In recent years, the Hubbard County Board and Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) have collaborated with neighboring counties who share those watersheds to develop 10-year, comprehensive watershed management plans (WMP), formerly known as One Watershed One Plans.

Hubbard County SWCD Manager Crystal Mathisrud provided an update to county commissioners at their February work session.

Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District is partnering with neighboring counties to develop 10-year plans for three major watersheds.
Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District is partnering with neighboring counties to develop 10-year plans for three major watersheds. (Map courtesy of Hubbard SWCD)

Jeff Hrubes, a clean water specialist with Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), said 50 percent of state planning areas are either developing, finalizing or implementing a comprehensive watershed management plan.

The Mississippi River Headwaters Watershed  encompasses 885 river miles and 180,375 lake acres. Of the watershed's 1,228,810 acres, 53 percent are publicly owned.
The Mississippi River Headwaters Watershed encompasses 885 river miles and 180,375 lake acres. Of the watershed's 1,228,810 acres, 53 percent are publicly owned. (Map courtesy of Hubbard County Soil & Water Conservation District)

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Mississippi headwaters

The Mississippi River Headwaters Watershed includes parts of Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Hubbard and Itasca counties.

Mathisrud pointed out that, along the entire Mississippi River corridor, “there’s been a need to reduce the sedimentation and nutrients that are going into the river to reduce the dead zone at the Gulf.”

The Mississippi River Headwaters WMP has been “one of the ways Minnesota has responded to the nationwide effort,” she said.

Forest, lake, agriculture and urban stewardship for better water quality are the focus of the WMP.

Mathisrud said an influx of money, based on the watershed plans, is allowing local governments to reach prioritized goals.

Each SWCD office has different skills, she continued. “If we’re working together on one bigger watershed, we’re able to think about more solutions and implement more actions more quickly.”

Zach Gutknecht with Beltrami County SWCD has been leading the Mississippi River Headwaters WMP. He explained they are currently reviewing the draft plan. The public will have a 60-day opportunity to comment as well, likely beginning in March. A copy of the plan is available at headwatershed.org.

Hubbard County SWCD district supervisor Marcel Noyes noted that roughly $860,000 has been allocated to this WMP, which will address sizable projects.

Targeted sub-watersheds have been identified within the Leech Lake River Watershed, which boasts 277 river miles and over 750 lakes.
Targeted sub-watersheds have been identified within the Leech Lake River Watershed, which boasts 277 river miles and over 750 lakes. (Hubbard County SWCD)

Leech Lake watershed

The Leech Lake River Watershed plan is already in the implementation phase. In a progress summary report, SWCD said that this plan provided funding for a Laporte stormwater system upgrade with a follow-up plan for rip-rap and pavement correction in 2020.

The report said Hubbard County SWCD staff conducted easement outreach in the Shingobee River subwatershed and developed two shoreland projects in the Kabekona River subwatershed to address erosion and nutrient runoff. All projects are to be implemented in 2021.

In addition, Hubbard County SWCD completed six private forest management plans: two in Necktie, three in Kabekona and one in Shingobee. They also entered into an agreement with the environmental consulting firm HR Green Inc. to develop stormwater analysis and plans for smaller communities in the watershed, such as Laporte, Hackensack, Longville and Federal Dam.

This WMP is available at www.co.cass.mn.us/government/county_directory/environmental_services/leech_lake_river_one_watershed_one_plan_partnership.php.

Mantrap chain question

County commissioner David De La Hunt said one of the bigger needs in Hubbard County is the flooding issue on the Mantrap chain of lakes. “Those water levels keep rising, if you draw a trend line. Lake Belle Taine is the end of the line, with no outlet. A lot of property gets damaged when that occurs,” he said.

Mathisrud said the Mantrap chain is within the Crow Wing River Watershed. SWCD has proposed shoreland projects for that area, with other local partners, she said, but they are waiting to hear if grant funding will be approved this spring.

She said the Crow Wing River WMP committee will apply for planning funds in the next round, and if approved, will have two years to complete the WMP.