Buffer Law Program
This program is designed to
support SWCDs technical assistance efforts in informing and implementing
the buffer law passed by Governor Mark Dayton.
The law establishes new perennial vegetated
buffers that have an average width of 50 feet with a minimum of 30 feet
along rivers, streams and ditches that are classified as public waters.
CWL - Clean Water Land
& Legacy Amendment Cost-Share
The Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment Cost-Share funding has been made
available for select projects that will accelerate the protection or
restoration of water quality.
SWCDs and other local units of government (LGUs) submit
application requests for specific projects.
Click here for more information: Legislative Coordinating
Clean Water Fund Stories
Local Capacity Grant
Clean Water Fund grant invests in building the capacity of local soil
and water conservation districts. The grant targets four resource
concern areas—Soil Erosion, Riparian Zone Management, Water Storage and
Treatment, and Excess Nutrients—and supports increased capacity by
funding expenses in the following categories: Staffing, Cost
Share/Incentives, Technology/Capital Equipment, and Operations.
Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP)
This program is a
voluntary opportunity for farmers and agricultural landowners to
take the lead in implementing conservation practices that protect our
Those who implement and maintain approved
farm management practices are certified and in turn obtain regulatory
certainty for ten years.
The program will help address concerns
about changing regulatory requirements from multiple state and federal
Certainty is a commitment provided by the
Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), the Minnesota Board of Water
and Soil Resources (BWSR), the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
(DNR), and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).
RIM – Reinvest in
The Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve Program, one of the first such
programs of its kind in the country, began in 1986 and is administered
by the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources. Landowners are
compensated for retiring environmentally sensitive lands into easements
that protect and improve water quality, reduce soil erosion, and enhance
fish and wildlife habitat on privately owned lands. Managed through a
conservation plan, practices are established by planting native
vegetation and restoring wetlands. Other benefits include flood control
and groundwater recharge.
Click here for more information on the RIM
Root River One
Watershed, One Plan Pilot Program
Root River, Olmsted, Fillmore, Winona, Mower and Steele counties’ and
SWCDs along with the Crooked Creek watershed district have joined
together and were selected by BWSR as pilot funded project to work
cooperatively as one watershed rather than individual counties and SWCDs
to protect water quality as the Root River Watershed as a whole.
Southeast MN Volunteer Nitrate Monitoring
program is a continued partnership with the SE MN Water Resources Board.
Funding assistance has been awarded by the
state of Minnesota through a Minnesota Department of Agriculture grant.
The program is a study of long-term trend
monitoring for nitrates in drinking water from private wells.
Volunteer participants from various nodes
throughout the county provide samples of their well water for nitrate
These samples are submitted to a certified
Through testing, the nitrate level is determined.
The Root River SWCD acts as the county well
An up-to-date database is maintained with
well locations of the volunteer participants along with their contact
The SWCD works with a certified lab by
providing them the volunteer participants’ information and serves as a
local contact for the volunteer participants.
They also distribute newsletters to well
owner participants semi-annually and provide written reports of activity
to the SE Minnesota Water Resource Board and participates in organizing
an annual volunteer appreciation event.
Through the State Cost Share Program, landowners or occupiers can
request technical assistance from the SWCD office to implement best
management practices. Eligible practices include: grassed waterways,
terraces, grade stabilization structures, and water & sediment control
SWAG – Surface Water
This program is administered
by the MPCA. Through Clean Water Funds the State is in need of
Surface Water Assessment of chemical, physical and bacteriological
integrity of Minnesota lakes and streams to identify if designated uses
are being met and to provide information on the condition of waters.
Root River SWCD will be access waters in Pine Creek, Winnebago Creek,
Crooked Creek and Bear Creek.
- Wetland Conservation Act
The purpose of the Wetland
Conservation Act (WCA) of 1991 is to maintain and protect Minnesota's
wetlands and the benefits they provide.
The Root River SWCD recognizes the
importance of the wetlands and partners with Houston County (LGU).
An SWCD representative serves
on the Technical Evaluation Panel (TEP), reviews various wetland
conservation applications, provides guidance and technical assistance to
consultants, developers and private landowners while mitigating and
verifying that projects will be in compliance with the Wetland
They also write restoration plans for
violations or provide exemptions where they apply.
CREP - Conservation
Reserve Enhancement Program
The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a voluntary land
retirement program that helps agricultural producers protect
environmentally sensitive land, decrease erosion, restore wildlife
habitat, and safeguard ground and surface water.
Click here for more information on the CREP
- Conservation Reserve Program
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) provides technical and financial
assistance to eligible farmers and ranchers to address soil, water, and
related natural resource concerns on their lands in an environmentally
beneficial and cost-effective manner. The program provides assistance to
farmers and ranchers in complying with Federal and State environmental
laws, and encourages environmental enhancement.
Click here for a CRP Fact Sheet.
– Conservation Stewardship Program
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a voluntary conservation
program that supports ongoing stewardship of private agricultural lands
by providing payments for maintaining and enhancing natural resources.
