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Mark Sommer

Lakeshores are priority, SWCD manager says

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Mark Sommer has been named district manager of Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District, wife Kelley and kids Oliver, 5, and Karis, 3, purchasing a home just south of Nevis last week.

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Sommer, who grew up "in a cluster of lakes" in Chisago County, recently gained a master's degree in biology from Bemidji State University. He completed his undergraduate work in natural resources and environmental studies at the University of Minnesota.

He brings a unique background to the role, having worked in the Chippewa National Forest as a hydrologic technician and wild land firefighter, battling blazes in the Boundary Waters last summer and in Texas.

He has worked with the Minnesota Conservation Corps, where he met Kelley in Grand Marais, and with North Shore state parks.

He was working as a carpenter on the Gunflint Trail when the economy sent him back to school.

Sommer is looking to work interactively with lakeshore property owners and ag producers to "find solutions to water and soil problems."

He plans to continue with established priorities, targeting soil erosion and maintaining water quality, including employing shoreline stabilization measures.

"It's a great technique apart from rocks," he explained of using natural materials and native vegetation to halt erosion. "It's a good long-term solution that's cost-effective."

Sommer is seeking cost-sharing project proposals for shorelines, feedlots and tree planting.

As the Local Water Plan coordinator, implementation of the Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act "is a big part" of his responsibilities.

He's found the SWCD board of directors to be a "good representation of the county," Sommer said of the farmers and lakeshore owners.

Tree sale forms and the county plat book may be ordered via the website, hubbardswcd.org.

He may be reached at 732-0121, mark.sommer @mn.nacdnet.net or stop by the office at 212½ Second St. West.

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