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Mathisrud named new SWCD manager

CrystalMathisrud.jpg
Crystal Mathisrud

Crystal Mathisrud is taking the helm of the Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).

Julie Kingsley, who has served as SWCD manager for seven years, is retiring, as of Friday.

Kingsley said getting to know and working with landowners and others in Hubbard County “to maintain, if not improve the environment” has been a highlight for her. She’s particularly proud of the Deerview Road and Pine Haven Christian Assembly Camp stormwater and erosion control projects, helping landowners plant buffer strips and installing rain gardens.

“Crystal has a solid science background,” said Kingsley. “She has fresh eyes and many ideas and has jumped right into the position. She is a people person and a great listener.”

“I grew up on the Iron Range and then down by Red Wing,” Mathisrud explained. “Recently, I was assistant director at Watermark Art Center. I was just transitioning to freelance work when this position came up. It was a complete surprise, and felt like a sudden turn in the road.”

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Her broad professional experience includes sales, grant writing, customer service and research.

From 2001-02, Mathisrud was a fuels and supply technician for the U.S. Air Force. She was stationed in Texas, then Alaska. As part of a National Science Foundation Research Experience, Mathisrud identified and collected plant fossils in the Lower Triassic through Cretaceous strata of the Eastern Bighorn Basin in Wyoming. In 2008, she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and broad field science from the University of Wisconsin River Falls. She concentrated in biology and geology with an outdoor education minor. In 2014, she earned a master of fine arts in creative writing from Hamline University.

Mathisrud has always been interested in water quality and “making the landscape better for the future,” especially since she has a 7-year-old son.

“When I was younger, I’d spend a lot of time thinking about what projects I could be involved in to make the environment better for future generations. Then, this came up and I was like, well, this is my time to do something,” she said.

Hubbard County sits within three major watersheds, all of which are really important to the Twin Cities area, Mathisrud said. “Our water affects their drinking water. What we do locally is big for the whole state.”

She continued, “It’s an exciting time to be at SWCD, and that’s because of the One Watershed, One Plans (1W1P).”

In the 1W1P program, local governments combine information from their existing water plans, scientific data, and input from federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and citizen stakeholders. The resulting plans identify actions that address the largest threats to water quality and provide the greatest environmental benefits.

Representatives from Cass and Hubbard counties and SWCDs partnered to develop a 10-year plan for the Leech Lake River Watershed. The Mississippi River Headwaters 1W1P is in coordination with Hubbard, Beltrami, Itasca, Cass and Clearwater counties.

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A Crow Wing River 1W1P is currently in the data collection phase, Mathisrud said. Work on the plan will begin in one to two years, she estimates. “That one will be a big one for Hubbard County.”

Both the Leech Lake and Mississippi 1W1Ps are receiving funding, which will allow plans to move forward that will impact Hubbard County, Mathisrud said.

She encourages landowners to visit the Hubbard County SWCD to discuss possible projects that “will help them better their situation and also better our soil and water conservation practices.”

She can be reached at 732-0121 and her temporary email is crystal.hcswcd@gmail.com.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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