Scouts Rehabilitate Rain Garden

A rain garden at the Coon Lake Beach Community Center needed a little help. Originally constructed in 2015, maintenance had reached a point where a group effort was needed to reclaim the garden from weeds and silt overload. The Community Center leaders enlisted a local boy scout troop, their parents, and ACD to help.

The rain garden has an important function in the neighborhood as it is positioned near the bottom of a hill to collect street runoff. Instead of going into the lake at the bottom of the hill, the water and associated pollutants are treated by infiltration. The reduction in volume of water running towards the lake also helps alleviate shoreline erosion in specific problem spots.

In one-hour the scouts completed several renovations to bring back much of the original beauty and function. They removed four trailer loads of invasive trees including many thorny black locust. They removed sediment that had collected and was damming the rain garden entrance. Rocks and retaining walls were cleared of debris, leaving the garden with a more formal appearance and ready for the next rainfall. Great job scouts! 

September 2017 - Two years after installation
August 2023 - Overgrown with weedy vegetation
Rehabilitation work
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Treasure in the Rum River

The Rum River is home to unique treasures and this summer's drought has created low, clear water, ideal for treasure hunting. Seizing this opportunity, local teenage brothers Eli and Ethan are finding a myriad of historic items on the river bottom. The boys have been scouring the river by canoe. River currents push their craft at just the right pace to allow for a good scanning of the river bottom for anything out of the ordinary. They can see up to five feet down, which isn't the norm for a river that does often have the color of rum. Sightings include thousands of clam shells, rocks (some as big as refrigerators), and fish of all sorts (bass, northern, bluegill, redhorse suckers, and more). The real excitement is spotting something brown, aged, and not a natural shape. 

A few of the items found include…

  • A 1950's Ford pickup tailgate. The boys disappointedly reported they were unable to find the rest of the truck.
  • Four Weymann's smokeless tobacco ceramic jars from the early 1900's or maybe late 1800's. This company was the predecessor to Copenhagen. Why the jars were so abundant in the river is unknown.
  • There's a Burnett's Cocoaine bottle, likely from 1900-05. This product contained no opiates but instead was a hair treatment apparently trying to capitalize on the success of "coco-" named products like Coca-Cola.
  • They found a small bottle emblazoned "Sperm Sewing Machine Oil." It dates from sometime before 1970, when sperm whale hunting was outlawed. Sperm whale oil production was huge in the 1850's, and it was expensive stuff.
  • There's a glass Palmolive shampoo bottle from sometime between 1898 and 1916. Other assorted bottles without clear markings are in the mix.
More information about the Rum River Watershed Partnership is available at under "watershed plans." The group is in its first year of operations and project accomplishments will be posted here as they occur. Landowners wishing for financial or technical help doing water quality projects can reach out to their local contact listed on the website. Check out the full article in the Anoka County Union Herald on August 23rd

For more information contact Jamie Schurbon, Watershed Projects Manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Spring Fix-Ups to Protect Valuable Real Estate

Shorelines are some of the most valuable real estate. Both financially and ecologically. The Anoka Conservation District (ACD) has stabilized nearly 4.5 miles of eroding stream or riverbank and 1 mile of lakeshore over the years. When possible we use natural materials, a technique called bioengineering, to create stable, beautiful places that benefit lake or river health.

Near-record snowfalls in winter 2022-23 gave way to spring flooding that impacted many shorelines. Making matters worse, just after ice out there were several days of strong north winds. South shores of our bigger lakes took a beating. The shorelines most impacted were those that are mowed to the edge and without other protections such as riprap. Some of ACD's fall 2022 shoreline bioengineering projects were impacted because the vegetation had not had time to mature.

In recent weeks ACD staff have repaired damaged projects, including at Lake George (see photos).One of the beauties of bioengineering is that a few people with basic tools can make quick work of repair. After growing and establishing this summer, these lakeshores will be ready for whatever next spring brings.

Shoreline homeowners interested in creating stable, ecologically-friendly shorelines can contact Jamie Schurbon, Watershed Projects Manager at 763.434.2030 x210 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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The Power of Grassroots Fundraising & Partnerships

Congrats to the Martin Lakers Association on their efforts to improve water quality. At their recent annual meeting 81% of member households contributed $7,000 to the group's Water Quality Fund.23 households gave $100 or more. Of this amount, $3,000 was a match provided by the Wally & Nancy Olson family in memory of Nancy. The Martin Lakers Association has used the funds to partner with the Anoka Conservation District on numerous projects including stormwater pond enhancements, rain gardens, carp management, and more that have approached $1M.Lake associations, citizen groups, and landowners are critical partners of ACD in most of what we do.  

For more information contact Jamie Schurbon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 763.434.2030 x210 

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Private Well Water Testing

Unlike city water, water from private wells is not tested unless the homeowner tests it, which all are encouraged to do. To make it easy, Anoka County Public Health and Environmental Services Department offers testing. The homeowner collects the sample and delivers it to the government center in Anoka. Test kits can be picked up at most city halls. Costs are about $17 for each contaminant, with nitrates and coliform bacteria as the usual minimums to test. 

For more information see  

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