Working in the Rum River to Improve Habitat

A hallmark of ACD's natural resource work has included the stabilization of eroding riverbanks and the enhancement of native vegetation in adjacent riparian and floodplain areas. These activities improve water quality in the river and habitat quality along it. Included in the goals of our Phase 2 grant for Rum River habitat enhancement through the Outdoor Heritage Fund of the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment is the improvement of in-stream habitat in the Rum River channel. This is a new endeavor for ACD that presents an exciting opportunity to expand our work and our partnerships within the Rum River Corridor.

Though we are over a century removed from the widening and scouring of the Rum River by the millions of logs cut during the Minnesota timber boom, the effects of that industry still remain. Rivers used as log arteries were made wider and more consistent to ensure the smooth sailing of logs downstream. In more modern times, towns piped rain water directly to the river from impervious areas via stormwater conveyance systems. These rapid spikes in water input during storms exacerbate bank erosion, down-cutting, and sedimentation in the river at rates far beyond what was natural. 

The Washburn Saw Mill on the Rum River – late 1800s Source: Anoka County Historical Society
Plunging flow off the end of a bendway weir in the Rum River creating areas of rapid and slow flow, variable water levels, a scour pool, and quiet water depositional areas. This creates variability in flows and habitats.

Due to this historical usage of the Rum River as a conveyance tool for wood and stormwater, habitat for fish, invertebrates, mussels, and other aquatic life remains lacking and out of balance. In the coming years we will be partnering with Anoka County Parks, DNR Fisheries, The Nature Conservancy and others to identify and enhance missing or deficient in-stream habitat. Secondarily, we will look for enhancement opportunities for game fish habitat near publicly accessible shorelines to improve access to quality shore fishing. For more information contact Jared Wagner, Water Resource Specialist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

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Wetland Restoration Funding Available!

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Students Involved in Stream Biological Monitoring

Each season, local high school students venture to a nearby river or stream, grab a dip net and pair of waders, and search for invertebrates (a mix of aquatic insects, crustaceans, bugs, snails, worms, and other critters lacking a backbone) living amongst the submerged rocks and vegetation. They bring their catch back to their partners on shore, who use guides to identify the invertebrates or preserve them for identification at a later date in the lab. In 2023, ACD staff led 560 high school students across 20 classes and 5 schools in these "biomonitoring" efforts. Besides being a great way to get some fresh air, students learned valuable lessons in aquatic ecology. 

Individual aquatic invertebrates have different sensitivities to environmental disturbances such as contamination and habitat loss. Some, such as stonefly and mayfly nymphs, often have a strong negative reaction to disturbance, while others, such as leeches, midges, and aquatic worms, are usually more tolerant and able to persist through a variety of conditions. Understanding these tolerance thresholds across species is an efficient way to broadly assess the health of a waterbody. For example, a high quantity and/ or diversity of species including those considered "intolerant" (sensitive) is a likely indicator of healthy habitat and water quality, whereas the presence of only more "tolerant" species hints at poorer water quality and habitat. Biomonitoring data is often paired with other information, such as water quality or stream morphology data, to identify where aquatic impairments are present and management efforts should be pursued.

After the students have finished collecting and processing samples, ACD staff re-identifies them and summarizes the data in the annual Water Almanac. Through this, big-picture trends in invertebrate communities (and stream health, by extension) can be explored across time. For more information contact Breanna Keith, Water Resource Technician, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

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April Showers Bring Vernal Pools

Vernal pools are shallow wooded wetlands that fill with water in the spring and fall, then dry out in the summer. They may simply look like a large muddy puddle, but in reality these small depressions are filled with life and benefit local water quality.

  • Water Resource Benefits

By capturing water from snowmelt and heavy rains, vernal pools reduce the amount of runoff – and the contaminants it carries – reaching nearby surface waters and developed lands. This lowers flooding risks, improves water quality, and contributes to groundwater recharge as the trapped water slowly infiltrates through the soil.

  • Aquatic Invertebrates and Amphibians

Vernal pools rarely contain fish because their water levels fluctuate dramatically. This provides a safe haven for many invertebrate and amphibian species that would otherwise be heavily predated upon. Many depend on vernal pools during their egg and larval stages, leaving for nearby aquatic and terrestrial habitats once fully developed. Others spend their entire life within or near the wetland's depression.

  • Birds, Reptiles, and Mammals

Due to their abundance of amphibians and invertebrates, vernal pools supplement the food and water needs of wildlife such as waterfowl, songbirds, turtles, snakes, bats, and even bears. These benefits stem beyond the vernal pool itself when many of the invertebrates transition from aquatic larvae to terrestrial adults, serving as forage for insectivore species.

Explore and Protect

Vernal pools are highly sensitive to changes in vegetation cover, climate, and local topography. Because they are nearly invisible for much of the summer, they can be easily missed and destroyed if the land is modified; even an unintentional pass through these depressions during an ATV ride can strongly impact their function. 

Seasonal wetlands like vernal pools are regulated under the Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act (WCA). You can prevent impacts to vernal pools on your property by marking their boundaries when visible in the spring and avoiding disturbance throughout the year. This is also a great time to explore the abundance of wildlife in and around these wetlands – an especially popular adventure for children.

Additional Resources

"Spring-to-Life Ponds": an Illustrated Learning Guide, produced by the MNDNR

MN Frog ID and Calls and Common Vernal Pool Invertebrates, produced by the MPCA and University of Wisconsin

Locating and Protecting Vernal Pools, produced by the MN Land Trust 

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Adopt-a-Drain Today!

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Salt Smart This Winter

Enter your text here ...

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What is a Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD)?

ACD Water Resources Technician, Breanna Keith, meeting with property owners interested in shoreline health.

We're the private lands conservation experts! We provide financial resources and expertise to help private landowners with conservation efforts on their property that also have public benefits. Minnesota is a unique state, with an SWCD in nearly every county to assist with work on the ~70% of Minnesota's lands that are private. ACD is simply an SWCD that shortened its name. In comparison, the well-known MN Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages public lands and resources. 

For more information about SWCD's and the role they play within the state, contact
Jamie Schurbon, Watershed Program Manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.g

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Well Sealing Funding Extended Through 2024!

Unused wells can serve as direct conduits for surface contaminants to reach our aquifers. ACD was awarded a grant in 2020 through the Clean Water Fund to help eligible landowners seal unused wells located within Anoka County. This program has been extended to run through 2024 in order to continue to to provide local residents assistance with 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 regular 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. In many cases, placing an old well back into use is not practical. Sealing your well is also legally required when you go to sell your home. 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:

  • Glass block or concrete patch in an exterior step.
  • Wells are often housed in a small room in the basement, many times under exterior concrete steps.
  • Pipe sticking up out of the floor in your basement, or a concrete patch in the floor where the well was located. 
Outdoors look for:
  • Low spot or sunken area in the ground.
  • Metal, wood, or concrete cover or manhole.
  • Areas that stay wet can be caused by an unsealed flowing well.
  • An old shed or well house, or an old pump.
  • Dug wells typically appear as a ring anywhere from 1 foot or several feet in diameter, made of concrete, tile, bricks, or rocks.
  • Pipes above, at, or below the surface may indicate a well.

Visit ACD's 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 Kris Larson, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Hundreds of Project Opportunities Near the Rum & Mississippi Rivers

Stormwater runoff from human-modified landscapes is a source of excess water and pollutants that can significantly impact rivers, lakes, and wetlands on the receiving end. However, not all drainage areas are created equally; rural landscapes with abundant agriculture and artificial drainage features, or urban areas with infrastructure predating stormwater treatment regulations, are often the most impactful. Areas draining to a priority waterbody are targeted for Subwatershed and Stormwater Retrofit Analyses (SRAs and SWAs). In these analyses, we study how runoff is moving through the landscape, strategically place various Best Management Practices (BMP's), and estimate their anticipated water quality benefits and installation costs. These findings are then summarized into a report which can be referenced by ACD staff and local natural resource managers to pursue the most cost effective projects. 

Ongoing SRAs and SWAs. Altogether, ~800 (urban) acres draining to the Mississippi River and over 30,000 (primarily rural) acres draining to the Rum River have been analyzed for BMP opportunities.

ACD has completed several SRA/ SWA reports, but current efforts are focused on areas draining to the Rum and Mississippi rivers. Projects sited in these areas include rain gardens, subsurface treatment structures, enhanced street sweeping, wetland restorations, soil health practices (cover crops, no- till farming, etc.), and targeted agricultural practices (grassed waterways, riparian buffer enhancements, control basins, etc.). Altogether, approximately 150 urban BMPs and over 300 rural BMPs have been sited, and their associated SRA/ SWA reports will be released in the coming months.

