News & Events

Zebra mussels discovered in Stevens County

As lakeshore owners on Perkins Lake were removing their docks and lifts for the season, several reported finding zebra mussels on their equipment. The area DNR invasive species specialist confirmed the reports on October 8th in multiple locations of the lake. Additionally, they found one zebra mussel at the public water access site on County Highway 20 between North and Middle Pomme de Terre. No mussels were located during a search downstream at the Pomme de Terre Reservoir.

Carefully inspect your equipment coming out of the water for zebra mussels or any other invasive species. Look on the posts, wheels, and underwater support bars of docks and lifts, as well as any parts of boats, pontoons, and rafts that may have been submerged in water for an extended period.

If you believe you have found an invasive species in another Stevens County lake, send your report with a picture and location to the Stevens SWCD or the area DNR invasive species specialist.

A few things to remember when taking your boat to the lake:

  • Inspect and clean your boat and equipment before leaving the water access
  • Drain water from boat, live-well, drain-bilge, etc. with water-draining devices or by removing drain plugs
  • You may not transport aquatic plants, zebra mussels, or other prohibited species on any roadway

To remove or kill zebra mussels, take precautions before moving to another waterbody, especially after leaving infested waters:

  • Spray with high-pressure water
  • Rinse with very hot water (120°F for at least 2 minutes; or 140°F for at least 10 seconds)
  • Dry for at least 5 days

Area DNR Invasive Species Specialist: Mark Ranweiler (218) 739-7576 ext.254 or

Steve & Wanda Howe Named Stevens SWCD 2018 Outstanding Conservationists

Congratulations to Steve and Wanda Howe of Chokio for being selected as Stevens County’s Outstanding Conservationists for 2018. They are pictured here with their son Levi in a rain garden on their property that was constructed by Stevens SWCD. Steve and Wanda have been part of his family farm for over 28 years. They have five children. His dad Richard started farming near Chokio in Baker and Stevens Townships in 1953, where his grandpa Gordon farmed prior to that. The family has nearly reached the century farm mark. Steve’s mom Bonnie still lives on the home farm today. His dad was always conservation-minded and continued to plant trees year after year and set aside land for wildlife habitat and for his family to hunt and enjoy.

Today Steve and his brother have nearly 500 acres in WRP, CRP and CREP. He has converted his tillable land from corn and beans to alfalfa, implementing Forage and Biomass Planting and Forage Harvest Management plans as part of his participation in the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). These practices are designed to decrease soil erosion and increase soil health by adding a deep-rooted crop to decrease compaction. The land also provides wildlife cover over the winter and he can use the additional forage for his cattle. Steve was one of the first in the state to set up a grazing plan on a permanent Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) easement. He runs his cow/calf pairs on his WRP acreage using a grazing plan developed under NRCS standards. Grazing an easement area like this creates a light disturbance for wildlife and improves grassland health on his property. Howe has also installed a rain garden in his back yard to divert rain water away from his house and filter the runoff to improve water quality. He also enjoys the added benefits of beauty and increased wildlife and pollinators seen around his yard.

Howe and his brother John were recently certified in Stevens County through the MAWQCP (Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program).

Steve has plans for a shelterbelt renovation next year and is always looking for new ways to implement conservation on this farm. The Howes are committed to using their farm for wildlife habitat and as a place where their family can enjoy the outdoors and hunting for years to come. Congratulations on making your farm a conservation legacy in Stevens County!

Three Stevens SWCD supervisors up for election in November 2018

November 6th is election day and SWCD supervisor candidates will be on the ballots across Minnesota. Click here to find out more about the Stevens SWCD supervisors and the election process.

Each county in Minnesota has five elected supervisors.  Please check out the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts’s video and learn about the important work that SWCDs across the state are doing!

Putting Conservation on the Land!

Stevens County producers make strides towards cleaner water

In Stevens County, 13 farms have been certified with nearly 10,800 acres under the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP). Interest in the program is growing and that tells us local farmers are interested in protecting the land and water resources around us.

