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.

  1491 Hits