For more information contact Breanna Keith, Water Resources Technician, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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AI Helps Tell Anoka County's Groundwater Story

I've been dabbling with how to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to improve productivity at ACD. Using ChatGPT, I've found a tool that can help generate an outline to serve as a jumping off point when starting a report or project plan. Recently, groundwater contamination problems have been popping up in the news. Within two Andover neighborhoods, residents with contaminated private wells are reduced to only using bottled water until they can hook up to city water. The plume of contamination below their homes, now plaguing them, will certainly continue its journey, ominously passing under neighborhoods in its path. Those hooked up to city water supplies will be fine. Those on wells, may be in for an unsettling surprise.

Where does AI come in? I asked ChatGPT to write a short somber poem about groundwater pollution. Here you go…



Beneath the soil, where secrets flow,
Groundwater whispers, tainted below.
Pollution seeps, a silent intrusion,
Nature's tears in liquid confusion.
Once pure, now stained with human's trace,
A solemn grave for life's embrace.
Quietly it suffers, unseen and still,
Groundwater mourns, a poisoned rill.


Contact Chris Lord, District Manager, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Apex Pond Construction Complete!

The Apex Pond enhancement project in the City of Fridley is complete! Project planning began in 2022 with surveying, testing soils for on site contaminants, and design development. Construction began in fall, 2023 and spreading native seed and securing erosion control blanket over the upper slopes surrounding the pond were the final elements needed to complete installation. Originally constructed in 1999 with a ponding depth of one foot for rate control of runoff, the enhanced pond is approximately six feet deep and provides water quality treatment for nearly 90 acres of residential neighborhoods. The increased ponding depth enables sediment and nutrients to settle and accumulate in the pond basin.

September, 2023 - De-watering, Tree Removal  
Completed Construction of Apex Pond, November, 2023  

For more information contact Mitch Haustein, Stormwater and Shoreland Specialist, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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More than a River - It's a Trail

Watershed Projects Manager, Jamie Schurbon, Enjoying the Rum River State Water Trail With His Family

In Anoka County, the Rum and Mississippi Rivers are designated State Water Trails. Like many state trails, information is available about trail access, places to camp, culturally significant areas, and more on the MNDNR's water trails website. ACD is completing a number of projects along both rivers to improve water quality and habitat. We've been especially busy with projects along the Rum River that include wetland restorations, riverbank stabilizations, invasive species management, and habitat protection. Many of these projects are funded in part by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.  

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Getting a Better View from the Water

Inventorying shoreline zones on surface waters throughout Anoka County serve as valuable tools for assessing lakeshore and riverbank conditions, comparing current conditions to previous years to identify changes, and for prioritizing project implementation. ACD recently purchased a 360° video camera that has 4 high-definition lenses and a rugged design, to be used outside in the elements. The camera takes continuous video that is Geo-located and stitched together creating a final GPS video that is viewable from all angles. Following a day on the water with the 360° camera, videos are uploaded to Google Street View Studio, a new application recently released by Google. 

Like a Road That Shows Up Blue in Google Street View, You Can Place the Person Down on the Blue Track on the Water Body
Oak Glen Creek, Fall, 2023. You Can Click or Use Keyboard Arrows To Move Your Way From One Image To The Next

Once uploaded to the Google Studio App, the videos are public and accessible to anyone. ACD utilizes these videos to compile shoreline reports, which describe erosion severity and provide recommendations for project needs. Shoreline videos along Martin, Coon, Linwood Lake, the southern portion of the Mississippi River, and Oak Glen Creek were collected throughout 2023 and are now available to view. Click on the individual links above to begin exploring. Videos along the Rum River were also collected and will be available to the public soon!

For more information contact Kris Larson, Water Resource Specialist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

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Beavers Connecting Rivers to Floodplain Wetlands

During a recent site visit to explore wetland restoration opportunities, ACD staff came across a fantastic example of beavers' "engineering" skills in action! A series of three beaver dams, located near the outfall of a Rum River tributary, were effectively slowing and spreading the stream's flow into the surrounding floodplain wetlands. Healthy connections between streams and their floodplains provide numerous water quality and habitat benefits, and in this case those benefits also extend to the Rum River immediately downstream.

Many streams in modified landscapes take on excess water from artificial drainage features like ditches and storm pipes. Over time and especially during extreme precipitation events, these higher volumes of water often increase erosion within the stream, which can lead to the straightening and downward-cutting ("downcutting") of the stream channel and, as a result, the disconnection of the stream from its floodplain (see the figures below, produced by American Rivers). 

Connected Floodplain
Vertically Disconnected Floodplain

Floodplain reconnection efforts are an increasing priority amongst many conservation organizations, but they can be costly and complicated – particularly if development has occurred within the floodplain. However, in areas where streams have room to spill into their floodplains without causing damage, allowing and even promoting beaver activity can be a cost effective way to help restore riparian corridors. Learn more about the benefits of beavers in the articles below. 

- University of MN Study 

- King County, WA

- Riding Mountain National Park, Canada

For more information contact Breanna Keith, Water Resources Technician, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Project Update: Dellwood Park Stabilization

Construction is complete for a Rum Riverbank stabilization at Dellwood River Park in St. Francis. Erosion of the riverbank was resulting in the loss of numerous trees into the river and was threatening a popular local walking trail. The project design features three primary protection measures.

  1. Two severely eroding zones of riverbank were armored with rock riprap, and 14 large tree rootwads were added as in-stream habitat.
  2. Three rock bendway weirs were installed, protruding at 45° into the river. These low-lying features, will push flow and erosive scour back toward the middle of the channel, rather than along the outer bank.
  3. And finally, the less severely eroding areas of riverbank were armored with cedar trees in a bio-engineering technique called "cedar tree revetments".

In total, this project stabilizes 630 feet of riverbank, enhances 0.75 acres of in-stream and riparian habitat, and reduces annual loading into the river by 60 tons of sediment and 51lbs of phosphorus. The project also incorporates multiple features to enhance fishing opportunities and provide additional in-stream habitat. 

Previous Bank Conditions, 2022
Lead Staff, Jared Wagner, Post-Construction, November 2023

For more information contact Jared Wagner, Water Resource Specialist, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Shout Out to Our Amazing Volunteers!

 ACD would like to send out a big thanks to our hardworking volunteers for all their great work during the 2023 monitoring season. State-wide data networks are made up of thousands of dedicated volunteers and provide some of the oldest and most reliable data in the state. These historical data sets are crucial for accurate trend analysis and assist in making informed management decisions. The data provided by volunteers helps verify high rainfall totals, provides critical information during flooding events, monitors drought conditions, and provides needed guidance on Minnesota's changing climate. Some of ACD's volunteers have been long time participants and have contributed data for over 15+ years.

The Volunteer Precipitation Monitoring network includes more than 20,000 volunteers nationwide who measure daily rainfall. Explore climate data through the Minnesota State Climatology database https://climateapps.dnr.state.mn.us/index.htm.
The Lake Level Monitoring Program documents seasonal fluctuations of water levels in around 1,050 lakes throughout Minnesota. Explore lake data through the Minnesota 'Lake Finder' database. https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind/index.html

For more information contact Kris Larson, Water Resource Specialist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

"Climate is more than just numbers." – Jim Zandlo

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Bundling for Healthier Lakeshores

ACD Staff and Interested Contractors Meeting to Review Upcoming Lakeshore Stabilization Project on Martin Lake

Eight Martin Lake residents, in collaboration with ACD, are bundling their individual lakeshore improvement efforts into one larger project. By joining efforts, they are hoping to save money while making the work more attractive to contractors. It seems to be working, as 15 contractors joined in the bidding process!

This upcoming project is being coordinated by ACD, who has completed designs and will be providing construction management. ACD has also been able to incorporate three state grants, making the project even more affordable. In exchange, the landowners are installing lakeshore stewardship practices that go above and beyond – utilizing natural materials, native plant buffers, and aquatic vegetation for habitat. Collectively, we'll make a healthier lake.

For a fun & informative 8-minute video about healthy lakeshores, watch ACD's video "Our Lakeshore Connection." For more information contact Jamie Schurbon, Watershed Project Manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Project Update: Apex Pond Enhancement

September, 2023 - De-watering of Current Pond, Tree Removal  
October, 2023 - Water Storage Capacity Increased, Plantings to Come

Construction of the Apex Pond enhancement project in the City of Fridley is nearly complete (see pictures above). The only remaining elements are to spread native seed and lay erosion control blanket over the upper slopes surrounding the pond. Apex Pond in the City of Fridley was originally constructed in 1999 to help control the rate of stormwater runoff entering Springbrook Creek from nearly 90 acres of residential neighborhoods. ACD, in partnership with the City of Fridley and the Coon Creek Watershed District (CCWD) identified an opportunity to enhance the water quality treatment capacity of Apex Pond by increasing the pond's storage volume.

You can also check for project updates on the City of Fridley's website: https://www.fridleymn.gov/1655/Apex-Pond-Enhancement-Project.

