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Recent extreme flooding has highlighted the dynamic and powerful nature of flowing water. If you live on a river or even a smaller stream, you've likely witnessed these characteristics and their impacts firsthand. With flood waters receding, now is a great time to assess the condition of your riverbank and consider stewardship and stabilization approaches that will help protect your property and the water you live on. Fortunately, we've created a brand new resource to help guide you through this process – the "Our Riverbank Connection" animated video!
Living by a creek, stream, or river provides many benefits and a unique opportunity to support water quality and wildlife. It also comes with some challenges such as erosion, which can eat away at your land over time. In this video, you will learn how to create a river-friendly lawn and riverbank that also protects your property by reducing or repairing losses from erosion. Video topics include:
Watch "Our Riverbank Connection" here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Et9wLuIrRuA
Want to learn more about streams and rivers and how you can help them, even if you don't live on their banks? Watch Part 1 of the "Our River" Installment – "Our River Connection" – here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdQEcmLyQJI
The Anoka Conservation District (ACD) has been a long-time partner of Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa (CCMI) and this tradition continues in 2023. This year, ACD was awarded 32 CCMI crew days to be used towards implementing streambank stabilization practices along the Rum River in Anoka County. Crews are deployed, a week or more at a time, to a specific project site. ACD will act as the project host to coordinate projects, provide equipment and materials, and utilize ACD's expertise for extensive on-site training and education.
The majority of Corpsmembers are recent college graduates and these field crew positions provide members the opportunity to learn how soil and water conservation districts and other professional organizations operate. ACD strives to provide in-depth training on project installation, project goals, site identification, and touch on other critical aspects of a project. Additionally, extensive time in the field allows ACD staff get to know the Corpsmembers and contribute insight into their professional development and growth within their career path.
CCMI field crews serve the greater outdoors by restoring habitat, managing natural resources, and occasionally responding to natural disasters or emergency needs of a community. The Field Crew program prioritizes personal and professional growth while teaching hands-on conservation skills in the field. Corpsmembers develop technical skills throughout their term while completing challenging and impactful conservation projects. Many projects are performed in partnership with public land management agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources, US Fish & Wildlife Service, National Park Service, cities, counties, and trail associations.
Working in a field crew blends hard work, community service, and environmental stewardship while also gaining additional life-long skills. Corpsmembers often have a transformational experience during their term, leaving them feeling more prepared for whatever comes next.
Visit the Conservation Corps website to learn more about the organization and available career opportunities.
The Anoka Sand Plain Rescue team salvaged rubus fulleri just days after the snow melted and the take permit was issued. A recent development was designed to avoid impacts to natural/uncropped wetlands and leave a natural area that contains most of the rare plants on the site. However, a subpopulation of rubus fulleri was to be impacted since there was no feasible way to avoid the areas due to construction constraints.
Staff from ACD, Critical Connections Ecological Services and the MN Landscape Arboretum salvaged whole plants and cut stems/canes. Plants were taken to the MN Landscape Arboretum where they will be potted. Stems/canes were cut into pieces ensuring each piece included a bud and was potted. The Arboretum is experimenting with different propagation techniques and will keep the rubus on-site until the fall. At that time, plants will be transferred to ecologically appropriate protected site where they can be monitored for survival and growth.
Rubus fulleri was designated as a state-threatened species in 2013. In Minnesota, this species is restricted to the shallow wet meadows of the Anoka Sand Plain. Following a century of agricultural and residential development in this region, few high quality examples of R. fulleri habitat are known in the state. Rubus fulleri is most threatened by habitat loss, with populations becoming more isolated and fragmented. Active management, including prescribed fire and invasive species control is needed to maintain a viable R. fulleri population.
Cane: a biennial, woody shoot which grows out of the perennial crowns and roots
Primocane: first year cane, mainly comprised of vegetation growth
Floricane: the same cane in the second year, bearing the flowers and fruits, then dies back
Rubus fulleri traits include canes that arch and trail along the ground. They also root tip, meaning the tip of the trailing cane grows roots into the ground.
For more information contact Carrie Taylor at 763.434.2030 ext.190 or
The MN Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) is accepting applications for the Lawns to Legumes grant program through June 30, 2023. Any Minnesota landowner can apply for up to $350 in reimbursements for creating new pollinator habitat on their property. This includes pollinator gardens or meadows, bee lawns, and native tree or shrub plantings.
Grant recipients must contribute 25% match in the form of purchasing materials, hiring contractors, or as in-kind time spent planting and maintaining the project.
Find resources for planning your pollinator planting, choosing native plants, and applying for a grant on the BWSR Lawns to Legumes website.
A design has been finalized to stabilize 650-feet of eroding Rum Riverbank at Dellwood River Park in St. Francis. Erosion of the riverbank is causing numerous trees to fall into the river and is threatening a popular walking trail. The project design, currently in the permitting phase, features three primary protection measures;
For more information contact Jared Wagner at 763.434.2030 ext.200 or
ACD staff have been testing the use of sonar to aid with the design of shoreline stabilization projects.
Lake and river bottom elevations are often required when designing projects. Collecting these bottom elevations manually with survey equipment often pose safety risks, limits resolution, and can be time consuming. Automated collection of underwater elevation data is possible with readily available sonar technology and post-processing services. Manually collecting data at the same resolution is infeasible.
A fishing depth finder and transducer combination with active mapping capabilities is necessary for data collection. The equipment can be configured in a portable setup for use in a kayak, canoe, or motorized boat to enable data collection on a variety of waterbodies (e.g. stormwater ponds, lakes, or the Mississippi River). While idling or paddling around the area of interest, data is collected and stored on a memory card and then uploaded to a third-party software for post-processing.
Technology limitations still remain, but the end products provide a picture of the underwater landscape through a variety of file types that are useful for project design, mapping, and inventory work.
For more information contact Mitch Haustein at 763.434.2030 ext. 150 or
LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging. The landscape is mapped by laser pulses projected from a low-flying airplane. These pulses bounce back to a sensor which records the location of the airplane, the angle of the pulse, and the time it takes the light to bounce back. Using that information, the system is able to create a point cloud of the landscape. This point cloud is then converted into modeled surface of the ground called a Digital Elevation Model (DEM). This model can be used to map terrain features like water flow paths and drainage areas, geologic features, infrastructure, and many others.
The first generation of LiDAR data in Minnesota was collected from 2008-2012. Since then, the landscape has changed in untold ways, and technology has dramatically improved for collecting more dense and accurate data. Because of this, the 3D Geomatics Committee of the State's Geospatial Advisory Council set out to coordinate the collection of Generation 2 LiDAR in Minnesota. This effort is currently underway in partnership with the USGS as the lead data collection entity nationally, and counties and other local partners as the ultimate data recipients. Generation 2 LiDAR data collection started in 2021. Anoka County data was collected in 2022, and will be available in 2023.
This new data will allow us to map watercourses, drainage areas, and floodways in much higher resolution and with more accurate and recent data from the landscape. We'll also be able to assess eroding slopes like those along riverbanks for height, steepness, and stability without having to traverse them with survey gear. Because the new data is so robust, it is also opening up possibilities for forestry and vegetation surveys, very detailed mapping of infrastructure, and untold uses yet to be implemented or even thought of.
For more information about this incredibly useful public data, visit the Minnesota LiDAR Hub online at: https://lidarhub-minnesota.hub.arcgis.com/
2022 Report Card
ACD recently took the time to look back on 2022 and take stock in how well we've been doing to implement our 2021-2030 Natural Resources Stewardship Plan. We looked at 24 Keystone Endeavors across four priority natural resources, our human resource (community), and internal operations. We also considered foundational knowledge gained through monitoring, inventory, analysis and planning.
A prerequisite to gauge success was to define clearly our 10-year expectations and aspirations for each keystone endeavor based on our current and anticipated staff and financial capacity. Some goals are easily quantified measured while others are more subjective.
Garlic Mustard Pull at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve
May 16th, from 9:00 am - 11:00 am
Join ACD and Cedar Creek staff to remove an invasive Garlic Mustard patch from the interior of Cedar Creek property. Bring bug spray, water bottle, long pants and hiking boots as we walk to the site. Utilize this on-hands training to learn more about how to identify and remove garlic mustard.
Work tools and other supplies will be provided.For more information visit the event page or contact
Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve
May 9th from 11:30 – 1:00
Brian has a creative soul and enjoys playing music, writing, and videography. He enjoys the Minnesotan outdoors – from the blistering cold winters to the hot and humid summers – and you can often find him walking at the local parks and trails within Anoka County. He has had the opportunity to travel around the world for work and has spent up to several months at a time in locations like Japan, Guam, Hawaii, California, and sometimes on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
The Anoka Conservation District is offering incentive grants to agricultural producers who use land management practices that benefit water quality and soil health. Eligible agricultural practices include cover crops, no-till, strip-till, conservation-tillage, prescribed grazing, nutrient management, and others. Available funding varies by the type of practice. A three-year commitment is required by the landowner to qualify for the program.
For more information about this great opportunity, contact Jamie Schurbon at 763-434-2030 ext. 210 or
The Anoka Conservation District (ACD) is seeking volunteers to adopt-a-drain. A storm drain, that is. But not just any drain – we're looking for volunteers to adopt drains that directly discharge into Linwood, Fawn, Coon, or Martin Lakes. ACD will be partnering with local lake associations to help with promotion and outreach. Adopt-a-drain is also available elsewhere in Anoka County and the state. Homeowners who adopt-a-drain will clean sand, leaves and other debris away from the drain periodically to help keep the lake clean.
Adopt-a-drain is a roaring program in many communities but is just getting started around these lakes as a collaboration between the Sunrise River Watershed Management Organization and ACD. Volunteer to Adopt-a-drain at https://mn.adopt-a-drain.org/.
For more information about the adopt-a-drain program, contact Logan Olson at 763-434-2030 ext. 180 or
Starting this spring, Linwood Township will be changing its approach to street sweeping in order to benefit water quality in Linwood and Martin Lakes. The Anoka Conservation District (ACD) worked with Linwood Township to study local roads and drainage networks and modeled different street sweeping options. They found that simply doubling the amount of street sweeping would result in approximately five times the pollutants from entering the lakes.
To achieve these benefits, the township will stop sweeping some streets that don't drain to the lake, add some street segments that do drain to the lakes, and increase the sweeping frequency of those streets from once annually to four times a year.
The study was fully funded by the Lower St. Croix (LSC) Partnership. ACD is receiving additional grant dollars from the LSC to partially fund the increased cost to the township.
For more information about this program, contact Jamie Schurbon at 763-434-2030 ext. 210 or
Earlier this year, the MN Dept of Agriculture (MDA) added Amur Silvergrass (Miscanthus sacchariflorus) and Winged Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus) to the Restricted category of the state noxious weed list. It is unlawful to sell or propagate Restricted plant species and landowners are encouraged to manage their spread.
