What is a Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD)?

ACD Water Resources Technician, Breanna Keith, meeting with property owners interested in shoreline health.

We're the private lands conservation experts! We provide financial resources and expertise to help private landowners with conservation efforts on their property that also have public benefits. Minnesota is a unique state, with an SWCD in nearly every county to assist with work on the ~70% of Minnesota's lands that are private. ACD is simply an SWCD that shortened its name. In comparison, the well-known MN Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages public lands and resources. 

For more information about SWCD's and the role they play within the state, contact
Jamie Schurbon, Watershed Program Manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.g

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More than a River - It's a Trail

Watershed Projects Manager, Jamie Schurbon, Enjoying the Rum River State Water Trail With His Family

In Anoka County, the Rum and Mississippi Rivers are designated State Water Trails. Like many state trails, information is available about trail access, places to camp, culturally significant areas, and more on the MNDNR's water trails website. ACD is completing a number of projects along both rivers to improve water quality and habitat. We've been especially busy with projects along the Rum River that include wetland restorations, riverbank stabilizations, invasive species management, and habitat protection. Many of these projects are funded in part by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.  

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Bundling for Healthier Lakeshores

ACD Staff and Interested Contractors Meeting to Review Upcoming Lakeshore Stabilization Project on Martin Lake

Eight Martin Lake residents, in collaboration with ACD, are bundling their individual lakeshore improvement efforts into one larger project. By joining efforts, they are hoping to save money while making the work more attractive to contractors. It seems to be working, as 15 contractors joined in the bidding process!

This upcoming project is being coordinated by ACD, who has completed designs and will be providing construction management. ACD has also been able to incorporate three state grants, making the project even more affordable. In exchange, the landowners are installing lakeshore stewardship practices that go above and beyond – utilizing natural materials, native plant buffers, and aquatic vegetation for habitat. Collectively, we'll make a healthier lake.

For a fun & informative 8-minute video about healthy lakeshores, watch ACD's video "Our Lakeshore Connection." For more information contact Jamie Schurbon, Watershed Project Manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Scouts Rehabilitate Rain Garden

A rain garden at the Coon Lake Beach Community Center needed a little help. Originally constructed in 2015, maintenance had reached a point where a group effort was needed to reclaim the garden from weeds and silt overload. The Community Center leaders enlisted a local boy scout troop, their parents, and ACD to help.

The rain garden has an important function in the neighborhood as it is positioned near the bottom of a hill to collect street runoff. Instead of going into the lake at the bottom of the hill, the water and associated pollutants are treated by infiltration. The reduction in volume of water running towards the lake also helps alleviate shoreline erosion in specific problem spots.

In one-hour the scouts completed several renovations to bring back much of the original beauty and function. They removed four trailer loads of invasive trees including many thorny black locust. They removed sediment that had collected and was damming the rain garden entrance. Rocks and retaining walls were cleared of debris, leaving the garden with a more formal appearance and ready for the next rainfall. Great job scouts! 

September 2017 - Two years after installation
August 2023 - Overgrown with weedy vegetation
Rehabilitation work
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Treasure in the Rum River

The Rum River is home to unique treasures and this summer's drought has created low, clear water, ideal for treasure hunting. Seizing this opportunity, local teenage brothers Eli and Ethan are finding a myriad of historic items on the river bottom. The boys have been scouring the river by canoe. River currents push their craft at just the right pace to allow for a good scanning of the river bottom for anything out of the ordinary. They can see up to five feet down, which isn't the norm for a river that does often have the color of rum. Sightings include thousands of clam shells, rocks (some as big as refrigerators), and fish of all sorts (bass, northern, bluegill, redhorse suckers, and more). The real excitement is spotting something brown, aged, and not a natural shape. 

A few of the items found include…

  • A 1950's Ford pickup tailgate. The boys disappointedly reported they were unable to find the rest of the truck.
  • Four Weymann's smokeless tobacco ceramic jars from the early 1900's or maybe late 1800's. This company was the predecessor to Copenhagen. Why the jars were so abundant in the river is unknown.
  • There's a Burnett's Cocoaine bottle, likely from 1900-05. This product contained no opiates but instead was a hair treatment apparently trying to capitalize on the success of "coco-" named products like Coca-Cola.
  • They found a small bottle emblazoned "Sperm Sewing Machine Oil." It dates from sometime before 1970, when sperm whale hunting was outlawed. Sperm whale oil production was huge in the 1850's, and it was expensive stuff.
  • There's a glass Palmolive shampoo bottle from sometime between 1898 and 1916. Other assorted bottles without clear markings are in the mix.
More information about the Rum River Watershed Partnership is available at www.millelacsswcd.org under "watershed plans." The group is in its first year of operations and project accomplishments will be posted here as they occur. Landowners wishing for financial or technical help doing water quality projects can reach out to their local contact listed on the website. Check out the full article in the Anoka County Union Herald on August 23rd

For more information contact Jamie Schurbon, Watershed Projects Manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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