Great River Greening recently advanced our efforts to restore land and water in rural Minnesota, first, by bringing our successful community program to the Seven Mile Creek Watershed, then, by expanding to other watersheds and developing an Agricultural Watersheds Advisory Committee.
Our work in agricultural watersheds is led by the vision that local solutions promise the greatest chance of success.
For a number of years, Great River Greening has worked in partnership with farmers who care deeply about Minnesota’s troubling water quality trends. We have taken innovative conservation measures that include streambank stabilization, cover cropping, controlled drainage, wild rice seeding, haying, filtration, and ravine erosion.
An important next step was to ask the community to take on a stewardship role.
To date, Great River Greening has engaged 36,600 volunteers in restoration events in the metro area and beyond. Extending that activity to agricultural watersheds is meant to shine a light on some of the everyday things that farmers are doing for water quality, and bring people who may have no experience in a rural environment to a working farm.
In one field, 30 volunteers waded through ankle deep mud to plant prairie cordgrass rhizomes in a drainage ditch. This will become a demonstration site to observe how the grass could both reduce erosion and produce a potential revenue-producing biomass crop.
In another, about 50 volunteers hauled and stacked woody invasive plants from a ravine, to help create a better filter for runoff water before it enters Seven Mile Creek. This farm is enrolled into the Conservation Reserve Program.
In addition to the Seven Mile Creek Watershed Program, Great River Greening is a partner in the Sand Creek Targeted Watershed Program, led by Scott Watershed Management Organization.
Sand Creek drains farmland in Rice, Le Sueur, and Scott counties. Great River Greening will develop and oversee 10 riparian restorations along Sand Creek and build relations with the local community through one-on-one landowner outreach and community volunteer events.
These efforts and others in the future are being guided by Great River Greening’s new Agricultural Watersheds Advisory Committee, chaired by Jake Hamlin of Cenex Harvest States. Members include producers and agriculture-related businesses.
Partners & Funders: Agribank, CHS, Clean Water Fund, Clifbar Family Foundation, Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Nicollet SWCD, Seven Mile Creek Watershed residents and farmers, Seven Mile Creek Watershed Partnership, University of Minnesota.
Photos not previously credited: Trevor Cokely