Amur silvergrass has been used as an ornamental plant in the US for over a century. It forms dense colonies that can aggressively outcompete native species. Consider replacing this species in your landscaping with showy native grasses such as little bluestem (Schizacharium scoparium), yellow prairie grass (Sorghastrum nutans), or prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis).
Winged burning bush was also introduced to the US as an ornamental shrub. While its dense thickets made it a popular hedgerow plant, they also enable it to crowd out native vegetation when allowed to spread into natural areas. Winged burning bush produces many seeds which are distributed by wildlife, allowing it to easily spread over long distances. Consider replacing this species with native shrubs such as serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia), chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), and button bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis).
Learn more about identification and management of these invasive species with these MDA resources on Amur Silvergrass and Winged Burning Bush.
ACD Contact: Carrie Taylor,
Online dashboards are an increasingly popular way to display summary information about otherwise complex data sets. Beginning in 2022, ACD started using dashboards to highlight annual and cumulative progress on ecological and water quality oriented projects. The most recent addition to ACD dashboards is one that shows ACD financials going back to 2010. "While it took a bit of time to format financial data to work with the dashboard interface, I think it was well worth it" Anoka Conservation District Manager Chris Lord said. "We beta tested it with several of our state legislators during virtual meetings and they responded very positively." The data extend back to 2010 specifically to capture all of the funds ACD has received from the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Constitutional Amendment.
The next dashboard in the lineup will show ACD progress toward 10-Year Natural Resource Stewardship Plan goals. For more information contact Chris Lord, 763.434.2030 x130,
Anoka Conservation District staff were invited to provide a presentation at the annual Stearns County Shoreland Workshop. The workshop is required for contractors conducting shoreland work in Stearns County to ensure an understanding of permit requirements and best practices. Stormwater and Shoreland Specialist, Mitch Haustein, provided a 45-minute presentation to approximately 120 attendees. Topics included site prioritization, funding, partnering with landowners, design, permitting, bidding, construction, project closeout, and establishment and maintenance. Lessons learned were also shared throughout the presentation. The presentation was very well received by attendees.
ACD Contact: Mitch Haustein, 763.434.2030 x150,
The Anoka Conservation District (ACD) currently has a number of grant opportunities available for addressing shoreline erosion along streams and lakes in Anoka County. If you have noticed your lakeshore migrating backwards over time, or perhaps you once had a low walkable area along your river frontage that is now gone, ACD may be able to help design and even fund a project to protect your property.
The first step is a site visit to your property by ACD staff. Now is a great time to reach out to the district and plan a site visit for the spring. ACD staff will assess erosion problems, provide professional advice, and determine if your shoreline might qualify for financial assistance through one of our various grant programs. Shoreline restorations don't just benefit your property but also help improve water quality in your lake or river and enhances habitat for wildlife.
For more information contact Jared Wagner, 763.434.2030 x200,
Anoka County is rich in wetlands that provide countless benefits to the county's ecological and water resources. Wetlands capture and filter floodwater and runoff, provide habitat for aquatic and terrestrial species, and help recharge the groundwater supply. Anoka County has lost approximately half of its original wetlands since European settlement. Historically wetlands have been drained and filled to create more useable land for agriculture and rural development. Many regulations exist to protect wetlands today, but a history of impacts combined with present-day challenges such as invasive vegetation, increasing demands for housing and suburban development, and altered hydrology threaten what remains.
For these reasons, the Anoka Conservation District (ACD) has increased efforts to identify wetland protection and restoration opportunities. An inventory of restorable wetlands was recently completed for two priority watersheds in the county including the Ford Brook watershed and the Rum River direct drainage watershed. Altogether, approximately 70 potential wetland restoration sites were identified across both private and public lands. In the coming months, ACD will conduct outreach and explore these possible opportunities in more depth, with the goal of restoring hydrology and native vegetation at one or more sites in 2024.
ACD has enhanced wetland habitat via vegetation management for several years, but hydrologic restorations are a relatively new endeavor which require careful planning, holistic approaches, and multi-agency collaboration. In 2022, five acres' worth of wetlands on public land were successfully restored by plugging drainage ditches which restored previous hydrology conditions and managed current vegetation such as the invasive reed canary grass to improve habitat with a diversity of native species.
For more information contact Brenna Keith,
Unused wells can serve as direct conduits for surface contaminants to reach our aquifers. The Anoka Conservation District was awarded a grant in 2020 through the Clean Water Fund to help eligible landowners seal unused wells located within Anoka County, targeting vulnerable groundwater areas such as Drinking Water Supply Management Areas (DWSMAs). This program has been extended to run through 2023 in order to continue to help local residents with the cost of sealing an unused well on their property!
A well is defined as "not in use," when the well is not functional, cannot readily pump water, or has not been operated on a daily, regular or seasonal basis. A "not in use" well has not been sealed by a licensed well contractor. A well that is "not in use" (i.e., "abandoned") must be repaired and put back into use, permanently sealed by a licensed well contractor, or the owner must obtain a maintenance permit for the well. In many cases, placing an old well back into use is not practical.
If your house was built before public water was available, the property may have one or more wells. Wells can be located either inside or outside a residence.
Indoors look for:
Outdoors look for:
Visit the ACD website today to get more information or to download an application to apply. If you are unsure if you have a well on your property or questioning if you would qualify for funding simply contact our office.
ACD Contact: Kris Larson,
Salt (chloride) is toxic to freshwater plants and animals, threatens our Minnesota fishing economy and heritage, and causes expensive damage to bridges and other infrastructure. To date, 54 lakes and streams in Minnesota are impaired by chloride and nearly 40% of shallow monitoring wells in the Twin Cities area have chloride concentrations that exceed the water quality standard.
This interactive workshop is specifically designed for local decision-makers such as city councilmembers and county commissioners and will provide action steps and recommended policy changes to reduce salt pollution in our communities without impacting public safety. Co-hosted by the Lower St. Croix Watershed Partnership with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Lake Superior Coastal Program, and We are Water Minnesota. Funding comes from the Clean Water Fund and Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.
Register here: MPCA Smart Salting for Community Leaders Workshop Tickets, Thu, Mar 9, 2023 at 11:00 AM | Eventbrite
The learning environment for this class is an interactive online format. Instructors will teach class online in real-time. Participants will interact with instructors and other participants through live chats, polls, and class discussion using the WebEx platform. We require attendees to actively participate in the online interactive class in addition to completing a survey after attending.
Can't attend? Check out this Low Salt – No Salt Toolkit for local government.
Rivers are essential resources and provide an immeasurable list of services that are critical for many ways of life throughout the world. Minnesota is home to many important river systems, such as the Mississippi River, that provide services which help sustain life and provide resources to help human economies thrive.
Minnesota's rivers endured decades of intensive impacts as the state industrialized, commonly used as a dumping grounds for untreated waste and modified extensively to make navigation easier. Our treatment of rivers has improved significantly in the years since, but human activity continues to impact them today. River systems are extremely complex in nature and many of the negative impacts caused by human activity go unrecognized or are misunderstood. Fortunately, there are many ways we can minimize our impacts and help restore our rivers to good health.
The Anoka Conservation District has proudly released a new animated video to help understand how rivers function and the role humans play in keeping them healthy. "Our River Connection" video brings you on a journey through a breadth of river topics, such as river formation, natural river behavior, current and historical human impacts, and actions we can take to protect them today. This video is suitable for a wide range of audiences, with narrative and visuals that are approachable and easy to digest. When you're done watching the video, you can take the companion quiz or explore the links in the video description to learn more.
ACD Contact: Breanna Keith,
When projects are installed, ACD staff calculate and document the benefits produced by them. Measurable benefits for water resource improvement projects include metrics such as nutrient and sediment reductions to local waterbodies. For ecological projects, the total area restored or enhanced is quantified. Until recently, these numbers lived in project-specific documentation, but they can now be viewed altogether in ACD's new interactive projects dashboards.
With dashboards, you can explore the cumulative benefits produced through projects such as habitat restorations, streambank stabilizations, pollinator plantings, and stormwater best management practices. Many projects have multiple benefits; for example, rain gardens trap and filter polluted stormwater while also providing habitat for pollinators. Altogether, these tools provide a user-friendly way to track achievements within and across years.
You can apply filters based on location, date range, and project type. For example, selecting the "Last Year" option in the date range dropdown will give you a summary of all conservation benefits achieved in 2022. Pan throughout the map and click on the points to learn more about individual projects. The gauges will adjust to summarize the benefits produced by the projects you're viewing.
ACD Contact: Breanna Keith,
The Anoka Conservation District, in partnership with the Sunrise River Watershed Management Organization, are poised to receive a $78,500 State Clean Water Fund Grant. The application scored 4th highest among 47 project applications statewide. The grant will fund shoreline stabilizations including native plant buffers. Target lakes are Martin, Linwood, and the Coon Lake Basins with work expected to begin in 2023 and 2024.
ACD Contact: Jamie Schurbon,
This past year, ACD was again busy installing projects that benefit water quality in Anoka County! In total, 33 individual water quality projects were installed in 2022, including:
Collectively, these projects will reduce annual pollutant loading to the receiving waterbodies by 94.9 tons of total suspended solids, and 88.6 pounds of total phosphorus. To see all of our projects, watch for our new Water and Ecological Project Dashboards, coming soon to our website!
ACD Contact: Jared Wagner,
ACD staff have been collaborating with Professor Kristen Genet to create hands-on learning opportunities for an Anoka-Ramsey Community College Ecology class. The class learned about rare plants, rare habitats and the invasive species that threaten them, and provided service through their learning. The class got out to plant native grasses and wildflowers to create a dry prairie pollinator garden in a Coon Rapids park. They also conducted rare plant surveys to help guide rare plant rescue planting densities and removed buckthorn that was starting to grow into areas with rare plants. Thanks to Kristen Genet and students for all their contributions!
The majority of the state is currently experiencing drought conditions, including Anoka County. The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) is a map that is updated each Thursday to show the location and intensity of drought across the country. Drought categories show experts' assessments of conditions related to dryness and drought, including observations of how much water is available in streams, lakes, and soils compared to usual for the same time of year.
Each week, drought experts consider how recent precipitation totals across the country compare to their long-term averages. They check variables including temperatures, soil moisture, water levels in streams and lakes, snow cover, and meltwater runoff. Experts also check whether areas are showing drought impacts such as water shortages and business interruptions. To learn more about current drought conditions in Anoka County and other areas of the country visit https://www.drought.gov/states/minnesota/county/anoka.
Martin Lake in Linwood Township has been classified as "impaired" since 2004, with an excess of phosphorus being a leading cause of its degradation. This particular water contaminant often comes from plant material and fertilizer, and it only takes a pound of phosphorus to create up to 500 pounds of algal growth in a lake. The subsequent two decades since 2004 have seen an array of water quality improvement projects implemented on Martin Lake's shores and in its waters. As a result, phosphorus levels have been inching closer and closer to Minnesota's water quality standard over the last few years, and a de-listing may be on the horizon if these trends persist.
