Eight Years of Progress for the Nemadji River Basin Project

Background:

In 1998, the Natural Resources Conservation & US Forest Services released the report: “Erosion and Sedimentation in the Nemadji River Basin”.  This report outlined the following recommendations to restore the beneficial uses of the Nemadji River Basin.

Short-term goals:

  • Prevent further degradation of the hydrologic condition through coordination of land management decisions on the sub watershed level
  • Use both the forest and land resources to maintain the economic viability of the land user
  • Expand partnerships and coordination to address watershed problems
  • Establish an educational program to ensure that landowners are aware of land management and sedimentation interactions and that planning assistance is available

Long-term goals:

  • De-channelize flow paths through application of road construction BMP’s, wetland restoration, and coordination of forest road layouts
  • Reduce channel downcutting and streambank erosion through re-establishment of healthy riparian zones and,
  • Coordinate major land management decisions among land users.

Reccomendations from the Report and On-The-Ground Progress
Nutrient Systems Management

  • Financial assistance
  • Education/awareness effort
  • Inform local agribusinesses of efforts
  • Cost share incentives for animal waste and nutrient management through EQIP and state cost share programs
  •  Cost share incentives for animal waste and nutrient management through EQIP and state cost share programs

Beaver Management

  • Drain pond slowly if to be removed
  • Retain dams in very flat terrain
  • Manage for conifers where they are discouraged
  • Coordinate hwy dept & land managers on dam removal issues
  • DNR fisheries helicopter surveys of Blackhoof River
  • Most active management on Blackhoof
  • No active management on other streams
  •  DNR fisheries helicopter surveys of Blackhoof River
  • Most active management on Blackhoof
  • No active management on other streams

Engineering techniques

  • Grade control structures
  • Streambank protection (Rip rap, etc)
  • Drainage
  • Harding’s Hill stream bank protection
  • MN DOT projects
  • Culvert replacement & enhancement projects (3)
  • County Rd 8 waterway/ditch project
  • Harding’s Hill stream bank protection
  • MN DOT projects
  • Culvert replacement & enhancement projects (3)
  • County Rd 8 waterway/ditch project

Wetland Restoration & Creation

  • Manage existing wetlands within current laws
  • Prioritize based on red clay, near rip. zone, artificial drainage, potential for being open water, urban development pressure
  • Emphasis on restoring vs. creating new
  • Actively sought with 319b cost share, but idea tabled due to lack if interest and suitable areas
  • Pond construction through EQIP in upland draws
  • Actively sought with 319b cost share, but idea tabled due to lack if interest and suitable areas
  • Pond construction through EQIP in upland draws

Bioengineering/Geotechnical Erosion control

  • Use where possible, design by experts
  • Utilize Red Clay Project research
  • Stream vane project (summer 2006)
  •  Stream vane project (summer 2006)

In-stream fish habitat improvement

  • Inventory and map suitable fish spawning areas
  • Consider enhancement measures
  • Introduction of artificial substrates
  • Introduction of large, woody debris
  • Harding’s Hill lunker structures
  • DNR fisheries surveys & ambient stream monitoring
  • DNR/DOT Hwy 23 step pools
  • Culvert replacement & enhancement projects (3)
  • Harding’s Hill lunker structures
  • DNR fisheries surveys & ambient stream monitoring
  • DNR/DOT Hwy 23 step pools
  • Culvert replacement & enhancement projects (3)

Livestock management

  • Use rotational grazing
  • Eliminate/control access to riparian zone
  • Cost share incentives for riparian buffer tree planting through CRP and 319b grants
  •  Cost share incentives for riparian buffer tree planting through CRP and 319b grants

Openland management

  • Create inventory of open land areas
  • Consider benefits of open areas
  • Open/young forest not exceed 40% per subsubwatershed
  • Discourage tree planting in ones with >20% open
  • Forest cover/harvest area maps created in GIS using LandSAT images
  • DNR managed openings in WMA’s
  • Federal cost share for food plots & wildlife seeding
  • Forest cover/harvest area maps created in GIS using LandSAT images
  • DNR managed openings in WMA’s
  • Federal cost share for food plots & wildlife seeding

Riparian zone management

  • Forestry Coordination
  • Financial incentives for L.O. to manage
  • Create management zone
  • Manage for large, woody debris
  • Manage livestock
  • Avoid blocking flood plains w/stream crossings
  • Cost share incentives to plant trees in riparian zone via 319b and FSA’s Conservation Reserve Program
  • Cost share incentives to plant trees in riparian zone via 319b and FSA’s Conservation Reserve Program

Roadside erosion management

  • Transportation committee
  • Utilize BMP’s
  • Research other areas w/similar problems
  • Reduce ditch flow
  • Develop prioritization system
  • Work w/township road supervisors
  • Complete work 1 or 2 problems sites per year
  • Utilize bioengineering in select locations
  • Minimize new road building in red clay area
  • Conduct contractor workshops
  • Close problem minimum maintenance roads during wet season
  • Coordinate logging road construction
  • Work w/Dept of Tourism to educate about rutting/compaction caused by OHV’s
  • MN DOT Road projects (Hwy 23)
  • Spring Creek Culvert project @ County Rd 6
  • County Hwy 8 waterway project
  • MN DOT Road projects (Hwy 23)
  • Spring Creek Culvert project @ County Rd 6
  • County Hwy 8 waterway project

