One of two street sweepers from the City of Austin’s Public Works Department cleans the east side of 14th Street Northwest on March 22, 2021, as part of a new, three-week initiative by the city to clear sand, salt and other post-winter material from streets in half the usual time.

CRWD grateful for city’s enhanced efforts to protect streams

March 26, 2021– City street sweepers are driving Austin’s roadways for longer stretches of the day this spring under a new initiative to clear sand and salt in half the amount of time.

Starting this week, the City of Austin’s Public Works department is operating double shifts (4 a.m. to noon and noon to 8 p.m.) on weekdays with its two street sweepers and other crews that assist the sweepers as part of a three-week initiative to clean the sides of Austin’s 150 miles of roadways.

“This will help us clean the roads in about half the time it usually…

CRWD’s Fett, Hunter to battle via ice fishing Feb. 22 on Cedar

Feb. 19, 2021 — Ice-fishing trash talk in the office will be tested Feb. 22 on the frozen Cedar River State Water Trail to raise awareness and support for breast cancer research.

Smith representing southeast Minnesota for conservation group

Feb. 12, 2021 — A Mower County farmer and conservation board supervisor now represents southeast Minnesota on a state organization’s board.

Randy Smith, chair of the Mower Soil & Water Conservation District’s Board of Supervisors who farms near Adams, has started serving as a board member for the Minnesota Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD). He has served since 2016 in his elected role on the Austin-based Mower SWCD’s board.

Cedar River at Austin Mill Pond as shown in a 1917 map. This area would undergo a major transformation in the coming years to remove most of the island and fill in swampy areas.

Financial issues led Austin businessman to stage drowning to allow him to flee to Iowa but train workers helped find him

By Tim Ruzek, CRWD outreach coordinator

Dynamite exploded in the Cedar River’s icy waters at Austin Mill Pond in March 1919 as police, firefighters and citizens searched desperately for the body of a local businessman and socialite.

Marcus Evans, who ran the Manhattan Oil Co. in Austin and was part of local businessmen groups that included George A. Hormel, was missing and believed to have drowned himself in the Cedar.

Evans had left a note at his home, saying his body would be found at a boat landing on a bend of the Cedar River, just upstream from Austin Mill…

Cindy & Terry Hamilton with their Midwest Air-Ag

Mower SWCD awards Adams-area family with annual distinction

Jan. 29, 2021 — Erosion on the Hamilton farm in central Mower County was taking soil from their cropland, altering the landscape and stealing nutrients they purchased to help grow corn and soybeans.

Facing these major, negative effects on their farm, Terry and Cindy Hamilton started looking into soil-health practices that since have saved the family business money through better nutrient management along with fuel and labor savings.

Farming more than 1,200 acres near Adams on a corn-soybean rotation, the Hamiltons started in 2012 to use cover crops on their fields and adopted the practice of strip-tillage that led them…

Early 1900s postcard of Dobbins Creek on Austin’s east side likely below the present-day site of the East Side Lake dam.

Flour mill, crossing near today’s East Side Lake dam proved challenging with flashy creek

In 1854, Robert Dobbins got his feet wet — literally — while trying to help establish a new community that later would be called “Austin.”

Dobbins, one of Austin’s first settlers who arrived that year, fell into a creek on present-day Austin’s east side (near today’s East Side Lake dam). He was crossing the stream with his oxen but the creek was flowing high and the crossing involved a high streambank cut down to give a roadway for teams.

“Mr. Dobbins, fording the creek with his ox team, could not follow the cut in the bank and drove his cart…

Part of the ancient chert mine site used by Native Americans more than 8,000 years ago is shown by this drone image taken in fall 2020 near Grand Meadow.

MCHS, collaborators work on opening place to public, students

For more than 8,000 years, Native Americans extracted a rare stone from the northeast part of today’s Mower County to use for creating arrowheads and other tools.

Now the Mower County Historical Society in Austin is launching a multi-year project to develop the archaeological site known as the Grand Meadow Chert Quarry thanks to a $59,000 grant from the Minnesota Historical Society.

Annual program early deadline Feb. 28; pickups in mid-April

Jan. 7, 2021 — A large variety of trees for creating windbreaks and wildlife habitat are available to order this winter through Mower Soil & Water Conservation District’s annual program.

Tree lists are available online on Mower SWCD’s website — — to print for mailing with payment to Mower SWCD but online orders also are accepted through the website. At this time, drop-off tree orders are not being accepted due to the Mower SWCD office remaining closed to the public due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bundles of bareroot trees and shrubs (mostly sold in bundles of 25) and four…

A new subsurface sewage treatment system (SSTS) is completed in summer 2020 in the Austin area.

Board receiving proposed changes Jan. 12 for septic ordinance

Jan. 6, 2021 — Proposed changes to the countywide septic ordinance are moving forward for consideration next week by the Mower County Board of Commissioners.

Members of the Mower County Planning Commission heard from staff in late December about proposed changes or amendments to the county’s ordinance for subsurface sewage treatment systems (SSTS).

The commission voted to forward the proposed changes for adoption by the county board, which launched a septic initiative a year ago to complete the final phase of the county’s long-running initiative to achieve septic compliance countywide.

“Poorly functioning septic systems are threats to human health and…

Cedar River State Water Trail at the Ramsey Dam in January 2016 on Austin’s northern limits. Citizens are being sought for accepting free salt-testing kits to use this winter in monitoring chloride levels in local waterways through the nationwide Winter Salt Watch initiative.

Mower SWCD, CRWD encourage citizens to help water project

Wed. Dec. 9, 2020 — With several months of icy weather ahead, citizens can help check local streams or lakes this winter for chloride spikes caused by the use of salt on roadways and sidewalks.

Winter Salt Watch, a nationwide, crowd-sourcing campaign run by the nonprofit Izaak Walton League of America, will send a free chloride-testing kit to anyone who requests one and agrees to use the kit’s four chloride-testing strips four times this winter. With each test, volunteers are asked to post a picture of the test results online at:

Salt Watch is expanding its efforts in the…

Cedar River Watershed District

Formed in 2007, CRWD works to reduce flooding and improve water quality on the Cedar River State Water Trail and its tributaries in southern Minnesota.

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