For more information contact Mitch Haustein, Stormwater and Shoreland Specialist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Living Large on a Small Lake

Minnesota boasts an impressive 12,208 lakes, as classified by the Minnesota DNR. Among them, 8,402, or roughly 69%, are classified as 'natural environment lakes.' Anoka County is home to several natural environment lakes including Fawn, South Coon, and Island Lakes.

What defines a natural environment lake? These are the smaller, shallower lakes, typically less than 150 acres in size and less than 15 feet deep. They come with numerous developmental constraints and are particularly sensitive to disturbance. With lakeshore properties in high demand across Minnesota, many natural environment lakes are now being earmarked for development. However, it's important to note that the lakeshore experience offered by these lakes might not align with the typical desires for boating or swimming that potential buyers often have.

Learn more about natural lakes on November 8th through a webinar featuring Joe Bischoff, an aquatic ecologist at Barr Engineering Co. Joe will delve into the intricacies and benefits of natural environment lakes. Additionally, some of the ongoing local conservation efforts to monitor and protect natural environment lakes will be highlighted.

Register today at tinyurl.com/small-lakes

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Rum River Revetments Phase 2

ACD was awarded a contract with the Anoka County Parks Department to complete 2,500' of cedar tree revetments along the Rum River in Anoka County between 2023 & 2026. This project is being funded through a Clean Legacy Partners grant that was awarded to Anoka County Parks in 2023. The work will be completed through a partnership between ACD, Anoka County Parks, and the Conservation Corps of MN. 

Accepted Project Proposal

For more information contact Kris Larson, Water Resource Specialist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Dellwood River Park Shoreline Stabilization – Project Update

Construction is set to take place in October along 630-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 local walking trail. The project design features three primary protection measures;

  • 1)Two severely eroding zones of riverbank encroaching on the trail will be built back out, armored with rock riprap, and have large tree rootwads added as in-stream habitat elements. The riprapped length of bank will total approximately 180-feet in length. Large boulders will be strategically placed within the riprap to allow enhanced shore fishing opportunity.
  • 2)Three bendway weirs constructed of rock will protrude at 45° into the river. These low-lying, linear features will be submerged under the water (except during very low flows), and will push flow and erosive scour back toward the middle of the channel, rather than along the outer bank. They will also add variable flow areas and habitat value in the channel. These will be great features to cast around for any fisher folks from shore!
  • 3)And finally, the less severely eroding areas of riverbank will be armored with anchored cut cedar trees in a technique called a "cedar tree revetment". Cut eastern red cedars will be cabled together in a shingled fashion along the bank and secured with earth anchors driven into the soil. This is a softer armoring approach than rock which should help the bank stabilize, vegetate, and heal over time naturally before the cedar trees eventually rot away.

For more information contact Jared Wagner, Water Resource Specialist, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Septic System Fix-Up Grants Available!

ACD has been awarded additional funding through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for septic system repair or replacement. Grants are currently available to homeowners to help fix non-compliant septic systems. Septic systems are the underground tank and drain field that treat wastewater from homes that are not connected to city sewer and water. Grants recipients must meet low income criteria and other requirements listed below.

A non-compliant septic system is a problem for homeowners, an obstacle when selling the property, and a major pollutant threat facing our waterways. Failure in a SSTS system can be dramatic, such as visible sewage back up. Or a septic system can be deemed non-compliant for a more hidden reason, such as the system does not have enough vertical separation from the water table. When a system is certified as non-compliant it represents a direct threat to groundwater, public health, or both. The proximity of a failing septic system to nearby lakes and streams is also considered when awarding grants. 

For more information, visit www.AnokaSWCD.org/financial-technical-assistance.html or contact Kris Larson, Water Resource Specialist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Stormwater Pond Enhancement - Construction Begins Soon

Apex Pond in the City of Fridley was originally constructed in 1999 to help control the rate of stormwater runoff entering Springbrook Creek from nearly 90 acres of residential neighborhoods. ACD, in partnership with the City of Fridley and Coon Creek Watershed District (CCWD) identified an opportunity to enhance the water quality treatment capacity of Apex Pond by increasing the pond's storage volume.

Project construction will consist of two phases: 1) maintain the pond by removing accumulated sediment and undesirable vegetation to restore original function, and 2) enhance the pond by increasing the depth to approximately six feet. Mature trees around the pond will be preserved where possible and native vegetation will be used to restore the pond side slopes. A vegetated, level bench will also be incorporated around the perimeter of the pond to provide habitat value and increase safety.

Both Springbrook Creek (County Ditch #17) and the Mississippi River will benefit from the project as the pond outlets to Springbrook, and Springbrook is a tributary to the Mississippi. Total annual reductions to Springbrook and the Mississippi River include 16.80 lbs-TP/yr and 6,617 lbs-TSS/yr. Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in early October.

Pond maintenance will be funded by the City of Fridley, and pond enhancement will be funded with a combination of Watershed Based Implementation Funds from the Board of Water and Soil Resources, a CCWD Water Quality Cost-Share Program grant, and the City of Fridley.

You can also check for project updates on the City of Fridley's website: https://www.fridleymn.gov/1655/Apex-Pond-Enhancement-Project 

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Scouts Rehabilitate Rain Garden

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

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

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

September 2017 - Two years after installation
August 2023 - Overgrown with weedy vegetation
Rehabilitation work
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Native Plantings: Worth The Effort

Native wildflowers, grasses, sedges, and shrubs provide numerous benefits to wildlife habitat, soil health, and water quality. They are also generally more resilient to fluctuations in temperature, precipitation, and foraging by wildlife than non-native species. However, native plantings can still be impacted by disturbances such as weather or the growth of invasive and weedy species. For these reasons and especially if a specific landscaped look is desired, maintenance is still required to help native plantings thrive and look their best.

Plants are most susceptible to die-off within the first 3-5 years of being planted. During this initial period, it is essential to frequently weed, water, and re-plant in areas where losses occur. Once established, native vegetation requires less maintenance but should still be regularly inspected for weeds and pruned or thinned as needed to ensure there is adequate sunlight available for all species. Large-scale restorations such as the conversion of former agricultural fields to prairie may require regular management through prescribed burns, grazing, or mowing to mimic cycles of natural disturbance and new growth. 

The most common barriers to achieving success in establishing native plants is failing to water  and remove weeds. These two actions make a big difference in the appearance and function of native landscaping features, as shown in these two photos – one of which is regularly weeded and watered (above left) and the other which has received less maintenance (above right). 

You can take several steps to make native landscape maintenance easier. First, make sure the species you plant are well-suited to the soil and sunlight conditions on your property. Plant into erosion control fabric or mulch to help reduce weed growth. Learn to identify the native species you choose and plant them in clusters to make it easier to spot weeds that pop up. Water native plantings, especially during times of drought. Weekly maintenance, especially during the critical establishment period, strongly increases the likelihood of success and prevents these tasks from becoming overwhelming. If weeds have taken over or you've noticed die-off in your native landscapes, it isn't too late! Use the following resources to help guide your native landscape rehabilitation endeavors.


For more information contact Breanna Keith, Water Resource Technician, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
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Treasure in the Rum River

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

A few of the items found include…

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

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

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2023 Low Impact Development Conference

Rain Guardian Display Booth at the 2023 LID Conference

ACD recently exhibited at the 2023 Low Impact Development (LID) Conference held in Oklahoma City. The 2023 LID Conference had 250 registrants from 40 states. Jared Wagner, with the ACD office made the trip south, and had constructive interactions with folks working all across the country. Many organizations were already familiar with ACD's products but were interested for more information. Some groups did not know that ACD offers a variety of products that are designed to serve specific needs. The Foxhole product was particularly intriguing to folks in search of a solution for bioretention and pretreatment under sidewalks. The annual conference was well organized and a great way to meet and learn from professionals in other states who are dealing with the same types of environmental problems we face here in Minnesota.

For more information contact Jared Wagner, Water Resource Specialist, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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ACD Seeks 2024 Funding for Groundwater Specialist

Anoka Conservation District is requesting an increase in funding from Anoka County to add a Groundwater Specialist to our staff in 2024. Groundwater is arguably the most critical natural resource in Anoka County as it is used for all household and commercial needs including consumption by 94% of those living, working and playing in Anoka County. Whether through private wells or municipal water supplies that draw from groundwater, Anoka County residents expect their faucets to run with clean plentiful water. Despite this, there isn't a single public employee in Anoka County that is dedicated full-time to being the 'go to' person for groundwater. We'd like to change that, and by doing so, make sure a vital resource that is out of sight, doesn't remain out of mind.

