Tour stopped by a number of OT County area lakes

Photo by Tom Hintgen
At left is Liz Wiese, county shoreline specialist, and at right is Dawn Gode, property owner at Buchanan Lake north of Ottertail and south of Perham.

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Corrrespondent

The purpose of a Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) in counties throughout Minnesota is to help conserve soil, water and related natural resources on private land. Otter Tail County governmental officials, news media representatives and others learned more about conservation efforts during a bus tour throughout Otter Tail County Monday morning, Sept. 11.

Photo by Tom Hintgen
A new fish passage and rock rapids is located near the Highway 8 bridge at Little Pine Lake, northeast of Perham.

County commissioners and others feel fortunate to have expertise from Darren Newville, district manager for the East Otter Tail SWCD office based in Perham and Aaron Larsen, district manager for the West Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) office based in Fergus Falls.

Each SWCD is governed by a five-member board of supervisors elected by the citizens of the county.

Monday’s first stop was at Buchanan Lake in eastern Otter Tail County. It was there, at the residence of Dawn and Kevin Gode, where those on the bus tour learned about planted grasses and flowers to conserve soil and enhance wildlife.

“Native grasses and flowers used in a buffer have a much deeper root system than typical short lawn grass,” Newville pointed out. 

SWCD Shoreland Specialist Liz Wiese meets with lake property owners throughout Otter Tail County to address erosion concerns along with potential runoff that might be entering county lakes. She represents the two county SWCDs to help provide financial and technical assistance.

The next stop, at Little Pine Lake northeast of Perham, gave those on the conservation bus tour the opportunity to learn about a new fish passage and rock rapids. The Minnesota DNR’s 1930s outlet dam into the Otter Tail River was replaced with a rock weir fish passage in cooperation with the Minnesota DNR, Otter Tail County and other partners.

The final stop took place at Heilberger Lake, northeast of Elizabeth and southeast of Erhard. It was here where lake neighbors have joined together to install engineered wrap-face vegetated solutions for constructing reinforced soil walls instead of block retaining walls.

Drive-by sites during the county-wide bus tour included tree-planting locations, groundwater protection areas and regions for prescribed grazing practices.