Storm drains can be a significant source of leaves, grass clippings, and other pollutants to the lakes that they drain to. Luckily, Minnesota is home to the successful Adopt-a-Drain program which provides a way for people to select local drains to personally keep free of debris and protect local water sources. Up until this summer, the drains leading to Martin Lake had not been mapped and available for adoption on Adopt-a-Drain's website.
As part of ACD's work to improve Martin Lake's water quality, we have remedied this and created a map and flyer to promote these drains to people who live in the neighborhoods along the lakeshore. Through sharing these resources with the lake association and local Facebook groups, 11 drains leading to the lake have now been adopted! Thanks to the people who have volunteered, less debris will be getting into the lake from the surrounding streets, which will help Martin Lake in its journey to getting de-listed in the future. We hope to see more people along the lake join the cause now that these drains are available for adoption!
If you're interested in supporting your local water bodies by adopting a drain, check out https://mn.adopt-a-drain.org/ to get started.
"Try it, and you'll like it. The first one's free." A free trial can be just what's needed to break through to new customers. At the 2021 & 2022 Linwood Lake Improvement Association annual picnics, the Anoka Conservation District distributed nearly 200 native shoreline plants to be planted all around the lake at 25+ different properties.
Native plants can mean "weeds" to some folks. Or just out of the comfort zone. But the right plant in the right place is beautiful and effective. On shorelines there are a variety of native plants that are the perfect choice– beautiful, strong, and well-adapted to the wet. Good habitat too. They're key to a stable shore and healthy lake.
Thanks to Minnesota Native Landscapes, Inc. who provided the giveaway plants this year. ACD offers technical help and grants for those wanting to do a larger shore stabilization or buffer project.
Here's our version of a popular kid quiz game. Below are sets of three statements. Can you tell which one is the lie? See answers at the bottom of the page!
#1: About the Anoka Conservation District's (ACD) origins…
#2: About the Anoka Conservation District (ACD)…
#3: About ACD's function…
#4: About ACD's funding…
#5: ACD's accomplishments…
#7: Stuff we'll help you pay for…
#8: Office life…
#1: The lie is (a) -- While the 1939 tornado was devastating, it was the Dust Bowl era of drought that prompted a need to connect farmers with practices that were less erosion-prone. We have evolved to include urban and sub-urban conservation practices.
#2: The lie is (a) -- ACD is not an Anoka County department. We are separate, with our own elected supervisors.
#3: The lie is (b) -- We don't have any regulatory authority nor issue permits. We work with willing landowners only.
#4: The lie is (c) -- We don't have tax levy authority. We do receive some funds from the county and grants that originate from taxpayers, but we control none of it.
#5: The lie is (b) -- At any given time we have 20+ different grants totaling over 4 million dollars!
#6: The lie is (c) – We work with willing landowners only. We don't do regulation.
#7: The lie is (b) -- Nice idea, but not yet reality. Consider smart irrigation for your home.
#8: The lie is…all of them. :)
Recreational boating has do's and don'ts and an overall etiquette accepted behavior on and around the water. Best boating practices are about safe behavior, as well as what's socially accepted. Here are the top 10 rules to respectful boating developed by the Minnesota DNR to help you navigate the boating world.
Remember, these are guidelines and should not serve as a replacement for learning the rules, regulations and laws for your local body of water. Whether you're a novice or veteran boater, learn more by taking a boating safety course.
If you are looking to develop your knowledge of the outdoors this summer, consider the Minnesota Outdoors Skills and Stewardship webinar series being offered by the Minnesota DNR. The webinars take place every Wednesday through the month of August and are less than an hour long. These training webinars are structured towards the general public and can be beneficial for someone who is brand new to a topic or for someone who is experienced but is looking for a refresher. Each weekly webinar covers a different topic. Topics range from "Forging on the North Shore" and "How to Harvest Wild Rice" to "New Deer Regulations" and "Smallmouth Bass River Fishing".
This training series is unique because attendees get the opportunity to learn from some of the top professionals in the state who are leading experts within their field. For people who are busy, this is a great way to learn new skills without having to commit a ton of time and resources. You can also access previously recorded webinars providing you hours of fantastic resources.
Sign up today and give one a try! Follow the link below to view the upcoming training schedule and get access to past webinars.
On a cool and cloudy May morning, ACD participated in Isanti Conservation Day, an annual event designed to teach students about natural resource stewardship. Approximately 475 fifth graders were given a chance to get outside for a morning to learn about the natural world around them, and how to protect it, by rotating through stations scattered throughout Becklin Homestead Park. ACD collected a myriad of live aquatic invertebrates from local streams to give the students a hands-on way to learn about the unseen creatures that live in their favorite water bodies.
Each group examined trays containing wriggling nymphs of mayflies, damselflies, and dragonflies, case-building caddis fly larvae, freshwater shrimp, snails, and more. They excitedly gathered around their tables to observe the activity in their trays and tallied how many kinds of invertebrates they were able to identify from a provided list. This led to discussions on what the diversity and types of creatures found in the water could tell them about river health. Looking at their lists, students learned that they could make inferences about water quality based on the pollution tolerance of the invertebrates that they found. Each session was wrapped up by sharing ideas on actions and practices that they could take to protect the health of their local rivers. The event was engaging for the fifth graders and provided them with new perspectives on how people can learn about water quality.
Each spring and fall, ACD staff teaches area high school students about collecting macroinvertebrates to track water quality in Anoka County streams. This lesson is educational and fun for students, while providing ACD with data to track water quality over time through the streams' biota. Biological organisms that can be used to track the health of the environment they live in are called biological indicators (or bioindicators for short).
Macroinvertebrates, the larval forms of many common insects, are a great biological indicator for stream health in particular. They also live in lakes and wetlands. Many people don't realize that common insects like dragonflies, mayflies, black flies, and many others spend the majority of their lives as larval forms in the water. These larvae have varying tolerance levels to pollution, meaning some need very clean water to survive, while others can survive in either clean or polluted water. By tracking the populations of these organisms over time, we can gauge changes in water quality by assessing population shifts and known tolerance levels. This provides a valuable supplemental dataset to water quality samples collected periodically. Because these organisms spend months to years in the water, they give a more comprehensive long term look at water quality than water samples collected at random times can alone.
For the past 24 years, ACD has partnered with numerous schools and groups in Anoka County to collect macroinvertebrates. We currently partner with the Upper and Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organizations, the St. Francis American Legion, and the Rice Creek Watershed District to fund this monitoring with classes from four schools. Anoka High School and St. Francis High School classes monitor the Rum River near their schools, Totino-Grace High School classes monitor Rice Creek in Fridley, and the Forest Lake Area Learning Center monitors Clearwater Creek in Centerville. We also plan to take a new class from Blaine High School out in the fall of 2022 to monitor Coon Creek in Coon Rapids.
Over time, this program has taught thousands of Anoka County students about stream water quality, biological indicators, and work in the environmental sciences, all while getting them out of the classroom and into a stream.
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.
Anoka CD, in partnership with Rice Creek Watershed District, Coon Creek Watershed District, City of Fridley, Coon Rapids, Blaine and Lino Lakes, received BWSR grant funds to create a pollinator corridor in the North Metro. These cost share funds are available to local residents and public spaces (e.g. places of worship and libraries) who are interested in creating pollinator habitat. Eligible projects include native pocket plantings, pollinator beneficial trees and shrubs, pollinator lawns and pollinator meadows to benefit the rusty patched bumblebee and other at-risk species.
Contact Carrie at
As spring snowmelt and rainwater rushes down your street and into the nearest stormwater drain, you may contemplate its ultimate fate and journey along the way.
In a natural landscape, much of this water would evaporate or soak into the ground – destined to support vegetation or join the groundwater below – while the remainder would move downward along the surface to nearby wetlands, lakes, and streams. In developed landscapes, impermeable surfaces such as roofs and pavement prevent water from soaking into the ground while manmade drainage networks rapidly channel it to local waterways.
Anoka County contains many interconnected lakes, wetlands, streams, and rivers that receive and transport stormwater. Unfortunately, many of these have experienced increased pollution, erosion, and flooding as a result. Management practices such as rain gardens, bio-swales, and storm ponds have been established throughout the county to intercept stormwater pipes and ditches, decreasing the pollutant load and total amount of runoff entering our surface waters.
Ultimately, all of Anoka County drains into the Mississippi River – either directly from the land near its banks, or indirectly through its many tributaries (such as Coon, Cedar, and Rice Creeks, and the Sunrise, Rum, and St. Croix Rivers). The path that stormwater takes to these major rivers is unique to each neighborhood, city, and watershed; the figures below show examples of stormwater drainage scenarios common in Anoka County.
ACD pursues a variety of projects that reduce the amount of untreated stormwater entering our waterways; learn more about these by viewing our interactive projects map here. You can also help reduce the amount of pollutants entering your neighborhood's stormwater by following the practices listed here.
Lymantria Dispar is an invasive moth formerly known by the common name Gypsy Moth. Last year, the Entomological Society of America officially changed the common name for this invasive species to the Spongy Moth. Romani people, Europe's largest ethnic group, generally consider the common name "Gypsy Moth" to contain a racial slur. The Entomological Society of America states that "while the use of an ethnic slur is enough reason to stop using a common name, the former common name was doubly inappropriate in that it linked a group of people who have been treated as pests and the targets of genocide with an invasive pest insect that remains targeted for population control and eradication, all of which combined to have dehumanizing effects for Romani people."
The new common name for Lymantria Dispar, the spongy moth, refers to the insect's light brown, fuzzy egg masses. This new name also aligns better with other countries common name for this invasive species. This moth is known for defoliating deciduous forests while in their caterpillar form. This repeated defoliation causes stress and can leave trees vulnerable to other diseases and pests. Spongy moths were introduced to the United States from Europe in the nineteenth century. They have spread from their initial location in Massachusetts westward, in both the United States and Canada.
Since 2004, Minnesota has been a member of the U.S. Forest Service's Slow the Spread (STS) program. Cook and Lake Counties are the only places with reproducing spongy moths in Minnesota. Parts of Eastern Minnesota are within the transition zone, and most of the state is still listed as an uninfested zone. Currently, Anoka County is still within the uninfested zone, but the spread of the spongy moth is occurring at a rate of 3 miles per year.
Cedar tree revetments are a cost-effective bioengineering practice that can be used to stabilize actively eroding riverbanks. Excessive erosion along riverbanks threatens property, contributes sediment and nutrients to the water, and eliminates wildlife habitat. Installation of cedar revetments and live stakes, slows or stops the erosion and reduces the likelihood of a much larger and more expensive project in the future.
Eastern red cedars, though native to Minnesota, can be a nuisance species with a habit of taking over and dominating open grassy spaces. These cedar trees can be obtained at little to no cost through land clearing efforts and repurposed to protect streambanks and provide habitat benefit. Efforts made by ACD throughout the last 10-years have resulted in large-scale pollution reduction and extensive land protection along the Scenic Rum River.