2022 brought groundwater into the spotlight in several ways, both locally and nationally

  • Drinking water contamination in Andover neighborhoods near the closed Waste Disposal Engineering Landfill hit the front page. This problem remains under investigation and unresolved for many residents.
  • Nearly 50 private wells in Blaine and Ham Lake went dry due to interference from municipal well pumping in the City of Blaine.
  • Multiple train derailments across the country exposed the vulnerability of drinking water to contamination by spills. Anoka County, with high water tables and sandy soils has an exceptionally vulnerable groundwater resource and so, more than other areas, Anoka County must be prepared to respond quickly to spills.
  • Bottled water companies continue to pursue permits to withdraw Minnesota groundwater and ship it out of state for sale.
  • Drought led to record low water levels throughout the county, which stretched surficial groundwater and baseflow very thin, compromising navigation, water supply, recreation, and habitat for fish and wildlife.
  • Private wells exceeding contaminant thresholds for common pollutants such as nitrates and bacteria is on the rise throughout the state. 
Bringing a Groundwater Specialist on board would enable ACD to address several Keystone Endeavors from our 2021-2030 Comprehensive Natural Resources Stewardship Plan: for Groundwater, provide leadership and coordination; reduce use; increase recharge; and reduce contamination. They could also address recommendations from the Anoka County Water Resources Management Task Force listed in 2020 Anoka County Water Resources Report to: coordinate water management programs; continue county-wide education programs; protect source water; and protect drinking water.

If groundwater is a mystery to you, please check out ACD produced "Our Groundwater Connection" video, "Our Groundwater Connection: Contamination" video and the ACD Groundwater Brochure. For more information contact Chris Lord, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 763.434.2030 x130
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Shallow Lakes Don’t “Stink”

Okay – the decay of organic materials in oxygen-poor shallow waters doesn't smell great. While this can worsen when nutrient pollution triggers excess algae growth, it is an otherwise natural process. Odor is a small price to pay for the vast benefits we receive from shallow lakes and wetlands; they retain floodwater and pollutants present in runoff, recharge groundwater, and provide fish and wildlife habitat that supports bountiful opportunities for hunting, fishing, bird-watching, and other outdoor recreation.

For many, the word "lake" triggers a vision of clear and deep water ideal for swimming and boating. However, over 5,000 of Minnesota's lakes larger than 50 acres are actually shallow lakes that are less than 15 feet deep and dominated by wetland habitat. In shallow lakes, sunlight reaching the lakebed, combined with readily available nutrients, increases the growth of aquatic plants. Shallow water also allows for more abundant emergent vegetation such as bulrush and  cattails, which can extend well beyond the shoreline and even become dominant, especially during periods of drought. Mucky lakebed conditions are produced as large quantities of organic materials die, settle to the bottom, and decompose over time.

Shallow lakes can exist in one of two states: clear or turbid. Clear shallow lakes are dominated by submerged vegetation, which often grows densely and can reach the water's surface. These aquatic plants are a source of food and habitat for fish and wildlife such as amphibians, waterfowl, and invertebrates at the base of both aquatic and terrestrial food webs. On the flip side, turbid shallow lakes are dominated by algae, which clouds up the water and restricts the growth of submerged aquatic vegetation. Turbid lakes typically support fewer fish and wildlife due to the lack of habitat provided by aquatic plants. 

Depiction of a clear, plant-dominated shallow lake versus a turbid, algae- dominated shallow lake. Image credit: Martin Scheffer, 2001.

Many shallow lakes are impacted by human activity, particularly those that are on the receiving end of stormwater and agricultural drainage networks. However, even the most impacted shallow lakes  are still valuable and can surprise us, as the recent plant inventory of Highland Lake in Columbia Heights proved when an uncommon pondweed species was found.

Check out MNDNR Shallow Lakes Program for more information about shallow lakes. Also, here's a great video produced by Ramsey- Washington Metro Watershed District about Minnesota's shallow lakes.

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Project Showcase

Summer, 2023 at a riverbank project, installed in 2021, in Mississippi River Community Park is thriving in 2023. The project included tree clearing, regrading, riprap, seeding, and planting of a variety of native plant species.
A gravel bed was installed in May, 2023 at the ACD Office. Gravel beds are designed to store bare-root trees and shrubs while enhancing root development.
A riverbank stabilization project on the Rum River was installed June, 2023 that implemented brush wattles, cedar tree revetment, native seed and hydro mulch with an additional 1,000 native plants being planted in Fall, 2023.
In Spring, 2023 ACD staff recorded 34 native plant species growing at a lakeshore restoration on Fawn Lake in North East Anoka County. This restoration was installed Spring, 2022.
  543 Hits

Adopt a Drain Today!

Get involved in improving water quality by adopting a storm drain! Preventing trash, leaves, and debris from entering storm drains keeps local lakes and rivers cleaner. All it takes is 15 minutes, twice a month. Learn more and sign up by visiting mn.adopt-a-drain.org. 

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Disposing of Household Hazardous Waste

Unusable or unwanted chemicals are considered hazardous waste when their disposal poses an environmental or health threat. When disposed of in the garbage, down the drain or on the ground, some household chemicals can threaten our environment, harm garbage collectors or hurt you. Most household hazardous wastes are hazardous because they are flammable, corrosive or toxic.

Characteristic words indicate the type of hazard posed by a product - flammable, corrosive or toxic. Look for the signal words on the label. Signal words - caution, warning, danger, poison - indicate the product's degree of hazard. The facility accepts household hazardous waste from residents of Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, and Washington counties. Businesses, schools and other organizations may NOT use the HHW facility. There is no charge to use the site. Bring identification, such as a driver's license, as proof of residency.
For more information on hazardous waste, contact the Anoka County Hazardous Waste Facility. Below is a brief list of just some of the accepted household items.  

  • Aerosol Cans
  • Antifreeze
  • Driveway sealer
  • Fluorescent and HID bulbs and CFLs
  • Gasoline and other fuels
  • Household batteries (alkaline, lithium ion, cell phone, power tool
  • Lead and lead tackle
  • Mercury
  • Paint (liquid only)
  • Paint thinner
  • Pesticides
  • Propane tanks
  • Used motor oil
  • Used oil filters
  • Varnish
  • Wood preservatives
  • Other household products 

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Happy 1st Birthday Rain Gardens

Six curb-cut rain gardens were installed approximately one-year ago and have been capturing runoff and its associated pollutants ever since. With each rainfall, runoff flowing in the street gutter is redirected into the rain gardens via a cut in the curb. Following a rain event, the water that enters the rain gardens is able to soak into the ground, which better mimics the natural hydrology before impervious surfaces (e.g. roofs, driveways, roads, etc.) and storm sewers directed runoff directly to Rice Creek. The rain gardens are able to store water and are filled with native species that were carefully selected for the site-specific conditions (e.g. light, soil type, and moisture).

Cumulatively, the six rain gardens are estimated to infiltrate 455,000 gallons of water, as well as remove 605 pounds of sediment and two pounds of phosphorus loading to Rice Creek annually. The native plants help to maximize infiltration and provide the co-benefit of pollinator habitat. One additional rain garden is located adjacent to a trail entrance into Locke County Park, providing an excellent public education opportunity.

These rain gardens were installed in partnership with the landowners, the City of Fridley, and the Rice Creek Watershed District. ACD provided design services and construction oversight.  

The rain garden shown in the pictures below was planted last summer and as you can see, it didn't look like much at the time. Now, it looks beautiful and is full of flowers which pollinators love! This rain garden captures curbside runoff from 6.5 acres of neighborhood which previously went untreated to the Rum River. The native plant's roots create channels through the soil and reduce compaction, ensuring a maximum amount of water can infiltrate into the ground. The homeowners who worked with ACD to make this rain garden a reality, kept weeds at bay, and provided irrigation for the new plants during drought conditions!

Project funding was from the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy amendment, and the Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organization. To see other rain gardens installed throughout Anoka County, please see the virtual project tour on ACD's website.

For more information on rain gardens in Anoka County contact Mitch Haustein at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 763.434.2030 x150

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Lakeshore Stewardship Highlighted Following Spring Flooding

High water levels combined with strong winds impacted lakeshores throughout Minnesota this spring. In some cases, already-eroding and unprotected shorelines receded by multiple feet. In others, existing structures such as timber retaining walls were damaged – drastically compromising the land above. These occurrences highlight the importance of lakeshore practices that create resilient, stable, and healthy shorelines. ACD is working to maximize technical and financial resources to assist landowners with their shoreline restoration needs.

Martin Lake, located in northern Anoka County, was particularly impacted by spring flooding. Fortunately, grant funds were recently secured to provide assistance with restoration and stabilization efforts on this lake. Many landowners are interested in addressing erosion and improving wildlife habitat on their shorelines; in total, ACD staff met with residents at 20 different properties. Properties providing the greatest opportunities for water quality and ecological benefits will be selected for partial funding through available grants, and recommendations/ guidance will be provided for the remainder.

