Funding Available for Cedar Tree Revetments!

What is a Cedar Tree Revetment?
Cedar tree revetments use Eastern red cedar trees to serve as soft, natural armor, providing protection along eroding riverbanks. This protection decreases erosion and allows silt and sand to be deposited overtime. The deposited material forms a bed in which the seeds of riverbank plants such as sedges can grow. By the time the trees have decayed, the bank should be stabilized by the root systems of new plant growth and accumulated sediment. Revetments are ideal for riverbanks experiencing mild to moderate erosion. For riverbanks more than 5 ft. tall or areas with high water velocity, a revetment practice may be inadequate to properly address the issue.

Why Install a Cedar Tree Revetment?

Cedar tree revetments are a low cost, environmentally friendly option to address eroding streambanks. Revetments will slow or stop erosion during the project's lifespan and reduce the likelihood of a much larger and more expensive corrective project in the future. Riverbank erosion contributes sediment and other pollutants into waterways, reduces riparian habitat, and results in property loss. Stabilizing your eroding riverbank will provide water quality benefits to the Rum River as well as protect your property. 

This program is being funded through a Conservation Partners Legacy grant and there is currently funding available to eligible properties. If you live along the Rum River in Anoka County and are interested in learning more about installing a cedar revetment on your property, contact Kris Larson, Water Resource Specialist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

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Anoka Riverfront Easement Rum Riverbank Stabilization

Erosion along 400-feet of Rum riverbank at a City of Anoka riverfront easement is causing sediment loading and tree loss, and has washed out a highly used walking trail. The design features three primary protection measures detailed below. 

1. The toe of the bank, mostly below the water line, will be armored with a rock. The rock will be installed up to the two-year flood elevation (50% of years it will be completely covered). This lowers the top of the rock by two feet compared to the standard approach. This allows habitat friendly approaches above.

2. Above the rock, the bank will be seeded with a native plants, and staked with willow and dogwood. Native vegetation provides habitat benefit and root structure to anchor the soil in place. We may grade the bank back to a flatter, more stable slope. Alternatively, we may use a series of wrapped soil lifts called a "vegetated reinforced soil system" to maintain a steeper slope that is still stable and vegetated. The final decision will be based on bids received.

3. There is a heavily used informal access point at the upstream end of this site. This area gets beat down by heavy foot traffic. We will use one roll of articulated concrete block to offer stable footing and reduce the erosion caused by that foot traffic.

For more information contact Jared Wagner, Water Resource Specialist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

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Land Protection

ACD has collaborated with BWSR's RIM program to establish conservation easements to permanently protect, restore, and manage natural resources on private lands. Land protection has many benefits including protecting water quality, habitat, creating conservation corridors, and supporting climate resiliency.  

In 2023, two new conservation easements were established along the Rum River. They are adjacent to a conservation easement that was established in 2022 through the Rum RIM program and across the river from a DNR Conservation Easement. These conservation easements create a block of protected land totalling 183.5 acres along 10,960 feet of shoreline. The Gamm, Stenson-Gamm, St. Francis Land Development, and MN DNR Conservation Easement create an additional habitat core with functioning ecosystems and enhance habitat in the Rum River corridor. 

Left to Right: Stenson-Gamm and MN DNR Conservation Easement shorelines. Gamm floodplain forest.v

For more information contact Carrie Taylor, Restoration Ecologist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Working in the Rum River to Improve Habitat

A hallmark of ACD's natural resource work has included the stabilization of eroding riverbanks and the enhancement of native vegetation in adjacent riparian and floodplain areas. These activities improve water quality in the river and habitat quality along it. Included in the goals of our Phase 2 grant for Rum River habitat enhancement through the Outdoor Heritage Fund of the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment is the improvement of in-stream habitat in the Rum River channel. This is a new endeavor for ACD that presents an exciting opportunity to expand our work and our partnerships within the Rum River Corridor.

Though we are over a century removed from the widening and scouring of the Rum River by the millions of logs cut during the Minnesota timber boom, the effects of that industry still remain. Rivers used as log arteries were made wider and more consistent to ensure the smooth sailing of logs downstream. In more modern times, towns piped rain water directly to the river from impervious areas via stormwater conveyance systems. These rapid spikes in water input during storms exacerbate bank erosion, down-cutting, and sedimentation in the river at rates far beyond what was natural. 

The Washburn Saw Mill on the Rum River – late 1800s Source: Anoka County Historical Society
Plunging flow off the end of a bendway weir in the Rum River creating areas of rapid and slow flow, variable water levels, a scour pool, and quiet water depositional areas. This creates variability in flows and habitats.

Due to this historical usage of the Rum River as a conveyance tool for wood and stormwater, habitat for fish, invertebrates, mussels, and other aquatic life remains lacking and out of balance. In the coming years we will be partnering with Anoka County Parks, DNR Fisheries, The Nature Conservancy and others to identify and enhance missing or deficient in-stream habitat. Secondarily, we will look for enhancement opportunities for game fish habitat near publicly accessible shorelines to improve access to quality shore fishing. For more information contact Jared Wagner, Water Resource Specialist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

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Students Involved in Stream Biological Monitoring

Each season, local high school students venture to a nearby river or stream, grab a dip net and pair of waders, and search for invertebrates (a mix of aquatic insects, crustaceans, bugs, snails, worms, and other critters lacking a backbone) living amongst the submerged rocks and vegetation. They bring their catch back to their partners on shore, who use guides to identify the invertebrates or preserve them for identification at a later date in the lab. In 2023, ACD staff led 560 high school students across 20 classes and 5 schools in these "biomonitoring" efforts. Besides being a great way to get some fresh air, students learned valuable lessons in aquatic ecology. 

Individual aquatic invertebrates have different sensitivities to environmental disturbances such as contamination and habitat loss. Some, such as stonefly and mayfly nymphs, often have a strong negative reaction to disturbance, while others, such as leeches, midges, and aquatic worms, are usually more tolerant and able to persist through a variety of conditions. Understanding these tolerance thresholds across species is an efficient way to broadly assess the health of a waterbody. For example, a high quantity and/ or diversity of species including those considered "intolerant" (sensitive) is a likely indicator of healthy habitat and water quality, whereas the presence of only more "tolerant" species hints at poorer water quality and habitat. Biomonitoring data is often paired with other information, such as water quality or stream morphology data, to identify where aquatic impairments are present and management efforts should be pursued.

