||The Mission of the Pope Soil and Water Conservation District is to promote, guide, and provide technical assistance for conservation of land and water through project implementation.
DISTRICT STAFF AND SUPERVISORS OF POPE SWCD MEET WITH LOCAL LEGISLATORS
Keith Nygaard, Holly Kovarik, and Kelly Erickson from Pope Soil and Water Conservation District, attended a legislative briefing and meetings at the State Capitol January 26-27 in St. Paul.
They joined a group of other officials from the state’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) who met in St. Paul to gather support for conservation districts’ programs and issues.
“It is important for us to get the conservation message out to our elected officials in St. Paul,” said Keith Nygaard, of Starbuck, MN. The 2015 Legislative Session will be critical to the future of conservation programs in the state, noted Nygaard. “This year legislators will address issues including a biennial budget, appropriations of constitutionally dedicated sales tax funds, and policy issues. Local Soil and Water Conservation Districts are an integral component for enhancing Minnesotan’s quality of life through conservation on private lands, which yields environmental, wildlife and aesthetic benefits to the public.
During the visit to St. Paul, Kovarik, Nygaard, and Erickson met with local legislators Representative Paul Anderson, Representative Jeff Backer, and Senator Torrey Westrom.
The event was sponsored by the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
SWCDs fill the crucial niche of providing land and water conservation services to owners of private lands. Minnesota has 89 Soil and Water Conservation Districts. For more information on the Pope Soil and Water Conservation District, please call 320-634-5327.
HALLS FAMILY RECOGNIZED AS STATE CONSERVATIONISTS
Mark and Michelle Halls receiving state recognition from Mark Zabel (MASWCD) and Paula Mohr (Farmer Magazine)
Board and Staff with the outstanding conservationists.
The Halls Family was selected to represent Pope County by Pope SWCD at the 2014 Minnesota Association of Conservation Districts Convention held December 7-9th, 2014. They were one of 64 county conservationists being honored for their efforts in implementing conservation and improving Minnesota’s natural resources.
The Halls Family was awarded top honors at the Convention they were selected as this year’s State Conservationists and were awarded a print from the Minnesota Association of Conservation Districts and the Farmer Magazine.
The Halls Family was also honored by Pope County on December 16.
The Halls Family has been implementing projects and practices in the last several years including: 150 acres of cover crops that are used for rotational grazing, wildlife purposes, and wind erosion; conservation tillage on steeper slopes and highly erodible soils; 180 Chi-Angus cattle that graze on public and private lands in cooperation with other agencies while promoting soil health and a longer grazing season; raise club lambs and several head of sheep; invasive species management; soil tests in spring and fall; use of an aerial vehicle to scout areas for pest and nutrient management, and heat stress; two feedlot upgrade projects; riparian buffers around wetland areas; enrollment of 73.9 acres into a wetland restoration project; food plots for wildlife; and a member of the Simon Lake Challenge to rotate grazing on public and private lands.
The Halls Family is also very active in the community including Pope County Extension and 4-H, State Beef Board, Pope County Fair Board, Dairy Board, Glacial Ridge Cattlemen, State Cattleman’s Organization, West Central Sheep Producers, Simon Lake Challenge Steering Committee, Farmer Leader for grazing network, Pope Soil and Water Conservation District Board member, and volunteering at educational events to promote conservation projects they have implemented and used.
Congratulations to the Halls Family for their efforts.
Environmental improvements are adding up in Pope County due to Legacy funding Glenwood, Minn.— Nearly 15 environmental projects have been funded in Pope County on behalf of an application written by the Pope Soil and Water Conservation District thanks to the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment – and the improvements will start to add up. The Pope SWCD received notice in late January that they would be receiving $126,900 in funding. This funding will help address some of the erosion concerns that were a result of a storm event from June 2013. Projects that will be eligible for the cost share assistance will include: grade stabilization and water and sediment control basins. If you are interested in these types of practices and have erosion issues, contact Pope SWCD staff.
