Soil and Water Conservation District takes pride in projects

Each general election year, voters elect Soil and Water Supervisors, although they don’t exactly know what that position is or what purpose the Soil and Water Conservation District. As it turns out, the SWCD plays a key role in the management of such things as managing the Rum River, and the office takes great pride in their efforts.

During its Dec. 16 meeting, the Isanti County Board heard a presentation from Tiffany Determan, District Manager for Isanti Soil and Water Conservation District, regarding two large capital improvement projects taking place – Rum River remeander and Tiger Street basin project that will benefit Blue Lake.

“Both of these projects have taken a lot of perseverance, passion, and commitment to get accomplished, and we’re really lucky that the district has all of those qualities,” Determan said. 

Before she presented about the projects, Determan told the board two stories that clarify what gives her and her coworkers motivation to do what they do for the Rum River.

First she told the board about visiting the property of Scott Lagaard, who invited her to his and his wife’s property to see if there was any erosion issues. “From the second that I walked out of the car door, he had this huge smile on his face talking about this great property – and there were forests and wetlands, and a permanent conservation easement and tons of footage of the Rum River,” Determan explained. “And the smile on his face, and the way he talked about his land, just made me remember why I love to do what I do and why I stay committed.”

She then told the board about shopping at a local store for a bass lure, and asking a fellow customer for a recommendation for which lure is best. The customer proceeded to tell Determan how he bass fishes in the Rum River all the time and has for years, and that the Rum River is the best resource.

The Rum River remeander is a project to fill a cut in the river that took place decades ago, but is causing issues with erosion. The project began a couple of years ago, and had some unexpected delays which have taken a lot of perseverance, according to Determan. 

After the cut in the river was filled the first time, using mostly wood material and dirt, there were a lot of floods the following spring which blew out the fill that was used. After consulting with a number of agencies about what to do, it was decided to fill the cut in again, this time using large boulders along with the wood material, such as trees with roots still attached. 

Determan told the board the project was completed recently, and will hopefully be a success this time.

The Tiger Street basin project will reduce the amount of phosphorous entering Blue Lake by 25 pounds per year, according to Determan, who noted that was a large benefit for reasonable cost.

Final tweaks to budgets

Isanti County had a few final tweaks to its 2020 budget to reflect the approximately $4.96 million it received in CARES Act funding. This money was not originally included in 2020 budget. 

It also approved the 2021 final levy and budget. The final levy is approximately $24.28 million, which is a reduction of approximately $239,000 from the preliminary levy, according to Finance Director Kelsey Lakeberg. The final budget is approximately $49.7 million.

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