Environmental Stewardship Newsletter, Issue #272                             October 8, 2011

This is the two hundred and seventy-second edition of a twice-monthly (or so) cyber newsletter that updates citizens that love the Brainerd Lakes Area on opportunities to foster environmental stewardship through participation in pending meetings, hearings, workshops, and other activities.  You receive this newsletter because you expressed support for this community priority or because you have been recommended as a community leader.  If you wish to be removed from the mailing list please e-mail me at dhickman@brainerd.net.  Likewise, if you have a story or opportunity to promote – please let me know!

OUTDOORS NOTES: Area project clears major funding hurdle

Posted: September 30, 2011 - 4:58pm


Now it’s up to the Minnesota Legislature. But there’s reason for great optimism regarding the Mississippi River Northwoods Habitat Complex project.

That’s because recently, the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council voted to recommend more than $14 million for the purchase of 1,988 acres just north of the Brainerd airport from the Potlatch Corporation so as to get the land into public ownership and protect it from development.

The property features more than two miles of pristine, undeveloped shoreline along the Mississippi River — and a bevy of natural resources and related opportunities.

Early on, the project graded high with the council and, following a Sept. 7 presentation by Becca Nash of the Trust for Public Land, which is spearheading the project along with several partners, council members made individual recommendation before ultimately recommending that the project be among those receiving approximately $90 million in funding available for such projects.

Now it’s on to the Legislature in 2012.

“This is a fantastic outcome and we are so pleased to have this incredibly strong support going into the upcoming Legislative session,” Nash said. “... The Crow Wing County Board unanimously passed a resolution of support for the project at their meeting (earlier last month). This support was significant for the LSOHC and it will be key as we work through the next phases of the effort.”




CERTs Seed Grant Request for Proposals Now Open

Community-based energy efficiency and renewable energy projects should apply through November 15, 2011


Do you have an energy project you'd like to do in your community?  Or perhaps you know of a group that has been looking to get something started.


The Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) seek to provide limited financial assistance for energy efficiency and/or renewable energy projects requiring technical assistance. Project funding can support technical assistance services (i.e. labor costs only, such as for a consultant, design professional, installer or student labor), for projects in all seven Minnesota CERT regions: Central, Metro, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest and West Central.


The primary objectives of this funding project are to: (1) Encourage the implementation of community-based energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in CERT regions; and (2) Provide a forum for community education about energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and their economic, ecological and community benefits.

Visit http://rfp.mncerts.org for more details, applications, project planning tools, past seed grant recipients, frequently asked questions, and dates and times of upcoming infomational conference calls.


Funding for these projects is generously provided through the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources.


Interested in having a guest speaker for 2012 Spring & Summer Events?


Crow Wing County Master Gardeners, UMN Extension trained and certified volunteers, will be available upon request to offer 30-minute, 45-minute or 60-minute presentations on composting. In addition, through an environmental assistance grant through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, we will have available for sale low-cost compost bins that we can bring to the presentations for participants to purchase. 

Topics to be covered could include: composting yard and food waste, how to build your own compost bin, how to best use your purchased compost bin and how to use compost in your garden.

If interested in a presentation for Spring or Summer of 2012 please contact Melissa Barrick, CW SWCD, via e-mail

melissa.barrick@co.crow-wing.mn.us or phone 218-828-6197. Melissa will work with Jackie Froemming, CWC Master Gardener Coordinator, to have a speaker at your event.



Crow Wing County's new land-use ordinance hailed as major step in protecting lakes


By Jennifer Vogel
Minnesota Public Radio

Updated: 10/06/2011 11:13:01 PM CDT

Chris Pence stands at the top of a bank where a new cabin is being landscaped on Bay Lake, pointing out all the landscapers are doing right. They have built just a small sand beach, protected by sediment barriers and flanked by trees and tall grass. Swales at the bottom of the hill catch rainwater before it runs into the lake.