Since 2015, ACD has partnered with landowners, cities, parks departments, schools, and other community groups to install approximately 8,666 linear feet of cedar revetment. At the end of the 10-year project life, the current revetments in Anoka County will prevent in excess of 2,370 tons of sediment and 2,180 lbs of phosphorus from entering the Rum River, based on loading estimates.
Funding for these project was made possible through the Conservation Partners Legacy, Conservation Corps of Minnesota & Iowa crew labor grants funded from the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment, and contributions from landowners. ACD provided all project administration, design and installation oversight.
Counties, soil & water conservation districts, watershed organizations and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe have created a Rum River Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan (CWMP). The plan contains mutual priorities for water quality improvements and other natural resources. State approval of the plan is anticipated for May.
The management plan was created because there are 15+ local water plans managing different parts of the same watershed, making it hard to reach watershed-level goals. The CWMP is a single umbrella plan prioritizing resources across the entire watershed. Activities in the plan include shoreland erosion stabilization, agricultural water quality projects, stormwater treatment, septic system fix ups for low income owners, forestry practices, and more.
Approximately $1M in State Watershed Based Implementation Funds (WBIF) grants are provided every two years to implement the plan. The partnership is forming a joint powers board to direct plan implementation and grant funds use.
The full plan is available at https://www.millelacsswcd.org/rum-river-one-watershed-one-plan/.For more information contact Jamie Schurbon (
Minnesota's Noxious Weed Law is the policy of the legislature that residents of the state be protected from the injurious effects that noxious weeds have on public health, environment, public roads, crops, livestock, and other property. A noxious weed is a regulated plant species that has been designated as one of the four categories; Prohibited Eradicate, Prohibited Control, Restricted, and Specially Regulated.
The Prohibited Eradicate category include species that are highly damaging with limited distribution. These species are listed with the goal of eradication. Some examples found in Minnesota include Black Swallow-wort, Oriental Bittersweet, and the Tree of Heaven.
The Prohibited Control category include species that are highly damaging and widely distributed. The goal for species in this category is to prevent spreading. Examples in Minnesota include Wild Parsnip, Common Tansy, and Japanese Knotweed.
The Restricted Category include species that are highly damaging with an extensive distribution that limits the ability to control populations. The goal for these species is to prevent new plantings. Examples in Minnesota include Common Buckthorn, Non-Native Honeysuckle, and Garlic Mustard.
Specially Regulated plants may be native, non-native, or demonstrated value. The goal for this category of plants is to craft regulations that prevent issues. Examples in Minnesota include Poison Ivy, Amur Maple, and Winged Burning Bush.
Species on this list and new potential treats are reviewed by the Noxious Weed Advisory Committee. This committee is comprised of members that represent conservation, business, tribes, and government interests. A thorough risk assessment is completed for a species before a listing recommendation is made by the committee. You can report a potential population of a species on the Minnesota Noxious Weed List by taking a picture of both the leaves and flowers, taking note of the location, and sending it to the Arrest the Pest email
Below is a list of species to keep a look out for. Some of these species are already listed as Prohibited Eradicate in Minnesota and have very limited distribution. Looking for these species can prevent new populations from invading the state. Other species on the list have not yet been found in Minnesota, but have caused substantial damage in other parts of the country. Early detection and eradication is crucial in protecting Minnesota against invasive species.
Grants are available to homeowners to fix struggling, non-compliant septic systems. Septic systems are the underground tank and drain field that treat wastewater from homes where city sewer and water is not available. Grants are available to households meeting low income criteria. Loans are available to most applicants.
A non-compliant septic system can be a problem for owners, or be an obstacle to selling the property. Failure can be dramatic, such as sewage back up. Or a septic system can be deemed non-compliant because it does not have enough vertical separation from the water table. Grants are awarded because failing septic systems threaten groundwater and nearby lakes and streams.
For more information, visit www.AnokaSWCD.org/financial-technical-assistance.html or contact Kris Larson (
ACD staff provide technical assistance for a wide variety of projects each year. Many of the requests for assistance come directly from landowners interested in improving natural resources or addressing concerns on their properties. Technical assistance is also provided for projects in collaboration with county, city, and watershed entity partners. The table to the right summarizes 2021 technical assistance provided by ACD staff.
Assistance begins with a site consultation. Consultations typically include a conversation with the landowner, desktop review of the site using GIS mapping software and available data sets, and a site visit to discuss options. If the landowner is interested in pursuing a project, ACD can provide design and installation oversight services. Maintenance guidance is also provided for previously installed projects.
Additional information about active projects and those previously completed is available on ACD's project tracking map.
"HydroClim Minnesota" is a new electronic newsletter put out monthly by MNDNR Climatologist Pete Boulay. ACD has partnered with Pete for years to manage a network of precipitation volunteers throughout Anoka County.
"HydroClim Minnesota" summarizes weather conditions and other weather events occurring throughout the state and the resulting impact on water resources. By subscribing to the newsletter you can learn exciting facts such as, a storm event occurring on December 15, 2021 was not only the warmest day ever recorded in the month of December but it also involved Minnesota's first documented tornado for the month of December!
To learn more fun facts about weather in your state visit https://mndnr.gov/hydroclim.
ACD has a number of grant opportunities available for addressing shoreline erosion along both streams and lakes in Anoka County. If you have noticed your lakeshore migrating back on you over time, or perhaps once had a low walkable area along your river frontage that is now gone leaving only a steep drop-off, ACD may be able to help you design and even fund a project to protect your property.
The first step is a site visit to your property by ACD staff. Now is a great time to reach out to ACD to plan a site visit in the spring. We will assess your erosion problems, give you advice on how to address them, and see if your shoreline might fit into one of our various grant programs for financial assistance. Shoreline restoration does far more than just protect your property. It also protects the water resource you live on, and also enhances habitat for all of the wildlife that utilizes that resource!
Current subzero temperatures can make warmer months seem far away, but winter is a great time to begin planning for spring and summer conservation projects at your home. Whether you want to create an oasis for pollinators and other native wildlife or install features that improve local water quality, there are many great informational resources to help you get started.
Create a native vegetation planting plan and control invasive species
Establishing areas of diverse native vegetation and managing invasive plant species produces multiple environmental benefits, including the provision of food and habitat resources for native wildlife and the improvement of local soil and water health, particularly for areas adjacent to rivers, lakes, and wetlands. Sourcing native plants and landscaping services from local experts is the best way to ensure your efforts maximize ecological benefits in your area.
Address lawn care needs sustainably
The ways in which we mow, irrigate, and chemically treat our yards can lead to unintended impacts in nearby aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. This year, consider developing a lawn care regime that strategically targets nutrient and pesticide needs and reduces the need for irrigation.
Participate in community surveys and attend educational events
Winter is a great time to explore environmental topics that pique your interest and inspire you to become involved in backyard conservation efforts. Many of Minnesota's environmental and conservation organizations provide free or low-cost educational opportunities such as webinars and workshops. You can also become involved in natural resource surveys such as those for wildlife, weather, and water quality, which greatly improve our understanding of conservation needs across the state.
Financial and Technical Assistance
Because environmental benefits produced through conservation practices typically extend beyond the bounds of your property, conservation projects such as lakeshore restorations, riverbank stabilizations, and best management practices for urban or agricultural stormwater runoff may qualify for financial or technical assistance. Seeking out and applying for these opportunities early will help you get a strong head start on spring and summer projects.
Anoka Conservation District (ACD) Supervisors, Mary Jo Truchon, Glenda Meixell, and Colleen Werdien, along with District Manager Chris Lord, attended the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD) annual meeting for 2021.
The MASWCD convention is a great opportunity for SWCD supervisors and staff to learn more about current natural resource issues in Minnesota. The conference features grassroots initiatives to conserve soil and water resources throughout the state and always provides attendees with new ideas that can be applied on the local level. Keynote speaker, National Geographic Photographer Jim Richardson, presented on the increased strain on the planet in order to feed the growing population and offered a unique opportunity to learn about global agriculture issues and the potential solutions we have to address them.
In addition to sessions on a variety of conservation topics, discussions and votes were held for state natural resource resolutions. Several awards were presented including; Outstanding Community Conservationist Award, Outstanding Forest Steward Award, Minnesota DNR Division of Waters Appreciation Award, and the Outstanding SWCD Employee and Supervisor awards, presented by the Board of Water and Soil Resources. The convention also featured a luncheon, where the SWCD of the Year Award was presented, along with recognition to outstanding conservationists across the state. The City of Anoka was recognized as Anoka County's Outstanding Conservationist for 2021.
The Anoka Conservation District (ACD) is collaborating with the City of Anoka to stabilize 300+ linear feet of eroding Rum Riverbank adjacent to the historic Woodbury House site. The ACD recently prepared a state Clean Water Fund grant application on behalf of the city, and the city is being awarded a $1,008,820 grant. It promises to be a high profile and highly beneficial project.
This site is important for water quality and cultural reasons. It is on the Rum River and less than 1/2 mile upstream of the confluence with the Mississippi River. Reduction of sediment and nutrients in both these rivers is a regional priority. The site is also immediately upstream of Twin Cities drinking water intakes, so there are drinking water benefits. The Woodbury House itself is on the National Register of Historic Places. The house was built in 1857 and is currently occupied by the Mad Hatter Restaurant and Tea House. Work will take place on city-owned lands.
Currently, the riverbank has major failures extending up the 30+ foot tall bluff that are increasing in extent. Erosion affects river water quality, fish habitat, and threatens structures at the top of the bluff.
The Clean Water Fund is from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment passed by voters in 2008.
The Lower St. Croix Partnership, formed through the "One Watershed, One Plan" process, has been selected to receive a County Conservation Award from the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC). The award, developed in partnership with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), recognizes leadership, innovation, and excellence in protecting or improving natural resources.
This year's award recognized the partnership's success forging relationships that cross the urban-rural divide, and working collaboratively to protect and improve the St. Croix River, groundwater, lakes, streams, rivers, wetlands, and upland habitat. The partnership is sharing regional education staff and a regional agricultural outreach specialist. We are also completing a wide variety of water quality projects including stormwater treatment, erosion stabilization, enhanced street sweeping, and many more. The group follows a 10-year management plan they created together, and utilizes state grant funding for much of its work.
The Anoka Conservation District and Sunrise River Watershed Management Organization represent the Anoka County area in the Lower St. Croix partnership. Learn more at lsc1w1p.org.
The Mississippi River fulfills the water resource needs of millions of people and provides hydrological and habitat benefits of national significance. It is a powerful waterbody that has shaped the U.S. landscape for millions of years. Erosion is a naturally occurring process in flowing water systems such as the Mississippi River, but it can become exacerbated with increases in extreme weather events and in developed landscapes where stormwater drainage networks contribute to increased surface water volumes. Bank erosion can threaten adjacent urban and agricultural infrastructure and contributes to sediment and nutrient loading that impacts local water quality. Thus, riverbank stabilization practices that minimize erosion serve as mechanisms to combat these environmental challenges.
