In 2013, the Becker Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) secured $398,000 in Clean Water Legacy Grant funds, and pledged an additional $100,000 in local and federal matching funds, to address excess nutrient and sediment levels in nine shallow lakes in the Lake Park area.

The lakes known as Boyer, Gourd (Engebretson), Marshall, LaBelle, Stakke, Forget-Me-Not, Stinking, Lime and Gottenborg (Larson) were each identified by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as being impaired by excess nutrients in the water.

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On Thursday, landowners and operators with property on these lakes and their tributaries were offered an opportunity to learn more about cost-sharing and other funding opportunities available through this grant to help them address soil erosion and nutrient loss, while at the same time improving water quality in the adjacent lakes.   

A total of about 50 interested landowners and operators attended the meeting, which was hosted by the Becker SWCD.

SWCD conservationists, along with their federal counterparts from the local office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), spent about 90 minutes that morning discussing the various options for improving soil and water quality, and what funding is available for each.

Some of those options, known as “best management practices,” include filter strips, water and sediment control basins (WASCOBs), native shoreland buffers and wetland restoration.

“Soil is a valuable resource - it’s worth money,” said SWCD Administrator Peter Mead - and farmers also spend a lot of money applying nutrients and pesticides to make that soil as productive as possible.

Through erosion and runoff, much of that investment is literally being washed away, he added.

Stopping that erosion and runoff from occurring is where the SWCD and NRCS come into the picture.

However, Mead added, “no one size fits all” when it comes to implementing best management practices on a particular property - “every case is going to be different.”

In the afternoon session, specialists sat down with the landowners one-on-one to assist them with filling out applications for improvement projects on their property.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.