CSP identifies and rewards those who meet the highest standards of
conservation and environmental management on their operations.
It also creates a powerful incentive for other producers to meet
the same standards of conservation performance, while providing benefits
to the public for generations to come.
EQIP - Environmental Quality Incentive Program
The Root River Soil and Water Conservation District in partnership with
the local USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service annually conducts
an Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) Local Work Group
The local input helps determine what practices or systems should receive
priority for EQIP funds in Houston County. Parameters are set in
order to prioritize funding to the most critical environmental problems
in our county.
Click here for more information on the EQIP
WHIP - Wildlife Habitat
The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) is a voluntary program for
conservation-minded landowners who want to develop and improve wildlife
habitat on agricultural land, non-industrial private forest land, and
Click here for more information on the WHIP
– Aquatic Invasive Species Program
The Legislature provides
Minnesota counties a County Program Aid grant for Aquatic Invasive
Species (AIS) prevention.
Houston County has designated the oversight
of the county’s AIS prevention efforts to the Root River SWCD.
Funds are to be used to educate the public
of this resource impairment and to prevent the introduction or limit the
spread of aquatic invasive species at all access sites within the
The Root River SWCD technical
staff assists the Houston County Zoning Department with the review of
various building site applications.
On-site visits as well as technical
assistance are provided.
MPCA Feedlot Program
The Root River SWCD partners with Houston County in conducting annual
feedlot compliance spot checks and provides technical assistance to
county landowners/operators with their feedlot needs.
Ag BMP Loan Program
The AgBest Management Practices (AgBMP) Loan Program provides low
interest financing to farmers, agriculture supply businesses and rural
landowners to encourage agricultural best management practices that
prevent or reduce non-point source pollution identified in the local
water plan. The plan reduces existing water quality problems
caused by agricultural activities, helps the County implement the local
water plan and can be used to fund the private portion of projects
partially funded by state or federal cost-share or other sources of
The AgBMP Loan Program allows local governments the flexibility needed
to address specific local water quality concerns and provides financing
at below-market rates. The
3% low-interest loan saves you money, making it more economical to
* Feedlot improvements, manure storage basins and spreading
* Conservation tillage equipment
* Terraces, waterways, sediment basins
* Septic systems
* Variable Rate Technology
* Well Relocation & Sealing
* Secondary fuel containment
* Other projects that improve water quality
Local Water Management Plan
The purpose of the local water management plan is to protect the water
resources in the county from point and non-point sources of pollution.
Coordination of these protection efforts between the various local,
state, and federal agencies and organizations reduces duplication and
eliminates gaps in implementation strategies aimed at a common goal of
The SWCD provides educational and technical
assistance in the implementation of Houston County’s Comprehensive Water
Each year the Houston County Water Plan Committee
allocates funds as an incentive to landowners for the installation of
Additional funds are allocated to reimburse
individuals in the testing of their well water if they are pregnant or a
toddler is in the home.
Also, in conjunction with Houston County
Public Health the SWCD sponsors free nitrate testing clinics
Other Cooperative Programs
The Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust
Fund has appropriated funds as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen
Commission on Minnesota Resources, to train and mentor future
conservation professionals by providing apprenticeship service
opportunities to soil and water conservation districts. Through this
partnership with the Conservation Corps of Minnesota, a corps member is
placed with SWCDs/TSAs. The
SWCDs/TSAs provide corps member supervision and training.
In return, SWCDS/TSAs receive additional support during peak
season (summer months) and mentor the next generation of Minnesota
Crooked Creek Watershed District
The SWCD partners with the Crooked Creek Watershed
District by providing technical and administrative assistance to meet
various conservation needs in their watershed.
MN Corn Growers Grant
The objectives of this grant is
to stabilize and reconnect 1,500 feet of trout stream reducing sediment
and phosphorous redistribution, improving aquatic habitat and regulating
peak flows by reconnecting stream to adjacent floodplain on the Riceford
This stream bank stabilization project will
educate landowner and resource professionals on low cost practices such
as cedar tree revetment.
Collaborating partners in this project
include Winona State University, Conservation Corp of Minnesota (CCM),
Root River SWCD and landowners.
National Fish & Wildlife Federation
Outcomes of this grant program
consist of identifying critical landscape features that are contributing
high amounts of sediment and nutrients to tributaries of the Root and
Staff is reaching out to landowners having
critical areas to implement the appropriate practices.
Rain Monitoring Program
This program coordinates with
the Minnesota Climatological Network.
Volunteers throughout Houston County
measure and record precipitation on a daily bases. The SWCD acts as a
local point of contact, provides the volunteers with the necessary
materials and provides the State Climatology Department with the
collected recordings on a monthly bases.
MN Land Trust
The goal of this program is to
permanently protect 300 acres of high quality forest, prairie, and
savanna in the Blufflands ecological sub-section of southern Minnesota
through a perpetual easement.
here for more information on the Blufflands Protection Program.