ACD's 75th Anniversary Tree Planting

2021 marks ACD's 75th Anniversary serving Anoka County! To celebrate, District staff planted trees throughout Anoka County. The tree planting occurred on May 6th at the Cedar Creek Conservation Area, Rum Central Regional Park, and the Anoka Nature Preserve. The tree planting is in line with the District's mission to holistically conserve and enhance Anoka County's natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations. 

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ACD Staffer Appointed By Governor to Water Advisory Committee

The Anoka Conservation District's Watershed Projects Manager, Jamie Schurbon, has been reappointed by Governor Tim Walz to the Metropolitan Water Supply Advisory Committee (MAWSAC). He was first appointed in 2012 by Governor Dayton. The committee advises the Metropolitan Council on regional water supply management. Topics addressed include groundwater contamination, protecting the Mississippi River as a drinking water source, water infrastructure, and water supply.

The committee represents diverse interests, with Schurbon as the only member from a local natural resources agency. Other members include public water supply managers, county commissioners, and state agency experts on health, pollution, and agriculture. Anoka County Board Chair Scott Schulte noted the need for balanced perspectives in his recommendation of Schurbon, noting Jamie "has an understanding of the need for both natural resources and community growth to support quality of life in Anoka County."

"I appreciate being part of regional efforts," noted Schurbon. "It's impossible to manage most water issues within one city or county. Groundwater, water supply pipes, and waterways all connect across communities."
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Celebrating ACD Staff and Supervisor’s Anniversaries Including 30 Years of Service for District Manager, Chris Lord

On June 7th, 2021, the Anoka Conservation District celebrated its 75th Anniversary serving Anoka County. Coincidentally, District Manager, Chris Lord, also celebrated an anniversary that same day – 30 years with the District. To honor this significant accomplishment, we sat down with Chris to look back at what inspired him to pursue a long career in Natural Resource Management and revisit some memories of his time working at ACD.

Emily Johnson, Outreach Coordinator: Thank you for taking the time to chat today, Chris! And thank you from all of us for your 30 years of dedicated service to ACD and Anoka County. Before we get into what drew you to the field of Natural Resource Management, can you tell us more about yourself and what sorts of things keep your mind occupied?

Chris Lord, District Manager: I'm a solitary soul. Fortunately for me, my beautiful wife is too. We enjoy solitude together, and often spend it puttering around the house with home improvements, working in the yard, and enjoying a good show. When I want to be solitary alone, I am drawn toward quandary solving. I love a good puzzle. Not the jigsaw kind. The logic kind. I think this is one reason I like working in the natural resources stewardship field. To understand the problem, you need to consider physics, chemistry, geology, hydrology, and biology and to address the problem you need to layer in politics, sociology, economics, psychology, and diplomacy. On a simpler level, give me a good killer Sudoku with a ridiculous set of rules and I'll be content solving it for the better part of an hour.

Johnson: Managing our natural resources can certainly be a puzzle at times with many interconnected factors to consider. It's a good thing you thrive when solving complex problems! I understand you grew up in Blaine; can you share some of your favorite memories of your childhood growing up in Anoka County?

Lord: I grew up in a neighborhood in northern Blaine with many kids in every house. We all belonged to multiple crews depending on interests, and as our interests ebbed and flowed, so did our allegiances. One contingent of kids to which I belonged spent many of our summer days out in the woods, wetlands, and fields. We'd build and use BMX and motocross tracks, build forts, transplant trees to our yards, and explore. On one outing we discovered that cattail seed heads when full ripe could be turned into an enduring cloud of downy fluff. We proceeded to release every seed in the swamp until the entire crusted over swamp was four to five feet deep in downy whiteness. This set the stage for the most unique game of tag I'd ever be involved in. Despite it being broad daylight, intermittently we were unable to see two feet in front of our faces due to the calamity of seed and had to play mostly by sound. There were some collisions. On one occasion, we decided to clean up our daytime retreat and so traipsed out to the woods with garbage bags in hand. We returned with what seemed to us to be a ton of trash and were thereafter dubbed the Swamp Dusters; a moniker not likely to strike fear in the hearts of the other neighborhood crews, but we kept it nonetheless. The woods, fields, and wetlands that were our stomping grounds are now the Majestic Oaks Golf Course south nine.

Johnson: Like many of us in the natural resource and stewardship field, it sounds like you grew up with a deep love and reverence for our natural world. When you think of your connection to nature and our natural resources today, what do you think of?

Lord: For me, the best part of nature are the quite places that make the worries of life fade into oblivion. The movement of leaves in treetops giving voice to the wind, the layers of aroma hinting at the often unseen players in the landscape, the darting action of little critters seen only in the periphery; these are the distractions and attractions that connect me to nature and make possible exploration all while sitting motionless, not making a sound.

Johnson: It certainly makes sense why you've dedicated your life in service to our natural resources! Can you tell us about a lasting memory you have of your career in natural resources and your time working with ACD?

Lord: The memories that stand out most clearly are the times things didn't go well. In my early twenties, I offended a public official by repeating a question in a public forum after she had just tried to dodge it. That simple act of political tone-deafness had repercussions that extended for many years. A resident threatened to throw me in a wood chipper because I undiplomatically pointed out that he shouldn't have built his pole building in a wetland and was consequentially prohibited from creating a wide driveway all the way around it. Another landowner seeking a favorable wetland delineation asked what would happen if he dropped a hundred dollar bill. I assured him I'd return it to him. I once overheard a well-respected and well-compensated wetland expert explain to his new staff member in the field that because they were considered the experts, they could convince the local government staff and officials of anything because the locals didn't understand the science and would trust expert testimony. These memories, along with countless other experiences, did more to sharpen my diplomacy, political astuteness, customer service, communication, and ethical fortitude than did my successes or mastery of the sciences. Overall, the public is better served by civil servants with well-honed soft skills than those who talents are limited to technical proficiency.

