AUSTIN, Minn. — Monday, April 30, 2018 — Mower County farmers and landowners in 2017 worked with local conservation staff on a large number of projects that created grass waterways, buffer strips, field structures, windbreaks, cover crops and restored prairie.
As the nation’s 63rd annual Soil & Water Stewardship Week starts Sunday, April 29, officials at Mower Soil & Water Conservation District are encouraging everyone to celebrate those working to protect and improve soil and water resources as well as think about their role in this effort.
Conservation in Mower County experienced a strong year in 2017 and is expected to have another big year in 2018, said Justin Hanson, district manager for Mower SWCD.
“This is truly the greatest county in Minnesota to be doing conservation work,” Hanson said. “We had many success stories around the county last year, reflecting the conservation ethics here in Mower.”
Stewardship Week’s theme this year is “Watersheds: Our Water, Our Home” to highlight the importance of caring for water — one of the world’s most-critical resources. The theme fits well locally as Mower SWCD continues to work through the state’s “One Watershed, One Plan” (1W1P) process for creating water-management plans based on watershed boundaries.
Mower SWCD helped create the Root River 1W1P’s final plan — one of five pilot projects for 1W1P in the state — more than a year ago and is assisting with leading the creation of a draft Cedar River 1W1P planning document.
Annual reports detailing much of the conservation work by Mower SWCD and the Cedar River Watershed District now are available on each organization’s website — www.mowerswcd.org and www.cedarriverwd.org — or in print at their office.
In 2017, Mower SWCD helped get 13 projects that incorporated cover crops on 3,623 acres of land; built 10 grass waterways totaling nearly 3 miles long overall; enrolled about 1,400 acres into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for 10 to 15 years; constructed 13 field structures; and designed six windbreaks, among other projects.
Mower SWCD staff worked on many of these projects with local staff for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), all based in the same office complex in Austin.
Soil & Water Stewardship Week is organized by the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) to promote resource conservation across the country. NACD relies on each conservation district to encourage stewardship through educational programs, field days and workshops. Each year, more than 3,000 conservation districts participate in the event, making Stewardship Week one of the largest national conservation programs in the world.
In Minnesota, 89 SWCD offices work in both urban and rural settings to provide soil and water conservation services to private landowners, which is essential due to 78 percent of Minnesota’s lands being under private ownership.
For more than 70 years, Minnesota’s SWCD offices have worked hard to protect the state’s critical soil and water resources by working with landowners on programs and practices that support conservation, healthy working lands and clean water. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has made the protection of the state’s water quality a top priority of his administration.
The Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources is reminding Minnesotans as part of the stewardship week that they all have a role to play in protecting the quality of the state’s soil and water.
“Protecting these great resources requires individual action and partnerships from the local to federal level,” BWSR Executive Director John Jaschke said. “SWCDs have a strong connection to, and understanding of, the unique resource opportunities and challenges in their areas. They are able to connect with landowners and are invaluable in helping Minnesota meet its natural resource goals.”
Mower Soil & Water Conservation District
Since 1953, Mower SWCD has provided land and conservation services to Mower County landowners to help manage lands in a way that promotes a sound economy as well as sustains and enhances natural resources that are key to the state’s environmental health. Mower SWCD is one of Minnesota’s 91 SWCDs that each are governed by a board of elected supervisors.