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January 15, 2021

1/1/2021 2:43:00 PM
Local projects get 2021 grants

Clean Water Fund grants were approved late in December by the MN Board of Soil & Water Resources and Chisago County has won some allocations in this round of funding. According to BWSR grants amounting to $12.3 million for conservation and drainage management projects among other water quality efforts, are being funded locally.

Of 37 state BWSR grants two local entities won five of them.  

The Comfort Lake-Forest Lake Watershed District is listed for $171,000 for wetland restoration in the Bone Lake region, and $354,600 for phosphorus removal projects for Little Comfort Lake, including an alum treatment.

The Chisago County Soil & Water Conservation District looks forward to $250,000 for the Lawrence Creek area (just outside of Taylors Falls) and doing planned projects to reduce phosphorus loading into the stream which ends up in the St. Croix River.

SWCD also is slated for $200,000 for Sunrise River Phase II,  which consists of 10 conservation projects that target the North Branch of the Sunrise River.  And, Goose Creek projects, for phosphorus reduction efforts in Rush and Goose Lakes, have been awarded $250,000.
* The Clean Water Fund is built by the Legacy Amendment approved by Minnesota voters to support parks, trails, fish and game habitat and restore wetlands and other works.

The Fund gets 33 percent of the sales tax revenue generate through the Amendment. The special tax is three-eighths of one percent.


Governor Tim Walz announced a goal of enrolling one million acres in a voluntary agricultural program that protects the state’s water resources by the end of 2022. Since the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program’s (MAWQCP) inception in 2014, 977 farms totaling over 685,000 acres have been certified across Minnesota. “This is a key effort to ensure our lakes, rivers, and drinking water are protected for future generations,” said Governor Walz. “Minnesota’s natural resources are a unique part of our state and culture. Farmers understand this. They are stewards of our land and water and are already helping protect these resources.”

Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality certified farms have added nearly 2,000 new conservation practices, including over 110,000 acres of new cover crops, that protect Minnesota’s waters. Those new practices have kept over 38,000 tons of sediment out of Minnesota rivers while saving nearly 108,000 tons of soil and 48,000 pounds of phosphorous on farms each year. The conservation practices have also reduced nitrogen loss up to 49% and cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 39,000 tons per year.

“We already know that certified farms have a major impact on our environment for the better, but the certification program is also good for our ag economy,” said Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen. “ Early research has shown that farmers who implement conservation practices and become certified can increase crop yields and overall farm income. This provides more stability during these uncertain times, and I encourage farmers and landowners to looking into the advantages of certifying their land.” The MAWQCP puts farmers in touch with local conservation district experts to identify and mitigate any risks their farm poses to water quality. Producers going through the certification process have priority access to financial assistance. After being certified, each farm is deemed in compliance with new water quality laws and regulations for 10 years.

There are also endorsements available to water quality certified producers for soil health, integrated pest management, and wildlife. These endorsements celebrate farmers and landowners who are going above and beyond to implement conservation efforts on their land.

According to a study by AgCentric, a Minnesota State program, the average net income of ag water quality certified farms is 26 percent higher, or $19,000 more per year, than non-certified farms. Other key financial metrics are also improved, such as debt-to-asset ratios and operating expense ratios. The study also indicated increased yield for corn, soybeans, and alfalfa on certified land.

Farmers and landowners interested in becoming water quality certified can contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District or visit MyLandMyLegacy.com .


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