Upland forest management

  • Coordinate of forestry committee
  • Sub-subwatershed management at <40% young/open forest
  • Manage for species & cover diversity
  • Accelerate BMP monitoring process on red clay soils
  • Increase forestry tech assistance funding
  • Encourage private forest landowners to manage forest land
  • Encourage use of logging contracts on all timber sales
  • Ongoing research on hydrology, causes of slumping, logging BMP’s
  • Forestry committee meetings
  • Targeted tree planting using open land maps
  • ~150 acres of trees planted and/or planned
  • Forestry committee directed the creation of fact sheets and resource guides for landowners and forestry professionals
  • Forestry committee meetings
  • Targeted tree planting using open land maps
  • ~150 acres of trees planted and/or planned
  • Forestry committee directed the creation of fact sheets and resource guides for landowners and forestry professionals

Inventory resources

  • Stream classification
  • GIS database
    • Track progress
    • Determine potential problem areas
    • Target problem areas
    • Future modeling efforts
    • Presentation purposes
    • Defining riparian zones
  • Follow up of Red Clay project
  • Water quality monitoring
    • USGS stream gage sites
    • Monitor pollutant loading in bay
    • Monitor longitudinal profiles of pollutants
    • To track impacts of treatments
    • Coordinate with other efforts in MN & WI
  • Four seasons of continuous water quality monitoring
  • Red Clay dam inventory
  • A forest stewardship plan GIS database created
  • A helicopter erosion survey (results on an interactive CD)
  • A forest open land inventory
  • Water quality monitoring equipment purchased for RiverWatch

Research recommendations

  • Long term erosion and sedimentation rates
  • Geologic layers
  • Hillslope processes
  • Riparian corridor management
  • Hydrological impacts of harvest on red clay soils
  • Deer Creek mud/sand volcano study (Dr. Howard Mooers, UMD) Conclusion: “At this point the most reasonable option seems to be to leave the systems alone. Eventually the system should reach equilibrium between driving forces causing rotational failure and resisting forces stabilizing the clay. At that time the seepage will likely stop.”
  • Knickpoint migration study (Joe Magner, MPCA)                            Preliminary conclusion:  “The Nemadji River basin may very likely be in disequilibrium well into the 22nd century” based on past land use and future climate changes.
  • Deer Creek mud/sand volcano study (Dr. Howard Mooers, UMD) Conclusion: “At this point the most reasonable option seems to be to leave the systems alone. Eventually the system should reach equilibrium between driving forces causing rotational failure and resisting forces stabilizing the clay. At that time the seepage will likely stop.”
  • Knickpoint migration study (Joe Magner, MPCA)                            Preliminary conclusion:  “The Nemadji River basin may very likely be in disequilibrium well into the 22nd century” based on past land use and future climate changes.

Education & Outreach

Education and outreach has been a continuing part of the mission.  During each phase of the project, there has been a direct effort to reach out to the public and inform them of the project and its mission.

  • 11 newsletters published
  • Numerous press releases to local newspapers
  • A web site created (www.carltonswcd.org/nrbp)
  • A stream table purchased
  • Carlton County Fair booth exhibit
  • Million Acres conference exhibit
  • Carlton County Conservation Days
  • Arbor Day Tree planting w/area 4th graders
  • Monitoring water quality with St. Louis River Watch schools
  • Participation in watershed meeting in Ashland, WI
  • Education and outreach activities have been conducted to school and other local units of government

 

Implementation grants:                                                 Grant Accomplishments:

1998:  Awarded EPA Section 319 funding ($40,000 + in-kind)
  • Disseminate project report
  • Forestry and pasture management field tours
  • Township meetings
  • Coordination of forest roads w/ public & private entities
1999:  Awarded CWP Phase II funding ($143,500 + in-kind)

  • LandSAT forest cover inventory
  • 2 culvert replacement projects
  • Erosion survey via helicopter—DNR
  • Tree planting
  • Sedimentation model—US ACOE
  • Water quality monitoring
  • MN DNR Watershed Coordinator assigned to project for technical assistance
  • MN DNR funds trout habitat improvement projects
  • LandSAT open land inventory
  • Spring Creek & Net River culvert replacements
  • Helicopter erosion survey
  • Sedimentation model for Skunk Creek
  • Water quality monitoring
  • Harding’s Hill Restoration
  • Knickpoint migration study
  • Tree planting:  33 acres
2001:  Awarded EPA Section 319 funding ($49,950 + in-kind)

  • Tree planting
  • Wetland restoration
  • Red Clay dam assessment
  • Red Clay Dam assessment
  • Deer Creek geologic (“mud volcano”) study
  • RiverWatch equipment purchases
  • Riparian tree plantings:  4 sites, 8 acres
  • Water quality monitoring
2003:  Awarded CWP Phase II Continuation funding ($156,000 + in-kind)

  • Tree planting:  105 acres
  • Culvert replacement/enhancement:  2
  • Water quality monitoring
  • Forest Stewardship plans GIS layer
  • Culvert replacement & enhancement:  Deer Creek Tributary
  • Tree plantings:  82 acres planned
  • Water quality monitoring
  • Forest Stewardship GIS layer
  • Stream table