Lawns to Legumes in Anoka County

The Anoka Conservation District, in partnership with the cities of Fridley, Coon Rapids, Anoka, and Andover, were awarded $40,000 from the Board of Water and Soil Resources to establish a Lawns to Legumes Demonstration Neighborhood in the Mississippi and Rum River Corridor. The project will convert residential lawns into pollinator habitat in support of the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee and other at-risk pollinators. Residents interested in being part of a Demonstration Neighborhood in Anoka County should complete this form: bit.ly/lawns-legumes-anoka

In addition, there are several other ways to get involved:

  • 1.Visit the Board of Water and Soil Resources website to learn more and download free resources: bwsr.state.mn.us/L2L
  • 2.Sign up for a Lawns to Legumes Workshop near you: bluethumb.org/events (Landowner workshop will be scheduled in Anoka County in summer of 2020)
  • 3.All residents may be eligible for individual mini-grant funding up to $350. Apply here: bluethumb.org/lawns-to-legumes

If you have any questions about how the Lawns to Legumes Program will work in Anoka County or how you can be involved, please reach out! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Well and Septic Maintenance Training

Over one third of Minnesotans rely on a septic system to treat the wastewater from their homes. It may not seem so, but this is quite the responsibility! You are the owner, operator, and maintenance person for your very own wastewater treatment system found just outside your back door! Maintaining your septic system is an investment in your home and property, in your family's health, and in the health of Minnesota's abundant water supplies. A properly functioning septic system provides effective treatment of wastewater, but if a system is neglected, it could cost thousands of dollars to repair and potentially contaminate local groundwater and surface water supplies putting the health of your family and neighbors at risk.

Septic system inspections done by a licensed company at least every three years along with regular maintenance will ensure your septic system is functioning as it should and save you a lot of hassle and money. Remember that your septic system is a direct conduit to groundwater and surface water, so remain vigilant and prevent potential contaminants from entering your septic system. Even common household items like unused medication, antibacterial cleaning products, and single-use wipes can cause damage to your septic system and contaminate local waterbodies.

If you're interested in learning more about how to care for your septic system and private well, we invite you to join us for a free training from the UMN Onsite Sewage Treatment Program. The training is co-hosted by the City of Ramsey and the Anoka Conservation District and will be held on Thursday, March 12th 2020 from 5 – 7 pm in the Ramsey City Hall's Alexander Ramsey Room (7550 Sunwood Dr. NW, Ramsey, 55303). Space is limited, so reserve your seat early! Register online at https://well-and-septic-maintenance.eventbrite.com

To read more about the UMN Onsite Sewage Treatment Program, take a look at this recent article from MPR: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2020/01/10/teaching-homeowners-septic-secrets-to-protect-water

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Tips for Staying Safe in Winter

 De-icing salt is so common here in snowy Minnesota, we hardly even think before tossing it down. But we really should be thinking hard because all that salt accumulates in local streams, lakes, and wetlands causing stress and sometimes death to native animals and vegetation. Salt dissolves easily in water which means it's almost impossible to remove without expensive and time-consuming treatment. Road and sidewalk safety is a priority for all of us, so what is an environmentally conscious Minnesotan to do if they want to stay safe and minimize their salt use? Here are some tips!

Shovel First. Shovel and scrape sidewalks before they are walked on so ice doesn't have a chance to form in the first place.

Choose the Right Salt. Different chemicals work at different pavement temperatures. Be sure to choose the right one for the conditions. Sodium chloride, the most common de-icer, will only work when the pavement temperature is above 15 degrees F.

Scatter Salt Grains. Granular salt melts ice fastest when the grains are spread 3 inches apart. Contrary to popular belief, adding more salt will actually make the ice melt slower!

Sweep up Excess. If there is salt left on the ground after all the ice is gone, sweep it into a bucket to use in the next storm. You paid for it so don't let it wash away!

Pre-treat Pavement. Applying a liquid de-icer to pavement 24-48 hours before a storm will help prevent ice from adhering to the surface and make it a lot easier to scrape up.

Wear Proper Footwear. Boots with extra traction such as cleats or spikes reduce the risk that you may slip and fall. They are a worthwhile investment here in Minnesota where we're bound to encounter ice at some point.

Avoid Distractions. We all know not to drive while we're distracted. The same goes for walking! Avoid using cell phones while walking and keep your eyes on the path in front of you.

Drive for the Conditions. Here in Minnesota, there is no escaping the snow and ice. Remember that you are ultimately responsible for your own safety, so always drive with caution.

Do the Penguin Shuffle. Always anticipate icy conditions and keep yourself safe by walking on marked paths near handrails.

If you See Something, Say Something! As an environmentally conscious Minnesotan, one of the best things you can do to combat chloride pollution in our waters is to talk to your friends, neighbors, and local businesses. Pressure from residents like you can help turn the tide and protect our valuable freshwater resources now and for many generations to come.

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New Outreach Collaborative Builds Lasting Partnerships in Anoka County

Investment in water education is vital for the continued health of the environment and people. By building strong new partnerships, the Water Resource Outreach Collaborative (WROC) in Anoka County is doing just that.

The purpose of this shared outreach and engagement partnership is to inform community residents, businesses, staff, and decision-makers about issues affecting local waterbodies and groundwater resources. Through enhancement of existing outreach programming and collaborative development of new programming, WROC engages people in activities and individual behavior changes that will positively impact the health of our surface and groundwater.

Through collaboration, WROC partners are able to maximize the effectiveness of their water outreach. Partners benefit from regular resource sharing, consistent messaging, and reduced duplication of effort. Outreach efficiency is maximized because partners are able to pool their resources to develop professional materials with minimal financial stress on any one organization. Many water health outreach topics are common between partners, so having a centralized group to facilitate delivery of those topics has proven vital. Finally, through increased communication between partners, there is greater cross-coordination and promotion of events, thus extending the reach of individual partner programs.

Since January 2019, Anoka County's Water Resource Outreach Collaborative has created new resources including a Conservation Resource Library and a brochure, display, and animated video on groundwater. In addition, the Collaborative has had a presence at 40 community outreach events throughout the county and facilitated or collaborated with partners to host 22 workshops, presentations, and trainings. Notable activities from the past year include presenting to over 630 5th graders in 7 schools in the county, hosting the best-attended private well and septic system training in with 58 attendees compared to 8-12 attendees in previous years, and hosting two smart salting trainings for 85 road maintenance staff from several previously untrained municipalities including Oak Grove, Columbus, Nowthen, Linwood Township, St. Francis, and Ramsey.

In the future, the Anoka County Water Resource Outreach Collaborative will continue partnering to reach new and diverse audiences with messages of water health and conservation. The WROC partnership is an investment in the future of water education in our area. Prioritizing public education is critical to empowering everyone to act as water stewards and create a healthier world for future generations.

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