If you notice erosion on your shoreline or otherwise want to enhance its resiliency and ecological value, check out our "Our Lakeshore Connection" animated video to learn more:


Or contact Breanna Keith at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 763.434.2030 x160

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PROJECT UPDATE - RIVERBANK STABILIZATION IN MISSISSIPPI RIVER COMMUNITY PARK, ANOKA

Approximately 1,500 feet of severely eroding riverbank in Mississippi River Community Park was stabilized in late 2021. The project included tree clearing, bank reshaping, riprap, erosion control blanket, seeding, and planting of a variety of native plant species.

Since installation, the site has been subjected to high water in 2022 and 2023. Both the riprap on the lower elevations of the bank and the vegetation on the upper elevations have successfully stabilized the site.

Moving forward, you may observe some vegetation maintenance to help the native species establish. Some examples include supplemental planting of native species and mowing to a height of approximately 6" to limit weed species from dispersing seed.

The project was funded by a Clean Water Fund grant, a Watershed Based Funding grant, and match from the City of Anoka. 

For more information about the project contact Mitch Haustein at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 763.434.2030 x150

  675 Hits

Spring Fix-Ups to Protect Valuable Real Estate

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

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

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

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

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The Power of Grassroots Fundraising & Partnerships

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

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

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Private Well Water Testing

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

For more information see www.anokacounty.us/water.  

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“Our Riverbank Connection” Animated Video

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:

  • Recommended lawn care practices
  • Signs of erosion and factors that may make your bank more susceptible to it
  • Creating a well-vegetated bank
  • Bank stabilization approaches to address active erosion
  • Project planning and construction – what to expect

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 

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Dellwood River Park Shoreline Stabilization – Project Update

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;

  • 1) Two severely eroding zones of riverbank encroaching on the trail will be built back out, armored with rock riprap, and potentially have large tree root-wads added to provide in-stream habitat elements. The riprapped length of bank will total approximately 180-feet in length.
  • 2) Three bendway weirs constructed of rock will protrude at a 45° into the river. These low-lying, linear features will be submerged under the water, and will push flow and erosive scour back toward the middle of the channel, rather than along the outer bank. The bendway weirs will also add variable flow areas and habitat value in the channel. These will be great features to cast around for any fisher folks from shore!
  • 3) And finally, the less severe eroding areas of riverbank will be armored with cedar trees in a technique called a "cedar tree revetment". Cut eastern red cedars will be cabled together in a shingled fashion along the bank and secured with earth anchors driven into the soil. This is a bioengineering approach that is softer and less expensive than rock which should help the bank stabilize, vegetate, and stabilize over time before the cedar trees eventually rot away.

For more information contact Jared Wagner at 763.434.2030 ext.200 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  594 Hits

Funding Available For Agricultural Practices

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

  447 Hits

Adopt-a-Drain Coming to Lakeshore Neighborhoods

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  441 Hits

Enhanced Street Sweeping Starting in Linwood Township

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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SHORELINE STABILIZATION PRESENTATION

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, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Assistance for Shoreline Erosion

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, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  605 Hits

Identifying Wetland Restoration Opportunities in Anoka County

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, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Candidate wetland restoration sites (shown in red) for the Ford Brook watershed in Northwestern Anoka County.
A wetland restoration completed at Cedar Creek Conservation area in 2022 included reed canary grass removal (above) to improve the wetlands’ native vegetation communities.
The Cedar Creek wetland restoration also included ditch plugs (above) to improve the wetlands’ water-holding capacity.
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Water Quality Improvement Project Highlights - 2022

- Carp are an invasive species that degrade water quality. ACD coordinated the removal of 14,518 carp from Martin and Typo Lakes to improve habitat and water quality. Project partners included the Sunrise River WMO, the Martin Lakers Association, and Linwood Township.

- Twelve rain gardens were installed to improve water quality by reducing volume and pollutants in stormwater runoff before it reaches priority waterbodies. Project partners included landowners, the Cities of Anoka, Fridley, and Ramsey, the Lower Rum River WMO, and the Rice Creek Watershed District.


- 14 lakeshore stabilization projects were installed throughout Anoka County. The projects reduce shoreline erosion and provide wildlife habitat. Partners included landowners, the Sunrise River WMO, the Rice Creek Watershed District, and the Upper Rum River WMO.

- Eleven streambank stabilization projects were completed on the Rum and Mississippi Rivers. These sites have had significant and accelerating erosion issues due to sustained high water and increased recreation on the rivers.

- Over 5,000 linear feet of Cedar Tree Revetments were installed along the Rum River. These projects were in partnership with the Anoka County Parks Department and Conservation Corps, MN. 

- ACD partnered with landowners to provide funding assistance for the replacement of 4 failing septic systems and the sealing of 20 wells  which present a threat to surface and groundwater resources.

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Well Sealing Funding Extended Through 2023!

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:

  • Glass block or concrete patch in an exterior step.
  • Wells are often housed in a small room in the basement, many times under exterior concrete steps.
  • Pipe sticking up out of the floor in your basement, or a concrete patch in the floor where the well was located.

Outdoors look for:

  • Low spot or sunken area in the ground.
  • Metal, wood, or concrete cover or manhole.
  • Areas that stay wet can be caused by an unsealed flowing well.
  • Windmill, an old shed or well house, or an old pump.
  • Dug wells typically appear as a ring anywhere from 1 foot or several feet in diameter, made of concrete, tile, bricks, or rocks.
  • Pipes 1 to 8 inches wide above, at, or below the surface may indicate a well.


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, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 763-434-2030 *110

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Smart Salter

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.

  463 Hits

Enhancing Street Sweeping to Improve Water Quality

Street sweeping doesn't just improve the appearance and function of your neighborhood's roads; it's also one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce nutrients, sediment, and other pollutants entering our lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Common materials such as leaves, yard waste, sand, road salt, vehicle fluids, litter, and other debris accumulate in street gutters and have nowhere to go other than down the storm drain and, eventually into local waterways – flushed in by water during snowmelt and storm events.

Many cities complete street sweeping twice per year: once in the spring to remove solids from winter road treatment, and again in the fall to remove fallen leaves. However, gaps in sweeping schedules give these pollutants time to re-accumulate and flush into storm drains (and thus downstream waterbodies) before they can be removed. Increasing the frequency of street sweeping can greatly reduce pollutant loads in stormwater, which is why the Anoka Conservation District has added enhanced street sweeping considerations to its "water quality toolbox".

Enhanced street sweeping analyses combine area-specific information such as tree canopy cover and storm sewer networks with research-based pollutant recovery estimates to improve recommendations for the timing, frequency, and location of street sweeping. This approach has recently been applied in the direct drainage watersheds for Martin and Linwood lakes. 

Find more information about the benefits of street sweeping here: MN Stormwater Manual: Street Sweeping 

ACD Contact: Breanna Keith, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

  520 Hits

“Our River Connection” Animated Video: Understanding Rivers and the Ways We Impact Them

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, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

  571 Hits

ACD Projects Dashboards: Tracking and Visualizing Conservation Benefits

 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, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Lakeshore Stabilizations Coming to the Sunrise River Chain of Lakes

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 email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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2022 – A Year of Water Quality Projects and Benefits

 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:

  • 12 curb-cut rain gardens, treating 25.9 acres of urban area draining to the Rum River and Rice Creek.
  • 9 streambank stabilization projects, and 2 streambank buffer plantings protecting and enhancing over 2,000 linear feet along the Rum and Mississippi Rivers.
  • 10 Lakeshore stabilizations and buffer plantings along 824 feet of lakeshore on George, Martin, Linwood, and Fawn Lakes.

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!

Photos of some water quality projects newly installed in 2022 – rain garden (top left), lakeshore (bottom left), and streambank stabilizations (top right, bottom right).

ACD Contact: Jared Wagner, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Rum RIM protects 149 acres and 8,370 feet of shoreline in northern Anoka County

Anoka Conservation District and other SWCDs are working together to prioritize parcels and enroll willing landowners in BWSR's Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve in the Rum River Watershed. The RIM Reserve program compensates landowners who are willing to give up development rights on their land in perpetuity to permanently preserve the natural landscape. The Rum River flows from Lake Mille Lacs to the Mississippi River through diverse landscapes and land uses. Protecting priority lands will benefit water quality and Twin Cities' drinking water supply, as well as improving wildlife habitat and connectivity. 

ACD is grateful to the families in northern Anoka County who just recently enrolled their land in BWSR's RIM program. Those families cherish the natural state of their land and the Rum River. Thanks to them, 149 more acres of land will be protected.

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22 Billion Lbs of Salt Will Do That To You

That's how much chloride is released into the environment annually in Minnesota. The biggest sources (in order) are road deicing salts, synthetic fertilizer, and household water softening. Perhaps it should be no surprise we find them increasing in essentially all Twin Cities streams and rivers.

