111 8th Street, Box 207
Gaylord, MN 55334 High Island Creek & Rush River
Summer of 2010
Vol. 7 Issue 2
Watershed Implementation Projects
High Island Lake Reclamation
By Deb Wuetherich, Friends of High Island
The Friends of High Island continue to work on
projects related to High Island Lake and the
surrounding Watershed. One of these projects
was the 4th rain garden located in the city of New
Auburn. Due to an ongoing street project in the
city and a very wet fall, the rain garden slated for
completion by the fall of 2009 had to be
postponed until July of 2010. The last phase of
planting flowers, which filter out pollutants before
they can enter the lake, was completed on July
Another project is the continued drawdown
of High Island Lake. The purpose of the
drawdown is to encourage the growth of
vegetation in and around the lake, aid in water
quality/clarity, and to reduce the overall water
mass. The drawdown will also aid in a winter kill of
existing rough fish allowing the DNR to stock the
Bird’s eye view of High Island Lake lake with walleye fry. Even with the wet fall, lake
levels continued to decline through the winter months dropping oxygen levels low enough to facilitate the
winter kill. Unfortunately, the goal was not reached. While some dead fish were found around the lake when
the ice melted, netting by the DNR in spring showed the kill was not successful. After a public meeting with The
Friends of High Island, the High Island Lake Association, the City of New Auburn, and other interested parties, it
was determined that conditions were not favorable to do the walleye stocking at this time. An attempt at a
continued drawdown and winter kill will continue in 2010 into the spring of 2011.
Three other larger projects were also completed by volunteers to help clean up the lake and its watershed.
These projects consisted of: the clean out of the ditch at the south end of the lake, the installation of a 96 inch
culvert beside the existing culvert, and the installation of a 24 inch control structure and pipe installed adjacent
to the existing dam. All three projects were necessary to aid the DNR in lowering the lake and were paid for
and completed by the Friends of High Island volunteers through donations and proceeds from the winter fund
The group also organized and funded their second Barley Straw project on June 29 and July 2. Nearly 30
volunteers assisted with the preparation of a total of 32 bales averaging 20 feet in length. These bales were
installed in 5 locations in two major ditches flowing into High Island Lake. Like last year, testing will be
completed to monitor the water prior to the barley straw bales and downstream from them to see if there is a
reduction in total phosphorus. Last year’s preliminary results showed that the installation of barley straw bales
did have a positive impact, lowering the levels of total phosphorus in the ditches that they were present in.
Overall, progress on improving High Island Lake is steadily moving forward. Water clarity previous to this
year did not exceed 6 inches, where now it has increased to 2.5 feet in a reading taken in June of
2010. Previous to the drawdown, plants were virtually non existent and now a fringe of healthy hardstem
bullrush and other native vegetation has appeared as a result of the drawdown.
2010 Photo Contest Reminder
Riverblast 2010 Don’t forget to send your pictures in for the 2nd
annual High Island Creek and Rush River Photo
Friday & Saturday, September 3 & 4, 2010 Contest! Winning photographs will appear in a 2011
This festival on the River takes place Labor watershed calendar and on each watershed’s
day weekend in New Ulm, MN. website. A $50 cash prize will be given to the person
whose photograph is selected as the grand prize
Friday September 3, 2010 winner.
Grounds Open at 5:00 p.m.
Free Entertainment No more than two photographs may be submitted by
Campers Welcome! an individual. All photographs must be taken within
Saturday September 4, 2010 the watersheds’ boundaries. If you are unsure about
Events Open at 11:00 a.m. whether your picture is located within either
From Cajun to Zydeco to Country to Old Time to Blues to R&B watershed, please feel free to contact us to verify.
Rock and Roll...
We've got it all for you! This years contest will end on October 15th 2010.
Watershed Information Pictures must be sent in by this date.
Regional River History & Information Center
Afternoon Horse-Drawn Trolley Rides Photographers are asked to email photos to:
Please include the following information in your email:
• Photographer’s name, age, address and phone
• Small picture description, including the general
location of photograph.
• Date of Photo
(please remove timestamp).
