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 Leech Lake Area Watershed Foundation (LLAWF), 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 WRAP.
B. Implement action plans for projects identified in WRAP 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 WRAP 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 WRAP strategies or 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 July 2020
First an apology as I am months late with an update. The time between my last update, in February, and now has been a very unusual time. Nothing seems normal and we haven’t yet defined the new normal but we will.
We completed our annual meeting in June and like all meetings so far this year it was a ZOOM meeting. The best news about that is it is recorded and we have posted it on our website. Although the business portion was straight forward we did have a presentation on a product called Bio Char and that is worth watching. Website is www.prwa.us.
The One Watershed One Plan for the Pine River Watershed continues. We successfully completed and had our plan approved which has put us in a position where we have $462,000 that we can apply to projects developed as part of the plan. We are in the process of developing specific work plans for land management improvements with local farmers and lake improvement plans. Two areas of focus are Grazing Management and Lake Improvement. The grazing management focus on specific projects to improve soil health which has a direct effect of protecting and improving water quality. The lake Improvement plans are focused at specific actions to reduce phosphorus and improve water quality in a lake. We will begin two pilot projects on Lower Hay and Ossie/Kimble Lakes. The challenge is Covid-19 impacts our ability to get groups together to develop the plans but we will continue to move the process forward.
The problems with weed mats and algae that we experienced in 2018 never had a specific cause for the issues to be identified. PRWA and WAPOA hired a consultant to help begin an effort for a much more comprehensive plan to manage the Whitefish Chain. This year we have expanded our testing thanks to the WAPOA water quality team and CW SWCD. We hope this effort will help us understand the contribution in phosphorus levels in the Upper Basin that comes from the phosphorus that has been collected in the basin over the years. The Upper Basin has a total phosphorus level of 24 ug/l compared to 15ug/l for Middle Basin and 10ug/l for the Lower Basin.
One critical element in protecting water quality is sustainable land management that improves soil health. There are an increasing number of local producers that are practicing good soil health techniques. In order to help these farmers PRWA, MN Lakes and Rivers and Association of Cass County Lakes (ACCL) have taken on the project “Up the Creek Meats”. This effort is designed to connect lake associations with producers and purchase their products. The concept is a lake association would purchase a cow, that then would be processed, and they see that it is distributed to lake residents. Go to the Fish and Water Conservation Fund website and click on programs to review the project and see the Farmers that are now part of the process.
There is no doubt the present situation will slow projects because of the restrictions on meetings and group communications. We are presently discussing if the Harvest Dinner should be held. Even with these issues we will make progress.
Take care and get involved. There are a lot of interesting things to do.