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Grants boost Hubbard County SWCD budget

The Hubbard and Crow Wing SWCDs will partner with Mantrap, Gull and Whitefish Chain lake associations to train over 40 citizens in lake ecology. The SWCDs identified this chain of about 25 lakes as high quality lakes and fisheries in need of protection and restoration, including Big Sand, Little Sand, Upper Bottle, Lower Bottle, Mantrap, Emma, Belle Taine and Spider lakes.

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The Hubbard and Crow Wing SWCDs will work with citizens to protect scenic shoreline and fisheries habitat on the Mantrap, Gull and Whitefish chain of lakes.

The Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District’s (SWCD) overall budget is growing from $250,000 to $609,000 in 2022, thanks to an influx of grant dollars.

SWCD District Manager Crystal Mathisrud reported that the increase is “because we’ve won some competitive grants for projects, a couple at the federal level. And then we also have the One Watershed, One Plan money coming in.”

She met with county commissioners this month as part of their 2022 budget discussions.

Mathisrud said the grants not only benefit the county by completing work on the ground, but also allows her to hire staff “who can be available to answer questions and do these projects.”

While she has been seeking and acquiring project funds, Mathisrud said the county allocation supports SWCD staffing costs.

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“Every project that we do has value, but being available for the community to answer their questions, help them with their trouble if they have any related to wetlands, shoreland or restorations” is a vital part of SWCD’s work, she said.

Grants typically only cover the administrative costs related to the supported project, Mathisrud explained, not day-to-day staff.

SWCD is seeking its same allocation as last year: $82,914.

Mathisrud said the SWCD budget will be balanced if the county is able to provide the same level of funding as last year.

Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership

Hubbard County SWCD recently received a $95,942 federal conservation grant through the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership.

The goal is to empower citizens to take action to protect and maintain high quality fisheries.

The Hubbard and Crow Wing SWCDs will partner with Mantrap, Gull and Whitefish Chain lake associations to train over 40 citizens in lake ecology. The SWCDs identified this chain of about 25 lakes as high quality lakes and fisheries in need of protection and restoration, including Big Sand, Little Sand, Upper Bottle, Lower Bottle, Mantrap, Emma, Belle Taine and Spider lakes.

The citizens will work with Bemidji State University graduate students to complete the following:

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  • Visit 100 homeowner sites adjacent to the Mantrap, Gull and Whitefish chain of lakes to educate them about their lakes.

  • Share knowledge on the importance of shoreline and aquatic vegetation, groundwater and stormwater runoff to a minimum of 200 landowners.

  • Provide landowners examples of what they could do to improve their lakeshore.

  • Connect landowners to natural resources professionals and environmental programs to conserve fish habitats in their lakes.

Hubbard County SWCD will be the fiscal agent and the funds are available beginning in October, according to Mathisrud. She said they plan to work closely with lake associations.
They are leveraging over $70,250 of state, local and in-kind funds for the project.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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