After the students have finished collecting and processing samples, ACD staff re-identifies them and summarizes the data in the annual Water Almanac. Through this, big-picture trends in invertebrate communities (and stream health, by extension) can be explored across time. For more information contact Breanna Keith, Water Resource Technician, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

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Hundreds of Project Opportunities Near the Rum & Mississippi Rivers

Stormwater runoff from human-modified landscapes is a source of excess water and pollutants that can significantly impact rivers, lakes, and wetlands on the receiving end. However, not all drainage areas are created equally; rural landscapes with abundant agriculture and artificial drainage features, or urban areas with infrastructure predating stormwater treatment regulations, are often the most impactful. Areas draining to a priority waterbody are targeted for Subwatershed and Stormwater Retrofit Analyses (SRAs and SWAs). In these analyses, we study how runoff is moving through the landscape, strategically place various Best Management Practices (BMP's), and estimate their anticipated water quality benefits and installation costs. These findings are then summarized into a report which can be referenced by ACD staff and local natural resource managers to pursue the most cost effective projects. 

Ongoing SRAs and SWAs. Altogether, ~800 (urban) acres draining to the Mississippi River and over 30,000 (primarily rural) acres draining to the Rum River have been analyzed for BMP opportunities.

ACD has completed several SRA/ SWA reports, but current efforts are focused on areas draining to the Rum and Mississippi rivers. Projects sited in these areas include rain gardens, subsurface treatment structures, enhanced street sweeping, wetland restorations, soil health practices (cover crops, no- till farming, etc.), and targeted agricultural practices (grassed waterways, riparian buffer enhancements, control basins, etc.). Altogether, approximately 150 urban BMPs and over 300 rural BMPs have been sited, and their associated SRA/ SWA reports will be released in the coming months.

For more information contact Breanna Keith, Water Resources Technician, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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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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Project Update: Dellwood Park Stabilization

Construction is complete for a Rum Riverbank stabilization at Dellwood River Park in St. Francis. Erosion of the riverbank was resulting in the loss of numerous trees into the river and was threatening a popular local walking trail. The project design features three primary protection measures.

  1. Two severely eroding zones of riverbank were armored with rock riprap, and 14 large tree rootwads were added as in-stream habitat.
  2. Three rock bendway weirs were installed, protruding at 45° into the river. These low-lying features, will push flow and erosive scour back toward the middle of the channel, rather than along the outer bank.
  3. And finally, the less severely eroding areas of riverbank were armored with cedar trees in a bio-engineering technique called "cedar tree revetments".

In total, this project stabilizes 630 feet of riverbank, enhances 0.75 acres of in-stream and riparian habitat, and reduces annual loading into the river by 60 tons of sediment and 51lbs of phosphorus. The project also incorporates multiple features to enhance fishing opportunities and provide additional in-stream habitat. 

Previous Bank Conditions, 2022
Lead Staff, Jared Wagner, Post-Construction, November 2023

For more information contact Jared Wagner, Water Resource Specialist, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Rum River Revetments Phase 2

ACD was awarded a contract with the Anoka County Parks Department to complete 2,500' of cedar tree revetments along the Rum River in Anoka County between 2023 & 2026. This project is being funded through a Clean Legacy Partners grant that was awarded to Anoka County Parks in 2023. The work will be completed through a partnership between ACD, Anoka County Parks, and the Conservation Corps of MN. 

Accepted Project Proposal

For more information contact Kris Larson, Water Resource Specialist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Restoring Wetlands on Your Property

Minnesota is rich in wetlands which provide numerous benefits such as flood mitigation, groundwater recharge, water quality improvement, recreation, and high-quality habitat for a wide variety of fish and wildlife species. However, many wetlands exist in a degraded state due to decades of human disturbances such as drainage and filling to increase usable land for agriculture and urban development.

Recognizing their importance, many federal, state, and local agencies have developed programs to provide technical expertise and funding for wetland restoration projects. The goal of wetland restoration is to return a wetland to its natural functions, and the nature of each project depends on the wetland's unique location, hydrology, soils, vegetation, and impacts (historic and current).

Restoring wetlands on your property adds to its ecological value and can often be financially beneficial. Understanding your options can be complicated, which is why ACD – on behalf of, and with funding from, the Rum River Watershed Partnership – created a new wetland restoration brochure. In it, you will find information on benefits, approaches, processes, and funding options common for wetland restoration projects. Click here to access the brochure below.

Anoka County Residents: ACD currently has funding to support wetland restorations benefitting the Rum River! If you live near the Rum River, believe that you have impacted wetlands on your property, and are interested in restoring them, please contact Breanna Keith, Water Resources Technician, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more. 

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Dellwood River Park Shoreline Stabilization – Project Update

Construction is set to take place in October along 630-feet of eroding Rum Riverbank at Dellwood River Park in St. Francis. Erosion of the riverbank is causing numerous trees to fall into the river and is threatening a popular local walking trail. The project design features three primary protection measures;

  • 1)Two severely eroding zones of riverbank encroaching on the trail will be built back out, armored with rock riprap, and have large tree rootwads added as in-stream habitat elements. The riprapped length of bank will total approximately 180-feet in length. Large boulders will be strategically placed within the riprap to allow enhanced shore fishing opportunity.
  • 2)Three bendway weirs constructed of rock will protrude at 45° into the river. These low-lying, linear features will be submerged under the water (except during very low flows), and will push flow and erosive scour back toward the middle of the channel, rather than along the outer bank. They will also add variable flow areas and habitat value in the channel. These will be great features to cast around for any fisher folks from shore!
  • 3)And finally, the less severely eroding areas of riverbank will be armored with anchored cut cedar trees in a technique called a "cedar tree revetment". Cut eastern red cedars will be cabled together in a shingled fashion along the bank and secured with earth anchors driven into the soil. This is a softer armoring approach than rock which should help the bank stabilize, vegetate, and heal over time naturally before the cedar trees eventually rot away.