A just-released study from the Metropolitan Council shows increasing chlorides in 18 Twin Cities streams and rivers they monitored. They looked at data from 1999-2019, including data collected by the Anoka Conservation District. Of 18 streams, 17 have a trend of increasing chlorides. Locally, our Rum River has that trend but thankfully low chloride concentrations so far compared to other streams. Chloride tends to be highest in areas with the highest road density.

A few tips to reduce deicing salt and still have good footing:

  • Shovel first.
  • Use the right amount. Salt works most efficiently (for chemistry reasons) with ~2 inches between salt granules. That means 12 oz. covers a 20 foot driveway or 10 sidewalk squares.
  • Don't salt below 15 degrees. Sodium chloride doesn't work below that temperature.


See the full Metropolitan Council report at https://metrocouncil.org/Wastewater-Water/Services/Water-Quality-Management/Water-Monitoring-Pubs/2022-Chloride-Report.aspx 

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Rum Riverbank Washout Stabilized Near Rum River Central Boat Ramp

In May of 2022, the Rum River reached its highest peak flow since 2001 following torrential rain events in Isanti and Mille Lacs Counties. The roadway to the boat ramp in Rum River Central Regional Park in Anoka County was inundated under feet of water. When the floodwaters receded, 90 linear feet of bank had completely washed out, threatening the roadway and boat ramp, and leaving and exposed eroding bank dumping sediment into the river. This section of washed out riverbank was stabilized using a Flexamat PLUS articulated concrete mat at the toe, and a regraded and native-seeded slope above. A rock barb installed at the downstream end will provide in-channel habitat for fish and invertebrates while also kicking flow out away from the boat ramp.

The Flexamat articulated concrete was chosen for this project because an immediately adjacent project installed in 2015 is still holding very successfully, even after the flooding. An advantage of Flexamat vs. rock is that the Flexamat has void spaces that allow vegetation to grow between the blocks, masking the concrete during low water conditions, and providing additional habitat benefit. Traditional riprap does not allow this vegetation growth, and can look like a rock wall during low water.

In the spring, we will add bare root seedlings of shoreland tree and shrub species to the project site. The native grasses and sedges seeded into the bank will begin to grow, and the whole bank will establish deep-rooted native vegetation which will keep the soil anchored for years to come. A video short of this project can be found on ACD's YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/eUHBV5TSNi8. To see other streambank stabilization projects installed throughout Anoka County, please see the virtual project tour on ACD's website. 

Before (top) and after (bottom) of 90-feet of streambank stabilized at Rum River Central Regional Park.
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The Benefits of Simple Lakeshore Practices

The Anoka Conservation District (ACD) recently installed a 70-foot lakeshore restoration project to mitigate active erosion at a property on the east side of Martin Lake in northern Anoka County. This section of property is heavily used by the family and was a priority to keep intact. The shoreline had receded/eroded back, with certain areas experiencing severe undercutting caused by wave action. These vulnerable sections could lead to additional property loss in the future and contribute to pollutant loading into Martin Lake, further degrading water quality. 

As designed, this project should stabilize the shoreline and allow new vegetation to become established from existing native sources. It is estimated that the project will prevent 1.3 pounds/year of phosphorous from entering the waterbody throughout the life of the project.

Coir logs are designed entirely of natural materials that are made to biodegrade into the soil overtime. The material is inexpensive, durable, and able to be shaped uniquely to the shoreline. Coir logs can be purchased in different densities, lengths, and diameters, depending on the erosion situation. Compared to other types of erosion control practices, coir logs are low in cost and can be installed by landowners without professional guidance. These practices are also easy to maintain because landowners can fix individual sections that may be damaged over time.

Coir logs protect against wave action and allow banks to stabilize while encouraging vegetation growth. Sections of coir logs are installed in a continuous line near the bank and secured into place using wooding stakes which will also naturally degrade. Aquatics plants are commonly planted into the coir log to provide more enhancement.

This project was funded by the landowner and the ACD cost-share program. ACD provided project administration, design services, and project installation. 

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Bringing Adopt-a-Drain to Martin Lake

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. 

A selection of drains along Martin Lake that are now adopted.
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Stabilizing Riverbanks in Anoka

Construction is complete on six streambank toe stabilization projects on the Rum and Mississippi Rivers in Anoka. These sites have had significant and accelerating erosion in recent years due to sustained high water and recreational watercraft. Most of the sites lie between two popular boat launches on the rivers.

Cumulatively, over 720 linear feet of eroding riverbank was stabilized. The primary stabilization technique is rock riprap installed on the lower portion of the slope, with a seeded and blanketed vegetative zone above the rock. The primary immediate goal of these projects was to halt the backwards march of the riverbanks by stabilizing the lower portion (or toe). An additional vegetation component is planned for these sites in the following year(s) to help stabilize the upper slope, which is only subject to wave action during the highest water periods. This vegetative zone will be comprised of native woody species, as well as grasses, sedges, and forbs, to enhance the habitat and aesthetic value of the shorelines, while also providing deep root structure to anchor the soil in place above the rock. 

The projects were done via barge from the water, a first for ACD-managed projects. Many of these sites had been on our inventories, but were not cost-effectively constructible from land. With a contractor that can install projects from the water, concerns about equipment access between buildings and site restoration on individual properties are non-factors. Beyond stabilizing these six eroding shorelines, we are hopeful that this new construction technique opens up more potential streambank stabilization projects that would have otherwise not been possible or cost-effective from land. To see these and other streambank stabilization projects installed throughout Anoka County, please see the virtual project tour on ACD's website. 

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Construction Complete for Anoka Rain Gardens

Four rain gardens were installed in a northern Anoka neighborhood as part of the City's 2022 Street Surface Improvement Project. Collectively, these gardens will capture nearly 10 acres' worth of stormwater runoff (over 700,000 gallons annually) which would otherwise drain untreated to the Rum River. Through this, sediment loading to the river will be reduced by 969 pounds/year, and total phosphorus loading will be reduced by 3 pounds/year.

Each garden provides additional ecological benefits through the planting of a diverse range of native species, creating several hundred square feet of rich pollinator habitat within the Rum River corridor. Species planted included butterfly weed, cardinal flower, swamp milkweed, red-osier dogwood, dwarf bush honeysuckle, and several others. 

Funding for project design was provided by the Metropolitan Conservation Districts Engineering and Technical Assistance Program, and funding for construction was provided by the City of Anoka and State Watershed-based Implementation Funding.
  739 Hits

Stabilizing Riverbanks in Anoka

Construction is beginning on six streambank stabilization projects on the Rum and Mississippi Rivers in Anoka. These sites have had significant and accelerating erosion in recent years due to sustained high water and recreational watercraft. Most of the sites lie between two popular boat launches on the rivers.

Cumulatively, over 720 linear feet of eroding riverbank will be stabilized. The primary stabilization technique will be rock riprap on the lower portion of the slope, with a seeded and blanketed vegetative zone above the rock. This vegetative zone will be comprised of native species of grasses, sedges, and forbs to enhance the habitat and aesthetic value of the shorelines, while also providing deep root structure to anchor the soil in place above the rock. 

Mini excavator applying rock to a shoreline on the Mississippi River via barge

The projects will be done via barge from the water, a first for ACD-managed projects. Many of these sites had been on our inventories, but were not cost-effectively constructible in a typical fashion from land. With a contractor that can install the project from the water, concerns about equipment access between buildings and site restoration on individual properties are non-factors. Beyond stabilizing these six eroding shorelines, we are hopeful that this new construction technique opens up more potential streambank stabilization projects that would have otherwise not been possible from land.

Project updates will be provided as construction progresses. To see these and other streambank stabilizations projects already installed throughout Anoka County, please see the virtual project tour on ACD's website. 

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Construction Underway for Anoka Rain Gardens

A thriving rain garden installed in Columbia Heights in 2018. With proper maintenance, native species planted in rain garden will fill the entire space within ~3 years.


Four rain gardens are being installed in a northern Anoka neighborhood as part of the City's 2022 Street Surface Improvement Project. Collectively, these gardens will capture nearly 10 acres' worth of stormwater runoff (over 700,000 gallons annually) which would otherwise drain untreated to the Rum River. Through this, sediment loading to the river will be reduced by 969 pounds/year, and total phosphorus loading will be reduced by 3 pounds/year.

Each garden will provide additional ecological benefits through the planting of a diverse range of native species, creating several hundred square feet of rich pollinator habitat within the Rum River corridor. 

The largest of the four Anoka rain gardens – a double inlet project which will treat stormwater from two adjacent roadways.

Funding for project design was provided by the Metropolitan Conservation Districts Engineering and Technical Assistance Program, and funding for construction is provided by the City of Anoka and State Watershed-based Implementation Funding. 

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Six Lake George Shorelines Stabilized and Naturalized

The Anoka Conservation District has completed work with six landowners on Lake George to correct shoreline erosion and install native plant buffers. 483 linear feet of shoreline were treated with rock rip rap, coconut fiber biologs, shoreline plantings, or other techniques. The result is 5.9 fewer pounds of phosphorus and 4.8 fewer tons of sediment entering the lake each year.