Johnson: Your stories show that we often learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. While it's true we face many challenges in our line of work, what has kept you motivated all these years?

Lord: ACD has been a wonderful place to work on several levels. The natural resource base in the Anoka Sand Plain is interesting and unique and the land use varies from densely urban cityscapes to prehistorically pristine open space. The variety keeps things interesting and the people keep it enjoyable. While I've seen a lot of colleagues come and go over the decades, I can count on the lesser part of one hand the number that I wouldn't fully enjoy working with. The elected Board of Supervisors during my term at ACD has always, without exception, served to the best interest of the natural resources and residents without ever putting self-interest first. I find this extraordinary. The Board manages to provide an optimal balance of guidance and flexibility. This has allowed ACD staff to innovate extensively in our pursuit to fulfill ACD's objectives. None of it would have come together without partnering with other local government staff and residents. Working hand-in-hand with these cohorts in conservation is very gratifying.

Johnson: Thank you, Chris, for sharing your stories and thank you again for your continued service to Anoka County!


In this year of milestones, we want to recognize and thank the rest of our staff and supervisors who are also celebrating anniversaries with the District. The District has many things to celebrate, but the most important is the Staff and Board members that have worked hard to make ACD so successful in their conservation efforts. Some have been with ACD for a short time, while others have worked at ACD for decades. Below is a list of employees and supervisors along with their length of time with ACD. They all deserve a big shout out!


ACD Staff:

Chris Lord, District Manager – 30 years

Jamie Schurbon, Watershed Projects Manager – 20 years

Kathy Berkness, Office Administrator – 16 years

Becky Wozney, Wetland Specialist – 16 years

Mitch Haustein, Stormwater and Shoreland Specialist – 11 years

Jared Wagner, Water Resource Specialist – 5 years

Carrie Taylor, Restoration Ecologist – 5 years

Kris Larson, Water Resource Technician – 5 years

Emily Johnson, Outreach and Engagement Coordinator – 3 years

Mollie Annen, Natural Resource Conservationist – 1 year

Kat Dickerson, District Technician – 2 months


ACD Board Supervisors:

Mary Jo Truchon, Board Chair – 25 years

Jim Lindahl, Vice Chair – 12 years

Glenda Meixell, Treasurer – 4 years

Sharon LeMay, Member – 4 years

Colleen Werdien, Member – 6 months

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2020 ACD Technical Assistance Summary

ACD staff provide technical assistance for a wide variety of projects each year. Many of the requests for assistance come directly from landowners interested in improving natural resources or addressing concerns on their properties. Technical assistance is also provided for projects in collaboration with county, city, and watershed entity partners. The table to the right summarizes 2020 technical assistance provided by ACD staff.

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

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

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

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New Survey Gear for Conservation Projects

The Anoka Conservation District is excited to have new survey gear. A survey-grade GPS unit has been added to our existing robotic total station survey unit. This gear increases the speed and accuracy (sub-centimeter) of our designs and our as-built checks of projects during or after construction. It will be used for riverbank stabilizations, rain gardens, and many other kinds of projects.

The survey gear was purchased by the Metro Conservation Districts, a coalition of soil and water conservation districts in the metro. This gear is shared with the Isanti and Sherburne Soil and Water Conservation Districts. ACD staff have taken a lead role in setting up and learning the new gear, and will be training the other SWCDs.

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Staff Spotlight: Carrie Taylor

Carrie Taylor, ACD's Restoration Ecologist, enjoys all manner of outdoor adventures including skiing, gardening, camping, and canoeing. She always makes time to explore nature, go on hikes, and "hunt" for wildflowers with her family. She loves bringing her daughters out with her even though she sometimes has to remind them that "skiing… hiking… canoeing… it's what we do!"

Prior to living in Minnesota, Carrie lived in Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, Montana, and Sweden. Since moving to Minnesota 6 years ago, Carrie has made a point of exploring all the natural areas the state has to offer. One of Carrie's favorite places in Minnesota that she has explored thus far is the Superior Hiking Trail at Bean and Bear Lakes. She appreciated the topography, the wildness, and the beautiful multi-layer beaver dam complex that she and her family stumbled across.

Carrie is also active with the Master Gardener program and enjoys volunteering with many organizations especially coordinating landscape design and installation with new homeowners through Habitat for Humanity.

Outside of Carrie's work conducting natural resource monitoring, inventory, assessments, and planning, and coordinating ecological restoration projects for the District, she is involved in landscaping and adding native and edible plants at her daughters' schools and helping lead some of their Girl Scout activities.

To contact Carrie, reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (763) 434-2030 x19. 

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District Capacity Funding Impact

Each year since 2016, soil and water conservation districts across the state, including ACD, have receiving a special allocation from the Clean Water Fund of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to build statewide capacity to provide conservation related programs and services. Each district utilizes these funds differently to meet the needs of their constituents and natural resources. Following is a snapshot of how ACD relies on these funds.

District Capacity funds (DCF) have made the greatest difference in Anoka Conservation District (ACD) operations by serving as a highly adaptable funding source. We use DCF to tackle critical but small tasks that elevate our overall function and efficiency. Most individual projects and activities funded with DCF cost less than $5,000.

