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SWCD celebrates five years of Water Quality Project Success & Clean Water Land Legacy Amendment

It’s been five years since Minnesota voters passed the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment and the lakes and rivers in the lakes area are already benefitting.

Melissa Barrick, Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) manager, said, “Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District and Crow Wing County (CWC) are using local priorities in the CWC Water Plan to target legacy grant dollars to address the most pressing environmental needs in the Brainerd lakes.”

Over the five years, the SWCD received nearly $500,000 in Clean Water Fund Competitive Grants through the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) and leveraged more than $125,000 in local funds for “on-the-ground projects” in Breezy Point, Fifty Lakes, Crosslake, Lake Shore and Big Trout Lake area.

Citizens and local government installed projects that improve the quality of Pelican, Gull, Cross, East and West Fox, Serpent, and Big Trout lakes, wetlands and groundwater.

Project examples include:

• Community Partnership Program: leverage $60,000 of local funds, provided $91,000 in grant funds to 13 CWC community groups, and involved more than 200 citizen volunteers. Completed more than 20 projects along Whitefish Chain, Pelican and Grave lakes. Projects were completed on public and private lands.

• Wild Rice Shoreland Protection Program: More than 10 miles of critical wild rice lake shoreland has been protected with nearly $3 million of Outdoor Heritage funding. Protecting these shorelands helps to maintain and restore critical wild rice identified lakes in an eight-county area, including Cass, Aitkin and Crow Wing. These lakes provide food and habitat for a variety of wildlife species.

Beth Hippert, SWCD district technician, said, “Prioritization and targeting water quality projects is an ongoing task, it takes time to see improvements to water clarity in area water bodies.”

“Because of the Legacy funding, we’ve been able to complete five times as many water quality projects as we did prior to 2008. Grant funds also support the local economy for labor, materials and plants. These projects benefit the fish, wildlife, fishing, swimming, tourism, and your property taxes. The amendment has been a win-win for all,” Barrick said.

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Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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