Lake George water quality is a priority. The lake is heavily used by the public due to a large county park and many homes on its shores, and good water quality. That water quality has been experiencing a slow decline over time. Projects such as these help maintain water quality and also add near-shore habitat that benefits fish and other wildlife. The recently installed projects are further intended to be demonstrations of lake-friendly landscaping for other shoreline homeowners. 

The six project sites were selected from amongst 34 homeowner who expressed interest. Sites were chosen based on degree of erosion, benefit to the lake, and other factors. Funding was from a Watershed Based Implementation Funding grant to the Anoka Conservation District with matching funds from the Upper Rum River Watershed Management Organization and landowners.

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New Cedar Tree Revetments on the Rum River

Cedar tree revetments are a cost-effective bioengineering practice that can be used to stabilize actively eroding riverbanks. ACD staff in partnership with the Conservation Corps of Minnesota (CCM) installed a cedar tree revetment in Rum South Regional Park in the City of Anoka in July 2022. 

Erosion at the site was dominated by bank undercutting-- the beginning stage of a more serious issue. Excessive erosion along riverbanks threatens property, contributes sediment and nutrients to the receiving water body, and eliminates wildlife habitat. 

Installation of the 550-foot revetment and live bare-root plants will slow or stop the erosion and reduce the likelihood of a much larger and more expensive project being needed in the future. Cedar brush was also installed to provide additional soft armoring. Not only do revetments help protect against erosion, they also provide excellent habitat.

Pollution reduction from this project is estimated to prevent 24.75 tons of sediment and 21.03 pounds of phosphorus from entering the Rum River annually!

Funding for this project was provided by the Conservation Partners Legacy and a CCM crew labor grant funded by the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment. ACD provided project management and construction oversight throughout the process.  

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Linwood Lakers Try Out Native Shoreline Plants

Property owners at the Linwood Lake Association annual picnic took home native plants to try in their shoreline landscaping. The plants of 12 species were chosen for their beauty, as well as for providing shoreline stability & habitat.

"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.

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Six New Rain Gardens in Fridley!

Construction is complete for six rain gardens at residential lots in the Rice Creek Terrace neighborhood in the City of Fridley. These rain gardens were placed at high priority locations to intercept and treat stormwater before it enters Rice Creek. The locations were identified during a Lower Rice Creek Stormwater Retrofit Analysis conducted by ACD in partnership with the City and the Rice Creek Watershed District. The rain gardens were funded by the RCWD's water quality cost share program and the City of Fridley. Landowners have all agreed to long-term maintenance of the gardens to ensure optimal and continuing stormwater treatment. 

Cumulatively, the six rain gardens are estimated to infiltrate 455,000 gallons of water, as well as remove 605 pounds of sediment and two pounds of phosphorus loading to Rice Creek annually. All six rain gardens are vegetated with native plants to maximize infiltration and provide the co-benefit of pollinator habitat. Additionally, one rain garden is located immediately adjacent to a trail entrance into Locke County Park, providing an excellent public education opportunity.

Over the next two to three years, the native plant plugs will get much bigger, filling the gardens with color and life. To see other rain gardens already installed throughout Anoka County, please see the virtual project tour on ACD's website. See photos of all six new rain gardens above. 

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KNOW YOUR SHORELINE

Minor erosion at the toe of slope exposed during low water. If the erosion is addressed early, larger bank failures in the future may be avoided.

If you live on water, whether it be a lake, river, creek, or stormwater pond, low water during the summer months can provide a great opportunity for you to conduct a quick inspection of your shoreline condition. The very bottom of your shoreline, where it meets the water, is called the toe and is the most critical part for stability.

Low water often exposes the toe of the slope and allows you to identify areas of concern. For example, you might observe undercutting, where the lowest portion of the bank has been scoured away by flowing water or wave action. When problems are caught early, the solutions are often much simpler and cheaper. Addressing erosion concerns early also helps prevent more severe bank failures down the road.

Another good time to inspect your bank is in the fall once leaves have fallen and before snowfall. You can inspect the upper portions of your bank for problems like rutting from concentrated overland flow over the top of the bank.

If you have any questions about your shoreline or think a site visit may be warranted, please contact ACD staff. We're here to help. 

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Rain Gardens in the City of Fridley

Six rain gardens are being installed at residential lots in the Rice Creek Terrace neighborhood in the City of Fridley. These rain gardens are being placed at high priority locations to intercept and treat stormwater before it enters Rice Creek. The locations were identified during a Lower Rice Creek Stormwater Retrofit Analysis conducted by ACD in partnership with the City and the Rice Creek Watershed District. The rain gardens are being funded by the RCWD's water quality cost share program and the City of Fridley. Landowners have all agreed to long-term maintenance of the gardens to ensure optimal and continuing stormwater treatment. 

A rain garden under construction in the Rice Creek Terrace neighborhood, City of Fridley

Cumulatively, the six rain gardens are estimated to infiltrate 455,000 gallons of water, as well as remove 605 pounds of sediment and two pounds of phosphorus loading to Rice Creek annually. All six rain gardens will be vegetated with native plants to maximize infiltration and provide the co-benefit of pollinator habitat. Additionally, one rain garden will be located immediately adjacent to a trail entrance into Locke County Park, providing an excellent public education opportunity.

Watch for additional updates as construction is finalized. To see other rain gardens already installed throughout Anoka County, please see the virtual project tour on ACD's website. 

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Rain Gardens Benefitting the Rum River

Six new rain gardens are being installed this summer in Anoka and Ramsey to benefit the Rum River. The first was highlighted in June. The second is now complete! It is located on Oneida Street in Ramsey.

Each curb-cut rain garden captures water from the neighborhood streets, driveways, roofs and other surfaces. Prior to these projects the stormwater was discharged directly to the Rum River without treatment. Rain gardens are ideal in built-out neighborhoods where space is not available for stormwater ponds or other larger practices. 

Kyle and Jamie Leaf and family at the newly constructed rain garden in their front yard. The Leaf family will own and maintain the rain garden which treats stormwater from 7 acres of their neighborhood.

Funding for two rain gardens is a state Clean Water Fund grant and the Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organization. Funding for the other four is the City of Anoka as part of their 2022 street renewal project. 

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Rain Gardens Benefitting the Rum River

Six new rain gardens will be installed this summer in Anoka and Ramsey to benefit the Rum River. The first of them, on Washington Street, was completed the first week of June. Each curb-cut rain garden captures water from the neighborhood streets, driveways, roofs and other surfaces. Prior to these projects, the stormwater is discharged directly to the Rum River without treatment. Rain gardens are ideal in built-out neighborhoods where space is not available for stormwater ponds or other larger practices.

Funding for two rain gardens is a state Clean Water Fund grant and the Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organization. Funding for the other four is the City of Anoka as part of their 2022 street renewal project. 

Bowler family members Amanda and Connor at the newly constructed rain garden in their front yard (not pictured: Daniel Bowler). The Bowlers will own and maintain the rain garden which treats stormwater from 2.2 acres of their neighborhood.
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Native Plantings Added to Streambank Stabilization Sites

Image sourced from MNDNR Stream Habitat Program

Last year, over 3,000 linear feet of cedar tree revetments were installed on the banks of the Rum River in Anoka County. While the cedar trees themselves will help capture sediment and prevent further erosion throughout the coming years, the re-establishment of native riparian vegetation is essential for promoting long-term bank resiliency. In May, ACD staff, with assistance from Anoka County Parks staff, planted a total of over 1,000 plants across six cedar revetment sites; species planted included sandbar willow, red osier dogwood, false indigo, and buttonbush (pictured below). 

When present, the deep roots of native trees, shrubs, grasses, and other vegetation act like a net, securing the bank's soils and preventing them from washing away. Streambank vegetation also provides essential habitat for many aquatic and terrestrial species. For these reasons, ACD incorporates native plantings into all streambank stabilization projects.

Images sourced from Minnesota Wildflowers. © Peter M. Dziuk
  966 Hits

Isanti 5th Grade Conservation Day

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.  

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“Google River View”: 360° Photos Collected on the Rum and Mississippi

An actively eroding bank on the Rum River

Photos collected from near-shore zones on surface waters throughout the county serve as valuable tools for assessing lakeshore and riverbank conditions. Following a day in the boat with a 360° camera, these photos are uploaded to Google Street View, making them accessible to anyone. ACD then uses these them to compile erosion inventory reports, which describe erosion severity and stabilization project needs on high-priority waterbodies such as the Rum and Mississippi Rivers. Updated photos for these rivers were collected throughout the first week of May and are now available to view (alongside those captured in previous years) on Google Maps.  

While browsing through these photos, you are sure to see a beautiful river view. You may also notice banks currently experiencing noticeable erosion or, alternatively, portions that have recently been stabilized and planted with native vegetation.