Education and Outreach: DCF has been used to create a natural resources Blog that is continually updated with timely content, a quarterly e-Newsletter that is distributed to key stakeholders and the public, and outreach materials including brochures, displays and animated videos; all of which are available at https://www.anokaswcd.org/educational.html.

Inventory: ACD completed riverbank and lakeshore condition photo inventories for our major rivers (Rum and Mississippi) and many lakes, totaling over 50 miles of shoreline. Photos are uploaded to Google maps where they are available by using the StreetView function for the public, and ACD staff when fielding calls from landowners.

Planning and Analysis: Streambank and lakeshore photos were analyzed to determine erosion location and severity, enabling ACD to identify and rank potential projects based on cost-effectiveness for water quality benefits. This was the foundation to secure many grants. Similar analysis of wetland restoration opportunities facilitates targeted outreach efforts.

Technical Capacity: Building staff expertise through training and technology upgrades, including design software and survey equipment.

Technical Assistance: In 2020, DCF was used to help complete 198 site consultations, 19 surveys and designs, and construction management for 20 projects for landowners. Technical assistance is a critical service to achieve conservation on private lands.

Cost Share: DCF is used to supplement other funding to help projects such as shoreline and riverbank stabilizations over the finish line.

Project Life Extension: Approximately 25 landowners annually are provided project management guidance to extend the benefits of their project beyond the contracted life. 

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Wetland Restoration in Anoka County

The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) is seeking to restore previously drained or filled wetlands and adjacent uplands to develop wetland credits for the Local Government Road Wetland Replacement Program (LGRWRP). This program provides wetland mitigation for qualifying road construction, repair, and rehabilitation projects conducted by local road authorities such as cities, townships, and counties.

Opportunities are available for landowners and local government entities in throughout the state including Anoka County.

Restoration opportunities include:

  1. BWSR easement signup which operates the same as Reinvest In Minnesota (RIM) and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)
  2. Credit development and sale to BWSR through a third party
  3. Credit development in partnership with BWSR

The difficult part of this program was that BWSR wanted projects that were relatively far along in the process since wetland banking starting from scratch is a 4 to 5 year endeavor for the first credits to be established. The funds they were using had a 3 year deadline for completion.

At first, we did not think we had any projects far enough along, but then I reached out to a landowner in Oak Grove who had a significant portion of his proposal completed so we are hoping that this is a good fit for the BWSR program. This project north of 221st Ave NW would restore over 60 acres of wetland that have been drained for decades for farming. It is in the headwaters of Lake George.

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ACD Stands Poised for a Decade of Natural Resource Stewardship

ACD is pleased to present our 2021-2030 Comprehensive Natural Resource Stewardship Plan to our implementation partners and stakeholders. The plan embraces the fact that all natural resources are interconnected and interdependent and presents stewardship goals, objectives and strategies in a manner that will enhance our ability to address issues holistically. The plan is structured around four foundational natural resources: surface water, groundwater, ecological resources, and soils. We also dedicate a portion of the plan to our human resources in a section called Community.

While the plan has been adopted in its current state, over the coming four months ACD intends to reengage with stakeholders who helped bring the plan together to solicit additional input for incorporation into an amendment mid-2021.

Special purpose units of government like watershed districts and soil and water conservation districts routinely face the challenge of communicating progress toward goals amid the complexity of natural resources stewardship. Often this messaging is to stakeholders with limited expertise on the subject. To address this challenge, as a central component of the plan, ACD has developed an Action Wheel with 24 Keystone Endeavors across the four foundational natural resources, community and district operations. Annual success in achieving these endeavors will be reported in an easy to understand manner beginning with our 2021 Annual Report.

The extent to which ACD's efforts improve the quality of life of Anoka County residents is another matter. This delves into matters of ecosystem services, economics, spirituality, recreation, mental health, and so on. How to gauge the value of floating on a clean lake on a hot afternoon? We have a plan for this too, which will come together in our 2021 Annual Report.

Because ACD does not have statutory funding authority, budgets and work plans are aspirational as opposed to prescriptive. To project future budgets, expense and revenue trends over the prior ten years were used. The following revenue and expense projects may appear aggressive at first glance. Considering that Anoka County has over 350,000 residents and that two-thirds of projected revenues come from product sales and state grants, the burden on the Anoka County taxpayer to support ACD's work, including county and local government contributions, would be well below $5 per person. 

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Staff Spotlight: Becky Wozney

Becky Wozney, ACD's Wetland Specialist, has always had a strong connection to nature. When she was a girl growing up in Pine County, she would regularly ride her horse, Annie, through her family's pastures for hours on end. She fell in love with nature and the outdoors while exploring her family's property with her dogs and today believes that outreach and education can really change how people, especially children, interact with our natural resources. "Anytime we can get kids outside and teach them to respect nature, it will have a large impact on them later in life," says Becky.

Now that Becky has her own daughters, she tries to instill in them the same love of the outdoors that she learned as a kid. She and her family all love to travel and have visited 30 states (including Alaska and Hawaii!) plus Costa Rica and Canada. They are planning a Europe-based trip in 2022. Becky and her family also greatly enjoy spending time on the lake in their boat or kayak, camping in Minnesota's state parks, and hiking with their dog, Millie.

Outside of Becky's work providing technical assistance and Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) regulatory assistance to county residents, she is involved in youth sports and volunteering on natural resource projects in her city.

To contact Becky, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (763) 434-2030 x14.

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Welcome Supervisor Werdien!