Using 360° photos captured from a watercraft on the Mississippi River, ACD identified the location and severity of eroded banks spanning from Coon Rapids to Fridley. Altogether, nearly 50 separate stretches of moderately to severely eroded banks were identified, collectively contributing to an estimated 8,517 tons of sediment inputs to the river each year. These stretches were present along both private and public properties ranging from dense residential areas to expansive county parks. A recommended stabilization approach and corresponding project cost estimate was applied to each eroded bank, thus providing cost: benefit scenarios for each potential stabilization project and facilitating the strategic pursuit of those which maximize environmental benefits.
These findings are detailed in a comprehensive report located here, which also includes further details on ACD's erosion inventory methodology, profile pages for each potential stabilization project, and information on a variety of riverbank stewardship and stabilization approaches. To view examples of completed stabilization projects identified through previous erosion inventories, view our interactive projects map here. For more information please contact Breanna Keith,
When coworkers find exciting career opportunities that entice them to move on, we share in their excitement, while also lamenting that we won't be working with them any longer. Having accepted a position with Hennepin County, Outreach and Engagement Coordinator Emily Johnson's last day with ACD is November 12, 2021.
Emily originally joined ACD in September of 2017 as a MNGreenCorps member and accepted a position with ACD one year later as our first Outreach and Engagement Coordinator. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Biology with a minor in Geology from Macalester College and a Certificate in Environmental Education from Hamline University. Emily coordinated the newly established Anoka County Water Resource Outreach Collaborative, created outreach materials and programs, connected with target audiences, and built efficiency in achieving outreach goals throughout the county.
Emily's work general fit into three categories:
In Emily's first 15 months on ACD's staff, she set an unimaginable standard by:
COVID-19 swept across the country in 2020, severely limiting the ways in which Emily was able to connect, inform and engage the public. During that time, Emily prepared the Community chapter in ACD's new 10-year comprehensive plan, which focuses on how to tap into Anoka County's human resources to result in positive conservation outcomes. Emily also enhanced ACD's visibility in the community by initiating monthly digital snapshots of our work as well as more comprehensive quarterly newsletters. Quickly adapting to virtual meetings and events, Emily forged ahead with outreach and engagement despite COVID-19 barriers. She redirected her attention to enhancing social media content, mastering virtual meeting technologies, refining digital web content, and creating outreach materials.
Emily created durable outreach materials in the form of displays, brochures, videos, articles, and website/social media content. The impact of these materials grows with each reading, viewing, and/or use. By the end of 2020 Emily's three videos received over 10,000 views. As of today, that has grown to nearly 22,000.
Whether tabling a booth on a frigid day on one of Anoka County's frozen lakes or engaging with a landowner at a community event, Emily always did so with an inviting smile, an infectious energy, and a compelling understanding or our natural resources.
Emily brought to ACD a talent set that will be hard to replace: social media and communications coordinator; outreach technologies engineer; sociologist and public engagement expert; event organizer; and natural resources steward. Brimming with talent, intelligence, dedication, professionalism, and a personable disposition, Emily is bound to succeed at whatever endeavor she tackles. Staff and supervisors at ACD wish her the very best and hope to collaborate with her in her new position at Hennepin County.
Ever since I was a young girl, my family has had a 'real' tree. Our trees were cut from our farm and some were 'Charlie Brown' trees but I have great memories of going out into the woods.
With my own family, we have a tradition of going to our local Christmas tree farm. It's definitely a memory-making experience and my girls always enjoy marching down the rows of firs, spruce, and eventually a white pine, which also happens to be my favorite conifer. I even manage to teach the girls a thing or two about how to identify the different species.
Why buy a real tree vs. a manufactured one?
Christmas Tree Care
Make a fresh cut. Before you bring the tree into your home and place it in a stand, re-cut the trunk at least one inch from the bottom just before putting it in the stand. Even if you just cut it, this re-opens the tree stem so it can drink water. Christmas trees are very thirsty! It is not unusual for a tree to drink 2 gallons of water the first day it is in the stand.
Choose a spot away from heat sources. Heat sources like heat registers, space heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves, televisions, computer monitors, etc. speed up evaporation and moisture loss of the tree.
Water immediately. After making the fresh cut, place the tree in a large capacity stand with warm water. The stand you use should hold at least one gallon of fresh water.
Don't add anything to the water! Research has shown that plain tap water is the best. Some commercial additives and home concoctions can actually decrease a tree's moisture retention and increase needle loss.
Check the water level daily. Do not allow the water level to drop below the fresh cut or the stem will reseal and be unable to drink.
What can I do with my tree after the holiday season?
In Anoka County, Christmas trees can be dropped off for free once they've been cleaned of all tinsel, ornaments, lights, etc. Check out this link for more information. https://www.anokacounty.us/359/Compost-Sites
These trees are chipped and recycled into mulch. Mulch moderates soil temperatures, suppresses weeds and helps hold soil moisture.
After removing indoor decorations, you can also set your tree in its stand outside and decorate it for our winter birds. (No need to water it). The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust recommends a variety of homemade treats such as suet cakes, branches of berries, popcorn, pinecones smeared with peanut butter, and other treats. We simply set ours out by our bird feeders and the birds love the extra cover from wind, cold and predators. In early spring, we bring it to our local compost site.
Will we ever run out of trees?
The National Christmas Tree Association reports that for every tree that is cut, 2 to 3 trees are planted the following spring. So the more trees sold, the more that are planted. And the more trees planted, the more carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere, releasing even more oxygen. This helps reduce our carbon footprint.
This information was adapted from MN Extension https://extension.umn.edu/yard-and-garden-news/christmas-tree-care-and-fun-facts
More information can be found here: https://www.treetriage.com/tree-removal/christmas-trees/
Each year, Anoka Conservation District (ACD) supervisors consider the work we've done in partnership with landowners, cities, private sector partners, and other organizations to complete natural resources conservation work in Anoka County. The list is distilled down to a single conservation partner who most emulates a conservation ethic put to action. That individual or entity is acknowledged as Anoka County's Outstanding Conservationist. The 2021 Anoka County Outstanding Conservationist is the City of Anoka.
The projects the City of Anoka implemented in partnership with ACD and on their own over the years have demonstrated an enduring commitment to both steward and enjoy our natural resources.
"The majority of the City of Anoka's successful conservation projects have involved multi-agency collaborations and support; without our partnership and the expertise/guidance from the staff at ACD, many of these projects would not have been possible. The success of these projects involves the hard work of many individuals all working together to create the projects, draw plans, complete grant applications, and monitor construction/projects." – Lisa LaCasse, City of Anoka Public Services Administrator
The following list of conservation initiatives completed by, or in partnership with, the City of Anoka demonstrates their breadth of commitment;
Lisa LaCasse, Public Services Administrator for the City of Anoka, cites the extensive work to restore habitat at the Anoka Nature Preserve as one of the conservation projects that saw a lot of benefits for both native plants and wildlife, as well as for people. A large quantity of invasive buckthorn was removed and the area was part of a prescribed burn to promote the growth of native species. The City continues to maintain the area through cutting back regrowth of buckthorn and spot-treating as necessary. LaCasse views this project as a huge success because the City and residents are beginning to see growth of desired native plants as well as improved habitat for wildlife. In addition, the removal of the dense buckthorn underbrush has improved archery deer hunting opportunities. Often, community volunteers are able to participate in invasive species removal projects like this one and come away with a sense of connection to the habitat they worked to enhance as well as a sense of pride for a job well done. "It's easy to see the progress and immediate improvements from these types of projects." – Lisa LaCasse
This acknowledgment is part of a larger program, wherein SWCD's from throughout MN submit their outstanding conservationists to the MN Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts in nomination for the MN State Outstanding Conservationist. In early December, at their annual convention each outstanding conservationist is recognized during a large banquet whereat they will also unveil the state winner.
Congratulations on this well-deserved award and thanks go to the City of Anoka council and staff for all they have done. Projects upcoming in the City Anoka include new rain gardens to capture and infiltrate stormwater, hydrodynamic devices, modifications to existing storm ponds, and stabilization of the Rum River shoreline to reduce erosion. ACD staff and supervisors genuinely look forward to partnering with the City of Anoka on projects in the future.
Fall hunting season is upon us in Minnesota. Hunting is one of the best ways to sustainably enjoy our State's amazing natural resources. Opportunities exist to harvest game animals ranging from squirrels to birds like grouse, pheasant, turkey, and waterfowl to large ungulates like deer and elk, and even black bear. Minnesota has a rich hunting tradition and some of the most ample public land hunting opportunities in the country! It is easier than ever to learn to hunt with the advent of instructional webinars and social media.
The Minnesota DNR has all of the information and resources you need to get started. You can find season dates, license information, and land access opportunities for all kinds of hunting on their web pages. Social media groups exist for all kinds of hunting around Minnesota, and newcomers can learn from seasoned veterans, some of whom may just be willing to show you the ropes.
If you are interested taking up a new outdoor hobby, creating memories that last a lifetime, and harvesting sustainable, healthful meat, hunting may just be the pastime you've been looking for!
Minnesota hunting fun facts:
Photo below is ACD staffer, Jared Wagner, with his niece.
Every spring and fall, staff members from Anoka Conservation District lead several high school classes through a hands on biomonitoring session. These students don waiters, grab a D-net, and wade into the shallow waters of a particular stream or river in Anoka County. They use these nets to scrape rocks, down trees, or vegetation in hopes of finding macroinvertebrates, which are collected. During the classroom potion of this lesson, the students identify and label these macroinvertebrates species. ACD then reevaluates and counts all specimen. The same stream and river locations are sampled almost every year, allowing ACD to monitor any long-term trends in the species found.
Biomonitoring is a useful tool because macroinvertebrates live on the bottom of rivers and streams. During their aquatic life cycle, which can be multiple years, they cope with chemical, physical, and biological influences in their habitat. They are less mobile than fish, making them less able to avoid the effects of these pollutants and changes to aquatic habitats. Macroinvertebrates also have a wide range of pollutant tolerances amongst the various species. The numbers and types of organisms present in a water body reflect the quality of their surroundings. Inventorying the makeup of aquatic communities can help determine if changes in the environment are causing effects such as the loss of sensitive groups of organisms. Macroinvertebrates are also practical and easy to sample, making them perfect for a high school science class.
Sharon LeMay, who has been a Supervisor with ACD since January 2017, moved around a lot growing up, from England to Florida, France, Illinois, Texas, Minnesota, and back to England before finally settling permanently in Minnesota. She did not grow up in a family that spent a lot of time outdoors, preferring instead to visit museums, historic landmarks, and read. In fact, one of her first memories of nature was quite traumatic for her as a young girl. While exploring a vacant, wooded city lot, Sharon looked down at her tan corduroy pants and found they were crawling with little spiders, which she only learned later were actually wood ticks! Up to that point, her only experiences with nature involved manicured city parks or sightseeing in short trips. Still, even though recreating in nature was not a core part of Sharon's childhood, she grew up to revere nature and spend much of her free time working and volunteering to be a good steward of the environment.