Through the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources’ (BWSR) Clean Water Fund grant program, nearly $60 million has been invested in “on-the-ground” projects, where citizens and local governments are installing conservation practices to improve the quality in our lakes, rivers, wetlands and groundwater.
Holly Kovarik, District Manager said investments made through these grant programs are noticeably improving Pope County lakes and rivers. These projects will be implemented in the next two years.
“Because of the Legacy funding, we’ve been able to complete more conservation projects than ever before. The lakes and rivers in Pope County are being cleaned up or protected and the funding is creating jobs and improving property values. It’s a win-win situation,” Kovarik said.
Irrigation Scheduling Helps Conserve Groundwater
Recently there has been a lot of information and attention brought forth by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regarding groundwater and its sustainability.
Many of you may have attended the public meeting that was held on February 26, 2014 at the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa High School Auditorium. The Pope Soil and Water Conservation District staff and some of the board members also attended this meeting. The Bonanza Valley area has been selected as a pilot in establishing a Groundwater Management Area (GWMA). The DNR has established this GWMA to help improve groundwater appropriation decisions and help groundwater users better understand and plan for future development opportunities.
So what does that mean for us here in Pope County? Almost half of the County is included in the Bonanza Valley GWMA and there has been a large increase in the number of new well permits requested. These have been primarily for new irrigation systems. A committee has been established to advise and help the DNR develop a process to address the concerns focusing on sustainability. There are more users of our groundwater resources and increased scrutiny due in part to this. This process will unfold over a year and will include multiple meetings.
The Pope SWCD Board feels very strongly about participating in these meetings and would encourage you to share your thoughts with staff or board members on this process. We plan to submit formal comments on the plan and process as it is developed. Ultimately this plan belongs to the DNR and they are the regulating agency.
The Pope SWCD plays a part in groundwater conservation implementation and education efforts. One of the groundwater programs we have been implementing is the Irrigation Scheduling Program which we have offered since 2005.
Now may be the time to add this service to your operation. This program is designed to give the producer a second opinion on in-field moisture status that can assist the producer on when to irrigate. The decision to irrigate is still the producers. The producer will need to notify the SWCD office of weekly irrigation and rainfall amounts, emergence dates, crops planted, spraying dates, and harvesting dates. The technician from the SWCD will provide:
1. Weekly visits to check soil moisture
2. Furnish weekly computer soil moisture graphs
3. Conduct Irrigation System Uniformity checks (as needed)
4. Provide a year-end summary (graph) showing irrigation totals, rainfall amounts, and potential leaching events (This information will help with DNR Waters Year End Reporting Requirements.)
The fee is $250 per field per year. The SWCD specializes in voluntary programs and efforts by producers and has had a proven track record of success in doing so. This Irrigation Scheduling Program provides you with an additional tool not only to document the water use that is necessary for the crop to gain the best yield but also keeps the water use and conservation of it in mind when it is possible.
Stop by the Pope SWCD office to visit with Kelly to sign up or learn more about this program.
Pope SWCD Starts Shoreline Program
Native shoreline habitat restorations are an excellent alternative tool compared to rock riprap to prevent lakeshore erosion, beautify shorelines, and generate habitat for pollinator species and fish nesting zones when aquatic plants are used. Native plants, when compared to traditional turf grasses have much deeper and more complex root structures; this is what gives natives the power to fight erosion and also to filter out harmful algae causing nutrients from lawn care products.
The District is currently working on building a shoreline program here in Pope County. There is great potential with the vast number of shoreline miles and lake residences located within the county. There are currently 4 landowners with projects underway from a current grant. We have also submitted a grant application to the DNR for shoreline projects for 2014 and 2015. We are currently seeking applicants to generate a list of interested individuals for the potential funding. If you are interested in native restoration please stop in or call us at 320-634-5327.
Photo taken from DNR Restore Your Shore website
County Comprehensive Water Plan Approved
The Pope County Comprehensive Water Plan was recently approved by the Board of Water and Soil Resources. This is the plan that will guide the next five years of project and program implementation by local agencies in Pope County. A full copy of the plan is available here…