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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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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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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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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2019 Precipitation in Minnesota

2019 was another banner year for precipitation in Minnesota, with over 20 individual annual precipitation records set, and the state turning in its wettest year on record.

Precipitation totals for the year exceeded 30 inches over all but about 5-10% of the state, mainly in far northern Minnesota, with totals exceeding 50 inches in parts of southern and southeastern Minnesota. Well over half of the state was 12-20 inches (or 50-70%) wetter than normal. Annual surpluses of that magnitude over such a large area contributed to 2019 being Minnesota's wettest year on record, on a statewide-average basis, with an average of 35.51 inches. This eclipsed the old record of 33.93 inches, set in 1977.

Although no climate observing station was able to break the statewide individual annual precipitation record of 60.21 inches set by Harmony in 2018, many stations with over 50 years of observations did break their own annual precipitation records. Rochester International Airport led the pack with 55.16 inches, breaking its old record by more than 11 inches.

The Twin Cities International airport, part of the longest station history in the state, had just broken its record in 2016, but broke it again in 2019, with 44.17 inches. Other records fell throughout the state. The majority of these stations broke records that had been set this decade.

Even closer to home, the ACD has utilized the precipitation data collected by our volunteer observers to assist with putting our monitoring well data in context. We have observed sustained wetland hydrology because of the abundance of precipitation. How this will affect how wetlands are managed in the present and future will need to be addressed by the current wetland regulatory rules and by utilizing the data we collect when reviewing wetland delineations.

This information is provided at the DNR Climate website:https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/climate/journal/top-weather-and-climate-stories-2010s.html

Here is a partial list of the records set this year.


Station

2019 Precip records (in.)

Previous record(yr.)

Rochester

55.16

43.94 (1990)

Owatonna

53.50

48.40 (2016)

Zumbrota

48.60

45.52 (2010)

Lake City

43.85

43.59 (2002)

Minneapolis - St. Paul

43.17

40.32 (2016)

Mora

43.08

41.63 (2010)

U of M St. Paul

42.95

41.67 (2016)

St. Cloud

41.92

41.01 (1897)

Itasca U of M

37.59

35.64 (1985)




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ACD Receives Grant for Abandoned Well Sealing Cost-share Program

In Anoka County, 330,000 residents (94% of the population) depend on groundwater for drinking water, using about 12 billion gallons annually.

In 2015, Anoka County identified more than 2,300 properties in Drinking Water Supply Management Areas (DWSMAs) that have a high potential of having an unused/unsealed well (see map to left). These abandoned wells pose a risk to human health by providing a direct, unmaintained conduit where contaminants, such as pesticides, nutrients, heavy metals, salts, hydrocarbons, and pathogens, can be introduced into groundwater drinking water supplies.

Anoka Conservation District (ACD) was awarded a Clean Water Fund grant to coordinate a cost-share program to financially incentivize Anoka County property owners to hire licensed professionals to seal abandoned wells in high priority areas (i.e. within DWSMAs).Through targeted outreach, ACD will identify landowners interested in participating, and the program will provide funding to seal up to 125 abandoned wells.


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ACD Awarded a State Grant for Carp Mgmt. at Linwood & Martin Lakes

A State grant has been awarded for carp management at Linwood, Martin and Typo Lakes and is set to begin in 2020. This $148,000 grant is funded through the Clean Water Fund and will build on the successes of the current carp management program. Contributions from the Martin Lakers Association, Linwood Lake Association, and the Sunrise Watershed Management Organization will assist in funding the grant. ACD will be the grant recipient and help coordinate partnerships between private contractors, volunteers, and local organizations. The state took notice of the success the current program is having and saw that continuing work in this area of Anoka County should be a priority, ranking the project #3 out of nearly 100 applications statewide​.

Carp management over the last 3 years, funded by a different grant, was able to remove enough carp from the lakes to reach the halfway mark of the total reduction goal. Similar techniques will be continued over the next 3 years. A private contractor will develop management plans specific to each lake. Large box-nets will be installed in priority areas and be baited with bags of cracked corn. Throughout the season the nets will be harvested by the contractor and local volunteers. The nets will be maintained by residents who live near the harvesting sites and ACD staff​.

Carp populations have the ability to grow quickly and can be devastating to overall lake health if left unmanaged. This grant is focused on improving water quality, help reduce seasonal algae blooms and improve the habitat and life cycle for other game fish.

This grant is the fruition of hard work and support from many individuals and organizations. By continuing to plan and build strong local partnerships, these lakes are on track to meet management goals and prevent carp population increases that would likely cause declining water quality.

If you live on Linwood, Martin or Typo Lakes and would like to learn more about the program or would like to inquire about volunteering, please contact the ACD office. (763) 434-2030.