Rain Gardens Popularity on the Rise
Rain gardens are gaining popularity all over the nation. They are environmentally valuable and
aesthetically pleasing. Landowners are attracted to rain gardens because of the natural beauty they add
to existing landscapes while filtering runoff from the land rain gardens consists of flowers, shrubs, grasses
and trees that can withstand both wet and dry conditions. Rain garden location, size, and shape can vary
from location to location. They are located on a property in an area that seems to collect the most rain
water. Regardless of the shape or size, the garden will act like a filtering system which will benefit water
quality in the area.
It is simple to create a rain garden. Once you find your location, and determine the size and shape, you
can remove the grass and create a dip in the center to collect rainwater, runoff and snowmelt from the
surrounding property. Once the plants are in place and root systems established, a natural means of
filtering begins. This design filters or purifies storm water by trapping impurities like pesticides, fertilizers, oil
and gas within the plants and root systems in the garden while recharging the groundwater supply. The
water trapped within the rain garden would normally travel down the street, into the storm water system,
carrying pollutants with it into nearby rivers or lakes. Many people believe runoff water from the streets
travels down the “man-hole” and into a “purifying system,” when in-fact, the water runs directly into a lake
or nearby river. This common practice of direct discharge into lakes and rivers is seen throughout the nation
and its adverse impacts are apparent.
Currently, High Island Creek & Rush River Watersheds have money available through June of 2011 to
install rain gardens within the watersheds. Rain garden incentives will be subject to the approval of the
technical committee. The funds for rain gardens will be on a first come, first serve basis. The projects also will
only allow one rain garden per city administration as an educational tool, as long as they address
alternative stormwater management practices in their stormwater management plan.
For more info on incentives for rain gardens
contact us at (507)-237-4050 or (507)-237-5435 ex.105
Paddling High Island Creek
By Scott Kudelka, Water Resources Center (Mankato)
Fast moving water, a twisting and turning channel, sand
and gravel bars, challenging rapids are just a few ways to
describe High Island Creek. This river is not for the faint of
heart, especially with the potential for deadfall blocking the
channel. According to Lynne and Robert Diebel, authors of
the book Paddling Southern Minnesota, “When the High
Island’s running, it’s great fun for expert paddlers.”
High Island Creek starts its journey in western Sibley
County flowing over to Arlington as it falls down in the
Minnesota River Valley and empties out above Henderson.
One of the best stretches for paddling this creek starts at
371st Avenue and ends at County Road 6 near the
Jessenland Town Hall for a distance of almost thirteen miles.
Here the flow will push you along at a pretty quick pace as
the creek winds along steep cliffs, fairly thick forested
sections and large sandbars.
On this stretch of High Island Creek you will begin feel as if
you are in the middle of nowhere with few signs of any
human presence. Landmarks to look out for include a
narrow footbridge, a couple of houses, the 250th Avenue
(wooden) bridge, a low head dam, and a second
footbridge near High Island Creek County Park. Beware of
the low head dam just downstream of the wooden bridge.
Kayak view of an exposed bank - East end of HIC.
Built to prevent carp from swimming upstream, there is no
warning sign and you will need to portage around the structure. Keep a lookout for any fences that may
be stretched across the river channel.
One of the nicest spots to stop for a rest or even to camp is High Island Creek County Park at the 8.7
mile mark. This is a former river crossing marked on the right bank with a couple of yellow poles. All the
park’s facilities are located on top of the cliff and can be found by taking a fairly steep climb along a
grass path. The park features vault toilets, portable water, picnic tables and camp sites. At County Road
6 the Jessenland Town Hall has a vault toilet and parking lot a short distance from the take-out point.
Spring is usually the best time to paddle High Island Creek which needs a minimum of 3.9 feet with the
optimal level at somewhere between 4.5
and 6 feet to make it an enjoyable trip.
Water levels drop pretty quickly on this
creek even after a hard rain. Go to
no=05327000 for the current level of water.
This United States Geological Survey station
is located at County Road 6. Flood stage
for the river is 8.86 feet or 1,290 cubic feet
of water per second.
Check out the book Paddling Southern
Minnesota by the Diebels for more
information on paddling High Island Creek
and other streams in the Minnesota River
Valley. The book highlights access points,
shuttle routes, and camp sites along with a
map of each paddle.
One of the challenges faced when paddling HIC.
