News release: DNR honors Cass County Soil and Water Conservation District

January 8, 2024

Annual award highlights conservation effectiveness

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has presented its annual Ecological and Water Resources recognition award to the Cass County Soil and Water Conservation District.

EWR Division Director, Katie Smith, presented the award at the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts convention on Dec. 12.

“Soil and water conservation districts are such a vital part of our combined efforts to protect Minnesota’s lands and waters,” Smith said. “Cass County SWCD has made significant contributions to water resource management through partnerships and programs, with an energy and understanding that is admirable. They have been open minded, innovative, cooperative and effective partners in water quality improvement, water conservation and management.”

The Cass County SWCD, which includes a significant portion of four major watersheds, has been effective in a wide range of water conservation initiatives. They have:

  • Chaired and/or co-chaired the development of “One Watershed One Plan” for the Leech Lake River, Pine River and Mississippi River Headwaters, and is a primary partner in the current development of the Crow Wing Watershed 1W1P. The One Watershed One Plan process, led by the Board of Water and Soil Resources, aligns local water planning purposes and procedures to create a systematic, watershed-wide, science-based approach to watershed management.
  • Partnered with local organizations and landowners on projects utilizing watershed-based implementation funding in the Leech Lake River, Pine River and Mississippi River Watersheds. Projects include culvert replacements, stormwater management, forest management plans, sediment reduction, and agricultural best management practices and projects. Recent accomplishments include Deep Lake/Boy River Crossing, May Lake Creek and Stormwater Management in the city of Walker, Stoney Creek Crossing, Wabedo Township and numerous other projects completed or in queue for design and implementation.
  • Worked closely with townships and other local governments to locate and inventory existing culverts. Over 1,500 culverts were inventoried and located in the Leech and Pine River Watersheds. The Mississippi Headwaters culvert inventory project is 50% complete. Culvert reconstruction, repairs and replacement help meet clean water and habitat goals.
  • Helped landowners who own wooded acreage contract with private forest management plan writers to create a plan for their land. The SWCD cost-shares on plans that are 20 acres or more in size. The program has been very effective in while providing for sustainable harvest, bringing many water quality, habitat and economic benefits to the area and state.
  • Worked with the DNR to address high water, beaver dams, groundwater atlas completion, concerns around groundwater overuse and contamination, and less impactful alternatives on projects affecting public water and/or wetlands.

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