When she isn't working, Sharon volunteers with several local organizations, including the Master Naturalist program, the MN DNR, and Herbalists Without Borders. She enjoys her studies in homeopathy and making herbal medicines. She also loves hiking, yoga, biking, visiting historic sites and museums, and camping with her husband and dogs.
Sharon's favorite place in Minnesota is the North Shore of Lake Superior. She loves the remote and rugged coastlines of oceans, and the North Shore is as close as it gets to that in Minnesota. She enjoys walking the beaches looking for stones, hearing the waves, smelling the air, or simply sitting on a rock watching the water. In this peaceful place, she is able to reflect on nature as something valuable in its own right, rather than valuable only for what we can do in it or with it. Her love for the environment evolved over time as she came to witness the sacredness of nature, and it culminated in her choice to run for elected office on the ACD Board of Supervisors.
This month the Sunrise River Watershed Management Organization (SRWMO) hosted a public official's tour of water quality projects. The tour was to show cities who financially contribute to the SRWMO how their dollars are used. It was also an opportunity for multi-city discussion. Thirteen people were present including city council members, town board supervisors, a county commissioner, and SRWMO board members.
Tour visits included a stormwater pond enhancement, curb cut rain garden, lakeshore restoration, and infiltration basin. At three of the sites the owner was present to talk about the problems they had been experiencing and how the project has worked for them. Key information shared included costs, funding sources, and measurements of success.
The Anoka Conservation District (ACD) coordinated the tour. ACD is contracted to coordinate administration and projects for the SRWMO, which otherwise has no staff. The SRWMO and ACD have a 20+ year collaborative relationship that has resulted in dozens of water quality projects. The SRWMO is one of six watershed organizations that cover Anoka County.
Top – Linwood Elementary School's principal and teachers describe a rain garden at their school entrance.
Middle – ACD staffer Jamie Schurbon describes how a stormwater pond at Martin Lake was enlarged to better capture pollutants form 24 acres of neighborhood.
Bottom – County Commissioner Jeff Reinert asks Coon Lakeshore owner Rhonda Scheiderich about a lakeshore stabilization and plant buffer (outside of image).
2021 marks ACD's 75th Anniversary serving Anoka County! To celebrate, District staff planted trees throughout Anoka County. The tree planting occurred on May 6th at the Cedar Creek Conservation Area, Rum Central Regional Park, and the Anoka Nature Preserve. The tree planting is in line with the District's mission to holistically conserve and enhance Anoka County's natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations.
Jamie Schurbon, ACD's Watershed Projects Manager, has lived a rich and varied life. He grew up in rural Iowa, earning his bachelor's degree from Iowa State University before moving to South Carolina to complete his Master's in Environmental Biology. He spent that time studying reptiles and amphibians in and around the Hell Hole Swamp. After school, he held a variety of short term natural resources jobs that took him from the mangroves of the Florida Keys, to the South Dakota Badlands, to coastal barrier islands. Ultimately, he decided to return to the Midwest and started his first full time position as a technician at the Anoka Conservation District.
Because of his diverse experiences with different environments, it makes sense that instead of a single favorite place in Minnesota, Jamie enjoys the variety, including the Boundary Waters lakes, southeast Minnesota trout streams, northern forests, and prairies. Locally, he especially enjoys spending time on and around the Rum River for its good fishing, quality habitat, and because it is a scenic and quiet getaway.
In his time away from work, Jamie enjoys coaching youth baseball, teaching confirmation classes at his church, playing softball, and working on home improvement projects. Some recent projects have included a kitchen renovation and a canoe rack. Jamie never finds himself short of new projects as one project always seems to turn into another. The old copper plumbing from a kitchen remodel, for example, was then crafted into jewelry.
Jamie indulges his love of the outdoors through hunting and fishing and is also a member of a few sporting organizations including the Isanti County Sportsman's Club, where outdoor enthusiasts both promote conservation and enjoy outdoor activities. Jamie, along with his wife and two sons (ages 11 and 14), have even raised ducks every summer for the last four years.
When asked to share a memorable story of local conservation efforts, Jamie had this to say:
"During my 20 years at ACD I've especially learned a lot from the "old timers" who grew up in the area. I find that today's conservation efforts are not all that different from the past, and these efforts do make a difference. For example, Andover resident, WWII veteran, and former teacher Lyle Bradley once described to me how he flew up and down the Rum River corridor to identify feedlots and dumps on the shoreline. The cleanup that followed made a difference and is a testament to what a committed person can do!"
To contact Jamie, reach out to
The Anoka Conservation District's Watershed Projects Manager, Jamie Schurbon, has been reappointed by Governor Tim Walz to the Metropolitan Water Supply Advisory Committee (MAWSAC). He was first appointed in 2012 by Governor Dayton. The committee advises the Metropolitan Council on regional water supply management. Topics addressed include groundwater contamination, protecting the Mississippi River as a drinking water source, water infrastructure, and water supply.
The committee represents diverse interests, with Schurbon as the only member from a local natural resources agency. Other members include public water supply managers, county commissioners, and state agency experts on health, pollution, and agriculture. Anoka County Board Chair Scott Schulte noted the need for balanced perspectives in his recommendation of Schurbon, noting Jamie "has an understanding of the need for both natural resources and community growth to support quality of life in Anoka County.""I appreciate being part of regional efforts," noted Schurbon. "It's impossible to manage most water issues within one city or county. Groundwater, water supply pipes, and waterways all connect across communities."
Turning a problem into a solution with the Linwood Elementary School rain and pollinator garden.
Construction and expansion took place recently at Linwood Elementary School resulting in a larger roof capturing and sending more rain water to an area in front of the school. This small area is surrounded by the building on two sides, the front sidewalk, and the sidewalk to the main entrance. The additional water produced a large deep puddle for several days and a mud pit after water finally infiltrated. There was a need to improve that area for safety and aesthetics especially since it is in front of the school entrance. The solution: a rain and pollinator garden.
The depressed basin provides a micro example of different hydrologic zones and plant communities ranging from upland plants on the perimeter of the area and wetland plants down in the basin. Parent volunteer, Jennifer Braido took the lead to help facilitate and three 4th grade classes learned about rain gardens so they could create a design for the rain and pollinator garden. ACD staff and Jennifer taught 4th graders about hydrologic zones, plant communities, wetland indicator status, plant adaptations including aerenchyma tissue in wetland plant roots and plant's seasonal bloom times. With all this information, the classes choose their favorite plants for different zones of the garden and did some math to determine how many plants they needed. Another parent volunteer, Robb Johnson, and ACD staff worked to increase water storage capacity by installing a French drain which has reduced the time of standing water after a large rainfall. Finally, the 4th graders were out planting their rain-pollinator garden with the upland species along the edges and the wetland species down in the basin. While they were planting, a monarch butterfly fluttered around appreciating this new habitat. An educational sign is posted to highlight the benefits of rain and pollinator gardens to all that pass by the main entrance to Linwood Elementary School.
The Department of Natural Resources collaborates with Anoka Conservation District to collect lake level data from many lakes across the county. This partnership allows ACD to work directly with county residents who volunteer for the lake level program. These volunteers record the lake level from a staff gauge placed in the lake (typically close to their property) weekly. These data are then reported to ACD and the DNR, and are used on the LakeFinder website.
The DNR LakeFinder website is the best means for the public to access available data on more than 4,500 Minnesota lakes relating to fisheries information, lake area and maximum depth, depth maps, lake water levels, water quality and clarity, air photos, and topographic maps. About 1,450 of the lakes have a historical record of more than 100 water level readings.
At the LakeFinder main page, go to "Find a Lake" and search by county, lake name, or 8-digit identification number for any lake. Click on the lake in the Search Results. On the next page, click on Water Levels report in the left hand column.
The Lake Water Level report page contains information from reported data, including:
ACD is currently seeking a volunteer for Peltier Lake. The permanent staff gauge is affixed to the outlet dam and is easily accessible from the Peltier Lake and Rice Creek Boat Launch parking lot. Having consistent data will help keep the DNR's LakeFinder website up to date throughout the summer. If you are interested in volunteering in taking weekly readings at Peltier Lake, you can reach out to Mollie Annen at
Summer is coming! Warmer temperatures and fishing opener mean aquatic invasive species and MN boaters are ramping up activity on Minnesota lakes and rivers.
Do your part to prevent the spread of invasive plants and animals by cleaning, draining, and drying all recreational equipment that goes into a Minnesota lake or stream.
To help protect our lakes and rivers:
Share this information with others who spend time fishing, boating, or recreating in Minnesota.
Mary Jo Truchon and her family moved to Blaine over 45 years ago from Chicago. At that time, Blaine was on the outskirts of the Twin Cities and seemed to be the edge of civilization. Nature was always close and Mary Jo thrived in it. Moving to Blaine from the city of Chicago felt like moving someplace wild and deeply connected to the natural world. In fact, the Truchon's home was in a remnant prairie and surrounded by oak savannah. Living so close to the natural resources of the county further solidified her passion to protect them for future generations to enjoy.Mary Jo's love of nature started early in her life. She recalls family trips to the Wabash River as well as to the sandy shores of Lake Michigan where the waters were always warm in the summer. She fell in love with water and instilled these same values in her own children and 15 grandchildren through trips to Lake Superior in Duluth, the Coon Rapids Dam, Lake Mille Lacs, the Rum River, and more. Mary Jo says that Minnesota was a fabulous place to raise her family. Even now that her children are grown, the family still gathers around water with Taylor's Falls being the destination of choice this past Easter as it is a family favorite for picnicking.
Siberian peashrub (Caragana arborescens) is a restricted noxious weed in Minnesota. It has a background similar to Common Buckthorn, commonly found in hedge groves, shelterbelts, and wildlife plantings. Siberian peashrub is not as common as buckthorn but is becoming more prevalent throughout the state. These plants have an extensive root system and the ability to self-reproduce to create new infestations. Last year, infestations in Bunker Hills regional park were surveyed and mapped by ACD staff. These maps were used during three days of targeted treatment by ACD this winter. After three days, ACD completed cut-stump treatment on 14 infestations which totaled approximately 3.5 acres.
ACD staff provide technical assistance for a wide variety of projects each year. Many of the requests for assistance come directly from landowners interested in improving natural resources or addressing concerns on their properties. Technical assistance is also provided for projects in collaboration with county, city, and watershed entity partners. The table to the right summarizes 2020 technical assistance provided by ACD staff.
Assistance begins with a site consultation. Consultations typically include a conversation with the landowner, desktop review of the site using GIS mapping software and available data sets, and a site visit to discuss options. If the landowner is interested in pursuing a project, ACD can provide design and installation oversight services. Maintenance guidance is also provided for previously installed projects.
Additional information about active projects and those previously completed is available on ACD's project tracking map.
The MN Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC) of the University of MN created an interactive website that displays all of the watercraft inspector data for any lake you may be interested in. This website shows infestation status as well as the risk of infestation for most lakes across the state. It also shows all incoming and outgoing boat traffic from any lake selected based on the survey responses received by watercraft inspectors.