For more information contact Jared Wagner, Water Resource Specialist, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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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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Bringing Fish to the Table for a Reimagined Rum River Dam

The City of Anoka successfully secured funding from the Minnesota Legislature to complete a feasibility analysis and project design, which should be complete by the spring of 2024. City of Anoka civic leaders and staff have embarked on a path to reimagine how the Rum River Dam in Anoka can serve the community for the next 100 years. The vision includes the following.

  • Safety and Operations: Replace manually installed flashboards with automated crest gates and install a maintenance platform.
  • Water level management: Enable active water level management to minimize flooding and erosion, benefit particular species, and respond to mounting climate extremes.
  • Energy: Install a hydroelectric power system to offset some of the power needs of downtown Anoka.
  • Recreation: Maintain water levels to accommodate boat traffic with the addition of a lock to allow passage of small boats. Establish a cross river trail as a second purpose for the maintenance deck.
  • Ecology: Create a fish bypass to connect the Rum River to the Mississippi River.
ACD's interest in this effort is primarily the potential fish passage around the dam. Because dams cut off natural fish spawning routes, the single most beneficial project that can be done to improve Rum River ecology is to connect the waterway to the Mississippi River in a way that fish can make the journey between the two rivers. Other examples of restoring connectivity, have dams being removed or converted into rapids with slow enough flows for fish to pass while still managing water levels. These approaches aren't practical for the Rum River Dam, however, because they don't allow for water level management to optimize recreation while minimizing property damage from erosion and flooding.

The option that is on the table is a constructed stream that flows around the side of the dam. Inspired by nature, it does its best to mimic natural streams providing irregular flows and small pools to rest along the way. The Oswegatchie River fish bypass at the Heuvelton dam in New York recorded 2,000 migratory fish of 14 species in 5 days in the first season it was opened. A group of experts has been assembled to provide crucial guidance over the coming months to ensure the designs for the fish bypass element of the project optimize success for targeted fish species.

For more information contact Chris Lord, District Manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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$1.7M of Habitat Enhancement for the Rum River Corridor

$1.7M of state funds from the Outdoor Heritage Fund of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment was awarded for habitat enhancement in the Rum River Corridor. A broad-based partnership will bring an additional $215,000 in local matching funds. We will use these funds to enhance wildlife habitat from the headwaters in Lake Mille Lacs to where the Rum River joins the Mississippi River in Anoka. The Rum River Corridor is critical habitat for many rare species, including Blanding's Turtle and two types of mussels, to name a few. We will be doing habitat improvement projects from in the river to beyond the banks.

Links:
Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment
Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council
Outdoor Heritage Fund

For more information visit the links above or contact Jared Wagner at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 763.434.2030 x200
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“Our Riverbank Connection” Animated Video

Recent extreme flooding has highlighted the dynamic and powerful nature of flowing water. If you live on a river or even a smaller stream, you've likely witnessed these characteristics and their impacts firsthand. With flood waters receding, now is a great time to assess the condition of your riverbank and consider stewardship and stabilization approaches that will help protect your property and the water you live on. Fortunately, we've created a brand new resource to help guide you through this process – the "Our Riverbank Connection" animated video!

Living by a creek, stream, or river provides many benefits and a unique opportunity to support water quality and wildlife. It also comes with some challenges such as erosion, which can eat away at your land over time. In this video, you will learn how to create a river-friendly lawn and riverbank that also protects your property by reducing or repairing losses from erosion. Video topics include:

  • Recommended lawn care practices
  • Signs of erosion and factors that may make your bank more susceptible to it
  • Creating a well-vegetated bank
  • Bank stabilization approaches to address active erosion
  • Project planning and construction – what to expect

Watch "Our Riverbank Connection" here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Et9wLuIrRuA

Want to learn more about streams and rivers and how you can help them, even if you don't live on their banks? Watch Part 1 of the "Our River" Installment – "Our River Connection" – here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdQEcmLyQJI 

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SONAR AS A DESIGN TOOL FOR SHORELINE STABILIZATION PROJECTS

Data collection on the Rum River.

ACD staff have been testing the use of sonar to aid with the design of shoreline stabilization projects.

Lake and river bottom elevations are often required when designing projects. Collecting these bottom elevations manually with survey equipment often pose safety risks, limits resolution, and can be time consuming. Automated collection of underwater elevation data is possible with readily available sonar technology and post-processing services. Manually collecting data at the same resolution is infeasible.

A fishing depth finder and transducer combination with active mapping capabilities is necessary for data collection. The equipment can be configured in a portable setup for use in a kayak, canoe, or motorized boat to enable data collection on a variety of waterbodies (e.g. stormwater ponds, lakes, or the Mississippi River). While idling or paddling around the area of interest, data is collected and stored on a memory card and then uploaded to a third-party software for post-processing.

Technology limitations still remain, but the end products provide a picture of the underwater landscape through a variety of file types that are useful for project design, mapping, and inventory work. 

For more information contact Mitch Haustein at 763.434.2030 ext. 150 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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“Our River Connection” Animated Video: Understanding Rivers and the Ways We Impact Them

Rivers are essential resources and provide an immeasurable list of services that are critical for many ways of life throughout the world. Minnesota is home to many important river systems, such as the Mississippi River, that provide services which help sustain life and provide resources to help human economies thrive.

Minnesota's rivers endured decades of intensive impacts as the state industrialized, commonly used as a dumping grounds for untreated waste and modified extensively to make navigation easier. Our treatment of rivers has improved significantly in the years since, but human activity continues to impact them today. River systems are extremely complex in nature and many of the negative impacts caused by human activity go unrecognized or are misunderstood. Fortunately, there are many ways we can minimize our impacts and help restore our rivers to good health.

The Anoka Conservation District has proudly released a new animated video to help understand how rivers function and the role humans play in keeping them healthy. "Our River Connection" video brings you on a journey through a breadth of river topics, such as river formation, natural river behavior, current and historical human impacts, and actions we can take to protect them today. This video is suitable for a wide range of audiences, with narrative and visuals that are approachable and easy to digest. When you're done watching the video, you can take the companion quiz or explore the links in the video description to learn more. 

