Chisago conservation office had busy year

Staff of the Chisago Soil and Water Conservation District office closed out a busy 2019 and included (from left, with years of service) Craig Mell (21), Shane Hultman (Back, 5), Mary Jo Youngbauer (10), Jason Rehn (18), Deb Hermel (14), Casey Thiel (14), Sue Humble (20), Jacquelynn Kelzenberg (1).

This year has really flown by for your local conservation office.

When spring sprung, so did construction season for the Chisago Soil and Water Conservation District and the North Branch Natural Resources Conservation Service. Throughout spring, summer and fall the two agencies installed a total of 63 projects in partnership with rural and urban private landowners. 

Projects included rain gardens, rock-lined or grassed waterways, water and sediment control basins, diversions, pollinator habitat seeding, native shoreline or backyard plantings, prescribed grazing, prescribed burning, written forestry management plans, brush management and high tunnel systems. 

Each construction project also had native seed or plants installed on exposed soil to establish strong, deep root systems as well as increase pollinator and wildlife habitat. Between construction and project monitoring, technical staff conducted site visits with landowners interested in conservation or had a resource concern they needed addressed. 

Resource concerns like soil erosion, wind erosion or stormwater runoff are just a few examples of what the Chisago SWCD and NRCS are here to help with. 

The field season also consisted of stream monitoring six sites for water quality throughout the county, conservation planning to identify resource concerns and solutions for farmers and trying not to be carried off by mosquitoes!

When construction season slows down in the fall, surveying picks up. Site visits that took place earlier this season that will move forward with construction projects got surveyed in the fall and early days of winter. Staff took GPS equipment out to these sites to collect data of the landscape and the resource concern that needs fixing. This data is used to create project designs. 

Eventually even surveying comes to an end when the snow gets too deep, which happened pretty quickly this year. Then winter was in full force.

Winter is a time for planning for the future. On these cold, snowy days, conservation staff are at their desks creating conservation plans, drawing up project designs, writing grant applications, prepping for the spring tree sale and budgeting so conservation work can continue through 2020 and the years to come. 

If you would like to start planning your conservation goals for the New Year, give Chisago SWCD a call at 651-674-2333.

From all the staff at Chisago SWCD and NRCS, have a happy new year and a safe (hopefully not too cold) winter.

SUSAN HUMBLE is with the Chisago Soil and Water Conservation District, 38814 Third Avenue, North Branch. She can be reached at 651-674-2333. 

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