The website can be found at https://www.aisexplorer.umn.edu/#!/
Select your county in the left hand pane, and click the lake you are interested in viewing on the map (Lake George in Anoka County shown). Once clicking the lake, you can view infestation status and a risk score based on boat traffic data. You can also choose to view all incoming or outgoing movements from this lake. This shows where boats were reported to be either immediately prior to or after launching at Lake George. These maps and their data can also be exported directly from the website using the export tools in the left pane. This website is a great tool to view the infestation status of lakes around you, the risk that those lakes face based on data collected, and to view the data collected by the many watercraft inspectors working hard around Minnesota each year to protect our waterways.
Carrie Taylor, ACD's Restoration Ecologist, enjoys all manner of outdoor adventures including skiing, gardening, camping, and canoeing. She always makes time to explore nature, go on hikes, and "hunt" for wildflowers with her family. She loves bringing her daughters out with her even though she sometimes has to remind them that "skiing… hiking… canoeing… it's what we do!"
Prior to living in Minnesota, Carrie lived in Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, Montana, and Sweden. Since moving to Minnesota 6 years ago, Carrie has made a point of exploring all the natural areas the state has to offer. One of Carrie's favorite places in Minnesota that she has explored thus far is the Superior Hiking Trail at Bean and Bear Lakes. She appreciated the topography, the wildness, and the beautiful multi-layer beaver dam complex that she and her family stumbled across.
Carrie is also active with the Master Gardener program and enjoys volunteering with many organizations especially coordinating landscape design and installation with new homeowners through Habitat for Humanity.
Outside of Carrie's work conducting natural resource monitoring, inventory, assessments, and planning, and coordinating ecological restoration projects for the District, she is involved in landscaping and adding native and edible plants at her daughters' schools and helping lead some of their Girl Scout activities.
To contact Carrie, reach out to
ACD is pleased to present our 2021-2030 Comprehensive Natural Resource Stewardship Plan to our implementation partners and stakeholders. The plan embraces the fact that all natural resources are interconnected and interdependent and presents stewardship goals, objectives and strategies in a manner that will enhance our ability to address issues holistically. The plan is structured around four foundational natural resources: surface water, groundwater, ecological resources, and soils. We also dedicate a portion of the plan to our human resources in a section called Community.
While the plan has been adopted in its current state, over the coming four months ACD intends to reengage with stakeholders who helped bring the plan together to solicit additional input for incorporation into an amendment mid-2021.
Special purpose units of government like watershed districts and soil and water conservation districts routinely face the challenge of communicating progress toward goals amid the complexity of natural resources stewardship. Often this messaging is to stakeholders with limited expertise on the subject. To address this challenge, as a central component of the plan, ACD has developed an Action Wheel with 24 Keystone Endeavors across the four foundational natural resources, community and district operations. Annual success in achieving these endeavors will be reported in an easy to understand manner beginning with our 2021 Annual Report.
The extent to which ACD's efforts improve the quality of life of Anoka County residents is another matter. This delves into matters of ecosystem services, economics, spirituality, recreation, mental health, and so on. How to gauge the value of floating on a clean lake on a hot afternoon? We have a plan for this too, which will come together in our 2021 Annual Report.
Because ACD does not have statutory funding authority, budgets and work plans are aspirational as opposed to prescriptive. To project future budgets, expense and revenue trends over the prior ten years were used. The following revenue and expense projects may appear aggressive at first glance. Considering that Anoka County has over 350,000 residents and that two-thirds of projected revenues come from product sales and state grants, the burden on the Anoka County taxpayer to support ACD's work, including county and local government contributions, would be well below $5 per person.
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Global Headquarters parking lot was recently retrofit with a number of low impact development stormwater control measures to reduce runoff volumes and improve water quality. The demonstration project will provide visitors to the campus with an introduction to a variety of options for stormwater management.
One of the products installed was a FocalPoint high performance biofiltration system that also included a Rain Guardian Turret for pretreatment. Rain Guardians provide a stable inlet and effective pretreatment for bioretention systems by capturing sediment and debris in an easy to clean location. Other products installed included permeable pavers and porous concrete.
The campus has served as the ASCE Global Headquarters since 1994, is located just outside of Washington D.C., and hosts several thousand visitors each year.
Additional project information is available at https://www.ascefoundation.org/asce-sustainable-parking-lot-project.
Becky Wozney, ACD's Wetland Specialist, has always had a strong connection to nature. When she was a girl growing up in Pine County, she would regularly ride her horse, Annie, through her family's pastures for hours on end. She fell in love with nature and the outdoors while exploring her family's property with her dogs and today believes that outreach and education can really change how people, especially children, interact with our natural resources. "Anytime we can get kids outside and teach them to respect nature, it will have a large impact on them later in life," says Becky.
Now that Becky has her own daughters, she tries to instill in them the same love of the outdoors that she learned as a kid. She and her family all love to travel and have visited 30 states (including Alaska and Hawaii!) plus Costa Rica and Canada. They are planning a Europe-based trip in 2022. Becky and her family also greatly enjoy spending time on the lake in their boat or kayak, camping in Minnesota's state parks, and hiking with their dog, Millie.
Outside of Becky's work providing technical assistance and Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) regulatory assistance to county residents, she is involved in youth sports and volunteering on natural resource projects in her city.
To contact Becky, email
Even though it is January, ice conditions on local lakes can vary and still pose a high safety risk. The last several winters have shown above average temperatures and this winter season, both November and December, recorded averages that were nearly 5 degrees higher than the 30-year average for the area. In December of 2020, 18 days throughout the month had temperatures above freezing and even had some rain events. These types of conditions have the ability to quickly change the thickness of the ice on your favorite lake. Use caution when navigating ice throughout the season especially earlier in the winter. Every year in Minnesota, people, ATVs, and vehicles go through ice that is too thin. The Minnesota DNR provides safety guidelines at: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/ice/index.html
Remember, no fish is worth swimming with the fishes for.
Minnesotans love their lakes, but we've got a growing problem with salt pollution. In this brand new short video produced by our partners in Washington County, the problem of chloride pollution is explained with easy-to-understand cartoon graphics and fun narration. The video also offers suggestions on what the general public can do to help protect Minnesota's waters from salt pollution!
The video is a great outreach tool for school or youth group sessions or for sharing on social media. Enjoy!
Now that there are no leaves on the trees, it is a good time to look for Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus). This invasive species is on the ERADICATE list. It is a vine that girdles and smothers trees and shrubs. Look for the bright red fruit with yellow capsules.
Be sure to check your ID with the native American bittersweet, which has orange fruit capsules instead of yellow. American bittersweet fruits are found only at the end of the vine while Oriental bittersweet has fruit at the leaf axils.
ACD thanks Steve Laitinen for his service on our board of supervisors since 2016. Steve's term ends at the end of 2020. His passion for natural resources management has been an asset and contributed to numerous projects.
Steve has represented District I. This area includes Anoka, Coon Rapids, Nowthen, Oak Grove, Ramsey and St. Francis. It also includes several natural resources, such as the Rum River, that are of particular importance to Steve and the residents he represents.
Steve's passion for the Rum River is particularly apparent in his work at the ACD. Within Anoka County, he has sought collaborative water quality efforts as our liaison to the Upper and Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organizations. Beyond Anoka County, he has been ACD's representative on the Policy Committee for the Rum River One Watershed, One Plan (1W1P). That Policy Committee consists of elected officials from 18 counties, SWCDs and watershed organizations from Lake Mille Lacs to Anoka.
During Steve's leadership, ACD has prolifically completed projects for the Rum River. Accomplishments include 31 riverbank stabilizations and six projects that treat stormwater that previously drained untreated to the Rum River. ACD will continue or increase this pace with recently secured grants for over $1.5M in riverbank stabilizations, stormwater treatment, public outreach, and other projects.
"I'd describe Steve as engaged and helpful," says Jamie Schurbon, ACD's Watershed Projects Manager. "As an example, Steve often has arrived to board meetings early, then used the time to come to my office to chat about projects. He wasn't 'checking up' on me, but rather was 'checking in' so that he could make informed decisions in his role."
"We'll miss Steve's broad knowledge base and analytical skills," states ACD District Manager Chris Lord.
We wish Steve all the best in his next community service endeavors!
The Anoka Conservation District selected the City of Blaine as the 2020 Anoka County Outstanding Conservationist. The City of Blaine has over 800 acres of dedicated open space throughout the City creating greenway corridors, opportunities to protect and restore biological diversity, and outdoor education and recreational opportunities. The Blaine Wetland Sanctuary is one of the City's open space sites serving many functions. The northern and central portions of the Blaine Wetland Sanctuary are being restored to increase diversity and are enrolled as wetland banks, which will generate funds for the City to maintain and update the city's parks, trails and open spaces. The protected open space is a refuge for the rare plants currently existing there and also has a diversity of micro habitats to accept salvaged rare plants. The City of Blaine has promoted and facilitated environmental education at the Blaine Wetland Sanctuary and public engagement with invasive species work parties and planting salvaged rare plants. The City of Blaine has had the difficult task of turning once ignored and undesired wetlands into a community resource. A special thanks to Rebecca Haug for her collaboration on projects of mutual interest, and city council member Swanson and Mayor Ryan have been strong advocates for conservation work.
Chloride is virtually impossible to remove from a waterbody. Once it's there, it's there for good. Just one teaspoon of salt contains enough chloride to pollute five gallons of water forever! And according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, we apply an estimated 365,000 tons of salt in the Twin Cities metro area each year. And what's even worse is that research shows that 78 percent of that salt is either transported to our groundwater supplies or remains in our local lakes and wetlands.
For the whole month of December, a display all about smart salting is up at the Northtown Library in Blaine. The display is a collaboration between the Anoka Conservation District and the Coon Creek Watershed District. It provides information about chloride pollution in Minnesota along with easy ways for residents to reduce their salt use while remaining safe this winter. When done viewing the display, library patrons can virtually sign the Smart Salting Pledge to reduce their salt use this season.
Learn more about smart de-icing practices here: https://www.mwmo.org/learn/preventing-water-pollution/snow-ice-removal/
10. Make sure seed is accessible and dry. Hopper or tube feeders are good at protecting seed from wet weather. Sweep snow off of platform feeders, or clear a place on the ground where you can scatter seed for ground-feeding species such as sparrows, towhees, juncos, and doves.
9. Make a windbreak. Make a windbreak using your old Christmas tree or the remains of a brush pile. Consider planting shrubs next to your feeders where the birds can rest out of the wind and escape from predators. Consider clearing a small area of snow off the ground to scatter seed if it's too soft to support their weight.
8. Keep extra feeders for use in bad weather. We keep an extra-large-capacity tube feeder in the garage for use when nasty weather comes. It not only gives the birds another place to eat, which means more birds can eat at one time, but it also cuts down on our trips outside for refilling the feeders. Other extras to consider having: peanut feeder, suet feeder, satellite feeder (for the small birds to use), and a hopper feeder.
