Rock County earns EPA excellence, BWSR awards
Rock County Land Management Office (LMO) personnel received two awards for their local conservation work.
LMO was recently recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for excellence in implementing Minnesota’s innovative Agricultural Best Management Practices (AgBMP) Loan Program.
Rock County was also recognized at the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) conference in Bloomington for receiving the state’s County Conservation Award.
Conservation award is for flood recovery efforts
The conservation award recognizes a county for its leadership, innovation and excellence in protecting or improving their natural resources.
John Jaschke with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources nominated the Rock County Board of Commissioners for its 2014 disaster recovery efforts through the LMO and Soil and Water Conservation District.
Commissioners Stan Williamson, Greg Burger, Jody Reisch, Gary Overgaard and Sherri Thompson accepted the award at the AMC conference.
In 2015 Rock County received over $1.23 million for flood recovery projects and recently received a one-year extension to finish distributing funds to local landowners.
LMO received 177 flood-damaged projects for possible funding.
As of last fall, the flood relief dollars have repaired or will repair 114 waterways, 30 terraces/basins and one stream bank stabilization project in Rock County.
EPA award for decades of clean water efforts
The AgBMP loan program in Rock County has provided 337 loans worth nearly $8 million over the past 20 years.
The loans provide producers a permanent, independent source of low-cost financing for a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects.
LMO Director Eric Hartman said, “Rock County residents should be recognized for their efforts and their successes to protect water resources.”
Conservation efforts by producers Dennis Leuthold of Hills and Shain Fluit of Luverne were highlighted on the award application.
Leuthold’s loan addressed high nitrates in local wells by reconstructing his feedlot. The result of his environmental stewardship efforts was an immediate drop in nitrate levels well below drinking water standards.
Fluit used a BMP loan to purchase a high clearance fertilizer applicator. The improved split-rate nitrate application improved crop yield while preventing nitrate pollution increases in nearby shallow drinking water wells.
Through his custom application service, Fluit offers split-rate application and cover crop opportunities to other area producers.