Healthy Organizations Program
The Cass SWCD Board has completed its strategic plan in cooperation with the Initiative Foundation’s Healthy Organizations Program. This program seeks to empower local organization by identifying current strengths and weakness, training teams of leaders in effective administrative techniques, organizing facilitated public input sessions, and assisting in plan drafting and review. Two major areas of emphasis were identified:
- Small Woodlot Management Program—The plan calls for a cooperative literature research project with Bemidji State University (BSU) to determine the most effective ways to get the landowners to actively manage their forests. BSU Graduate Student, Patrick Schuett, has assembled an annotated bibliography of articles and research materials for presentation to the Board. Review of the data and meetings with other conservation groups will be scheduled in 2009 to arrive at an action plan.
- Shoreline Buffer Program—The plan calls Multi-County cooperative project, that encompasses the Upper Mississippi Drainage to provide cost sharing and technical assistance to lakeshore owners to establish native buffers.
The Board will conduct facilitated evaluation meetings on the plan in the fall of 2009. The Initiative Foundation provided funding and technical support for plan development.
The SWCD makes cost-sharing dollars available to Cass County landowners for a variety of conservation projects. Eligible practices must meet technical specifications and be maintained by the landowner for a minimum effective life of 10 years. Shoreline erosion control measures have been the most often requested projects in Cass. There is also funding available on a competitive basis from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources for larger projects.
The SWCD continues to support agricultural conservation programs in cooperation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS District Conservationist WHIP (Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program), CSP (Conservation Stewardship Program), provides technical assistance to farmers participating in the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) as well as other federal and state programs.
The SWCD continues to enjoy an excellent working relationship with the Cass County Board and the Cass County Environmental Services Department. Through a formal service agreement, the County provides office space, vehicles, equipment, supplies, and personnel to carry out the SWCD’s program. Supervisor, Jim Ballenthin, represents the SWCD on the Cass County Board of Adjustment. The County and SWCD Boards meet as a Liaison Committee to discuss budgets and policy issues.