CHISAGO COUNTY HAS AN ABUNDANCE OF LAKES, WHICH MEANS THERE IS ALSO AN ABUNDANCE OF LAKESHORE. LAKESHORE IS A CRITICAL TRANSITIONAL HABITAT AND AN AREA WHERE MANY PROBLEMS CAN OCCUR. THE NATIVE VEGETATION THAT ONCE EXISTED IN THE SHALLOW WATER OF THE SHORELINE IS OFTEN NOW SEEN AS “WEEDS” BY LAKESHORE OWNERS. THESE PLANTS HELPED SLOW WAVE ACTION AND PREVENT SHORELINE EROSION. WHEN THESE PLANTS ARE CLEARED OUT, THERE IS NOTHING TO HELP SLOW THE WAVES, WHICH ARE OFTEN MORE EXTREME THAN IN THE PAST DUE TO BOAT ACTION.
The vegetation above the water line is also very important. Like the aquatic vegetation, much of the terrestrial vegetation has been cleared, converted to mowed lawn or sandy beach. Unfortunately, turf grass is unable to hold the lakeshore in place, and wave action often causes erosion.
A Formal Laskeshore Buffer
The Chisago SWCD has a Lakeshore Restoration Program available to help interested landowners restore their shoreline. Restoration often includes using native lakeshore species with deep roots planted in a buffer along the shoreline. These plants help hold the soil in place and resist wave action, while also providing aesthetically pleasing flowers and wildlife habitat. In more severe cases, rip rap may be combined with vegetation.
Naturalized Lakeshore Buffer
A shoreline restoration doesn’t have to look wild and weedy. Edging, well-behaved plant choices, and mulching can make a buffer look just like a garden. The SWCD staff can provide technical assistance on what plants to choose for your site and design help. In some cases, financial assistance may be available. Contact the SWCD for more information.
URBAN AND SUBURBAN AREAS OFFER A UNIQUE CONSERVATION CHALLENGE. WATER THAT ONCE WAS ABLE TO SOAK INTO THE GROUND IN A FOREST OR ON THE PRAIRIE NOW HITS PAVEMENT. THIS RUNOFF WATER IS OFTEN FUNNELED DOWN A STORM DRAIN AND OUT INTO THE NEAREST LAKE OR RIVER. ALONG THE WAY, THE WATER PICKS UP MANY POLLUTANTS, SUCH AS OIL, CHEMICAL, SEDIMENT, GARBAGE, AND FERTILIZERS. ALL OF THESE THINGS ARE CARRIED OUT IN THE LAKE OR RIVER WITH THE RUNOFF WATER.
A Rain Garden That Recieves Street Runoff
In the lake, these pollutants cause problems. They reduce the quality of the water, which affects fish and aquatic vegetation, as well as lakeshore and values, water recreation, fishing, and aesthetics of the lake. Excess nutrients produce large algae blooms. Once in the water, these pollutants are difficult to remove. The best way to keep the lake clean is to make sure only clean water is entering.
A Vegetated Swale That Receives Runnoff From the Road
The SWCD has been implementing Best Management Practices (BMPs) around the County that try to accomplish this goal. Examples of BMPs include rain gardens, vegetated swales, and pervious pavement. Visit our projects page to see the latest BMP projects (www.chisagoswcd.org).
The SWCD has completed Urban Subwatershed Retrofit Assessments in Center City, Lindstrom, and Chisago City to help prioritize the most important areas for implementing BMPs. The highlighted areas ]in the assessments do not have any kind of A vegetated swale that receives runoff from the road and a parking lot. treatment for stormwater runoff in place, meaning what runs off the streets ends up directly in the lakes. Some grant funding may be available for BMP installation within these subwatersheds. Check with the SWCD to see if your location is within a priority area.
THE MAJORITY OF CHISAGO COUNTY IS CONSIDERED RURAL. RURAL AREAS ARE BETTER ABLE TO SOAK IN RAINFALL BECAUSE OF THE MINIMAL AMOUNT OF IMPERVIOUS SURFACES, BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THERE ARE NOT CONSERVATION CONCERNS. STANFORD FARMING PRACTICES LEAVE LARGE OPEN FIELDS OF BARE SOIL DURING LONG PERIODS OF THE YEAR AFTER HARVEST AND BEFORE PLANTING. BARE SOIL IS VULNERABLE TO EROSION BY WIND AND WATER BECAUSE THERE ARE NO ROOTS TO HELP HOLD THE PARTICLES IN PLACE. BESIDES THE LOSS OF THE IRREPLACEABLE TOPSOIL THAT IS REQUIRED TO GROW CROPS, THE ERODED SOIL PARTICLES END UP IN NEARBY STREAMS, RIVERS, AND LAKES.
A Grass Waterway
Soil particles carry with them the nutrient phosphorus. When the sediment is deposited in a water body, the phosphorus can become dissolved in the water and is then available for plants to use for growth. In historical situations, the levels of phosphorus were a limiting factor in the aquatic environment, but as increased erosion has deposited more and more phosphorus into these environments, the levels of aquatic vegetation have also increased. Algae is one of the heaviest users of excess phosphorus and can “bloom” to such levels that recreation on the water is no longer enjoyable. In addition, as the algae dies and decomposes, the levels of oxygen in the water are lower or depleted completely, leading to fish kills. Degraded lakes and rivers are no longer able to support the favorite sport fishing species and instead only carry “rough fish” such as carp and bullheads.
A Grass Waterway
The SWCD works with farmers and rural landowners to implement a wide variety of strategies to hold soil in place, reduce erosion issues, and protect water quality. Alternative farming practices, such as cover crops, no till, and permanent vegetation are options for reducing exposed soil. Large erosion problems, such as gullies, can be stabilized using grassed waterways, earthen diversions, or water and sediment control basins. Livestock and their associated nutrients can be managed with rotational grazing, livestock exclusion fencing, and agricultural waste systems. There are state and federal programs that help finance these and other practices in the rural sector.