The MAWQCP is a voluntary program offered by MDA that works with landowners to identify and mitigate risks to water quality at a field level. Those who implement and maintain approved farm management practices can be certified and obtain regulatory certainty for 10 years as well as have access to cost share funds to aid in implementing new conservation practices. This program is a great way to learn about what you are already doing well on your farm and what improvements could be made.

Many participants implement conservation practices on their farm operations to reduce soil erosion potential. Planned practices some of them intend to add to their operations include water and sediment control basins for gully erosion, French drains to close open tile intakes, cover crops, field windbreaks, native grass plantings, wetland restorations, or a multitude of other practices. All are meant to have a positive impact on water quality and soil health.

Stevens SWCD works cooperatively with the MDA to complete on-farm assessments and provide technical assistance to farmers and landowners.  Please contact the SWCD at 320-589-4886 ext. 4 for more information about the program or to sign up. You can also find more information online at

Congratulations to the following producers for being certified in the MAWQCP program! Kasey Jenc, Stevens SWCD Program Technician and Grant Pearson, West Central MAWQCP Certification Specialist, present certification signs to producers in Stevens County.

Steve Howe

Randy Schmiesing

Darin, Derek, Molly and Steve Woodke

Jim Krosch

Joe, Susan, and Mark Fitzgerald

Greg Fynboh

Mark Erickson

Excellent Internship Opportunity! DEADLINE MARCH 30

Openings for NRCS Soil Conservation Student Trainee Interns were just announced! There is one opening in the Stevens County NRCS Field Office, co-located with our office here in Morris.

This is an excellent opportunity for students interested in pursuing a career with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Click the link below for the full job application information. Deadline is March 30, 2018!!!

Good Luck to Hopkins HS at the National Envirothon

 Hopkins students will travel to Maryland next week for the national competition

The Minnesota Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD) would like to congratulate and wish good luck to the students from Hopkins High School who will travel to Maryland next week to represent Minnesota in the National Envirothon. The Hopkins team placed first in the Minnesota State Envirothon, earning its bid to nationals.

Envirothon is an annual environmental education program for high school students that combines classroom learning with outdoor activities. Through the Envirothon, students learn about natural resources, develop teamwork skills, gain valuable exposure to a range of disciplines, and explore possible career paths. MASWCD is a proud longtime sponsor of the Minnesota State Envirothon.

Before competing at the state Envirothon, teams must first compete in a regional area Envirothon, which are hosted and managed by local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) staff members. The top three teams from each area advance to the Minnesota State Envirothon. Students are tested on their knowledge in five topic areas: aquatics, forestry, soils, wildlife, and a current environmental issue.

“The Envirothon is a great hands-on experience for high school students, educating youth on the importance of protecting the future of our natural resources,” said Judy Johnston, Minnesota State Envirothon coordinator from Stevens County SWCD. “It’s also a great opportunity to introduce students to potential career opportunities in the field of natural resource management.”

Each team gives a 10-minute oral presentation which challenges teams to work together and communicate their solution to the environmental issue in front of a panel of judges. For 2017, the current events topic was “Agricultural Soil and Water Stewardship.”

In 2017, 26 teams competed in the Minnesota State Envirothon contest held in Stewartville. Rounding out the podium behind Hopkins were Dilworth-Glendon-Felton High School (second place) and Crookston High School (third place).

“We are so grateful to our SWCD staffers from around the state who dedicate their time and energy to make this event outstanding,” said LeAnn Buck, executive director of MASWCD. “We wish Hopkins High School continued success in the national competition.”

In addition to MASWCD, sponsors of 2017 Minnesota State Envirothon competition included the Minnesota Association of Conservation District Employees (MACDE), Minnesota Corn Growers, Smithfield Foods, and the Minnesota Erosion Control Association (MECA).

For more information about the Minnesota State Envirothon, visit

The first place team from Hopkins High School.


The second place team from Dilworth-Glendon-Felton High School.


The third place team Crookston High School.


Students compete at the wildlife station.

Our Mission

The mission of the Stevens Soil & Water Conservation District is to work with county landowners in putting conservation practices on the land and to help all citizens be good stewards of our natural resources.