Colleen Werdien is a Minnesota native, growing up with her family in Mounds View before moving to Anoka County 25 years ago. She settled first in Columbia Heights, but seven years ago when she saw an article in the paper about an old house for sale that was originally built in 1852, she decided to move to the city of Anoka very near the banks of the Rum River.

Growing up, nature was always easily accessible for Colleen. In her childhood home, Colleen fell in love with the knee-high prairie grasses and small creek running through her backyard and the forest right across the street. Colleen carried these experiences in nature throughout her life, naming several significant places in Minnesota she loves to visit today including the Boundary Waters, Jeffers Petroglyphs in the southwest, and the prairies of Pipestone.

Her home in Anoka sits on ¾ of an acre that is largely shaded by mature trees. In her sunny boulevard, Colleen tends to a variety of native plants that are beneficial for pollinators while working to keep the invasive weeds and buckthorn at bay. If she's not out in her yard, you are most likely to find Colleen pursuing one of her many artistic interests from pottery to felt and wool, and from drawing to playing the ukulele and piano!

Colleen is already an active member of her community working with several local organizations and volunteer groups. She is an active member of the Andover Pollinator Awareness Project as well as the Anoka County Master Gardeners, both of which allow her to work with and advocate for the native prairie plants and flowers she adores. In addition, Colleen volunteers for her church and serves on the HRA Board working to purchase and revitalize homes that have fallen into disrepair.

Still, Colleen felt the desire to do more for her community to make an impact. She has been concerned about the state of our natural resources her whole life and when she learned of the work ACD does, she knew she would be able to make a big impact in conservation work throughout the county as a supervisor.

We are thrilled to welcome Colleen Werdien to the ACD Board of Supervisors representing District 1. 

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Comprehensive Planning Just Got More Comprehensive

Ten-year comprehensive plans are the foundation for many agency operations. We embarked on our planning process in the fall of 2018. It has been a long journey, with unexpected turns. Where we landed is not anything like I originally imagined. It is a product of the process, made better by the expertise and insight of many partners. While we may be situated in a landscape dominated by shifting sands, we are poised to have our operations solidly grounded in our 2021-2030 Comprehensive Plan.

Managing natural resources is a complicated endeavor. They are all interconnected. Changes to one resource cascade into changes in the others. As we set out on this journey, we grappled with how to compartmentalize natural resource management so we could structure a plan. Should it be by habitat type: lakes, river, wetlands, prairies, savannas, and forests; by land cover: agriculture, residential, commercial, open space; by what we value and use: drinking water, recreation, wildlife, food, or by what we need to fix: invasive species, flooding, contamination, erosion, depletion? With guidance of ACD's Board of Supervisors, we distilled it to the most fundamental elements of ecosystems: land, water, air, and biota. After dropping 'air' for lack of jurisdiction and programs to act at the necessary scale, and splitting water into surface water and groundwater, we had the foundation for discussing and managing Anoka County ecosystem components.

We engaged technical panels of experts to discuss each of the four topics: soils, surface water, groundwater and biota to discern sixteen root benefits provided, both intrinsic and anthropocentric. A vote on the relative importance of these benefits provided a ranking; shown below in order of priority from left to right and top to bottom.

Thereafter, the Technical Advisory Committees identified the fundamental threats to those benefits. The ensuing list to contain or diminish the threats became our twenty-four objectives. Those objectives split into 70 strategies. This is where it got complicated. Because each objective could apply to multiple resources, and each strategies could apply to multiple objectives, the number of cross-connections was mounting, and not in a way that we could manage or represent in our comprehensive plan. At that point, someone suggested that the spreadsheet, wherein this complicated matrix of resources, threats, objectives and strategies was growing, should be part of the plan; published in its current form. This idea took root and empowered us to keep building onto what we've come to call The Matrix. Now, fully incorporating 281 actions along with coefficients of efficacy at multiple levels along with unit costs, The Matrix provides a means to consider the return on investment of every potential action for every resource benefit. The nearly 3000 rows of actions can be displayed quickly in countless configurations employing easy-to-use data analysis tools. The structure facilitates the creation of annual plans and can be easily modified to integrate new technologies and practices as the science and practice of natural resource management evolves. Over the next four weeks we will be unveiling this work product and look forward to receiving input from our partners and stakeholders as we strive to improve the way we serve Anoka County residents.

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Anoka Conservation District Blazing Trails

Clear lakes. Resilient rivers. Safe drinking water. Abundant wildlife. Great fisheries. Protected greenspace. Outdoor recreation opportunities. Minnesotans have come to expect these. Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD), such as Anoka Conservation District (ACD) are one of the primary entities relied upon to deliver these benefits across the state. Each SWCD is customized to meet the needs of their residents, whether in the agricultural south and west, the forests of the north and east, the lakes of the central region, the bluffs of the southeast, or the urban-scape of the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area, SWCDs are adapted to help landowners implement conservation. Not only does the approach change from one corner of Minnesota to the other according to the landscape, but it must also be adapted over time to changes in the landscape, and to evolving data, science and technology.

How well has ACD evolved to adapt to the tides of change? What has ACD done to advance the science, practice and policy of conservation? The following list represents activities where ACD took a lead role, was the first, and in some cases the only, special purpose local government entity to undertake them.


