On a Mission: ACD Meets with Legislators to Tackle Some Tough Funding Challenges

Over the course of several days in March and April, ACD staff and supervisors held virtual meetings with 15 of the 17 legislators that cover Anoka County. Each meeting flows a little differently depending on the natural resource issues happening in their districts and how familiar they are with ACD's programs and services.

As much as we enjoy connecting with our state legislators and hearing about the endeavors they are championing, we were on a mission. HF3719 and SF3913 are working their way through the Legislature to provide more stable funding to Soil and Water Conservation Districts, of which ACD is one of 90 statewide. It was important to us to garner support for this bill, which helps address a long-standing challenge SWCDs have had securing sufficient and stable funding for base operations.

ACD is also initiating legislative discussions to secure levy authority for Anoka Conservation District. Anoka Conservation District Manager, Chris Lord is working with the Revisor's Office to draft bill language to be refined throughout the summer months with input from legislators so it can be introduced next session. With strict limits in place (less than $2.75 per person per year maximum) to guard against run-away spending, local levy authority would provide ACD's elected board of Supervisors much deserved autonomy and stabilize ACD's programs and services. ACD often builds programs with grant funds only to dismantle them when the grant runs out. Repeating this cycle without end is highly inefficient. "Less than 10% of ACD's budget comes from a stable local levy. To effectively operate an agency with such an unstable financial foundation is not reasonable in the long-term" said Lord. 

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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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