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Great Lakes Restoration Initiative making a difference in Minnesota

                                                                         News Feature                                                           2/24/2011

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative making a difference in Minnesota

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) is a project to improve and protect the resources and waters of the Great Lakes watershed. Working cooperatively with and through funding from the Environmental Protection Agency, NRCS is using a diverse array of technical and financial assistance to implement this program.

The Nemadji River Basin Project identified sediment from erosion as the primary natural resource issue in the predominantly forested watershed. Sheet, rill, and road-side erosion were a minor component generating 11% of the total. Eroding stream banks and massive clay slumps were the main contributor at 89% or 117,000 tons per year.

There is a long history of erosion control efforts to reduce the sediment load in the Nemadji River. We learned from past efforts that structural measures were not the solution. The River Basin Project pointed us in a new direction. Keeping snow on the land longer in the spring will reduce snowmelt peak flow runoff events and slow bank erosion rates. The need is to plant trees. This holistic approach will reforest areas of the watershed that contain open land with enough trees to influence snowmelt runoff rates.

In addition to reforesting the open land areas, riparian tree plantings will establish much needed shade on cold water tributaries as summer water temperatures have been reaching lethal levels for trout. Implementation of Minnesota’s first GLRI-funded practice started in November 2010 with the completion of site preparation work for a spring 2011 riparian tree planting on the Midway River.

For more information on the Initiative, contact Danny Weber, District Conservationist in the Duluth, Minnesota Field Office.

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