Local conservation leaders advocated for a new state funding initiative for Soil and Water Conservation Districts at a recent legislative briefing and meetings at the State Capitol March 9-10 in St. Paul.
Keith Nygaard, Randy Pederson, Randy Mitteness, D. Gary Reents, and Holly Kovarik, from Pope Soil and Water Conservation District, joined a group of other officials from the state’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) to gather support for conservation district funding from the state. SWCDs are seeking $22 million per year in local government SWCD Aid through the Department of Revenue. The funding would get SWCDs statewide closer to fulling critical conservation needs and increasing the pace of progress toward clean water and healthy soil goals.
“SWCDs are a primary source of conservation information, support, and program management for landowners and other local units of government,” said D. Gary Reents of Glenwood. The SWCD Aid proposal being considered by legislators this session is absolutely critical to the future of conservation districts in the state, noted Reents. The legislation has received bipartisan support and is also included in Governor Tim Walz’s supplemental budget. “We have to work hard to make sure the state’s commitment to sharing in the funding needs of SWCDs doesn’t fall by the way-side. Soil and Water Conservation Districts play an integral role in enhancing Minnesotan’s quality of life through conservation on private lands, which yields environmental, wildlife and aesthetic benefits to the public,” Reents said.
Last week, D. Gary Reents, Randy Mitteness, Keith Nygaard, Randy Pederson, and Holly Kovarik met with local legislators Representative Paul Anderson, Senator Torrey Westrom, and Representative Jeff Backer.
The event was sponsored by the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
SWCDs fill the crucial niche of providing land and water conservation services to owners of private lands. For more information on the Pope Soil and Water Conservation District, please call 320-634-5327 or visit www.popeswcd.org.
The Chippewa River Watershed partners have worked together for many years, going as far back as 1998. A group called the Chippewa River Watershed Project (CRWP) has worked since that time to improve water quality in the watershed. This group completed watershed monitoring and worked to secure funding to do Best Management Practices (BMPs) and conduct education and outreach across the watershed. This group recently reorganized and is now called the Chippewa River Watershed Association (CRWA).
I have heard from some constituents that are wondering about the status of this group. About three years ago the partnership worked to reorganize its Joint Powers Agreement. The partnership previously only included the Counties and the group worked to revise the agreement to include Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs). This group also began efforts to prepare for an application to the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) for the “One Watershed One Plan” program. The CRWA was successful in attaining a planning grant from BWSR.
This program allows counties to transition from county-based water plans to watershed-based planning. The planning area for the Chippewa River One Watershed One Plan includes portions of Otter Tail, Grant, Douglas, Stevens, Pope, Swift, Chippewa, and Kandiyohi counties. County and SWCD Boards in each of these counties have entered into a Joint Powers Agreement for the purpose of developing a watershed plan and to restore and protect the water and soil resources in the Chippewa River Watershed planning area. Pope Soil and Water Conservation District staff are acting on behalf of the partnership to coordinate this effort and to manage the fiscal duties.
The group has planned a public kick off and annual meeting on Tuesday, April 5th at 5:30 p.m. at the Minnewaska House in Glenwood, Minnesota. Please RSVP by March 28. This meeting is an opportunity for citizens that reside in the watershed to provide feedback and learn more about monitoring, funding opportunities, and status of work of the Chippewa River Watershed Association and partners. This meeting will include a meal. For more information give Holly Kovarik a call at 320-634-5327 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Register here at: https://bit.ly/3HfBymN
This planning effort will take approximately two years to complete and at its conclusion will provide state funding for conservation projects that are considered a priority for improving and protecting our resources as identified and agreed upon by the CRWA members.
Register online at: bit.ly/35P9eux
We have also been working on continuing education credits. For those that are interested in this feature this update will potentially provide 4.5 CEUs in Soil & Water Management (approval pending).
Attention Irrigators! The annual Irrigators Clinic will be held on Thursday, March 17th from 9AM-3PM at McKinney’s in Benson, MN.
Agenda topics include:
- Soil Health & Strip-Tillage
- Chemigation Permit Requirements
- Irrigation Research/Management Strategies
- Climate Condition Updates
- Funding Opportunities
- Soil Health Champion
Pre-registration is required. Register online at bit.ly/35P9eux and then send in your payment.
- Register by Monday, March 7 to Pope SWCD
- $10 fee (includes meal ticket)
- Checks Payable to:
- Pope SWCD
- Mail Payment to:
- Pope SWCD
Attn: Holly Kovarik
1680 Franklin St. N.
Glenwood, MN 56334
Registration at the door – $20 (meal cannot be guaranteed)
For questions or virtual option, contact Holly Kovarik with the Pope SWCD at (320) 634-5327.
This event is hosted by the Stearns County SWCD, Pope SWCD, Douglas SWCD, Kandiyohi SWCD, Minnesota Department of Agriculture with support from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.
Local sponsors will be on site with informational booths and technologies.