2021 ACD TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE SUMMARY

ACD staff provide technical assistance for a wide variety of projects each year. Many of the requests for assistance come directly from landowners interested in improving natural resources or addressing concerns on their properties. Technical assistance is also provided for projects in collaboration with county, city, and watershed entity partners. The table to the right summarizes 2021 technical assistance provided by ACD staff.

Assistance begins with a site consultation. Consultations typically include a conversation with the landowner, desktop review of the site using GIS mapping software and available data sets, and a site visit to discuss options. If the landowner is interested in pursuing a project, ACD can provide design and installation oversight services. Maintenance guidance is also provided for previously installed projects.

Additional information about active projects and those previously completed is available on ACD's project tracking map.

https://www.arcgis.com/apps/Shortlist/index.html?appid=d1e76c3d808743c1b149bde24c990894 

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HydroClim Minnesota

"HydroClim Minnesota" is a new electronic newsletter put out monthly by MNDNR Climatologist Pete Boulay. ACD has partnered with Pete for years to manage a network of precipitation volunteers throughout Anoka County.

"HydroClim Minnesota" summarizes weather conditions and other weather events occurring throughout the state and the resulting impact on water resources. By subscribing to the newsletter you can learn exciting facts such as, a storm event occurring on December 15, 2021 was not only the warmest day ever recorded in the month of December but it also involved Minnesota's first documented tornado for the month of December!

To learn more fun facts about weather in your state visit https://mndnr.gov/hydroclim. 

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Assistance for Shoreline Erosion

ACD has a number of grant opportunities available for addressing shoreline erosion along both streams and lakes in Anoka County. If you have noticed your lakeshore migrating back on you over time, or perhaps once had a low walkable area along your river frontage that is now gone leaving only a steep drop-off, ACD may be able to help you design and even fund a project to protect your property.

The first step is a site visit to your property by ACD staff. Now is a great time to reach out to ACD to plan a site visit in the spring. We will assess your erosion problems, give you advice on how to address them, and see if your shoreline might fit into one of our various grant programs for financial assistance. Shoreline restoration does far more than just protect your property. It also protects the water resource you live on, and also enhances habitat for all of the wildlife that utilizes that resource! 

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Start Thinking Spring Conservation!

Current subzero temperatures can make warmer months seem far away, but winter is a great time to begin planning for spring and summer conservation projects at your home. Whether you want to create an oasis for pollinators and other native wildlife or install features that improve local water quality, there are many great informational resources to help you get started.

Create a native vegetation planting plan and control invasive species

Establishing areas of diverse native vegetation and managing invasive plant species produces multiple environmental benefits, including the provision of food and habitat resources for native wildlife and the improvement of local soil and water health, particularly for areas adjacent to rivers, lakes, and wetlands. Sourcing native plants and landscaping services from local experts is the best way to ensure your efforts maximize ecological benefits in your area. 

 Address lawn care needs sustainably

The ways in which we mow, irrigate, and chemically treat our yards can lead to unintended impacts in nearby aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. This year, consider developing a lawn care regime that strategically targets nutrient and pesticide needs and reduces the need for irrigation.

Participate in community surveys and attend educational events

Winter is a great time to explore environmental topics that pique your interest and inspire you to become involved in backyard conservation efforts. Many of Minnesota's environmental and conservation organizations provide free or low-cost educational opportunities such as webinars and workshops. You can also become involved in natural resource surveys such as those for wildlife, weather, and water quality, which greatly improve our understanding of conservation needs across the state. 

Financial and Technical Assistance

Because environmental benefits produced through conservation practices typically extend beyond the bounds of your property, conservation projects such as lakeshore restorations, riverbank stabilizations, and best management practices for urban or agricultural stormwater runoff may qualify for financial or technical assistance. Seeking out and applying for these opportunities early will help you get a strong head start on spring and summer projects.

