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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236 Hits

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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542 Hits

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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1861 Hits

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.

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