ACD Contact: Breanna Keith, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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2022 – A Year of Water Quality Projects and Benefits

 This past year, ACD was again busy installing projects that benefit water quality in Anoka County! In total, 33 individual water quality projects were installed in 2022, including:

  • 12 curb-cut rain gardens, treating 25.9 acres of urban area draining to the Rum River and Rice Creek.
  • 9 streambank stabilization projects, and 2 streambank buffer plantings protecting and enhancing over 2,000 linear feet along the Rum and Mississippi Rivers.
  • 10 Lakeshore stabilizations and buffer plantings along 824 feet of lakeshore on George, Martin, Linwood, and Fawn Lakes.

Collectively, these projects will reduce annual pollutant loading to the receiving waterbodies by 94.9 tons of total suspended solids, and 88.6 pounds of total phosphorus. To see all of our projects, watch for our new Water and Ecological Project Dashboards, coming soon to our website!

Photos of some water quality projects newly installed in 2022 – rain garden (top left), lakeshore (bottom left), and streambank stabilizations (top right, bottom right).

ACD Contact: Jared Wagner, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Rum RIM protects 149 acres and 8,370 feet of shoreline in northern Anoka County

Anoka Conservation District and other SWCDs are working together to prioritize parcels and enroll willing landowners in BWSR's Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve in the Rum River Watershed. The RIM Reserve program compensates landowners who are willing to give up development rights on their land in perpetuity to permanently preserve the natural landscape. The Rum River flows from Lake Mille Lacs to the Mississippi River through diverse landscapes and land uses. Protecting priority lands will benefit water quality and Twin Cities' drinking water supply, as well as improving wildlife habitat and connectivity. 

ACD is grateful to the families in northern Anoka County who just recently enrolled their land in BWSR's RIM program. Those families cherish the natural state of their land and the Rum River. Thanks to them, 149 more acres of land will be protected.

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Rum Riverbank Washout Stabilized Near Rum River Central Boat Ramp

In May of 2022, the Rum River reached its highest peak flow since 2001 following torrential rain events in Isanti and Mille Lacs Counties. The roadway to the boat ramp in Rum River Central Regional Park in Anoka County was inundated under feet of water. When the floodwaters receded, 90 linear feet of bank had completely washed out, threatening the roadway and boat ramp, and leaving and exposed eroding bank dumping sediment into the river. This section of washed out riverbank was stabilized using a Flexamat PLUS articulated concrete mat at the toe, and a regraded and native-seeded slope above. A rock barb installed at the downstream end will provide in-channel habitat for fish and invertebrates while also kicking flow out away from the boat ramp.

The Flexamat articulated concrete was chosen for this project because an immediately adjacent project installed in 2015 is still holding very successfully, even after the flooding. An advantage of Flexamat vs. rock is that the Flexamat has void spaces that allow vegetation to grow between the blocks, masking the concrete during low water conditions, and providing additional habitat benefit. Traditional riprap does not allow this vegetation growth, and can look like a rock wall during low water.

In the spring, we will add bare root seedlings of shoreland tree and shrub species to the project site. The native grasses and sedges seeded into the bank will begin to grow, and the whole bank will establish deep-rooted native vegetation which will keep the soil anchored for years to come. A video short of this project can be found on ACD's YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/eUHBV5TSNi8. To see other streambank stabilization projects installed throughout Anoka County, please see the virtual project tour on ACD's website. 

Before (top) and after (bottom) of 90-feet of streambank stabilized at Rum River Central Regional Park.
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Stabilizing Riverbanks in Anoka

Construction is complete on six streambank toe stabilization projects on the Rum and Mississippi Rivers in Anoka. These sites have had significant and accelerating erosion in recent years due to sustained high water and recreational watercraft. Most of the sites lie between two popular boat launches on the rivers.

Cumulatively, over 720 linear feet of eroding riverbank was stabilized. The primary stabilization technique is rock riprap installed on the lower portion of the slope, with a seeded and blanketed vegetative zone above the rock. The primary immediate goal of these projects was to halt the backwards march of the riverbanks by stabilizing the lower portion (or toe). An additional vegetation component is planned for these sites in the following year(s) to help stabilize the upper slope, which is only subject to wave action during the highest water periods. This vegetative zone will be comprised of native woody species, as well as grasses, sedges, and forbs, to enhance the habitat and aesthetic value of the shorelines, while also providing deep root structure to anchor the soil in place above the rock. 

The projects were done via barge from the water, a first for ACD-managed projects. Many of these sites had been on our inventories, but were not cost-effectively constructible from land. With a contractor that can install projects from the water, concerns about equipment access between buildings and site restoration on individual properties are non-factors. Beyond stabilizing these six eroding shorelines, we are hopeful that this new construction technique opens up more potential streambank stabilization projects that would have otherwise not been possible or cost-effective from land. To see these and other streambank stabilization projects installed throughout Anoka County, please see the virtual project tour on ACD's website. 

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Construction Complete for Anoka Rain Gardens

Four rain gardens were installed in a northern Anoka neighborhood as part of the City's 2022 Street Surface Improvement Project. Collectively, these gardens will capture nearly 10 acres' worth of stormwater runoff (over 700,000 gallons annually) which would otherwise drain untreated to the Rum River. Through this, sediment loading to the river will be reduced by 969 pounds/year, and total phosphorus loading will be reduced by 3 pounds/year.

Each garden provides additional ecological benefits through the planting of a diverse range of native species, creating several hundred square feet of rich pollinator habitat within the Rum River corridor. Species planted included butterfly weed, cardinal flower, swamp milkweed, red-osier dogwood, dwarf bush honeysuckle, and several others. 

Funding for project design was provided by the Metropolitan Conservation Districts Engineering and Technical Assistance Program, and funding for construction was provided by the City of Anoka and State Watershed-based Implementation Funding.
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Stabilizing Riverbanks in Anoka

Construction is beginning on six streambank stabilization projects on the Rum and Mississippi Rivers in Anoka. These sites have had significant and accelerating erosion in recent years due to sustained high water and recreational watercraft. Most of the sites lie between two popular boat launches on the rivers.