Subwatershed Retrofit Analysis – In the 2000s, ACD modified and refined the Center for Watershed Protection's protocol for subwatershed analysis and applied it to meet local needs. The analysis involves detailed field reconnaissance to identify project opportunities; modeling of potential projects to quantify benefits to the receiving water body; cost estimates for design, construction, and maintenance of the projects; and ranking of the projects by cost-effectiveness. This level of analysis has become the standard for identifying and ranking projects to meet water quality improvement goals. With multiple rounds of grant funding to complete analyses, there are currently 17 completed within Anoka County and dozens more across the metro area and in greater Minnesota. ACD staff have provided training on the process to many natural resource professionals across Minnesota.

Shoreland Photo Inventory for Lakes and Rivers – Many have used Google Streetview, where you can virtually transport yourself to any street and take a full circle look at your surroundings. For shoreland management, this ability would be exceptionally useful. Since the photos didn't exist, ACD purchased a 360 degree camera and set about gathering the photos and uploading them to Streetview. With over 500K views, the photos along the entirety of the Rum and Mississippi Rivers in Anoka County as well as many lakes have proven extremely useful, not only to ACD staff assisting shoreland owners, but to the general public as well. ACD was the first in Minnesota to do this.

Riverbank and Shoreland Erosion Analysis – Combining the data in shoreland photo inventories with soil type and topographic contours has allowed ACD staff to develop erosion rate estimates and rudimentary bank stabilization approach designations. This allows for rough project cost estimates and subsequent project ranking for cost-effectiveness. Having identified $14M of riverbank stabilization need on the Rum River alone, ACD has leveraged this knowledge into multiple project implementation grants. Similar analysis has been completed for several lakes and is underway for the Mississippi River. ACD was the first in Minnesota to complete this scope of bank erosion analysis.

Targeted Landowner Outreach – Detailed identification of water quality improvement project opportunities, whether shoreland and lakeshore erosion repair or stormwater treatment practices, along with their likely costs has enabled ACD to implement an extremely targeted approach to project implementation. Gone are the days of broadly advertising the availability of conservation cost share funds. ACD staff now go door-knocking to connect individually with the owners of properties where the most cost-effective project opportunities have been identified. By doing this, we ensure that we gain the most benefit with the limited funds that we have available to us. Property level opportunity identification and direct landowner outreach was spearheaded by ACD.

Campus Groundwater Conservation Planning – ACD led the charge to secure funding and develop a protocol to identify groundwater conservation opportunities on large public campuses in urban areas. This was completed in recognition of diminished groundwater supplies and quality in some areas and the need to develop and implement conservation measures. Campus level analysis completed across the metro area identified countless opportunities to reduce waste, many of which will pay for themselves in a matter of months with savings on water bills.

Conservation Easements – In a rapidly urbanizing county, with valued open space converting to residential and commercial uses, it was important to provide landowners interested in protecting their property with an alternative to development. In the 90's, ACD began directly accepting conservation easements, which perpetually protect lands from development while keeping the lands in private ownership. ACD now holds easements or fee title interest on six properties protecting 400 acres of high priority habitats, and is one of very few, if not the only SWCD to do so in Minnesota.

Rare Species Salvage – Many may be surprised to learn that the Twin Cities Metro Area is home to many rare plant and animal species. While geology and natural ecosystems play an important role, the primary reason for this is that urbanization of land constricts ever tighter around species fighting to maintain a foothold. Laws designed to protect rare species by keeping their locations unknown and making it illegal to harvest or possess them have had some unintended consequences. A prime example was that when a known population of rare plants was in the way of development and DNR issued a permit to destroy them, it was illegal to try to salvage them. After applying for grants to develop a salvage program in Minnesota and working with DNR staff to create a process whereby a salvage permit could be secured, ACD has undertaken the first two salvage projects in Minnesota and has translocated thousands of rare plants. The success of the translocations will be monitoring to further advance our understanding of these rare species.

Wetland Restoration Management – The Wetland Conservation Act of 1991 requires that draining or filling of certain wetlands be mitigated with and equal or greater amount of wetland restoration. To ensure the timely progress of projects, a market developed to create and sell wetland restoration credits to those who could not avoid wetland impacts. This process, knows as wetland banking has grown in sophistication over the years, and the expectations for the quality of restored wetland has dramatically increased. To assure long-term performance measures are met, state and federal regulatory entities started to require multi-decade maintenance plans with funding mechanisms. ACD was the first in Minnesota to step up to the plate to fulfill this need by entering into an agreement with the owner of a large wetland restoration bank to complete maintenance for 40+ years. The maintenance efforts will be funded by a substantial endowment.

Patented Rain Guardian Pretreatment Chambers – Rain gardens emerged on the conservation scene in the 2000s as a means to add effective stormwater treatment to highly development landscapes. Owners of rain gardens quickly came to realize that their gardens were capturing a ton of sediment and debris from the streets. Removing this material from within and around the mulch and plants was necessary to keep the water soaking into the ground between storms, but it was a lot of work. ACD staff recognized the need for an effective pretreatment device for rain gardens that homeowners could maintain. Standard sumps that required a vac-truck to empty just wouldn't do. So, ACD staff designed and patented Rain Guardian Pretreatment Chambers. Nationwide sales now support local conservation initiatives. ACD is the only SWCD nationwide to hold a patent.


Photo by Mark Bugnaski Photography

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Watershed Based Implementation Funding

A state strategy to move away from competitive grant funding and toward predictable and reliable allocations for water resource management is underway. The concern with competitive funding is the amount of staff time that is dedicated toward the preparation of project applications. With funding requests consistently exceeding available funding by a factor of four, the likelihood of success is slim. This creates a system of feast or famine project implementation, which leads to the highly inefficient cycle of building and dismantling programs and services.