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LOCAL CONSERVATION LEADERS COME TOGETHER AND SHARE IDEAS

Anoka Conservation District (ACD) Supervisors, Mary Jo Truchon, Glenda Meixell, and Colleen Werdien, along with District Manager Chris Lord, attended the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD) annual meeting for 2021.

The MASWCD convention is a great opportunity for SWCD supervisors and staff to learn more about current natural resource issues in Minnesota. The conference features grassroots initiatives to conserve soil and water resources throughout the state and always provides attendees with new ideas that can be applied on the local level. Keynote speaker, National Geographic Photographer Jim Richardson, presented on the increased strain on the planet in order to feed the growing population and offered a unique opportunity to learn about global agriculture issues and the potential solutions we have to address them.

In addition to sessions on a variety of conservation topics, discussions and votes were held for state natural resource resolutions. Several awards were presented including; Outstanding Community Conservationist Award, Outstanding Forest Steward Award, Minnesota DNR Division of Waters Appreciation Award, and the Outstanding SWCD Employee and Supervisor awards, presented by the Board of Water and Soil Resources. The convention also featured a luncheon, where the SWCD of the Year Award was presented, along with recognition to outstanding conservationists across the state. The City of Anoka was recognized as Anoka County's Outstanding Conservationist for 2021. 

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$1,008,820 Grant for Rum Riverbank Stabilization at Woodbury House!

The Anoka Conservation District (ACD) is collaborating with the City of Anoka to stabilize 300+ linear feet of eroding Rum Riverbank adjacent to the historic Woodbury House site. The ACD recently prepared a state Clean Water Fund grant application on behalf of the city, and the city is being awarded a $1,008,820 grant. It promises to be a high profile and highly beneficial project.

This site is important for water quality and cultural reasons. It is on the Rum River and less than 1/2 mile upstream of the confluence with the Mississippi River. Reduction of sediment and nutrients in both these rivers is a regional priority. The site is also immediately upstream of Twin Cities drinking water intakes, so there are drinking water benefits. The Woodbury House itself is on the National Register of Historic Places. The house was built in 1857 and is currently occupied by the Mad Hatter Restaurant and Tea House. Work will take place on city-owned lands.

Currently, the riverbank has major failures extending up the 30+ foot tall bluff that are increasing in extent. Erosion affects river water quality, fish habitat, and threatens structures at the top of the bluff. 

The Clean Water Fund is from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment passed by voters in 2008.  

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Buckthorn Removal at Carl E. Bonnell Wildlife Management Area

Carl E. Bonnell Wildlife Management Area consists of three Natural Plant Community types. This includes an upland consisting of Red Oak, Sugar Maple, and Basswood forest. The majority of the WMA is made up of two wetland types; this includes willow dogwood shrub swamp and black ash, yellow birch, red maple, basswood swamp.

Anoka Conservation District started buckthorn management at Carl E. Bonnell this winter. This involves removing large buckthorn with a chainsaw and treating smaller buckthorn with a basal bark treatment technique. Both common and glossy buckthorn have been found in the WMA.

Both glossy and common buckthorn are invasive species and are on the Minnesota Restricted Noxious Weed list. Removing and treating buckthorn is important to protect ecosystems. Buckthorn grows thickly and outcompetes native plants for light and nutrients once established. 

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RAIN GARDENS FOR RICE CREEK - UPDATE

Six rain gardens will be constructed on residential properties in a City of Fridley neighborhood adjacent to Rice Creek in 2022. The properties were identified as priority rain garden locations in the Lower Rice Creek Stormwater Retrofit Analysis (SRA) completed by Anoka Conservation District in partnership with RCWD.

The priority rain garden locations identified in the SRA were used to target landowners for rain garden installation in conjunction with a mill and overlay project in the same neighborhood. Based on landowner interest, ACD provided site assessments and designs, which resulted in the six rain gardens to be installed.

