DARWIN, MN Mike Swanson was recently named Outstanding Conservationist for 2016 by the Meeker County Soil and Water Conservation District.
Swanson owns 448 acres of land in Darwin and Forest City townships, of which approximately 300 acres are in a grassed Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), 10 acres are building sites, and the remaining 138 acres are woods and slough.
One county ditch, two private ditches, and two grassed waterways are on Swanson’s acreage, all buffered by grassed CRP.
Cattails and other natural vegetation remain on a large area of the lower ground. He diligently manages his acres to keep out invasive trees and noxious weeds.
Throughout the years, Swanson has sought the advice of the Natural Resource Conservation Service and SWCD for issues regarding weed control or other issues he has had on his CRP acres.
The only plowing done on Swanson’s acres is for 16 one-acre food plots which he plants into corn each year to attract pheasants and deer.
He also removed woody cover to improve wildlife habitat.
Swanson has restored four wetlands by disrupting tile and building dikes to retain water, and has over a mile of field windbreaks at six locations.
The Swanson homestead is located on Dunns Lake in Darwin Township. Swanson built a concrete retaining wall and constructed four dikes to create settling ponds, preventing runoff into the lake.
Swanson has done extensive landscaping at his shoreline, including a 150-foot waterfall, fire pit, outdoor fireplace, pergola, and arboretum. More than 50 varieties of trees and plants are featured in the arboretum, and multiple perennial gardens throughout the property.
Swanson will be honored at a luncheon at the annual convention of the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Bloomington Tuesday, Dec. 6, at an event co-sponsored by The Farmer magazine.
Swanson has been a silent conservation hero for many years. He is always willing to lend a helping hand to any of his neighbors who need technical advice, or are looking for advice as to whether they should put their land into a conservation program.