Cumulatively, over 720 linear feet of eroding riverbank will be stabilized. The primary stabilization technique will be rock riprap on the lower portion of the slope, with a seeded and blanketed vegetative zone above the rock. This vegetative zone will be comprised of native species of grasses, sedges, and forbs to enhance the habitat and aesthetic value of the shorelines, while also providing deep root structure to anchor the soil in place above the rock. 

Mini excavator applying rock to a shoreline on the Mississippi River via barge

The projects will be done via barge from the water, a first for ACD-managed projects. Many of these sites had been on our inventories, but were not cost-effectively constructible in a typical fashion from land. With a contractor that can install the project from the water, concerns about equipment access between buildings and site restoration on individual properties are non-factors. Beyond stabilizing these six eroding shorelines, we are hopeful that this new construction technique opens up more potential streambank stabilization projects that would have otherwise not been possible from land.

Project updates will be provided as construction progresses. To see these and other streambank stabilizations projects already installed throughout Anoka County, please see the virtual project tour on ACD's website. 

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Construction Underway for Anoka Rain Gardens

A thriving rain garden installed in Columbia Heights in 2018. With proper maintenance, native species planted in rain garden will fill the entire space within ~3 years.


Four rain gardens are being installed in a northern Anoka neighborhood as part of the City's 2022 Street Surface Improvement Project. Collectively, these gardens will capture nearly 10 acres' worth of stormwater runoff (over 700,000 gallons annually) which would otherwise drain untreated to the Rum River. Through this, sediment loading to the river will be reduced by 969 pounds/year, and total phosphorus loading will be reduced by 3 pounds/year.

Each garden will provide additional ecological benefits through the planting of a diverse range of native species, creating several hundred square feet of rich pollinator habitat within the Rum River corridor. 

The largest of the four Anoka rain gardens – a double inlet project which will treat stormwater from two adjacent roadways.

Funding for project design was provided by the Metropolitan Conservation Districts Engineering and Technical Assistance Program, and funding for construction is provided by the City of Anoka and State Watershed-based Implementation Funding. 

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The Oxbows of the Rum River

The Rum River in Isanti County


When allowed to wander freely, rivers flowing throughout a gently sloped landscape form a snakelike meandering path. This occurs as the fastest moving waters erode banks along the outer bends, and slower moving waters deposit sediment along the inner bends. Over many years, these processes cause the meanders to curve more intensely, causing the river to eventually loop back onto itself and cut a straight path through the narrow slice of land that remains. Now disconnected from the river, the C-shaped meander scar is called an oxbow.

To watch these processes in action, check out this video: Why Do Rivers Curve?

A quick glance at aerial imagery reveals numerous oxbow wetlands alongside the Rum River. They are rich in plant and animal life, serving as a "nursery" for fish, invertebrates, and amphibians in their early life stages while providing habitat for countless migratory bird species. These oxbows also improve water quality and reduce flooding by capturing water and the contaminants it carries following large storm events.

To learn more about the importance of oxbow wetlands and their utility in water resource management, read the Nature Conservancy's article on the topic here: What is an Oxbow? 

Aerial photos of a Rum River meander in Ramsey captured in 1991, 2003, and 2021 (left-right). Notice the increasingly thin sliver of land at the base of the curve, which eventually transitions to a river cut-through.
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New Cedar Tree Revetments on the Rum River

Cedar tree revetments are a cost-effective bioengineering practice that can be used to stabilize actively eroding riverbanks. ACD staff in partnership with the Conservation Corps of Minnesota (CCM) installed a cedar tree revetment in Rum South Regional Park in the City of Anoka in July 2022. 

Erosion at the site was dominated by bank undercutting-- the beginning stage of a more serious issue. Excessive erosion along riverbanks threatens property, contributes sediment and nutrients to the receiving water body, and eliminates wildlife habitat. 

Installation of the 550-foot revetment and live bare-root plants will slow or stop the erosion and reduce the likelihood of a much larger and more expensive project being needed in the future. Cedar brush was also installed to provide additional soft armoring. Not only do revetments help protect against erosion, they also provide excellent habitat.

Pollution reduction from this project is estimated to prevent 24.75 tons of sediment and 21.03 pounds of phosphorus from entering the Rum River annually!

Funding for this project was provided by the Conservation Partners Legacy and a CCM crew labor grant funded by the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment. ACD provided project management and construction oversight throughout the process.  

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Rain Gardens Benefitting the Rum River

Six new rain gardens are being installed this summer in Anoka and Ramsey to benefit the Rum River. The first was highlighted in June. The second is now complete! It is located on Oneida Street in Ramsey.

Each curb-cut rain garden captures water from the neighborhood streets, driveways, roofs and other surfaces. Prior to these projects the stormwater was discharged directly to the Rum River without treatment. Rain gardens are ideal in built-out neighborhoods where space is not available for stormwater ponds or other larger practices. 

Kyle and Jamie Leaf and family at the newly constructed rain garden in their front yard. The Leaf family will own and maintain the rain garden which treats stormwater from 7 acres of their neighborhood.

Funding for two rain gardens is a state Clean Water Fund grant and the Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organization. Funding for the other four is the City of Anoka as part of their 2022 street renewal project. 

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Rain Gardens Benefitting the Rum River

Six new rain gardens will be installed this summer in Anoka and Ramsey to benefit the Rum River. The first of them, on Washington Street, was completed the first week of June. Each curb-cut rain garden captures water from the neighborhood streets, driveways, roofs and other surfaces. Prior to these projects, the stormwater is discharged directly to the Rum River without treatment. Rain gardens are ideal in built-out neighborhoods where space is not available for stormwater ponds or other larger practices.

Funding for two rain gardens is a state Clean Water Fund grant and the Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organization. Funding for the other four is the City of Anoka as part of their 2022 street renewal project. 

Bowler family members Amanda and Connor at the newly constructed rain garden in their front yard (not pictured: Daniel Bowler). The Bowlers will own and maintain the rain garden which treats stormwater from 2.2 acres of their neighborhood.
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Native Plantings Added to Streambank Stabilization Sites

Image sourced from MNDNR Stream Habitat Program

Last year, over 3,000 linear feet of cedar tree revetments were installed on the banks of the Rum River in Anoka County. While the cedar trees themselves will help capture sediment and prevent further erosion throughout the coming years, the re-establishment of native riparian vegetation is essential for promoting long-term bank resiliency. In May, ACD staff, with assistance from Anoka County Parks staff, planted a total of over 1,000 plants across six cedar revetment sites; species planted included sandbar willow, red osier dogwood, false indigo, and buttonbush (pictured below). 