The new approach, called Watershed Based Implementation Funding will eventually allocate up to 80% of available Clean Water Fund dollars to established partnerships that have ready-to-implement strategic plans. After the bugs are worked out, the hope is that water resource managers will be able to predict funding availability more accurately and be able to implement water quality improvement projects efficiently and systematically.

Anoka Conservation District is a member of four of these watershed-based partnerships: Rum River, Lower St. Croix, Mississippi West, and Mississippi East. Each group is in the process of meeting virtually to discuss how to distribute funds allocated to their watershed area. Allocations for watershed areas are based on land area and other factors, and vary greatly.

Funds can be distributed to partners to pursue the projects identified in their individual plans, or to a ranked list of projects compiled and approved by the partnership. Each group is likely to take a different approach. In the Rum River, a project list was developed by consensus of the partners, and was heavily influenced by project readiness. In the Lower St. Croix, there is a single master plan, called a 1-Watershed, 1-Plan that is being used to guide project selection. In Mississippi West, a ranking system has been developed and each partner may bring forward up to two projects for consideration. In Mississippi East, the preference seems to be to allocate funds to the three subgroups (soils and water conservation districts, watershed management organizations, and counties with groundwater plans) and have them work amongst themselves to develop a list of implementation activities.

How ever we get there, it will be exciting to see what projects and programs come to fruition through this new approach. 

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Buffer Law Update

Erosion along streambanks causes pollution and loss of property for the landowner. Current development practices often leave streambanks bare and without vegetation. These conditions can lead to erosion occurring on the banks since there is no longer plant material holding the soil in place.

ACD is continuing to work with landowners in 2020 to help bring Anoka County into 100% compliance with the State Buffer Law. The law that was passed in 2017 requires a perennial vegetated buffer along waterways across the state:

  • 50' average and minimum of 30' along designated public waters.
  • 16.5' minimum along designated public ditches.

The goal of the law is to improve water quality in Minnesota as these buffers help filter out phosphorus, nitrogen, sediment and other pollutants.

With the growing season underway, ACD staff is actively checking properties for compliance and providing direction to landowners.

As of July 2019, the state was 98% compliant but this is an ongoing effort and will continue to update and develop as local land use changes.

The next phase, includes another professional review of properties throughout Anoka County to identify non-compliant parcels. This review will be based on 2019 aerial photos that will be released later this year.

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A Decade of Competitive Clean Water Funding: How Do Local Partners Stack Up?

The voter approved Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment increased sales tax in 2010 to create a constitutionally dedicated funding source so we could manage our natural resources for the enjoyment of current and future generations. The funds are distributed through the Clean Water Fund (CWF) to improve surface water and groundwater, the Outdoor Heritage Fund (OHF) to improve habitat, and the Parks & Trails Fund to improve local and regional parks. The amendment expires in 2034, 25 years after it was passed. Of the three funds, the Clean Water Fund is the one most relied on by local government units to implement locally important projects and programs. During the first 10 years of competitive Clean Water Fund awards, 582 local government units submitted 2,064 successful project proposals and secured over $279M in funds to make our water resources better.

In the first decade of Clean Water Fund awards, Anoka Conservation Districts comes in at a respectable 7th of 582. With 18 successful grant applications totaling just under $4M, we've been able to do a lot of work for those who live, work and play in Anoka County. Details of all CWF projects can be found at Legacy.MN.gov.

Of course, that is only a small part of the whole story. ACD works in tandem with many partners wholly and partially within Anoka County who have also been very successful securing CWF funds and putting water management into action. You may have noticed that three of the top ten recipients statewide serve all or portions of Anoka County, including the City of St. Francis and the Rice Creek Watershed District. In total, twelve of the twenty-one cities in Anoka County, along with three of the seven water management entities have all secured CWF funds to manage surface water and groundwater resources. Many of those not listed were critical partners in project funding, installation, and maintenance. We are all working together to ensure our water resources have a bright future.

Outdoor Heritage Funds have also been a critical source of funds to support habitat management in Anoka County, but that's another story.

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393 Hits

Take a Kid Fishing

This past weekend (June 5-7) was the MN DNR's annual Take a Kid Fishing Weekend, but if you missed out, it's not too late to introduce a kid to the outdoors! Fishing is a great way to get kids off the couch and outside while also being a great family bonding activity. Kids under the age of 16 do not need a license to fish, and very little equipment is necessary to get started.

Anoka County offers many locations and opportunities to fish from shore, fishing piers, or other structures in all of its regional parks. No boat required! Additionally, the MN DNR's Fishing in the Neighborhood (FiN) program offers easily accessible fishing for kids and families at many other locations. All of the FiN lakes and rivers in Anoka County can be found online at: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fishing/fin/anoka.html

Fishing is a relaxing activity that can get kids interested in the outdoors, and teaches skills that can be used for a lifetime of enjoyment. Even if you don't have a boat, you can spend sunny, summer days reeling in supper for the evening, or the "big one" for a picture. Either way lifelong memories will be made.

The fun doesn't have to end with summer! Fishing can be great through the fall and winter from shore, or on the ice. Fall hunting seasons in Minnesota offer up extensive outdoor recreational activity as well, with many publically accessible areas all over the state.