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Natural Resources Management Often Starts With a Party

Managing natural resources is mostly about engaging people.While one landowner can make a change, groups of people can make big change.If you want to gather people to a cause, you'll need a party.

At the Anoka Conservation District we have the pleasure of being invited to many such parties.Lake associations, sporting groups, and civic groups gather people to summer barbeques, fall bonfires and winter fundraisers.Ideas for natural resources management are developed.Enthusiasm spreads.Funds are raised.Trusting relationships grow.It's arguably the foundation of natural resources management.

While we at the Anoka Conservation District are wonderfully proud of our part in natural resources management, we recognize that we are just a part.Here's a big word of THANKS to all those volunteers and groups that have parties that lead to cleaner lakes, healthy forests, and abundant wildlife!

Below are photos of a few great parties in 2019.

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Lawns to Legumes in Anoka County

The Anoka Conservation District, in partnership with the cities of Fridley, Coon Rapids, Anoka, and Andover, were awarded $40,000 from the Board of Water and Soil Resources to establish a Lawns to Legumes Demonstration Neighborhood in the Mississippi and Rum River Corridor. The project will convert residential lawns into pollinator habitat in support of the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee and other at-risk pollinators. Residents interested in being part of a Demonstration Neighborhood in Anoka County should complete this form: bit.ly/lawns-legumes-anoka

In addition, there are several other ways to get involved:

  • 1.Visit the Board of Water and Soil Resources website to learn more and download free resources: bwsr.state.mn.us/L2L
  • 2.Sign up for a Lawns to Legumes Workshop near you: bluethumb.org/events (Landowner workshop will be scheduled in Anoka County in summer of 2020)
  • 3.All residents may be eligible for individual mini-grant funding up to $350. Apply here: bluethumb.org/lawns-to-legumes

If you have any questions about how the Lawns to Legumes Program will work in Anoka County or how you can be involved, please reach out! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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ACD Receives Funding for Weed Management Grants

ACD received funding from BWSR to continue the Anoka Cooperative Weed Management Area program and received two sources of MDA funding for Anoka County invasive species control and for Metro-wide non-native Phragmites treatment.

The Anoka Cooperative Weed Management Area Program currently consists of 27 Partners who have identified priority invasive species of concern, locations and activities in Anoka County. ACD received the maximum funding of $15,000 to be utilized in three years. Renewal/BWSR Request for Proposals are offered every two years. Current BWSR funds will support:

  • mapping and monitoring priority invasive species on EDDMaps,
  • surveys in select high quality habitats,
  • implementation of biocontrol release,
  • monitoring past treatment,
  • training a new partner, Anoka County Highway staff on invasive species identification and treatment, including wild parsnip sites identified on Anoka Highway ROW,
  • organizing and creating outreach material and expanding the ACWMA website to provide a central location for ACWMA resources,
  • provide outreach and engagement with City Staff, residents, and volunteers,
  • and, provide technical and financial resources for invasive species cost share program for priority invasive species and priority locations.

ACD received the maximum funding from MDA Level 1, $10,000, to be spent in 2020. These funds will increase the capacity of the ACWMA efforts and specifically support:

  • Invasive species trainings and volunteer engagement in invasive species control in Anoka County, including a training to Anoka County Master Gardeners in April 2020.
  • Mapping and monitoring priority invasive species and surveys in high quality habitats.
  • Release knapweed root weevil (Cyphocleonus achates) and knapweed flower weevils (Larinus minutus obtusus) biocontrol at two sites.
  • Provide training to Anoka County Highway to identify and control priority invasive species, starting with wild parsnip by June 2020.
  • Treat all known populations of wild parsnip in Anoka County by July 2020.
  • Follow up treatment of golden creeper with digging out roots and June 2020 and herbicide application of any remaining plants by September 2020.
  • Conduct a land management and invasive speices workshop to City of Blaine residents in September 2020. By mid-November 2020, provide technical and financial support for buckthorn treatment to landowners adjacent to the Blaine Wetland Sancturary, treating 12 acres of buckthorn. I'm collaborating with Rebecca Haug/City of Blaine, Beth Carreno/RCWD and Metro Blooms.

ACD received $49,705 from MDA Level 2 to be spent over two years to map, treat, and monitor non-native Phragmites in the Metro. Metro County Partners will continue mapping and will obtain permission from landowners to treat with herbicide and mowing. ACD will coordinate monitoring following MN DNR protocols, will hire a contractor for treatment, and lead native planting/restoration at Sunrise Lake which was previously treated.

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2019 ACD Monitoring Season

2019 was another successful monitoring season for The Anoka Conservation District (ACD). Strong partnerships with watershed districts, watershed management organizations, and local lake associations, allowed ACD to implement a variety of monitoring programs including; daily precipitation totals (12 volunteers), lake levels (25 lakes), lake water quality (11 lakes), stream hydrology (12 sites), stream water quality (18 sites), stream benthic macroinvertebrates (3 Anoka County schools), shallow groundwater levels in wetlands (19 sites) and deep groundwater levels in observation wells (24 sites).

