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Watershed District Receives Grant Recommendation for Restoration Projects

For Immediate Release:                                                         For more information contact:

October 9, 2014                                                                                   Brett Behnke: (507)-377-5785

                                                                                                Andy Henschel: (507)-379-2964

Watershed District Receives Grant Recommendation for Restoration Projects

Albert Lea, MN. On Tuesday, October 7th, the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC) voted unanimously to include the Shell Rock River Watershed District’s Project (Shell Rock River Watershed Habitat Restoration Program- Phase IV) in its recommendation to the State Legislature. The Shell Rock River Watershed Habitat Restoration Program received a partial funding recommendation of $2.41 million from the LSOHC.

“This is a remarkable step in achieving the District’s goals. This grant will open the door for water quality and habitat restoration within the Watershed,” said Brett Behnke, District Administrator. The next step is for the SRRWD to complete an accomplishment plan, which is a list of projects to be accomplished with the grant dollars, by the end of December to be sent to the Legislature for review. The Legislature will review and need to approve the LSOHC proposals during the 2015 Legislative Session. Once approved, the funds will be available July 1, 2015.

“We are pleased and thankful to the members of the Council for their investment in habitat efforts in southern Minnesota,” Behnke said.

Director of Field Operations, Andy Henschel added “This grant is essential in our efforts to complete many projects within the Watershed that will protect, enhance, and restore habitat for fish, waterfowl, and wildlife.”

The LSOHC was established by the Legislature to provide annual recommendations on how the funds from the Outdoor Heritage funds are utilized. In this round, the Council is recommending $100 million in conservations efforts to the 2015 State Legislature to protect, enhance, and restore habitat in Minnesota. The Outdoor Heritage Fund receives one-third of the money raised by the constitutional amendment creating sales tax dedicated funds. Information about the LSOHC can be found at http://www.lsohc.leg.mn/index.html.

 

Shell Rock River Watershed District Prepares Next Steps for Fountain Lake Restoration Project

Shell Rock River Watershed District Prepares Next Steps for Fountain Lake Restoration Project

 For Immediate Release:  June 27, 2013

For More Information Contact: Brett Behnke, 507-402-4806

The Shell Rock River Watershed District took steps recently to lay the groundwork for the 2014 Legislative Session. The District submitted the Fountain Lake Restoration Project to Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) to be considered for Governor Mark Dayton’s 2014 bonding bill. The District is asking for $7.5 million for the project.

 “This is the first step in preparing for the 2014 Legislative Session,” said Brett Behnke, District Administrator. “MMB collects requests from local governments throughout Minnesota and prepares them for Governor Dayton’s consideration. 2014 is the regular bonding year, and the Governor’s bonding package is always the starting point.”

 “The community rallied behind our 2013 bonding request and their ongoing support is absolutely essential,” Behnke added. “The success of this project will create new economic opportunities through increased tourism and add to our quality of life.”

 Local government bonding requests and state agency bonding requests were due to MMB on June 21, 2013. MMB will release all initial project proposals in mid-July. Governor Dayton will present his bonding proposal to the Legislature by January 15, 2014.

 “The bonding process is extremely competitive,” said Behnke, “but with the good effort in 2013 and the support of the community, we hope 2014 will be the year.”

 The Fountain Lake Restoration project is a high priority for the Watershed District, the city of Albert Lea, the Albert Lea Visitor and Convention Bureau, the Lakes Foundation, the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce and many other community groups.

 Another recent development for the Shell Rock River Watershed District was the acceptance of their offer to purchase the front-9 of the old Country Club.  American Bank of St. Paul recently accepted the District’s offer of $290,000 for the property.  According to the District’s attorney, Matt Benda, “The District will now conduct its final review of the property.  A key component of making this deal work is to obtain cooperation from the City of Albert Lea to resolve some outstanding issues.  If everything goes as planned, the closing is scheduled to occur in mid-August.”

 The Mission of the Shell Rock River Watershed District is to implement reasonable and necessary improvements to the water-related and other natural resources of the district. For more information on this project and other work of the district go to: http://www.shellrock.org/

 

 

 

Local Support Heard at Senate Hearing for Fountain Lake Restoration Project

St. Paul, MN – The Senate Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Division heard loud and clear that city, business and community leaders support efforts to restore Fountain Lake. Funding for the Fountain Lake Restoration project is in HF271/SF200; providing $7.5 million for the clean up and removal of sediment from Fountain Lake.