Stormwater runoff that flows by each of the rain garden locations is currently piped directly to Rice Creek. Curb-cut rain gardens at these locations will provide reductions in runoff volume, total suspended solids, and total phosphorus reaching Rice Creek, Locke Lake, and ultimately the Mississippi River. Cumulatively, the contributing drainage area to the six proposed rain garden locations is nearly five acres and comprised of medium-density residential land use.

Because this area of the watershed is fully developed, large regional options for treatment are limited. The six proposed rain garden locations are optimally positioned because they have large contributing drainage areas for the neighborhood, provide sufficient space for appropriately sized rain gardens, have minimal utility conflicts, and either have appropriate underlying soils for infiltration or are adjacent to a storm drain for filtration.

ACD staff worked with landowners of the six properties to size rain gardens appropriately for each contributing drainage area and position the rain gardens in approved locations. Designs accounted for existing landscaping, yard slope, underlying soils and utilities, and landowner requests. Planting plans were also developed in collaboration with landowners to incorporate requested native species.

The project will be funded through a combination of the Rice Creek Watershed District's Water Quality Grant Program and the City of Fridley. The landowners will be responsible for ongoing maintenance of the rain gardens.

Watch for additional updates as the rain gardens are installed in 2022. To see other rain gardens already installed throughout Anoka County, please see the virtual project tour on ACD's website. 

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Climate Runaway

A few days ago I was out conducting field work and met a landowner who had recently made the move to Minnesota from California. When I asked what prompted the change of scenery he replied climate change. We got to talking and I was troubled to hear his story.

A few decades ago this gentleman built his families dream home, nestled away in the Sierra Mountains of northern California. This was the property where they planned to retire. They constructed the home having a strong understanding of wild fires in the area and the natural role fires play within the ecosystem. Once construction was complete conditions only worsened. Every year would bring a longer and more severe fire season, slowly becoming more and more unmanageable. The home would be encased in smoke for months at a time, making it unsafe to go outside. Private insurers stopped providing fire insurance due to the increased demand and unprecedented payouts.

New levels of stress were introduced from constantly worrying about losing the home or much worse a family member or friend. What was supposed to be paradise now felt more like a prison. Eventually they reached a personal breaking point and decided to sell the home. Even this aspect was now incredibly difficult and resulted in a large financial loss.

This conversation stuck with me as his experiences were a firsthand account of the realities of climate change. In the future more citizens will have to relocate due to extreme weather conditions such as fires, hurricanes, excessive rainfall and drought. Minnesota could become a northern climate safe haven. The issue of climate change is something we are going to have to try and tackle together as a country. By working together and combining our individual efforts we still have the ability to shift the direction of things and help ensure a healthy planet for future generations. 

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ACD is Part of (another) Award-Winning Conservation Partnership!

The Lower St. Croix Partnership, formed through the "One Watershed, One Plan" process, has been selected to receive a County Conservation Award from the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC). The award, developed in partnership with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), recognizes leadership, innovation, and excellence in protecting or improving natural resources.

This year's award recognized the partnership's success forging relationships that cross the urban-rural divide, and working collaboratively to protect and improve the St. Croix River, groundwater, lakes, streams, rivers, wetlands, and upland habitat. The partnership is sharing regional education staff and a regional agricultural outreach specialist. We are also completing a wide variety of water quality projects including stormwater treatment, erosion stabilization, enhanced street sweeping, and many more. The group follows a 10-year management plan they created together, and utilizes state grant funding for much of its work.

The Anoka Conservation District and Sunrise River Watershed Management Organization represent the Anoka County area in the Lower St. Croix partnership. Learn more at lsc1w1p.org. 

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Mississippi River Erosion Inventory Highlights Bank Stabilization Needs, Gives Project Opportunities

The Mississippi River fulfills the water resource needs of millions of people and provides hydrological and habitat benefits of national significance. It is a powerful waterbody that has shaped the U.S. landscape for millions of years. Erosion is a naturally occurring process in flowing water systems such as the Mississippi River, but it can become exacerbated with increases in extreme weather events and in developed landscapes where stormwater drainage networks contribute to increased surface water volumes. Bank erosion can threaten adjacent urban and agricultural infrastructure and contributes to sediment and nutrient loading that impacts local water quality. Thus, riverbank stabilization practices that minimize erosion serve as mechanisms to combat these environmental challenges.

