of the Water Resource Outreach Collaborative pooled their resources to create a high quality product with minimal financial stress on any one organization. Partners from Washington County Public Health and Environment and the Minnesota Department of Health also provided input and support for the project.

On March 3rd, the video was debuted at the MN Rural Water Association Annual Technical Conference during a mini-session presentation by ACD's Outreach and Engagement Coordinator.

Watch on the video on YouTube by searching "Our Groundwater Connection: Contamination," or by clicking here: https://youtu.be/gRSHJpe8pq8

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Golden Lake Project Water Quality Improvement Project

2019 marked the completion of a large scale water quality improvement project designed to removed excess nutrients form stormwater prior to it discharging into Golden Lake. Golden Lake is located in the City of Circle Pines and has been designated as being impaired by nutrient contamination. Excess nutrients lead to high algae growth and low water clarity. This project was completed by a partnership of the City of Circle Pines ($70,000) and the Anoka Conservation District ($12,000) with financial contributions from the Rice Creek Watershed ($50,000) District and the Clean Water Fund of the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment ($467,968)

Although it looks like little more than a sand volley ball court, the project relies on precise chemistry and physics. The project pumps water from a stormwater pond just upstream of Golden Lake and directs that water through a sand filter that is enhanced with iron filings. The iron filings chemically bind to the nutrient pollution. The clean, filtered water discharges to an old ditch alignment that goes to Golden Lake. When functioning per the design, the project should remove 40-60 pounds per year of phosphorus for 25 years, which gets us 50% of the way to our goal for Golden Lake.

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