“De-greening” the Water: Simple steps residents can take to
keep local waters clean
Eutrophication may sound like an exotic African disease, but it is actually a term used to describe
lakes and slow-moving rivers that have too many nutrients. In a eutrophic river, algae, weeds and other
aquatic plants grow and grow until the water turns green. Algal blooms make the water smelly, keep
people from enjoying fishing, swimming and boating, and in some cases, can even create toxic
conditions that are unsafe for children and pets.
To understand how eutrophication happens, think of your favorite foods. A little ice cream is delicious;
a lot of ice cream makes your clothes stop fitting. The same phenomenon is true for our local waters. A
little nitrogen and phosphorus are necessary for plants like duck weed, blue flag iris, yellow lotus and
even algae to grow. Aquatic plants provide habitat and a food source for fish and waterfowl. When
there are too many nutrients, however, the weeds and algae can turn local lakes and rivers green.
When it rains, the water washes phosphorus and other nutrients off of residential properties and into
storm sewers and ditches. You can help to keep local waters clean by making a few simple changes in
your lawn care and landscaping:
1. Reduce or eliminate your use of natural and store bought fertilizers in your lawn and gardens.
2. When you mow the lawn, turn the mower around so that the grass clippings blow into the yard and
not onto the street.
3. If you have a home along a lake, river, stream or wetland
area, plant deep-rooted native plants or trees along the
water’s edge instead of a mowed lawn or sandy beach.
If you live on a steep hill, plant native plants, trees and shrubs to
stabilize your soil and limit the amount of nutrients that are
washed away during rain storms.
For information about native gardens and shoreline plantings,
visit www.BlueThumb.org. You can also contact your local Soil
and Water Conservation District to have a district employee
come to your home and give you landscaping and erosion
control tips. Severe algae bloom on
Duck Lake (Blue Earth Co.)
What’s going on in the High Island Creek Watershed?
The High Island Creek watershed has received an extension on its current grant. The water project is in
its scheduled final year and with the extension will now end June 30th, 2011 or when the money runs out,
whichever comes first. With this grant, concludes incentives for best management practices that are
available currently. As of right now, incentives are still offered for open intake alternatives, cover crop,
filter strips, wetland restorations, structural practices, and feedlot waste management systems. The project
will not get additional extensions after that and some BMPs will not be available or eligible on the next
grant! Also, with this extension we will extend the deadline for the 2010 Photo Contest. The contest was
scheduled to end on August 15th but will now be extended until October 15th. This will also allow some of
you creative types to take some great “fall colors,” pictures like we got last year. I would like to thank
those that have already entered and so far we have had some great pictures.
The High Island Creek Watershed Project has just been notified this past July that it has received a 319
grant directed at reducing the levels of fecal coliform bacteria in High Island Creek. Fecal coliform
bacteria are a significant concern in the High Island Creek Watershed with six stream reaches listed on
the 303d Impaired Waters List. This project works toward reaching the TMDL for fecal coliform in High
Island Creek. Project activities will be focused to on-the-ground implementation practices and
educational activities. Implementation activities will include structural practices to reduce feedlot runoff,
pasture management plans, manure management plans, manure application calibrations, open intake
removals and low interest loans for septic system upgrades. This project will not receive this funding until
spring of 2011 so stay tuned.
Low Interest Loans available for upgrading of
Noncompliant Septic Systems
Owners of a Subsurface Sewage Treatment System (SSTS) are Sibley County: Ron Otto
eligible for low-interest loans to upgrade their non-conforming Sibley SWCD office
septic system. This low-interest loan program is available at a 111 6th Street, P.O. Box 161
3% interest rate for a ten year period. Gaylord, MN 55334
To Be Eligible:
507-237-5435 ext. 105
○ It must serve a residential, non-commercial property located Nicollet County: Paula Krook
in either watershed.
Environmental Services Office
○ Applicant must be a property owner of a non-conforming
501 South Minnesota Avenue
• Discharge to the surface
St. Peter, MN 56082
• Tiled to drainage or road ditch 507-934-0250
• Discharge to cesspool, seep-age pits or dry wells
McLeod CO: Roger Berggren
• Less than a 2-foot separation to seasonally
saturated soil Environmental Services Office
• Lack of a system 830 11th Street East, Suite 110
• Does not meet setbacks to existing well Glencoe, MN 55336
• Refinancing a previously installed system Renville County: Diane Mitchell
• Septic for new homes Water Management Office
• Non-residential property County Office Building
• Project started before design and loan approval 410 East DePue Avenue
• Under court order to repair system Olivia, MN 56277
Cost Share & Incentive Monies Available Structural Practices: An additional 25% cost-share will
for Best Management Practices be offered for those projects being funded through
the USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives
A variety of cost-share and incentive monies are Program (EQIP). Practices will include Water and
available to producers looking to implement Sediment Control Basins, Terraces, Diversions and
conservation practices in the High Island Creek & Grade Control Structures.