When present, the deep roots of native trees, shrubs, grasses, and other vegetation act like a net, securing the bank's soils and preventing them from washing away. Streambank vegetation also provides essential habitat for many aquatic and terrestrial species. For these reasons, ACD incorporates native plantings into all streambank stabilization projects.

Images sourced from Minnesota Wildflowers. © Peter M. Dziuk
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Isanti 5th Grade Conservation Day

On a cool and cloudy May morning, ACD participated in Isanti Conservation Day, an annual event designed to teach students about natural resource stewardship. Approximately 475 fifth graders were given a chance to get outside for a morning to learn about the natural world around them, and how to protect it, by rotating through stations scattered throughout Becklin Homestead Park. ACD collected a myriad of live aquatic invertebrates from local streams to give the students a hands-on way to learn about the unseen creatures that live in their favorite water bodies.

Each group examined trays containing wriggling nymphs of mayflies, damselflies, and dragonflies, case-building caddis fly larvae, freshwater shrimp, snails, and more. They excitedly gathered around their tables to observe the activity in their trays and tallied how many kinds of invertebrates they were able to identify from a provided list. This led to discussions on what the diversity and types of creatures found in the water could tell them about river health. Looking at their lists, students learned that they could make inferences about water quality based on the pollution tolerance of the invertebrates that they found. Each session was wrapped up by sharing ideas on actions and practices that they could take to protect the health of their local rivers. The event was engaging for the fifth graders and provided them with new perspectives on how people can learn about water quality.  

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“Google River View”: 360° Photos Collected on the Rum and Mississippi

An actively eroding bank on the Rum River

Photos collected from near-shore zones on surface waters throughout the county serve as valuable tools for assessing lakeshore and riverbank conditions. Following a day in the boat with a 360° camera, these photos are uploaded to Google Street View, making them accessible to anyone. ACD then uses these them to compile erosion inventory reports, which describe erosion severity and stabilization project needs on high-priority waterbodies such as the Rum and Mississippi Rivers. Updated photos for these rivers were collected throughout the first week of May and are now available to view (alongside those captured in previous years) on Google Maps.  

While browsing through these photos, you are sure to see a beautiful river view. You may also notice banks currently experiencing noticeable erosion or, alternatively, portions that have recently been stabilized and planted with native vegetation.

A formerly failing riverbank at the Mississippi River Community Park in Anoka, stabilized and planted with native vegetation
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Rum Riverbank Stabilization Grants Available

A recent shoreline stabilization project on the Rum River

Grant funds are available to landowners for addressing shoreline erosion on the Rum River. If your shoreline is falling into the river, migrating back over time, or the bottom has washed out leaving an overhang, these funds can pay for a substantial portion of design and construction of a solution. Funding is available to address erosion issues of all sizes, with landowners typically paying 15-25% of the project cost. Shoreline restoration does more than just protect your property. It also protects the water resource you live on and enhances river habitat!

Those interested can schedule a site visit with Anoka Conservation District (ACD) staff to discuss options and see if your shoreline might fit into one of our various grant programs for financial assistance. Because the design and construction bidding can take months, starting in the spring is recommended. Contact Jared Wagner at ACD at 763-434-2030 x200 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Rum Riverbank stabilization projects are a partnership of ACD, Anoka County Parks, and the Upper and Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organizations (URRWMO, LRRWMO) with funding from the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment.

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Rum River Watershed Partners Decide on Projects to Fund

The Rum River is a focus for new grant funds aimed at protecting water quality and improving habitat.

Local entities with a role in managing the Rum River watershed in Anoka County recently decided on a new slate of grant-funded projects. The group was charged with allocating $371,157 in state Watershed Based Implementation Funding grants. The dollars can be used for water quality projects in approved local plans. From an initial menu of 19 projects the group selected five:

  • $176,000 Projects identified in subwatershed studies. This includes urban stormwater and agricultural practices that have been identified, ranked by cost effectiveness, and which drain to one of these priority waterbodies: Rum River, Mississippi River, or Ford Brook.
  • $30,000 Trott Brook riparian corridor restoration study. This stream is impaired for low oxygen and poor aquatic life. The study is aimed at finding out why, and what might be done to address it. Trott Brook is primarily in the City of Ramsey.
  • $65,000  Septic system fix ups for low income homeowners. This will supplement an existing $25-40K per year that the state provides to the Anoka Conservation District. Demand exceeds funding. Properties near priority waterbodies are the focus.
  • $65,175 Critical shoreland area planting. Plantings will improve habitat, prevent erosion, and filter runoff near waterbodies.
  • $35,000 Wetland restorations.

The group selected the Anoka Conservation District to manage the projects. Required 10% grant matching dollars will come from landowners where projects are completed, and the Upper and Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organizations. Work will begin in late 2022.

The group that worked collaboratively to select these projects included the Upper and Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organizations, Anoka Conservation District, Anoka County, and a city representative from Andover.

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Simple Erosion Control Techniques Brings Success on the Rum River

Cedar tree revetments are a cost-effective bioengineering practice that can be used to stabilize actively eroding riverbanks. Excessive erosion along riverbanks threatens property, contributes sediment and nutrients to the water, and eliminates wildlife habitat. Installation of cedar revetments and live stakes, slows or stops the erosion and reduces the likelihood of a much larger and more expensive project in the future.

Eastern red cedars, though native to Minnesota, can be a nuisance species with a habit of taking over and dominating open grassy spaces. These cedar trees can be obtained at little to no cost through land clearing efforts and repurposed to protect streambanks and provide habitat benefit. Efforts made by ACD throughout the last 10-years have resulted in large-scale pollution reduction and extensive land protection along the Scenic Rum River. 

Since 2015, ACD has partnered with landowners, cities, parks departments, schools, and other community groups to install approximately 8,666 linear feet of cedar revetment. At the end of the 10-year project life, the current revetments in Anoka County will prevent in excess of 2,370 tons of sediment and 2,180 lbs of phosphorus from entering the Rum River, based on loading estimates.

