Clay Soil & Water head details progress 

clay county commission

Dan Haglund 

The Clay County Soil & Water Conservation District Manager Kevin Kassenborg outlined his department’s annual updates for the commission on Tuesday morning, highlighted by the sale of more than 16,000 trees to 160 customers, and more than 10 miles of weed barrier fabric matting in 2022.

“The tree program is what we’re primarily known for,” Kassenborg said.

The program includes servicing 25 varieties of shrubs, evergreens and other trees, including site preparation, planting and weed maintenance.

Kassenborg also detailed that the county’s 30-year-old No-Till Drill rental program encompassed more than 1,900 planted acres, with 35 landowners renting the drills.

The RIM/Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), a voluntary federal and state land easement program, saw two land easements completed in the year, totaling just over 300 acres.

The Wetland Conservation Act, a 1991 state law set to protect wetlands, was the catalyst in assisting and 60 county organizations and landowners with concerns ranging from the Red River Diversion Project to field drainage and transportation infrastructure.

The Agriculture Best Management Practices (BMP) Loan Program is a water quality program which provides low-interest loans to farmers, rural landowners and ag supply businesses. It provides help with septic system upgrades and conservation tillage equipment, which help with erosion reduction.

In the County Feedlot Officer Program, Kassenborg detailed that there were 89 registered feedlots in 2022, and will be down to 77 this year. An improved reporting system has lifted the program out of a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency probationary period, after 14 compliance checks last year.

Regarding the 2015 Buffer Law, state agencies have been charged with putting 50-foot average width barrier of perennial vegetation along Department of Natural Resources public waters and a 16.5-foot barrier for ditches. Kassenborg shows that Clay comes in at 99 percent compliant in both categories.

With Urban Conservation, about 60 residents attended seven educational events on compost barrel, pollinator habitat and “make and paint” workshops. The 4th Annual Pollinator Pint Night drew more than 200 attendees to Moorhead’s Junkyard Brewing in April, sampling the pollinator friendly beer “Money Honey” and encouraged to plant their own pollinator habitats.

A Crestwood Pollinator Habitat summer workshop gave attendees a first-hand look at a large-scale pollinator habitat, as well as help in identifying native pollinator plants on the 7.7-acre site.

Kassenborg says his department is fully staffed, aside from the technician/county agriculture inspector position.

The job includes such duties as enforcing noxious weed provisions, proctoring applicator exams, township board training and dealing with complaints.

“If you know somebody who is looking for a position, I think we’ve got a good spot for them, and a good staff to work with,” he said.

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