 

Read more: Local Support Heard at Senate Hearing for Fountain Lake Restoration Project

Fountain Lake Restoration Moves Forward

Fountain Lake Restoration Moves Forward

For Immediate Release: February 12, 2013

For More Information Contact: Brett Behnke, 507-402-4806

The Shell Rock River Watershed District approved an important step in moving ahead with the Fountain Lake Restoration Project when the Board of Managers accepted a Barr Engineering proposal for Phase 1 Engineering Services.  

“Phase 1 Engineering will be used to undertake data gathering and stakeholder and permitting agency communications to complete a preliminary engineering report that identifies lake restoration objectives and will aid with permitting and environmental review requirements,” said Brett Behnke, District Administrator. This phase will provide the project with enough detail that it can move forward into the detailed design, environmental review and permitting phase. Phase 1 work is to be concluded by December 1, 2013. 

The Board also learned legislation (SF271/HF200) was introduced in January to provide $7.5 million in state funds for the project. “We are grateful to Rep. Shannon Savick and Sen. Dan Sparks for taking leadership to secure these funds,” said Behnke.

 SF271 was co-authored by Sen. LeRoy Stumpf (DFL-Thief River Falls), Sen. David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm), Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont) and Sen. Tom Sauxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids). HF200 was co-authored by Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul), Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-S.St.Paul), Rep. Bob Gunther, (R-Fairmont), Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL-North St. Paul) and Rep. Jeanne Poppe (DFL-Austin). “The support of our legislators and these co-authors positions us well in the very competitive capital bonding arena,” Behnke said.

 The Fountain Lake Restoration Project is a high priority for the Watershed District, the city of Albert Lea and the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce. Lake restoration projects are complex and multi-year efforts requiring many partnerships.

 “We are pleased with the progress taken today and will continue to look to the community for input and support as we move forward,” said Clayton Petersen, Board Chair.

  

 

 

 

Albert Lea Lake in line for $1.1 million

Published 9:31am Monday, September 24, 2012

One of the Shell Rock River Watershed District’s projects passed a major hurdle Friday.

The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council approved the recommendation of $1.1 million in funding to go toward improving habitat and controlling invasive species on Albert Lea Lake. The recommendation will come before the Legislature for final approval.

Andy Henschel, director of field operations for the district, said in a news release the $1.5 million project calls for installing a naturalized outlet to Albert Lea Lake with a series of arches. An electric fish barrier will also be used to reduce the population of carp in the lake.

“We continue our efforts to improve the water quality in the entire district, from the top to the bottom of the watershed,” Administrator Brett Behnke said. “This project helps us secure the bottom, or the drain, of our lake system.”

The Outdoor Heritage Council was established by the Legislature to provide annual recommendations on how funds from the Outdoor Heritage Fund will be used. The fund receives one-third of the money raised by the constitutional Clean Water, Land and Legacy amendment.

Behnke said funding was not recommended Friday by the council for a Goose Lake restoration and carp exclusion project; however, the Outdoor Heritage Council stated it would voice support for the project though Minnesota Department of Natural Resources funding. This application is due Wednesday.

A watershed district news release stated the two projects were presented with strong community support. The council commended local officials for bringing forward effective, well-researched projects.

“We’re happy,” Behnke said. “We had a big day today.”

Shell Rock River Watershed District Project Committee Created

Shell Rock River Watershed District Project Committee Created

 For Immediate Release: December 13, 2012

For More Information Contact: Andy Henschel 507-391-2795

Albert Lea, MN – A new collaborative process was established this week when representatives of the Shell Rock River Watershed District met with regional staff from the Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Board of Water and Soil Resources. The newly created Project Committee will meet on a regular basis and be made up of a core team from the agencies and the watershed district.

“This process is intended to strengthen partnerships with these key state agencies,” said Brett Behnke, Watershed District Administrator. “If we can work together, identify issues and concerns and then establish a process for resolving them, we will see results on the ground.”

 District Director of Field Operations Andy Henschel said there were three ongoing projects requiring collaboration; the Pickerel Lake fish barrier and lake restoration project, the Goose Lake fish barrier project and the Headwaters management plan. “The district has state and local funding in place for these efforts, now we need to have management plans developed and implemented,” he said. “The DNR has a critical role to play in these efforts.” 