Funding for these project was made possible through the Conservation Partners Legacy, Conservation Corps of Minnesota & Iowa crew labor grants funded from the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment, and contributions from landowners. ACD provided all project administration, design and installation oversight.

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Rum Watershed Comp Plan Nearly Done!

Counties, soil & water conservation districts, watershed organizations and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe have created a Rum River Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan (CWMP). The plan contains mutual priorities for water quality improvements and other natural resources. State approval of the plan is anticipated for May.

The management plan was created because there are 15+ local water plans managing different parts of the same watershed, making it hard to reach watershed-level goals. The CWMP is a single umbrella plan prioritizing resources across the entire watershed. Activities in the plan include shoreland erosion stabilization, agricultural water quality projects, stormwater treatment, septic system fix ups for low income owners, forestry practices, and more.

Approximately $1M in State Watershed Based Implementation Funds (WBIF) grants are provided every two years to implement the plan. The partnership is forming a joint powers board to direct plan implementation and grant funds use.

The full plan is available at https://www.millelacsswcd.org/rum-river-one-watershed-one-plan/.For more information contact Jamie Schurbon (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 763-434-2030 ext. 210). 

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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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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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$5.5M for Conservation Easements Along the Rum River

The Rum River watershed is near the top of State efforts for ecological protection, with implementation being done by soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) including ACD. In 2021 the Minnesota legislature approved $2.5M for Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) easements, on top of $3M that was allocated 2 years ago. In the most recent round, the Rum was one of just four watersheds statewide to be targeted.

With a RIM easement, the land remains privately owned. The easement prohibits future development of the land. The owner is paid approximately 60% of the assessed value. The program includes some funds for habitat improvements.

Landowner interest has been strong. The first $3M of easement funding was committed to just over 3,000 acres in about a year, leaving over 1,100 acres on a waiting list. The second round of funding picks up where the last left off, aiming to protect at least 1,750 acres.

Soil and water conservation districts and partners like The Nature Conservancy and Pheasants Forever promote the RIM easement program to the most ecologically valuable lands. Within the Rum River watershed, they have chosen to focus on lands adjacent to the river. This ensures that in addition to protecting the riparian corridor habitat there are also water quality benefits. They use a scoring system that incorporates each property's ecological quality and proximity to other protected habitat.

Within Anoka County there have been two landowners apply for RIM easements on their land. They total 149 acres. A third landowner, which happens to be adjacent to the other two, is also considering applying. More outreach to other landowners is in the works.

Landowners interested in a conservation easement should contact Carrie Taylor at 763-434-2030 ext 190 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Lands must be adjacent to the Rum River or major tributary. Parcels greater than 20 acres get the strongest consideration.

Funding for the Rum River watershed RIM easements is from the Outdoor Heritage Fund from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.
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Rum Riverbank Stabilization Project in Oak Grove

A project stabilizing 400 linear feet of severely eroding Rum Riverbank is underway in Oak Grove. Tree clearing and some excavation have taken place to date. Installation of toe protection in the form of angular riprap is being installed this week.

The next steps include finishing the installation of 850 tons of rock riprap, grading of the bank to a more stable slope, blanketing and seeding with a native seed mix, and the planting of native willows and dogwood trees.

The project is funded by an Outdoor Heritage Fund grant through the Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, as well as match dollars from the property owner. The Outdoor Heritage Fund is one of four 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 updates as the project progresses!

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Chloride Trends in the Rum River Watershed

The Metropolitan Council (MCES) put out a report on the trends of chloride in the Rum River Watershed. This report was based on data collected from 2001 to 2019 by both the MCES and Anoka Conservation District. Chloride concentrations have been rapidly rising in many waterbodies, including shallow aquifers, throughout Minnesota. This is a worrying trend because chloride is a permanent water pollutant that is toxic to fish, aquatic bugs, and amphibians. The main sources of chloride pollution in Minnesota comes from livestock excreta, household water softening, synthetic fertilizer, and de-icing salt. Chloride concentrations can be greatly affected by other factors like season, precipitation, and streamflow. During the winter months, concentrations rise with the use of approximately 400,000 tons of de-icing salt on Twin Cities' roads. Precipitation and streamflow also affect the concentration by dilution during high flow and precipitation years and concentration during low flow and precipitation years.

Luckily, the MCES found that concentrations of chloride are generally low in the Rum River. Chloride was increasing from 2001 to 2012 but has remained stable since 2012. Although this is a good sign, climate change is creating a wetter, warmer climate in Minnesota. This will greatly affect the freeze-thaw cycle and will have an unpredictable affect on pollution dynamics. Understanding how pollutants like chloride can affect Minnesota's waterways is an important step in keeping our waterways clean.
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Rum River Cedar Tree Revetments

The Anoka Conservation District has been working hard in partnership with Conservation Corp of MN and the Anoka County Parks Department to implement Cedar Revetments along the Rum River. So far nearly 1,500 linear feet along the Rum has been protected using the bio-engineered practice. These practices have been installed on private lands as well as property managed by Anoka County Parks. This type of practice is effective at protecting the bank from erosion while also enhancing shoreline habitat for wildlife. Cedar revetments are also much less expensive compared to other stabilization techniques. Through a state grant awarded to Anoka County Parks, there is currently funding available to cover 90% of the total project cost.

If you own property on the Rum River and are interested in protecting your shoreline, please contact Kris Larson for more information. 763-434-2030 x110, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Rum River Streambank Stabilization – Grants Available to Landowners

The Anoka County Parks Department recently received a grant to implement conservation practices along the Rum River. Landowners on the Rum have access to funding to address riverbank erosion with a unique method known as cedar tree revetments. Cedar tree revetments are a low cost, but effective, means to address minor to moderate bank erosion before it gets worse and more expensive to fix. The technique involves cable-anchoring cut cedar trees alongside the bank. Cedar tree's dense branches are naturally rot-resistant and can provide many years of bank protection. This armoring technique helps protect property value, improves water quality in the river, and provides quality fish habitat.

Residents interested in having their riverbank evaluated for a cedar tree revetment should contact Kris Larson at the Anoka Conservation District (763-434-2030 ext. 110; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Installation of revetments will occur throughout the summer in 2021-2022. Most projects cost $5,000-$10,000. Landowners must provide 10% of the total project cost; the remaining 90% is grant-funded.

