Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn.

February 28, 2000

Crow River open houses set

A series of open houses planned this spring will highlight a nine-county effort to improve water quality in the Crow River watershed.

Carver, Hennepin, Kandiyohi, Meeker, Pope, Renville, Sibley, McLeod and Wright counties have signed a joint powers agreement to conduct research and projects in the watershed to improve water quality in the Crow River.

The Crow River Organization of Water (CROW) project is part of a larger effort to improve water quality in the Mississippi River basin.

Scientists say excessive nutrients and pollutants in the Mississippi are creating a "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico, where oxygen levels in water are too low to sustain some kinds of aquatic life. The Crow River, composed of the North, Middle and South Forks, empties into the Mississippi River near Rogers.

The open houses will be Feb. 29 through April 8 (see schedule below). People will learn about local efforts to improve water quality in the Crow and a monitoring plan to assess current condition and future changes. Interested citizens will be encouraged to sign up for training to become volunteer stream monitors.

In early 1999, the CROW project received a grant from the state Board of Water and Soil Resources to fund a watershed coordinator position.

It also received a $454,000 federal grant through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The money will help pay for Best Management Practices such as erosion-control, stormwater management, and promotion of effective agricultural waste systems in the watershed.

In October 1999, the nine-county joint powers board hired Jennifer Lee as watershed coordinator. Her office is located in the Natural Resources Conservation Service office at 916 E. St. Paul St. in Litchfield.

The project recently received a Metro Environment Partnership Grant from the Metropolitan Council.

In November 2000, CROW plans to apply with the MPCA for a Clean Water Partnership grant. The application includes development of a monitoring plan for the three branches of the Crow River.

The open houses will give citizens a chance to give input on the proposed monitoring plan and discuss potential pollution problems.

The CROW project will be working with several existing watershed districts in the area. The North Fork Crow River Watershed District was established in 1985.

From its office in Brooten, it coordinates funding, research and water quality improvement projects in the North Fork area above the Lake Koronis outlet. This includes portions of Pope, Stearns, Kandiyohi, and Meeker Counties. Other cooperating watershed districts are Buffalo Creek, which flows into the South Fork near Lester Prairie, and the Pioneer-Sarah Creek watershed in Hennepin Co.

For more information about the Crow River project, contact Jennifer Lee at 320-693-7287 ext. 3.

  • Wright County: Tuesday, Feb. 29, 7-9 p.m., Howard Lake Community Center, 615 6th Ave., Howard Lake.
  • Meeker County: Tuesday, March 7, 7-9 p.m., Meeker County Family Service Center, 114 N. Holcombe Ave., Suite 200, Litchfield.
  • Pope-Stearns Counties: Monday, March 13, 7-9 p.m., Belgrade Municipal Hall, 417 Washburne Ave., Belgrade.
  • Kandiyohi County: Tuesday, March 21, 7-9 p.m., County Health and Human Services Building multi-purpose room, west side, Business 71 North, Willmar.
  • Carver County: Thursday, March 23, 6:30-8 p.m., Watertown City Hall, 309 Lewis Ave. S., Watertown.
  • McLeod-Renville-Sibley Counties: Tuesday, March 28, 7-9 p.m., Stewart City Hall, 551 Price St., Stewart.
  • McLeod County: Thursday, March 30, 7-9 p.m., Hutchinson City Center, 111 Hassen St., Hutchinson.
  • Hennepin-Wright Counties: Saturday, April 8, 10 a.m. - noon, St. Michael City Hall, 3150 Lander Ave. N.E., St. Michael.

Outdoor notes

  • The fishing season for northern pike and walleye on lakes in our area ends Tuesday, Feb. 29.
  • Anglers are reminded that as of March 1, 2000, new Minnesota angling licenses area required.
  • Never in my life do I remember fog being here for as long as it was last week. By the time you could see the landscape again, most of the snow was gone.
  • Warm weather and rain in the past week has made the ice on our area lakes very slushy and has created travel problems. Anglers should be aware that ice conditions can change dramatically in just a few days.
  • The Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club will have its annual father/son banquet Friday, March 17. The Raptor Center will provide the entertainment with a show on birds of prey.
  • Spring is just around the corner; soon the birds will be singing and the grass growing.

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