Pence is the land services supervisor for Crow Wing County, and standing next to him is the cabin's owner, Dave Perry, wearing shorts and sunglasses.

"We're trying to do everything right," Perry said, sounding a bit nervous to have a county zoning official on his property.

Pence explains why it's important to keep rainwater and sediment out of the lake.

"Phosphorus clings to sediment," he said, which leads to algae growth. "Silt is one of the biggest sources of pollution."

This is news to Perry, who has been vacationing on Bay Lake since 1979. Thinking more about it, he suggests he may put in a rain garden.

Crow Wing County, the heart of Minnesota's cabin country, has been criticized in recent years for laxity in the way it manages lakefront development. Yet, in March, the county adopted a land-use ordinance that has been hailed as one of the most progressive in the state. It's not perfect and some specific provisions seem to step backward - one allows resorts to have more impervious surfaces that foster rapid runoff; another allows guest cabins on standard lots.

But taken as a whole, the ordinance is viewed as a leap forward and a good example of a local community taking action to address runoff, a diffuse and hard-to-regulate pollution source. Paul Radomski, a research scientist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, who served as technical adviser on the ordinance, said, "I thought they did a good job of bringing the science into it. Relatively speaking, looking across the state, it's very progressive."

Because of the change, "They will do a better job of managing runoff from lake and river lots which will reduce pollution," Radomski added. "On a site-by-site basis, this will have an impact." Thanks to sandy soil, water quality in Crow Wing County hasn't suffered unduly, according to Pence. He cites the county's goal this year of reducing total phosphorus entering local waters by 50 pounds. This is a small percentage of the total, he says, but the mere fact that the county has set the goal is a "huge step forward." Pence added, "One half-pound of phosphorus produces 300 pounds of algae."



Latest zebra mussel finding in state has local officials ticked at DNR

Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune

The latest confirmed detection of zebra mussels in Minnesota is being reported in a lake south of Detroit Lakes, and the state Department of Natural Resources is being accused of lax enforcement toward limiting the spread of the invasive species.

Boaters in the area were notified Friday of the discovery of Otter Tail County's Rose Lake by the Becker County Coalition of Lake Associations.

The association said that the zebra mussels' introduction to Rose Lake, part of the extensive Otter Tail River chain of lakes, most likely occurred because a boat lift was moved from a campground on nearby Lake Lizzie to property along Rose Lake, which is known among anglers for its northern pike, walleye, largemouth bass and bluegill fishing.

Lake Lizzie and several others in Otter Tail County are on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) infested-waters list. State law requires that docks, lifts and other water-related equipment removed from an infested body of water can only be returned to that same body.

Hank Ludtke, the mayor of nearby Frazee and certified in invasive-species detection, said that the Rose Lake detection means the same will happen to the 87-mile Otter Tail River within the next few years.

"This is a battlefield," said Ludtke, who said he heard about the discovery during a recent Detroit Lakes Chamber of Commerce event, where the DNR was putting on an invasive species seminar. "How can we fight if the DNR isn't telling us we're at war?"

Luke Skinner, the DNR's supervisor for invasive species, said that Rose Lake's discovery was confirmed only on Wednesday and is so far confined to a single location involving young zebra mussels that are likely not reproducing.

That early stage of detection, Skinner noted, gives the DNR a rare opportunity to halt any spread from this discovery. He said preparations are being made for the DNR to treat the water with copper sulfate next week and kill off the zebra mussels.

The DNR said this is the first time that the agency will attempt to control a small, isolated population of zebra mussels in the state. After the treatment, the DNR added, Rose Lake will be put on a priority monitoring list and checked frequently for any more zebra mussels.

If zebra mussels are discovered next open-water season, the lake will be designated as an infested water, the DNR added.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482


PUC cites solar savings

Posted: September 30, 2011 - 5:45pm

·         Photos


By Matt Erickson Copyright 2011 . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. , Staff Writer, Brainerd Daily DispatchSeptember 30, 2011 - 06:45pm


PUC cites solar savings