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History and Management of the Rum River

Anoka Dam, October 1897

The Rum River is one of the largest rivers in Anoka County, second only to the mighty Mississippi. It starts at the outlet of Mille Lacs Lake and winds through the landscapes of Mille Lacs, Isanti, and Anoka Counties until it discharges to the Mississippi River in the City of Anoka—but many don't know about the progress this river has made to become one of Minnesota's most outstanding waterways.

To really appreciate the Rum River today, it's good to understand a bit of its history. For many decades, the Rum River served as a large scale aquatic conveyor for lumber. Large white pine, elm, oak, cherry, and maple all floated down the river from central Minnesota forests to build the homes and business of the growing Twin Cities Metro Area. It also conveyed our sewage, agricultural waste, sediment laden runoff, and industrial by-products downstream to the Mississippi River, and eventually the Gulf of Mexico.

A former Anoka County commissioner who grew up in the area once said that when he was a kid, no one would dare to even fish in the Rum River, much less swim in it. I'm happy to say, over the last 80 years, the fate of the Rum River has been wholly reversed. Today the Rum River is:

Martin's Landing on the Rum River
  • One of 6 Wild and Scenic Rivers and 35 State Water Trails in Minnesota
  • Designated as an Outstanding Resource Value Water
  • An excellent fishery and waterfowl corridor with abundant smallmouth bass and wood duck
  • Key reach for Species in Greatest Conservation Need

This isn't to say that our Rum River is in the clear. In the last 30 years, the population in the area draining to the Rum River has increased by 47%. With that many people came more roads, parking lots, and roof tops that added 74% more stormwater runoff. The increased water volume and speed that came with this extra stormwater caused the river to slice deeper into the landscape and rip apart the riverbanks. When riverbanks collapse into the river, the resulting sediment smothers the fish, amphibians, and reptiles that now call the river home. The Rum River is also increasingly threatened by road salt and nutrient pollution coming from this stormwater.

A Cedar Tree Revetment installed to stabilize a bank on the Rum River.

ACD takes a holistic approach to managing these new challenges to the quality of the Rum River. We are heavily involved with monitoring the chemistry and biological quality of the River; we assist the local Watershed Management Organizations with analysis and planning; and we implement projects with willing landowners to improve water quality and habitat in the river. ACD is also involved with guiding land conservation projects near the Rum River needed to protect habitat and water quality, and we are working diligently with other local organizations to ensure future funding for projects protecting the Rum River.

Over the coming months, we will be posting short blogs to highlight individual projects and programs that ACD has directed for the benefit of the Rum River. Check in soon at www.anokaswcd.org/blog to learn more!

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Clean Water Funds for Eroding Rum Riverbanks

The Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) is recommending $440,000 in funding to ACD from the Clean Water Fund[1] competitive grant fund for stabilizing eroding Rum Riverbanks. This funding will be used in conjunction with funds already received from the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council[2] ($816,000 to ACD) and the DNR Conservation Partners Legacy[3] grant ($185,000 to Anoka County Parks) for Rum Riverbank stabilization and habitat enhancement projects. These three funding sources will cover projects of all sizes, from small banks only needing cedar tree revetments to large failing banks requiring sophisticated engineering and reconstruction. The funds from the Clean Water Fund grant will be prioritized for the latter.

With additional matching funds from Anoka County, the Upper and Lower Rum River WMOs, ACD and landowners, over $1.5M-worth of streambank projects will be installed over the next three years to help the Rum River. The Rum River is a highly prized resource in Anoka County, but it is on the brink of impairment for phosphorus concentrations, and it has extensive bank erosion. The sediment washing into the river from these eroding banks dirties the water, increases nutrients, and smothers habitat for aquatic wildlife. ACD performed a streambank erosion analysis[4] from 2017 to 2019 that led to this concerted effort by ACD and Anoka County to secure state grant funding and local matching funds to make a big push to help the River. 

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Cedar Tree Revetment at Rum River Central Regional Park

ACD installed approximately 650 linear feet of cedar tree revetment at Rum River Central Regional Park this past month. This type of project prevents erosion of shorter river banks using cut eastern red cedar trees anchored along the toe of the bank in a shingled fashion. The thick branches of the eastern red cedars dissipate the erosive energy of the water as it washes along the streambank on the outside bend of a river. In this particular area at the park, a walking trail was at risk of washing out soon if the erosive scour continued unchecked. In addition to protecting the walking trail, this project will keep about 30 tons of sediment out of the river every year!

In order to accomplish this feat, we relied on numerous partnerships. Anoka County Parks helped us by purchasing the cable and earth anchors, as well as providing tree hauling services. Sherburne County donated 130 eastern red cedar trees from county-owned property. And finally, a large portion of the labor involved was done by a Conservation Corps. MN & IA crew that worked on this project for 12 ten-hour days. Thank you to all of these partners! 

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Three New Rain Gardens in Anoka Help Rum River Water Quality

ACD partnered with the City of Anoka to design three rain gardens that were installed as part of a City street reconstruction project in the 38th Lane neighborhood. Construction wrapped up this month in the yards of three homeowners who volunteered to take on the ownership and maintenance of these great water quality features. These three new rain gardens join two others that were installed in 2017 to clean up stormwater from this neighborhood that otherwise would wash directly to the Rum River via the storm sewer system. In total the three new rain gardens will treat about five acres of drainage area and remove about 1,164 lbs of total suspended solids (TSS) and 3.6 lbs of phosphorus annually from the stormwater runoff originating from those five acres. This results in about a 75% reduction in pollution washing to the river from this area!

Once the new plants have a chance to grow and bloom in these gardens in the coming years, not only will these rain gardens continue to provide an important water quality benefit to the Rum River, they will also host numerous pollinator species throughout the year with their abundant native flowering plants! ACD would like to extend a big thank you to the five landowners in this neighborhood, and dozens elsewhere in the county, that are willing to sacrifice portions of their yard to improve water quality in important waterways like the Rum River. These partnerships with willing private landowners are vital to ensuring clean and clear water for all to enjoy. 

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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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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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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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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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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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