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555 Hits

ACD Receives Aquatic Invasive Species Behavior Change Grant through DNR

Anoka Conservation District, in partnership with Anoka County Parks, received a MNDNR behavior change grant in the amount of $4,992.74 to pilot a strategy to reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species. The pilot behavior change intervention strategy will be delivered to the target audience of boaters and anglers through the installation of new boat cleaning equipment at 5 high traffic boat launches and education provided by on-site AIS inspectors. The project will influence positive behavior change in boaters and anglers by removing barriers such as lack of access to tools/equipment for properly cleaning boats/trailers, lack of space to clean boat or pressure caused by high-traffic boat launches, and lack of knowledge of how to use cleaning tools/equipment. We will lay the groundwork by conducting research on baseline boater behavior this summer, install the weed removal stations in spring of 2021, and collect observational data on weed removal station use and commitments to use the stations from boaters throughout the 2021 boating season. The results of the pilot study will be used by the DNR in future AIS behavior change strategies throughout the state.

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459 Hits

Spurge Euphorbia esula MN Noxious Weed: Prohibited – Control

  • 1-2 foot tall
  • Greenish-yellow flower bracts
  • Simple and opposite leaves
  • A white, milky sap exudes if the stem or leaves are cut
  • Grows in full to part sun in range of soil types and moisture

If you see leafy spurge, please report it on EDDMaps: www.eddmaps.org/

For more information and control methods see:

https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialplants/herbaceous/leafyspurge.html

https://www.mda.state.mn.us/plants/pestmanagement/weedcontrol/noxiouslist/leafyspurge

Biological control is an option for reducing large infestations of leafy spurge. Adult leafy spurge beetles (Aphthona lacertosa) feed on the leaves and lay eggs at the base of spurge plants. Larvae feed on the roots over the winter until they pupate and emerge as adults the following summer. See: https://www.mda.state.mn.us/plants/pestmanagement/weedcontrol/noxiouslist/leafyspurge/leafyspurge

Photo at Anoka Nature Preserve. 7.3.2019
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450 Hits

Clean Water Begins at your Curb

ACD, as a member of the Metro Watershed Partners Steering Committee, collaborated with Twin Cities Public Television to produce a 90 second interstitial to promote the Adopt-a-Drain program about how our storm drains and waterways are connected. This animated video, "Clean Water Begins at your Curb," first aired on TPT LIFE on April 24th and will continue to air throughout the summer.

Watch the video online here: https://www.tpt.org/clean-water-begins-curb/


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478 Hits

2020 St. Croix Virtual Workshops on the Water - for local community leaders

REGISTER TODAY

We'd like to invite you and your local community leaders to join us for a series of short educational webinars during the month of June. Presentation topics will include lakeshore and riverway rules, wildlife of the Lower St. Croix watershed, and policies to protect pollinators. Our partners in Washington County partners have collaborated to hold an annual St. Croix Workshop on the Water for the past 10 years. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they are offering this year's workshop as a series of free webinars instead.

This year's St. Croix Virtual Workshops on the Water are offered in partnership by EMWREP, MN DNR, Washington County, and St. Croix River Association.

Lake and Shoreline Management: June 3, 2-3pm

*Offered in place of the June water consortium meeting

  • Who's in charge? Understanding the different roles of state and local government - Jay Riggs, WCD
  • Common scenarios: Can I do that with my property? - Angie Hong, EMWREP
  • Vegetative removal and land alteration standards along shorelines - Matt Bauman - MN DNR

Landscaping and Habitat: June 10, 2-3pm

  • Planting for clean water and wildlife - Angie Hong, EMWREP
  • Policies to protect pollinators - Laurie Schneider, Pollinator Friendly Alliance
  • St. Croix virtual wildlife safari - Greg Seitz, St. Croix 360

St. Croix Riverway: June 17, 2-3pm

  • St. Croix Riverway land use regulations – Dan Petrik and Matt Bauman, MN DNR
  • Ideas for innovative local shoreland, floodplain, and St. Croix land use ordinances – Dan Petrik and Matt Bauman, MN DNR

Register online to reserve your spot.

  463 Hits
463 Hits

Save Money and Water!

Spring is here. If you have an irrigation system for your yard, you likely already have it up and running or are considering doing so within the next month. Now is the time when you're setting the watering duration and frequency for each zone in your yard. These settings often remain unchanged throughout the season, which typically results in over-watering. Over-watering wastes drinkable water, and assuming you don't have a private well, it also wastes money.

This year, in addition to following city restrictions (e.g. odd/even watering schedules), try actively managing your irrigation controller. Active management consists of adjusting run times based on local conditions. For example, during periods with sufficient rainfall, watering duration and frequency can be reduced. During these times, you can simply turn your irrigation system off. In contrast, during periods of extreme heat and drought, supplemental watering may be necessary. Watch your yard for signs of drought before turning on your irrigation system, and rely on rainfall as much as possible. When you need to use your irrigation system, water your lawn one time or less per week with a good soaking to encourage deeper root growth, and schedule watering times in the morning to reduce evaporation associated with midday heat and wind.

An alternative to active management is a smart irrigation controller. Smart irrigation controllers use an internet connection to actively monitor local precipitation patterns and automatically adjust watering frequency and duration accordingly. Regardless of whether you choose active management or a smart irrigation controller, both are effective options for reducing water use and saving money.

Visit the University of Minnesota Extension's Lawn Care website for additional lawn management resources.