A formerly failing riverbank at the Mississippi River Community Park in Anoka, stabilized and planted with native vegetation
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The Mount Simon-Hinckley Aquifer

The Mount Simon-Hinckley aquifer is one of the deepest and oldest aquifers in the state. It runs from Hinckley, MN to a large swath of south central Minnesota. The aquifer reaches depths of over 1,000 feet in some areas, containing water that is 30,000 years old. Industrial pumping of the aquifer has been banned in the seven county metro area for more than 30 years, and household use is only allowed when there is no other reasonable water alternative. Even with current restrictions, demand on the aquifer is likely to increase in the future due to projected climate conditions.

Many people think of aquifers as large underground lakes, but really an aquifer is more like sand soaked water where water trickles down through the porous space. This trickle of water may be extremely slow and it may take years for water to reach the aquifer. This leads to issues when aquifers are over-pumped and this slower recharge rate is not taken into account. There are already known areas in the Mount Simon Aquifer that are dry, caused by excessive pumping.

The Mount Simon Hinckley aquifer is an especially complicated system because of the diversity of the landscape it covers. These different landscapes have unique water flow as well as varying rock types which influence the water's ability to percolate down. Water within the same aquifer may differ in age by a thousand years depending on when the water reached the aquifer. Age of the water can be an indicator of water supply.

Learn more about how groundwater systems work by watching ACD's "Our Groundwater Connection" informational video.

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Biomonitoring with Area High Schools

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. 

Anoka High School students sorting through Rum River samples for macroinvertebrates, May 2022

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. 

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RAIN GARDENS IN THE CITY OF ANOKA

Street reconstruction projects often provide opportunities to install new projects that can benefit water quality in nearby waterbodies. In the City of Anoka, four curb-cut rain gardens are currently being designed in conjunction with a street reconstruction project. The designs are being done by ACD in partnership with the City of Anoka and landowners. The rain gardens will capture stormwater runoff before it enters the storm sewer system, which discharges to the Rum River.

High priority properties with large contributing drainage areas were targeted. Those properties with landowners willing to transition some yard space out near the road from turf grass to garden area and agree to provide maintenance are being considered for rain garden installation. Funding for design is provided by a Metropolitan Conservation Districts Engineering and Technical Assistance Program, and installation funding will be provided by the City of Anoka.

Watch for additional updates as designs are finalized and the rain gardens are installed. To see other rain gardens already installed throughout Anoka County, please see the virtual project tour on ACD's website. 

Curb-cut rain garden example
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Rum Riverbank Stabilization Grants Available

A recent shoreline stabilization project on the Rum River

Grant funds are available to landowners for addressing shoreline erosion on the Rum River. If your shoreline is falling into the river, migrating back over time, or the bottom has washed out leaving an overhang, these funds can pay for a substantial portion of design and construction of a solution. Funding is available to address erosion issues of all sizes, with landowners typically paying 15-25% of the project cost. Shoreline restoration does more than just protect your property. It also protects the water resource you live on and enhances river habitat!

Those interested can schedule a site visit with Anoka Conservation District (ACD) staff to discuss options and see if your shoreline might fit into one of our various grant programs for financial assistance. Because the design and construction bidding can take months, starting in the spring is recommended. Contact Jared Wagner at ACD at 763-434-2030 x200 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Rum Riverbank stabilization projects are a partnership of ACD, Anoka County Parks, and the Upper and Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organizations (URRWMO, LRRWMO) with funding from the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment.

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Rum River Watershed Partners Decide on Projects to Fund

The Rum River is a focus for new grant funds aimed at protecting water quality and improving habitat.

Local entities with a role in managing the Rum River watershed in Anoka County recently decided on a new slate of grant-funded projects. The group was charged with allocating $371,157 in state Watershed Based Implementation Funding grants. The dollars can be used for water quality projects in approved local plans. From an initial menu of 19 projects the group selected five:

  • $176,000 Projects identified in subwatershed studies. This includes urban stormwater and agricultural practices that have been identified, ranked by cost effectiveness, and which drain to one of these priority waterbodies: Rum River, Mississippi River, or Ford Brook.
  • $30,000 Trott Brook riparian corridor restoration study. This stream is impaired for low oxygen and poor aquatic life. The study is aimed at finding out why, and what might be done to address it. Trott Brook is primarily in the City of Ramsey.
  • $65,000  Septic system fix ups for low income homeowners. This will supplement an existing $25-40K per year that the state provides to the Anoka Conservation District. Demand exceeds funding. Properties near priority waterbodies are the focus.
  • $65,175 Critical shoreland area planting. Plantings will improve habitat, prevent erosion, and filter runoff near waterbodies.
  • $35,000 Wetland restorations.

The group selected the Anoka Conservation District to manage the projects. Required 10% grant matching dollars will come from landowners where projects are completed, and the Upper and Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organizations. Work will begin in late 2022.

The group that worked collaboratively to select these projects included the Upper and Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organizations, Anoka Conservation District, Anoka County, and a city representative from Andover.

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Save Money and Water in 2022

Spring is here. If you have an irrigation system for your yard, you're likely considering getting it up and running within the next month or two. System startup is the time when you're setting the watering duration and frequency for each zone in your yard. These settings often remain unchanged throughout the season, which typically results in overwatering. Overwatering wastes drinkable water, and assuming you don't have a private well, it also wastes money. 

This year, in addition to following city restrictions (e.g. odd/even watering schedules), try actively managing your irrigation controller. Active management consists of adjusting run times based on local conditions. For example, during periods with sufficient rainfall, watering duration and frequency can be reduced. During these times, you can simply turn your irrigation system off. In contrast, during periods of extreme heat and drought, supplemental watering may be necessary. Watch your yard for signs of drought before turning on your irrigation system, and rely on rainfall as much as possible. When you need to use your irrigation system, water your lawn one time or less per week with a good soaking to encourage deeper root growth, and schedule watering times in the morning to reduce evaporation associated with midday heat and wind.

An alternative to active management is a smart irrigation controller. Smart irrigation controllers use an internet connection to actively monitor local precipitation patterns and automatically adjust watering frequency and duration accordingly. Regardless of whether you choose active management or a smart irrigation controller, both are effective options for reducing water use and saving money.

Visit the University of Minnesota Extension's Lawn Care website for additional lawn management resources. 

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Where will this snow go?

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.

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Simple Erosion Control Techniques Brings Success on the Rum River

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.

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Rum Watershed Comp Plan Nearly Done!

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 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 763-434-2030 ext. 210). 

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LAKE GEORGE SHORELINE STABILIZATION PROJECTS IN 2022

Seven lakeshore stabilization project designs are underway for properties on Lake George. ACD staff conducted targeted mailings based on a previously completed erosion inventory and site visits were then conducted at properties with interested landowners. Potential project sites were prioritized by water quality improvement potential, and with the funding available, seven sites were chosen to be developed. Construction of these projects is anticipated for summer, 2022.

Lakeshore stabilization techniques include coir logs, native vegetation buffers, minor regrading of ice heaves, and minimal riprap. The picture to the right shows an eroding shoreline with a short bank height that can be stabilized using a coir log and native vegetation. Stabilization of the lakeshores will reduce pollutant loading to Lake George and thereby provide water quality benefits. The native plant buffer areas will also provide habitat benefits.

Funding is provided by a Rum River Watershed Based Implementation Funding grant and landowner contributions. Watch for additional updates as the projects progress through final design and construction. 

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It’s time to start native seeds for your pollinator garden!

There is so much magic and joy in starting wildflowers from seeds. This is a good time to start that process for many native plants so that they are ready in the spring. Many native plants' seed stays dormant until there are good conditions in the wild. As a gardener, you can create these conditions to break dormancy for seed germination. Many native seeds need cold moist stratification to germinate. This can be done outdoors if seed is planted in the fall and overwintered. If you want to start them indoors in containers then pre-treatment stratification is needed. Stratify by placing seeds in a damp paper towel, coffee filter, or sand and into a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator (33-40 °F). Native plant's seeds range from needing 10 to 120 days of cold stratification. Once seeds have been stratified for the number of recommended days, plant seeds in a soil medium. Keep soil moist until seeds sprout and send up their first leaves. Water as needed and allow the soil to begin to dry out between watering. The magic continues as plants continue to grow!

Learn more about individual native plant seed pre-treatment and germination strategies in the Prairie Moon Nursery 2022 Cultural Guide and Germination Guide and the Tallgrass Prairie Center's Native Seed Production Manual.

If you aren't ready to start a new seed starting hobby, this is also a good time to start designing and planning a pollinator garden. Many local plant vendors have their plant catalogues ready for you to view. Be sure that plants you purchase are free of neonicotinoids, which are very toxic to pollinators.

See BWSR's Lawns to Legumes page for garden design templates and list of local native plant vendors. 

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