BY MONICA LUNDQUIST
Cass County Correspondent
Cass County Board voted on March 5 to continue working with the county Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) on projects of mutual interest.
The board also received a report on 2012 SWCD accomplishments. Cass was one of five counties to share a $144,000 grant, which was matched with an equal amount of local funding to install 70 shoreland buffers between lakes and lawns on developed properties. One of those buffers is a band of native plants installed at Green Hill Town Homes on Gull Lake.
Another shoreland buffer program enabled 11 private landowners to install a buffer on 745 feet of lake shore using a $60,000 grant. The land owners matched the grant with $20,000 of their own money. State Reinvest in Minnesota funds were used to dedicate two conservation easements on 100 acres on Brockway Lake in Cass County. That is a shallow wild rice lake. Interest in this program has been high, the SWCD reported.
Funds from the Clean Water Fund enabled Cass to participate in inspecting 28 randomly selected private wells throughout the county for nitrates nitrogen as a part of a 13 county Minnesota Department of Health analysis of 1,555 private drinking wells.
Over 88.6 percent of wells sampled had nitrate levels below 3 mg. per liter. Only three Cass wells had higher than the normal range for nitrates. Those testing higher were generally found in the total study to be shallow wells, often near agricultural activities.
Clean Water Fund money also was used to stop soil erosion into three Cass lakes. A project on Ten Mile Lake north of Hackensack stabilized shoreline at eight sites around the lake. A project at Outing stopped erosion previously going into Roosevelt Lake.
The third project involved paving a short section of Buxton Road in Woodrow Township where as much as one ton of sediment from an adjacent town road had been washing annually into McKeown.
Because phosphorus is naturally occurring in soils, Environmental Services Director John Ringle said it is believed 30 pounds of phosphorous had been washing annually into Roosevelt Lake and 10 pounds annually had been washing into McKeown Lake prior to these erosion control projects.
People who live on one of 13 lakes in Cass County and own at least 20 acres will have an opportunity to obtain a tax incentive by maintaining at least 75 percent forest coverage on their property if they develop a Forest Stewardship Plan.
The targeted lakes are home to tullibee (cisco) fish, which are a primary prey fish of walleye, northern pike and muskellunge. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has found a direct link between tullibee survival and forest cover around where they live in cold, oxygen rich lakes.