By Ivan Raconteur
WRIGHT, CARVER, AND McLEOD COUNTIES, MN For more than a decade, the Crow River Organization of Water (CROW) has been working with others to improve water quality throughout the Crow River Watershed.
Local groups began meeting in 2008 to discuss management of the north and south forks of the Crow River.
CROW was formed in 1999 as a result of this increased interest in the Crow River.
The group’s mission is “To improve water quality in the Crow River basin through educational outreach and collaboration with our partners and citizens.”
One popular and very visible outreach program is the annual river cleanup day.
The event began in 2002, when citizens groups in Rockford (Crow River Pride), Hanover (Hanover Area River Team HART), and Delano (Delano Dream Team) conducted local river cleanup events.
This inspired CROW Watershed Coordinator Diane Sander to organize a regional event that would encompass the entire Crow River watershed.
The cleanup day takes place each September.
In the past four years, nearly 1,400 volunteers removed more than 36.5 tons of trash from 160 miles of shoreline on the Crow River and its tributaries.
The Crow River cleanup day is a one day event from 8 a.m. to noon. Participants receive t-shirts, and the event is followed by a sponsor-provided lunch.
Among the volunteers are individuals, Boy Scout troops, Cub Scout packs, Girl Scouts, 4-H clubs, church groups, school groups, and businesses.
Anyone who wishes to participate in the event may contact Sander at (763) 682-1933 ext. 112.
Sander said the organization currently has a variety of grants available through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
“We have cost-share dollars that are available to landowners for water quality projects,” Sander said.
These projects can include such things as stabilization projects, shoreland restoration, rain gardens, and rain barrels.
“We encourage anyone who has a project in mind to call us. We would like to get these dollars out on the land,” Sander said.
The group’s web site, www.crowriver.org includes more information about the organization, as well as programs, events, water monitoring, and other activities.
There are also activities for children under the heading “Crow for Kids.”
The web site also includes information about recreational opportunities along the Crow River.
There is an annual CROW photo contest. Participants can submit photos in five categories, including fishing, wildlife, scenic, active recreation, and humorous or unusual observation. All photos must be taken along the Crow River or its tributaries. Contest rules are available at www.crowriver.org.
The CROW organization is a joint powers agreement between the 10 counties that have land in the Crow River watershed.
These include Carver, McLeod, Wright, Hennepin, Kandiyohi, Meeker, Pope, Renville, Sibley, and Stearns counties.
The board of directors is made up of one county commissioner from each of the 10 counties.
Local representatives include Ray Bayerl (McLeod), who also serves as secretary, Tim Lynch (Carver), and Jack Russek (Wright), who serves as vice chair.
Since its formation, CROW has been working closely with local, state, and federal agencies that are involved in water quality and quantity issues.
The CROW has no regulatory, permitting, or taxing authority of its own.
CROW staff includes Diane Sander, watershed coordinator; Genny Gieseke, watershed specialist; and Dan Nadeau, watershed technician.
The CROW office is located at 311 Brighton Avenue, Suite C, in Buffalo. The phone number is (763) 682-1933 ext. 112.
Crow River watershed facts:
• The Crow River has three forks; the North, Middle, and South.
• The Crow River watershed drains a 2,725-square-mile basin.
• Of the 1.8 million acres in the watershed, 1.6 million are privately-owned.
• Primary land use in the watershed is agriculture, although there is urban development on the east side.
• The Crow River flows into the Mississippi River near Dayton, MN.
Two workshops planned:
The CROW has scheduled two workshops:
• Stream and Lake training session for citizen volunteers, Saturday, May 22 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Meeker County Courthouse in Litchfield.
• Lakes and rivers shoreline workshop Saturday, June 5 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Gopher Campfire Club four miles north of Hutchinson.
There is no charge for either of the workshops.