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509 Hits

The Season of Spring Erosion (and Help for Those Experiencing It)


The excitement of spring often comes with high water, ice, and waves. This spring is no exception. Owners of property on lakes and rivers are quick to take note. And sometimes, feel a bit helpless. The Anoka Conservation District offers help to those landowners. We've got technical know-how to fix the problems. We focus on approaches that are lasting, create habitat, and improve water quality. The advice is free. As a bonus, financial help in the form of grants are often available.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, our staff are most easily reached by email, however, we are also checking voice messages. For contact information see https://www.anokaswcd.org/index.php/about-us/staff-directory.html

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530 Hits

Rain Guardian Pretreatment Chambers Featured on LIDBIT Vlog

Rain Guardian pretreatment chambers were recently featured in a new vlog focused on low impact development (LID).The vlog is called LIDBit and is coordinated by Rob Woodman with ACF Environmental.In the Rain Guardian episode, Rob interviewed Anoka Conservation District Stormwater and Shoreland Specialist, Mitch Haustein, about Rain Guardian pretreatment chamber functionality, configurations, installation, and maintenance.Check out the Rain Guardian episode and others on the LIDBit Video YouTube channel (https://tinyurl.com/vfmm9fc).

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570 Hits

Sheet Mulching

Sheet mulching – saves time, builds soil, and smothers existing weeds or lawn without using herbicide.

Sheet mulching is an excellent way to convert lawn to garden beds without using herbicides or excessive labor. Meanwhile it can build soil and be accomplished with readily available materials.

Begin by mowing grass or other vegetation in the area you want to convert into a new garden bed. It can be as simple as layers of newspaper or cardboard topped by four inches of mulch to smother grass and weeds underneath. If this is started in the spring, the underlying plants will have died from lack of light and the garden bed will be ready for planting in the fall.A more diverse layering of material will produce a compost that will break down and build your soil. For this, layer:

  1. Soil amendments if soil test results recommend amendments (lime, greensand, etc.). Recommended if you are creating a vegetable garden.
  2. Thin layer of compost.
  3. Wet newspaper or cardboard, 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick.
  4. Thin layer of nitrogen source such as manure.
  5. Layer of straw or leaves (carbon source).
  6. Continue to alternate layers of nitrogen and carbon sources.
  7. End with a top layer of mulch.

This type of bed is finished when these layers have decomposed. It may take the entire growing season to decompose sufficiently. If you start in the spring, the bed will likely be ready to plant in the fall.

See the Xerces Society Organic Site Preparation for Wildflower Establishment publication for more organic site preparation methods and directions:

https://xerces.org/publications/guidelines/organic-site-preparation-for-wildflower-establishment

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529 Hits

Trees for Bees (and other pollinators)

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678 Hits

Oak Wilt

Oak Wilt is becoming an increasing problem throughout the State and kills off a large number of oaks every year. Even though oak wilt is active in a large area of Minnesota, effective management techniques exist.

Oak wilt in a healthy tree will begin wilting the canopy. This usually starts at the top of the tree and spreads downward. The tree then sheds leaves, which will begin individually wilting at the edges and spread towards the midrib of the leaf or at the leaf tip and wilt towards the stem. A discoloration or streaking of the wood just below the bark may also be present.

In Red Oaks, the deterioration process can take as little as 4 weeks. In White Oaks, the disease may come back every year but death of the tree could take up to 5 years or longer after the initial symptoms appear.

Healthy oak trees are usually infected by the fungus's ability to move underground through the roots of nearby trees that have grafted together. In general, trees more than 50 feet apart are less likely to be infected through grafted roots. Sap beetles also transport the disease above ground by moving from an infected tree to a healthy one.

Stopping the spread of oak wilt is possible. Breaking root connections between closely spaced oaks will reduce the chance of the disease spreading from infected trees to nearby healthy ones. This takes a specialized piece of equipment and can be difficult to achieve. This is way preventing infection in the first place is the recommended best management practice.

Even though the nice weather makes you want to head outside and work on your property, you should avoiding pruning and wounding healthy oaks in the spring and summer. Between April and July, oak trees are at a much higher risk of infection by sap beetles who are attracted to fresh wounds in the bark of oak trees and may be carrying the fungus. Oak trees should be assessed for storm damage and any wound should immediately be sealed with a water-based paint of another type of plant sealer.

Other techniques to stop the spread of oak wilt include; avoid moving firewood from known infected areas, timely removal and disposal of infected trees, and the use of fungicide when necessary. Many times multiple approaches are necessary to slow or eradicate the problem. Meeting with a local tree care providers can help create a management plan that will be effective on your property.

If you have more questions or are concerned about Oak Trees in your area, contact a local professional to inquire about what can be done on your property. Early detection is still the best method of control.

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775 Hits

Trim Oak Trees now to Prevent the Spread of Oak Wilt


Oak wilt is caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum. Oak wilt can be spread in two ways: 1) fungal spores travelling tree to tree through grafted roots, and 2) fungal spores spread by sap beetles that fly from infected trees or wood to healthy trees. The beetles are attracted to fresh wounds in healthy trees, and these wounds offer an introduction point for the fungus.Trimming or cutting healthy oaks from the months of November through March helps to prevent fresh wounds in healthy trees when the beetles are active. Trimming away dead and dying branches during this period can help prevent oak wilt spreading from neighboring areas to your trees. If your oak trees still need trimming before this spring, be sure to do it before the end of March. April 1 through July 15 is considered the high risk period, and all trimming of oaks should be avoided. July 15 through October 31 is considered low risk, but spread is still possible. Red oaks and pin oaks are especially susceptible to oak wilt, and once infected, a healthy tree is killed within ​months.

Unfortunately, oak wilt is very common in Anoka County. More information on prevention of the disease in your yard can be found at https://extension.umn.edu/plant-diseases/oak-wilt-minnesota
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594 Hits