The Project Committee will also be a forum to work on the Fountain Lake Restoration Project. Lake restoration projects are complex and multi-year projects. With the purchase of the dredge behind them, the next steps include engineering, permitting, land acquisition and securing additional outside funding to pay for the actual restoration project. “This is a complicated project,” Benhke said. “Requiring a myriad of permits means we must work with our state agency partners. We believe this new committee will help with this process.”  

This is another piece of the effort to achieve the habitat and lake restoration goals of the district. “We will continue to look to the community and our partners for input and support,” Behnke said.

 The Mission of the Shell Rock River Watershed District is to implement reasonable and necessary improvements to the water-related and other natural resources of the district. For more information on this project and other work of the district go to: http://www.shellrock.org/

Goose Lake Restoration Project Funded

Goose Lake Restoration Project Funded

 Albert Lea, MN – The Shell Rock River Watershed District (SRRWD) was awarded a $395,000 grant from the Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) Grant Program. “We were very pleased to receive this grant,” said Brett Behnke, Watershed District Administrator. “The project is an important part of our comprehensive approach to improve water quality in Goose Lake, Albert Lea Lake and Fountain Lake.”

 The purpose of the Goose Lake Restoration project is to install an electric fish barrier at the outlet of Goose Lake. The installation of this barrier will prevent upstream movement of invasive fish. This will prohibit invasive and rough fish species from spawning in Goose Lake and repopulating in mass in the chain of lakes downstream.

According to District Project Manager, Andy Henschel, “the project proposes to control carp by preventing the upstream migration through the installation of an electric fish barrier at the outlet on Goose Lake. The second part of this project is to team up with DNR on the eradication of all fish species in Goose Lake, and re-introduce game fish (bluegill, perch and northern pike), which in turn will repopulate our lakes with game fish. The project will complement our existing fish barriers installed in 2008 and 2009, three of which were partially funded by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage funds. We hope to see immediate and dramatic habitat benefits within a year of construction.”

The electric fish barrier is designed to be part of a multi-prong approach to watershed and lake restorations in the SRRWD. Excluding rough fish from shallow basin lakes, and performing lake reclamations will enhance aquatic vegetation, waterfowl habitat, restore a healthy game fish community and improve water quality. 

There were forty-one eligible CPL Grant applications received for a total of $5.2 million. Of those, twenty-four grants for a total of $3.5 million were funded. The grant for the Goose Lake Restoration project is available immediately. Henschel expects to begin construction on the fish barrier this spring.

 The Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program is funded through the Outdoor Heritage Fund. The Outdoor Heritage Fund receives one-third of the money raised by the constitutional amendment creating the Outdoor Heritage, Clean Water, Parks and Trails, and Arts and Cultural Heritage; sales tax dedicated funds. Information about the LSOHC can be found at: http://www.lsohc.leg.mn/index.html.

 

The Mission of the Shell Rock River Watershed District is to implement reasonable and necessary improvements to the water-related and other natural resources of the district. 

Fountain Lake Restoration Project

On Wednesday, February 29, 2012 the Shell Rock River Watershed’s bill for Fountain Lake Restoration (HF1699) will be presented to the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee (click for details) for their consideration and recommendation for this year’s bonding bill. As you may recall, the Capital Investments (Bonding) Committee was in Albert Lea last fall to review this project – see Albert Lea Tribune Article. Our bill was referred for review first to the House Environment Committee.

Please contact Connie at the District Offices if you need more details.

Hearing details:
WEDNESDAY, February 29, 2012
  8:15 AM
Room: 5 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Denny McNamara

Bonding Bill Senators to Visit

Published 5:02pm
Saturday, December 10, 2011

Members of the Minnesota Senate bonding committee are slated to come to Albert Lea Thursday to meet with community leaders about two local projects.

Read more: Bonding Bill Senators to Visit

2009 Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts Summer Tour

Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts - Summer Tour
Thursday, June 25 – Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Shell Rock River Watershed District hosted the Minnesota Association of Watershed District's Summer Tour
on Thursday, June 25 – Saturday, June 27, 2009.

Read more: 2009 Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts Summer Tour

Fountain Lake Northern Pike

On the evening of August 19 about 6:00 PM Tami Charlton of Albert Lea caught this beautiful Northern Pike. With the rain letting up for a few minutes Tami and husband Anthony went fishing on Albert Lea’s beautiful Fountain Lake. The

Read more: Fountain Lake Northern Pike