With all the un-fun stuff happening in this current day and age, it has forced me to expand my use of social media outlets and learn more about how they work.
Today I was part of a Zoom internet meeting. I had never participated in a meeting using Zoom and am hoping we soon get to a time where I won’t have to use it again. I like the face-to-face kind of meeting.
The meeting was a Nobles County Commissioners meeting held at 9 a.m. on Tuesday. I was the guy representing Nobles County Pheasants Forever.
When our chapter is involved in a habitat acquisition, depending on what funding source is used, it often requires the county board to sign a resolution of support. The reason for this is that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will be the long-term land manager and their department policies require most lands added to the outdoor recreation system be approved by the county.
I was really looking forward to the meeting because the funding of this newest water protection/wildlife habitat parcel had a new funding partner.
In the past we have partnered with the Minnesota DNR, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, E.O. Olson Water Trust, Worthington Public Utilities, Reinvest in Minnesota, Minnesota Build a Wildlife Area, North American Waterfowl Conservation Act, Minnesota Land and Legacy Fund and the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed.
This newest parcel included a new partner, the Board of Soil and Water Resources. It is a state agency that has been around for many years, is well funded and is tasked with protecting the state's soil and water resources. They have been doing this primarily through the use of conservation easements on lands owned by private citizens.
They would pay a landowner to idle sensitive lands and plant them to grass to protect waters both above ground and below. The lands could no longer be farmed, but ownership would remain with the original owner and they would control the access to the parcel and pay a reduced rate of property taxes.
The lands provide wildlife habitat but don’t allow any public access. As I am, and have always been, a huge public land advocate, I work hard to provide folks with a place to take their children or grandchildren.
Even with all of our hard work in Nobles County over the last 38 years protecting water and providing wildlife habitat, we have acquired only about two-thirds of 1 percent of the 462,720 acres that make up Nobles County. That’s two thirds of one percent. These are almost always marginal lands not well suited for farming, with only a few exceptions.
The addition of the BSRW Resources as a new partner in a well protection acquisition program, is a great indicator of the partnership’s success. The work being done in the wellhead by Nobles County Pheasants Forever and our partners is now trying to be replicated over the entire Midwest.
The additional approximately 58 acres will be planted to permanent grass cover that will absorb and hold water, thus reducing downstream flooding, as well as eliminate any future applications of manure, fertilizer and chemical on the acres. The spot is within one mile of three of the municipal water supply wells.
The County Commissioners, after a few questions and a little discussion, approved the resolution 4 to 1 with one commissioner wanting to hold out and use this approval as leverage to address two other DNR properties that he thought needed additional management.
They might need additional management, but I felt, as did the majority of the other commissioners, that those concerns were a separate issue from the water protection efforts that were on the table before them at this meeting.
The local Pheasants Forever Chapter is grateful for the harmonious working relationship we have with the county board. We will continue to keep their concerns at the top of our list as we continue to strive to balance the needs of wildlife habitat, water resource protection and the many concerns of their constituents.