Rush River watersheds. Practices include Open
Tile Intake Alternatives, Structural Practices, Cover Vegetative Practices: Filter strips, riparian buffers and
Crops for Canning Ground and Sugar Beet fields grassed waterways installed under the USDA’s
and Vegetative Practices. Continuous CRP program may be eligible for an
incentive payment. An upfront one time incentive
Open Tile Intake Alternatives: cost-share monies offer of $15/acre/year equaling to $150/acre for a
are available for the following options: 10 year contract and $225/acre for a 15 year
1. Removal of intake contract.
2. Removal of intake and replacement with
denser pattern tiling Wetland Restoration: This program allows producers
3. Removal of intake and replacement with a to restore wetland complexes that are located
outside the recognized 100-year floodplain. There is
no size requirement, just a 4 to 1 buffer to wetland
4. Installation of a slotted riser
ratio. Landowners are eligible for an upfront
75% cost-share for removal of a structure or
incentive payment on top of CRP payments given
installation of a rock tile inlet, with a cap of $300
per intake. Cost of Slotted Riser intake is paid.
Waste Management systems: Due to the potentially
Cover Crops for Canning Ground & Sugar Beet
high cost of these systems, both Watersheds may
Fields: Incentive payment of $10 per acre will be
provide up to 25% of funds for a specific project
offered for producers planting a cover crop after
deemed highly beneficial for water quality.
the harvest of canning crops and sugar beets.
High Island Creek & Rush River PRESORTED
Watershed Implementation Projects STANDARD
111 8th Street, Box 207 US POSTAGE
Gaylord, MN 55334 PAID
GAYLORD, MN 55334
PERMIT NO 61
Project Sponsor Let’s Have a Chat about Scat Cities of Arlington,
No matter what you choose to call it – excrement, feces, poop, Gaylord,
Sponsors: Winthrop, Gibbon &
Renville, McLeod & scat, or dung – it’s just plain unpleasant. Left on the street, feces Lafayette
Nicollet Counties can be washed into storm drains/culverts, sending harmful U.S. Geological
Sibley, Renville, bacteria into our local waterways whenever it rains. When this Survey
McLeod & Nicollet pet wastes decays in the water, it can deplete oxygen levels U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Sibley County Water and release ammonia, which is harmful to both fish and other
Minnesota Board of
Resource Advisory aquatic organisms. Those people who are unfortunate enough Water & Soil
Committee to fish or swim in these contaminated water with fecal coliform Resources
Renville Co. Water can be infected with typhoid fever, viral and bacterial Minnesota
Protection & Department of
gastroenteritis and hepatitis A. In addition to this, fecal coliform
Management Natural Resources
Environmental in waterbodies can contribute to massive algal blooms. Algal
Coalition for a Clean
Services: Sibley, blooms are what gives a body of water that gross green or Minnesota River
Renville, McLeod & brown stain and possibly even an strong odor. Did you know Pheasants Forever –
Nicollet County that 100 dogs would contribute enough waste to contaminate Sibley & McLeod Co.
University of Chapters
Minnesota Extension a small lake within two or three days? Pet waste left
Service uncollected is unsanitary and distasteful for others. Partners of America
High Island Creek Reducing the amount of uncollected pet waste reduces Green Isle
Watershed District a significant cause of stormwater pollution. Be Sportsman’s Club
Natural Resource Gaylord Protective
the solution to watershed pollution!
Conservation Service League
This newsletter is sponsored by the High Island Creek & Rush River Watershed Implementation Projects. This publication is issued
quarterly and is funded through the Clean Water Partnership grant program from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and
various local and state organizations. Both Projects are equal opportunity organizations and employers. Questions and
comments can be directed to:
Joel Wurscher, Watershed Grants Coordinator, E-mail: email@example.com Phone: (507) 237-4050