Monitoring Drought Strategically

The majority of the state is currently experiencing drought conditions, including Anoka County. The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) is a map that is updated each Thursday to show the location and intensity of drought across the country. Drought categories show experts' assessments of conditions related to dryness and drought, including observations of how much water is available in streams, lakes, and soils compared to usual for the same time of year.

Each week, drought experts consider how recent precipitation totals across the country compare to their long-term averages. They check variables including temperatures, soil moisture, water levels in streams and lakes, snow cover, and meltwater runoff. Experts also check whether areas are showing drought impacts such as water shortages and business interruptions. To learn more about current drought conditions in Anoka County and other areas of the country visit https://www.drought.gov/states/minnesota/county/anoka

Anoka County
USDM’s five-category system
Current drought statistics for Anoka County
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Spiders: Friend or Foe?

White crab spider with its prey


We have all noticed spiders in our homes or when we are out for a walk. Most of the time, we view them as gross or something to fear. Instead of instantly thinking of spiders as pests that we want to kill or remove from the home, we should try to gain a better understanding of the important role these creatures play within the ecosystem.

Minnesota is home to 519 different species of spiders, including a species of 'jumping spider' that has only been found in Anoka County. 7 of the spider species found in the state are poisonous, but a spider bite resulting in death hasn't been recorded in the United States for decades. Less than 0.5% of spider bites lead to major medical complications.

The main benefit that spiders provide is that they eat a massive amount of insects, consuming on average between 400 and 800 million tons of bugs globally every year. Not only do spiders eat common pests like mosquitos and flies, they also act as a natural insecticide, eating many insects that are known for destroying crops or gardens.

To learn more about why spiders are important, please visit our friends at the Three Rivers Park District: https://www.threeriversparks.org/blog/myths-and-facts-spiders

Black and yellow garden spider
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ACD Receives Grant for Abandoned Well Sealing Cost-share Program

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

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

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


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ACD Receives Funding for Weed Management Grants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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