Using 360° photos captured from a watercraft on the Mississippi River, ACD identified the location and severity of eroded banks spanning from Coon Rapids to Fridley. Altogether, nearly 50 separate stretches of moderately to severely eroded banks were identified, collectively contributing to an estimated 8,517 tons of sediment inputs to the river each year. These stretches were present along both private and public properties ranging from dense residential areas to expansive county parks. A recommended stabilization approach and corresponding project cost estimate was applied to each eroded bank, thus providing cost: benefit scenarios for each potential stabilization project and facilitating the strategic pursuit of those which maximize environmental benefits.

These findings are detailed in a comprehensive report located here, which also includes further details on ACD's erosion inventory methodology, profile pages for each potential stabilization project, and information on a variety of riverbank stewardship and stabilization approaches. To view examples of completed stabilization projects identified through previous erosion inventories, view our interactive projects map here. For more information please contact Breanna Keith, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.763-434-2030 x160

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Protect Minnesota’s waters – Use salt wisely

A 12-ounce coffee cup of salt is enough to cover 10 sidewalk squares or a 20-foot driveway.

http://www.cleanwatermn.org/wp-content/uploads/Salt-Tipcard-v3.pdf

Here is a repost of Washington County's Hold the Salt you tube video: https://youtu.be/Io-zTw5Yb6g


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Removed from Minnesota Impaired Waters List: West Branch Sunrise River!

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recently released their update of the State's impaired waters list, which occurs every two years. Among the success stories was the West Branch of the Sunrise River in Anoka County and Chisago County. This stretch of river has officially been removed from the impaired waters list, thanks in large part to efforts of the Anoka Conservation District!

The portion of the river from Martin Lake to Pool 1 was listed as impaired for high pH. High pH was due to high nutrients and algae in Martin Lake just upstream. ACD's work Martin and Typo Lakes has led to pH returning to acceptable levels. 

Work at the upstream lakes has been ongoing for more than 10 years. It has included rain gardens, stormwater ponds, and carp management. Both Martin and Typo Lakes have improving water quality trends, and Martin Lake has on average met state water quality standards for nutrients the last five years. With additional upcoming work, ACD hopes that Martin Lake is delisted in 2023. Partners in that work have included the Sunrise River Watershed Management Organization, Linwood Township, the Martin Lakers Association, and others.

Other Anoka County waterbodies being delisted include Howard Lake and the Mississippi River from the northwest city limits of Anoka to the Rum River. Howard Lake was impaired for excessive nutrients, and the Rice Creek Watershed District has led implementation of projects to improve it. The section of the Mississippi River was impaired for fecal coliform bacteria. There, improvements may be due to a variety of work by many who care about the Mississippi, and the City of Anoka's efforts to treat stormwater locally. For more information contact Jamie Schurbon, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 763-434-2030 x210

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Rum Riverbank Stabilization in Oak Grove

A project stabilizing 400 linear feet of severely eroding Rum Riverbank is complete in Oak Grove! Construction was completed in November which included;

  • Installation of 850 tons of rock riprap
  • Grading the bank to a more stable slope
  • Blanketing and seeding with a native seed mix
  • Planting native willows and dogwood trees
  • Blanketing the soil with straw to protect it until the vegetation grows

The project was funded by an Outdoor Heritage Fund grant through the Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, as well as match dollars from the landowner and Anoka County. The Outdoor Heritage Fund is one of 4 funds created by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. This project will prevent approximately 140 tons of sediment per year from washing into the river, and will enhance wildlife habitat along 400 feet of riverbank that had been a non-traversable eroding face prior.

Stay tuned for more photo updates as the project greens up this coming spring! 

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2022 ACD TREE SALE

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