Hawk Creek Watershed will offer incentives for restoration of wetlands
CLARA CITY -- The Hawk Creek Watershed Project will offer incentives for wetland restoration as part of an effort to reduce the phosphorus runoff that plays a role in depleting oxygen levels in the lower reaches of the Minnesota River.
Cory Netland, Hawk Creek Watershed Project director, outlined plans at the organization's meeting Friday in Clara City for a basin-wide effort to reduce the nutrient run off that contributes to the low dissolved oxygen problem in the river. The project recently received $326,768 for the effort in Chippewa, Renville and Kandiyohi counties.
The watershed will also be matching in-kind service, and funding and technical assistance help from other agencies as part of an overall $729,494 project to address the problem of low oxygen.
Low oxygen levels are harmful to fish and other aquatic organisms.
The problem of low oxygen during low flow periods in the lower reaches of the Minnesota River has become the focus of a concerted effort throughout the entire river basin.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is seeking to reduce the amount of nutrients reaching the river to specific volumes, known as total maximum daily limits.
The effort has led to tougher phosphorus standards for wastewater treatment plants in the basin, as well as a phosphorus trade network.
Netland said the Hawk Creek Watershed Project has been seeking to encourage the restoration of key wetland areas in the basin.
Their restoration could improve water quality in the basin by holding and absorbing nutrients now being carried by smaller tributaries to the Minnesota River.
The basin has been offering Conservation Reserve Program funding to help landowners plant vegetative buffers along waterways to capture nutrients.
Netland said the same approach will be taken to encourage the wetland restoration.
The current proposal calls for offering CRP payments rates of $100 per acre for wetlands enrolled for 10 years; $150 per acre for 15 years, and $300 per acre for perpetual easements.
He is hoping to see 320 acres of wetlands and another 120 acres of vegetative buffer made possible through the project.
The project will also include incentives and technical assistance to help landowners adopt a wide variety of other best management projects, ranging from adding alternative drainage intakes to upgrading feedlots to stop run-off.
The Hawk Creek Watershed Project has made possible $6.4 million in land-use and other improvements in the basin since 1997, according to information from the Project.