The Pine River Watershed Alliance (PRWA) is a citizen-led volunteer organization that works with local units of government and other agencies to preserve and protect the local environment while meeting resident needs for economic development and a healthy community. The PRWA has grown out of initial efforts of the Whitefish Area Property Owners Association (WAPOA) and the Pine River Watershed Protection Foundation (PRWPF) to address watershed-wide issues.
Watershed level planning has become an accepted tool for managing resources at the basin/watershed level. PRWA has created a Pine River Watershed Management Plan that provides the direction for our organization to focus on effective environmentally sound watershed management. This Management Plan and the objectives of PRWA were largely established based on input received from residents through a survey done in 2006.
PRWA drives specific projects and activities in support of its vision and mission. The specific objectives for PRWA are established in the Operating section of the Management Plan and will be updated and measured yearly.
Mission and Vision
The Mission of the Pine River Watershed Alliance is to protect and preserve the Pine River Watershed’s land and water quality for the people of the watershed, now and for future generations, to enjoy a healthy, vibrant way of life.
Our Vision is to have the land and waters of the Pine River Watershed be healthy, beautiful and treated with respect by all people.
Pine River Watershed Alliance (PRWA) is an organization of people concerned about water quality. The Pine River Watershed encompasses 504,000 acres primarily in Crow Wing and Cass Counties with a small portion in Hubbard and Aitkin Counties. PRWA works to develop and implement enduring solutions to protect the quality of the watershed’s land and waters for the people who live, work and recreate here.
Water quality remains the primary gauge for measuring and assessing the quality of the environment. This measurement is used to evaluate the success of actions taken to improve land management practices. Our water quality efforts are focused on understanding sources of and attempting to mitigate negative impacts to our water.
What happens on land directly impacts the quality of our water resources. The pressure on our lakes and streams comes from an increasing population with corresponding land development along with agricultural and other land management practices in the watershed. Our efforts focus on promoting sustainable land management practices. PRWA expands water quality discussions to recognize that land, water and air are all related and need to be properly managed to maintain a healthy environment.
We are an entirely volunteer organization, not funded by taxes. The major challenge of a volunteer organization, like this watershed effort, are funding, maintaining momentum on projects Pine River Watershed Alliance (PRWA) manages or supports, and recruiting members. We are actively working to insure PRWA has the resources to achieve its Vision and Mission and make our efforts impactful and relevant to the people who volunteer their time and energy, including our partners and the stakeholders of our watershed..
The reduction of pre-settlement wetlands has been identified as an issue primarily in southern and western Minnesota where expansion of agriculture has significantly reduced wetlands, contributing significantly to a degradation of water quality in those areas. The residents of the Pine River Watershed noted in a previous survey that development in the Central Lakes Region of the state has also reduced wetlands and is an issue that needs to be addressed. Although not a focus area in our current five-year plan, wetlands are a topic of note in our efforts.
1. Sustainable land use management practices are learned and implemented.
A. Working with Northern Waters Land Trust (NWLT), Bureau of Soil and Water Resources and the National Forest Service increase the number of conservation easements in the watershed for areas identified as needing protection in the Pine River WRAPS.
B. Implement action plans for projects identified in WRAPS or others which utilize sustainable land management practices.
C. Investigate and explore up to three technological practices to reduce phosphorus in waters identified by the WRAPS as impactors to nutrient loading in the watershed.
D. Develop, deliver or partner on a minimum of five educational opportunities on desired land and water quality practices.
2. Collaboration with government entities, organization and individual for land and water quality is effective and beneficial.
A. Work with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), and Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District (CWSWCD) and local government units (LGU’S) on a minimum of two WRAPS projects.
B. Continue and strengthen relationships with the Land and Waters Endowment toward a one million dollar goal; the Cass County Farm Bureau to provide an annual Harvest Dinner; Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District (CWSWCD), Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources (BWSR), and the US Department of Agriculture/Forestry Service to secure two source water protection grants; and the University of Minnesota Extension/Central Region Sustainable Development Partnership (CRSDP).
C. Develop and increase relationships with lake associations and other entities of common interest.
D. Participate and support the Sandpiper Alliance to achieve a favorable environmental outcome.
3. Pine River Watershed Alliance (PRWA) has the capacity and resources to be a thriving, effective, inclusive organization.
A. Increase participation of Pine River Watershed residents in PRWA efforts by 400 new members.
B. Increase unrestricted funds to an annual amount of $20,000.
C. Establish administrative support by shared resources with Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District (CWSWCD).
Pelican Lake Assn
Comments From The Chair
Comments from the Chair October, 2021
A communication process is happening even with COVID that is allowing us to move forward on Pine River Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan. As we are working with Lake Associations on their Lake Improvement Projects we have noted one critical item. Present improvement projects contribute to reduction of phosphorus but we need other steps in reducing larger phosphorus coming into our lakes. Although the work on lake shore protection, storm water and sustainable land management have benefits and need to be continued, most lakes have a larger impact from nutrient loading coming from their watershed.
Nutrient loading comes both from new sources and residual which has been deposited in the watershed over hundreds of years. This residual resides in the wetlands and water that end up in our lakes. As we work the 1W1P efforts it has become clear that we need to have bigger wins in the reduction of pounds of phosphorus from the system than just focusing on new sources.
Over the years I have learned about two methods for the removal of phosphorus. One is filtering water with a medium which captures the phosphorus and the other is the removal of sediment containing phosphorus from a wetland. Both have been used in Minnesota. The technology of filtering is new and removal of sediment is very expensive. Bone Lake close to the Cites had one wetland that was causing their lake to turn green. Comfort Watershed District Forest Lake completed a feasibility on Bone Lake. The feasibility study determined that the wetlands adjacent to the lake contained Phosphorus-rich sediment from the northern portion of a wetland directly adjacent to Bone Lake. The history indicated the wetland had received direct runoff from an old Dairy Farm.
Link to the feasibility study: https://www.clflwd.org/documents/Bone NE Wetl Feas Report 5-18-2021 wApp.pdf.
They cleaned up the wetland and replanted it and did an alum treatment of the Lake with a price tag of $1.6 Million. It worked to reduce the Lake to below impaired status.
Even though removal is expensive and filtering is not yet a main stream technique, we believe we need to investigate the options we may have and get some proposals. Partners will pursue price quotes from consultants regarding this type of work. The Crow Wing SWCD Board and the 1W1P Policy committee will review these options. Once quotes are received partners will discuss possible funding options. We simply need larger projects with significant reductions in phosphorus to get ahead of the nutrient loading curve and meet our 1W1P goals. These efforts will create some very interesting times.
Even when you are fighting the good fight to protect our beautiful area it does cost money. We will see what making significant removal of phosphorus will potentially cost. It is no different with the operating expenses of PRWA. Our administrative expenses have climbed. The need for Administrative, Website and Financial services have driven this up.
PRWA has been blessed with tremendous financial support from a rather small membership when you consider the watershed has 17,000 residents. Also the inability I have had to add Board members has had the effect that we need to contract for services.
I hope our membership will continue its support of us and I ask for help in two areas. First, please help us find new Board members. Working at a watershed level is a difficult concept to picture. Protecting your lake, which you can see out your window, is easier to grasp. But the reason we have a watershed organization is we realized it is the greatest impactor to maintaining healthy lakes. Second, please help build our general membership by talking to your friends and neighbors.