Circled is the Customer Service Team 19 area for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service that includes Freeborn, Mower, Steele and Dodge counties. NRCS staff along with each county’s Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) will host a Local Working Group meeting June 14 in Blooming Prairie to determine priority areas for conservation funding.

Mower local working group seeks members

USDA-NRCS, SWCD gather feedback from annual meeting

May 27, 2022 — Determining priority areas for conservation funding in Mower, Dodge, Freeborn and Steele counties is the focus of a meeting next month that will bring those communities together for the first time.

Members of the public in those four counties are wanted to serve on the Local Work Group for the Team 19 area of the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Minnesota. NRCS wants a diverse group focused on agricultural interests and natural-resource issues in the four counties.

This meeting is set for 9 a.m. to noon June 14 at Blooming Prairie’s City Hall at 138 U.S. 218 North. All members of the public can attend the meeting and provide comment; those who apply and are accepted to the group’s membership can make decisions on final recommendations for the delivery of federal conservation programs locally, particularly the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Staff with the local NRCS offices and soil-and-water conservation districts (SWCD) are seeking applicants to serve on the Local Work Group that consists of agricultural producers; professionals who represent ag and natural-resource interests; and people from a variety of areas of soil, water, wetland, plant, forestry and wildlife sciences.

“This group plays an important role in our local conservation efforts by giving direction on how federal funding should be ranked for the upcoming year,” said Jessica Beske, district conservationist for Mower County’s USDA-NRCS office in Austin. “We want to gather input from all areas of the four counties conservation staff to priority areas locally and help us get funding into conservation practices in those locations.”

In 2017, a Conservation Corps member for Mower SWCD surveys an erosive gully in the Dobbins Creek watershed outside of Austin.

For the past two years, this annual meeting has been done virtually but this year’s gathering will be the first in-person Local Working Group meeting for the Team 19 counties, Beske said. Team 19 has a fund pool under NRCS, she said, that was created, along others in the state, to better ensure federal conservation funds were spent on local conservation priorities.

At the Blooming Prairie meeting next month, each county with Team 19 will have at least one subwatershed identified as a priority area, Beske said.

Adam King, district manager for Dodge Soil & Water Conservation District, will lead the meeting that will identify priority resource concerns — such as soil erosion and water quality — and priority areas for conservation programs to focus cost-share assistance on for grassed waterways, cover crops, reduced tillage and other practices.

Applications for the Local Work Group are available on Mower SWCD’s homepage online at www.mowerswcd.org.

Individuals or groups interested in becoming a member of the Local Work Group can submit an application that explains their interest and outlines their credentials for serving as a member. Completed applications can be sent to leanna.schneider@usda.gov in the Mower County NRCS office.

A summary of the Team 19 meeting will be available at NRCS offices in Mower, Dodge, Freeborn and Steele counties.

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Cedar River Watershed District

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.