2019 ended up being the wettest year on record for the state of Minnesota with a state-wide average of 35.51 inches, breaking the previous record of 33.93 inches set in 1977. Due to the banner year Minnesota had with rainfall, we saw historically high water levels in lakes and streams and higher than average groundwater levels in many wetlands and groundwater wells. 2019 was a great year for overall water quality, with many of the lakes and streams showing improvements compared to the historical average.

With a growing population and ever-increasing development, it is more important than ever to have the ability to make informed decisions when it comes to land use management and for local leaders to have an understanding of how those decisions may affect natural resources. Water resources are rapidly declining in quality and quantity throughout the metro. Anoka County is fortunate enough to still have many pristine natural areas but it will take a team effort to keep them that way.

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Rum River Central Regional Park Riverbank Stabilization

The Anoka Conservation District partnered with Anoka County Parks to stabilize 310' of eroding riverbank within Rum River Central Regional Park. Prior to the project, the bank was severely eroding and undermining sections of a paved trail. The stabilization project is now complete and included the following elements:

  • Minimal riprap at the bottom of the slope within the zone of frequent water level fluctuation where vegetation does not grow well,
  • Grading above the riprap to the top of the slope (3H:1V), seeding with native vegetation, and installation of an erosion control blanket,
  • Relocation of the paved trail to ensure sufficient separation between the trail and the new top of slope, and
  • Dormant willow stakes were installed in November 2019 as the final phase of the project.

Stabilization of the bank will prevent 100 tons of sediment annually from entering the Rum River. Multiple State and local funding sources were used to complete the project.

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Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council Recommends Funds for Rum River Stabilization Projects

The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council is recommending $952,000 from the Outdoor Heritage Fund for ACD to stabilize eroding Rum Riverbanks utilizing habitat-building, bioengineering approaches over the next three years. Bioengineering techniques stabilize and armor eroding riverbanks in a way that both protects the bank from further erosion and provides traversable habitat for wildlife. These techniques rely on using natural materials such as tree trunks and root wads, in-stream rock weirs, native plantings and tree staking, gradual slope grading, and minimal hard armoring where necessary. Current erosion along streambanks, as well as traditional armoring techniques like riprap, result in a wall or barrier to wildlife. The bioengineering techniques that will be employed by ACD in the Rum River will eliminate those barriers and provide additional habitat for all kinds of wildlife.

ACD has identified over twenty eroding banks along the Rum River in Anoka County that it will be seeking to address with these funds. It is anticipated that four to eight sites will be stabilized with the $952,000 from the LSOHC and an additional $236,000 in local funds from Anoka County and the Upper and Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organizations. Anoka County has pledged $442,000 in Rum River stabilization matching funds over the next five years. The remaining funds will be used as match for future grant applications.

The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council has made the funding recommendation to the Minnesota Legislature, who will draft final bill language during the 2020 legislative session. ACD will begin reaching out to landowners with identified eroding banks suitable for these stabilization techniques after the funding is finalized.

  Example photo of an eroding Rum Riverbank stabilized with bioengineering techniques. This project was the result of the continuing partnership between ACD and Anoka County Parks.

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Leaving a Legacy on the Land through Easements

Written by: Jamie Schurbon, Watershed Projects Manager

When I was young, there was a woodlot in the neighborhood where kids, including me, roamed. It was along the river, where there were frogs to be caught. We built forts. We played games. It felt like 100 acres, but in hindsight was probably just a few. That natural area was, apart from the people, a most memorable part of the neighborhood.

What's the best part of your neighborhood? Perhaps it's a woodlot on your own property. Or a wetland the provides a little privacy. Or just a few big mature trees. We get joy from living in natural surroundings big or small. When these things are lost, the neighborhood seems to sigh in disappointment (and some folks get downright upset).

Conservation easements are one tool available to landowners who want to ensure their land is kept natural for the long term, as a legacy for the community. Conservation easements pay landowners in exchange for a restriction on certain types of changes, such as clearing and building, to the land in the future. The easement runs with the land and applies to future owners.

The newest easement program available in Anoka County focuses on properties along the Rum River. Riverbank properties are critical to the scenic and recreational qualities of the river, as well as the river's ecological quality. The program pays 60% of the assessed value of the land. You set the easement boundaries. You retain ownership. The land does not become open to the public.

Easements are purchased strategically. While many lands are eligible, not all are competitive candidates. Those that score highest are parts of larger high quality natural areas and will not become "islands" within development. Easements should help retain community character and be consistent with anticipated growth.

If you are interested in having your land considered for a conservation easement, please contact Carrie Taylor at 763-434-2030 ext. 19 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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