7. Scatter seed in sheltered places. Not all birds will venture to your feeder. Some species prefer to skulk in the thickets, brambles, and other secure places. For these species, consider scattering some seed (black-oil sunflower, sunflower bits, peanut bits, mixed seed) under your deck, in your hedges and bushes, or even along the edge of a wooded area. Dark-eyed juncos especially prefer to feed on food scattered on the ground along with tree sparrows and white-throated sparrows.
6. Put out high-energy foods such as suet, meat scraps, and peanut butter. Fat gives the biggest energy boost to winter birds and without enough energy to keep them going, many songbirds would not survive a cold winter night. Suet (the fat removed from processed beef), meat scraps, and peanut butter all provide fat to birds that eat them. If you don't have a suet feeder, use a mesh onion bag. Suspend it from a tree branch or iron feeder hook. To feed peanut butter, drill one-inch holes in a foot-long section of a small log. Insert a screw eye into one end of the log. Smear peanut butter into the holes and suspend the feeder from the screw eye. And, no, peanut butter will not stick to the roof of a bird's bill and choke it to death.
5. Use a birdbath heater wisely. A water heater can keep your birdbath open in the coldest of weather, which is good but place several large rocks in your bath so there is not enough room for a bird to bathe, but still plenty of places for a thirsty bird to get a drink. When the weather warms up you can remove the rocks and let your birds get on with their hygiene.
4. Offer mealworms in a heavy dish or small crock. Use a heavy dish so the wind can't blow the worms and dish away. This is a high protein snack that many birds enjoy and can be found in most feed stores. They are relatively expensive so use them sparingly on the coldest days or in the spring when an unexpected cold snap can leave migrants without much to eat.
3. Furnish your bird houses. Imagine you're a bird roosting in a nest box on a cold winter's night. Wouldn't it be nice to snuggle down into some dried grass or dry wood shavings in the bottom of the house? Layer three to four inches of clean dry meadow grass in the bottom of bluebird boxes after the last nesting of the summer. Wood shavings work well, too. Don't use sawdust, however; it can retain moisture once wet, which does not help the birds keep warm.
2. Plug the air vent holes in your bird houses with removable weather stripping. We use the claylike weather stripping that comes in a roll (Moretite is one brand) to plug the air vent holes in our bird houses. Good ventilation is necessary on a scorching summer day, but it's a real liability for birds seeking winter shelter. Think how cozy the birds will be in a well-sealed house.
1. Be ready for big changes in weather. If you keep abreast of the weather developments you'll know when bad weather is coming, and you'll be able to stock up on seed, suet, and other goodies. You can also be ready to take on some of the activities listed above. Conversely, when the weather breaks, take advantage by cleaning and disinfecting your feeders (one part bleach to nine parts hot water). Whatever you do, don't let yourself be caught totally unprepared for harsh winter weather.
The Anoka Conservation District would like to thank our hardworking water monitoring volunteers for all the work they did throughout the 2020 monitoring season. Local volunteers install monitoring equipment near where they live and then take readings throughout the year. Water levels on a large number of lakes are recorded as well as tracking daily rain totals. This type of data is used in analysis and when making other natural resource management decisions. Data networks like these are not possible without the help of local residents. All of the data is available to the public through online databases operated by State of Minnesota.
Thank you Volunteers!
One activity that ACD does every year is take local high school students to streams near their schools to collect macroinvertebrates. Many of these organisms are the larval forms of many of our common insects. Think mosquitoes, mayflies, black flies, and dragon flies. Assessing the community of invertebrates living in a stream over time can give us a good indication of how healthy that stream is (i.e. how good the water quality is). This is because the different types of these invertebrates have varying levels of tolerance to polluted water. Some can only live in very clean water, while others can survive in very polluted water.
This exciting lesson combines a field trip to a stream and the opportunity to play in the water, with a lesson about the natural world and how we can use the biotic organisms living in those streams to monitor their health over time. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to think outside of the box to make this fun and important lesson happen in 2020. In the spring of 2020, we were not able to do this lesson with any schools, because all of them were full time distance learning, and we had never prepared a distance learning lesson before. This fall however, we got a little more creative.
I made a virtual lesson via Go Pro video with a teacher from the Forest Lake Area Learning Center and his sons. With Totino Grace and St. Francis High School students, we worked in small groups in the field with masks on, disinfecting all equipment between classes. We also had classes attend virtually while a teacher held the live feed camera up and talked to the students that were attending online. Overall, whether by recording, live video stream, or in person at the river respecting social distancing and mask wearing, just about 200 kids still got to take part in this activity from the three schools mentioned. It took a little more time and effort than usual, but in the end we made sure a large number of local students still got the opportunity to take part.
Anoka County residents have prevented nearly 350 pounds of algae from growing in our lakes and streams by doing this one simple thing: Adopting a Storm Drain!
Trash and decaying organic debris like fallen leaves are harmful to lakes, rivers, and streams. As leaves decompose, the resulting nutrients fuel algae growth. The unsightly algae blooms can cover the surface of polluted lakes, sucking oxygen out of the water and choking fish and native plants. Keeping leaves and other pollution out of our storm drains helps keep our lakes and rivers clean and clear.
Since the start of the Adopt a Drain program, over 7,400 people have adopted drains throughout Minnesota and collectively prevented 250,000 pounds of pollution from getting into our waters. This is the largest community engagement program of its type in the entire United States!
Getting involved is simple and only takes a few minutes. Just follow these steps:
1. Adopt an available storm drain near you at www.Adopt-a-Drain.org
2. Gather the tools you'll need. These might include: gloves, rake, trash grabber, dust pan, safety vest, bins for separating waste, yard and/or trash bag
3. Collect and separate trash and recycling from the area around your adopted drain
4. Rake or sweep up leaves, sediment, and sticks and place in compost or yard waste bag
5. Report the debris you collect on www.Adopt-a-Drain.org
To learn more and sign up, visit www.Adopt-a-Drain.org
Photo credit: CleanWater MN
The Anoka Conservation District is proud to announce that Anoka County is now 100% compliant with the state's buffer law! The law was passed back in 2015 with the goal of improving water quality throughout the state by reducing pollutants entering public ditches and public waters. This milestone was achieved through strong partnerships between Anoka County, Anoka Conservation District, local landowners, and the Board of Water and Soil Resources. This achievement doesn't mean that the hard work is over but it does represent what is possible for the state of Minnesota when strong environmental policy is handled on the local level. It will be exciting to see the benefits to the state's water systems come to fruition after years of work.
The Anoka Conservation District has been hard at work this September removing invasive carp from Martin Lake, located in northeastern Anoka County. Martin Lake has had a large carp population over the years, which can be extremely detrimental to lake water quality if left unmanaged. This type of work isn't possible without strong partnerships between natural resource professionals and residents of the community. This project and the dedicated volunteers on Martin Lake are a shining example of the level of civic engagement that is achievable when these relationships are nurtured. Thank you volunteers!
Updates are also periodically posted here: Carp Harvests
ACD has received news that for the fourth consecutive year we will be receiving Septic System Fix Up grant funds from the MN Pollution Control Agency. The grant funds are directly used to fix non-compliant septic systems where homeowners meet low income thresholds. Enough grant funds are available each year to fix two or three septic systems. For those who don't qualify, several loan programs are available through Anoka County.
For more information about these grants, contact
With funding assistance from the Anoka Conservation District, Linwood Township is taking new steps to ensure local lakes, streams and groundwater are protected. The township is beginning implementation of an ordinance requiring septic system inspections before property ownership transfer. The goal is to ensure septic systems are functioning properly because a failing septic can be both a human health and an environmental threat.
All homes and businesses in Linwood Township, except for a trailer park, have their own septic system. The costs for maintenance and repair fall entirely on the owner. Replacing the system can be costly, at over $10,000. Many homeowners would struggle with this kind of cost. Property sale is one of the few times that funds may be available to address a failing septic system. The ordinance also helps protect buyers from a large liability.
In addition to this new ordinance, Linwood also tracks septic system pumping and reminds homeowners when it is due. In this way, the township is able to remind homeowners of this important maintenance that helps avoid more costly problems. Many other communities in Anoka County also take similar measures.
Photo: Septic System Maintenance Pumping
Join us for a webinar to discuss how water awareness and community action can improve water quality in Minnesota watersheds.
About this Event
This online event will bring together stakeholders to discuss water quality and conservation practices in Minnesota. Anoka County Soil and Water Conservation District, Rice Creek Watershed District, and Vadnais Lake Area Water Management Organization will highlight their work on these topics while informing attendees on what communities can do to safeguard local watersheds. Conservation Minnesota will facilitate a dialogue in how to use this information for engaging local leaders on water issues.
Presentation topics include:
Time for Q & A and audience discussion will be included.
Registration is Free:
Clear lakes. Resilient rivers. Safe drinking water. Abundant wildlife. Great fisheries. Protected greenspace. Outdoor recreation opportunities. Minnesotans have come to expect these. Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD), such as Anoka Conservation District (ACD) are one of the primary entities relied upon to deliver these benefits across the state. Each SWCD is customized to meet the needs of their residents, whether in the agricultural south and west, the forests of the north and east, the lakes of the central region, the bluffs of the southeast, or the urban-scape of the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area, SWCDs are adapted to help landowners implement conservation. Not only does the approach change from one corner of Minnesota to the other according to the landscape, but it must also be adapted over time to changes in the landscape, and to evolving data, science and technology.
How well has ACD evolved to adapt to the tides of change? What has ACD done to advance the science, practice and policy of conservation? The following list represents activities where ACD took a lead role, was the first, and in some cases the only, special purpose local government entity to undertake them.
Subwatershed Retrofit Analysis – In the 2000s, ACD modified and refined the Center for Watershed Protection's protocol for subwatershed analysis and applied it to meet local needs. The analysis involves detailed field reconnaissance to identify project opportunities; modeling of potential projects to quantify benefits to the receiving water body; cost estimates for design, construction, and maintenance of the projects; and ranking of the projects by cost-effectiveness. This level of analysis has become the standard for identifying and ranking projects to meet water quality improvement goals. With multiple rounds of grant funding to complete analyses, there are currently 17 completed within Anoka County and dozens more across the metro area and in greater Minnesota. ACD staff have provided training on the process to many natural resource professionals across Minnesota.
Shoreland Photo Inventory for Lakes and Rivers – Many have used Google Streetview, where you can virtually transport yourself to any street and take a full circle look at your surroundings. For shoreland management, this ability would be exceptionally useful. Since the photos didn't exist, ACD purchased a 360 degree camera and set about gathering the photos and uploading them to Streetview. With over 500K views, the photos along the entirety of the Rum and Mississippi Rivers in Anoka County as well as many lakes have proven extremely useful, not only to ACD staff assisting shoreland owners, but to the general public as well. ACD was the first in Minnesota to do this.
Riverbank and Shoreland Erosion Analysis – Combining the data in shoreland photo inventories with soil type and topographic contours has allowed ACD staff to develop erosion rate estimates and rudimentary bank stabilization approach designations. This allows for rough project cost estimates and subsequent project ranking for cost-effectiveness. Havin