Howard Lake Herald, December 28, 1998

Kevin Miller receives environmental award

The Wright Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors presented the 1998 Environmental Act of Kindness award to Kevin Miller of Middleville Township recently.

This award, the first and second of which were awarded in 1997, is based on the premise that there are landowners who have an environmental ethic and, on their own, still practice conservation.

Miller received the award for his conservation practice of using rock inlet drainage trenches in his fields as a means of filtering sediment and pollutants before runoff reaches Wright County water sources.

A percentage of the many wetlands originally present in Wright County have been drained either by ditch or tile and are currently farmed. Drained wetlands with open tile intakes allow herbicides, manure, eroded soil sediment, nutrients, and other pollutants to flow directly into Wright County water sources.

Miller voluntarily has removed open intakes in his fields and replaced them with rock inlets (also called French drains or blind inlets). Rock inlets are trenches filled to the surface with rock or other aggregate, yet containing the original tile at the bottom of the trench. Tile with a fiberglass sock around it provides the greatest benefits of filtering sediment and the nutrients attached to the sediment.

Miller, whose father began this conservation practice before turning the farming operation over to his son, believes rock inlets are better for a number of reasons. First, they can be plowed through and still retain their drainage capabilities. Also, there is no more concern about damaging intakes by farm implements. In addition, the water quality benefits make rock inlets invaluable to the conservationist. The Millers' rock inlets have been installed for at least five years.

The Wright Soil and Water Conservation District can give technical assistance to install similar structures in open intakes in cropped fields.

Or, if you are interested in removing tile completely and taking land out of production, contact the Wright Soil and Water Conservaton District office at 612-682-1970 to discuss all of the payment and program options available.

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