Projects in the Red Cedar Watershed

Red Cedar River Water Quality Partnership

In late 2013, many area natural resource professionals came together to form the Red Cedar River Water Quality Partnership. The focus of the Partnership is to be the main body that oversees water quality work in the Red Cedar River Basin. Partners include representatives from local, state and federal government agencies, private business, lake associations, UW-Stout, non-governmental organizations, and others. The Partnership began meeting monthly, then moved to every other month, and alternates meetings between Menomonie and Barron.

The initial focus of the Partnership was to write a comprensive watershed management plan for the Red Cedar River Basin. This plan was completed in 2015 and at this writing, is awaiting approval from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and the US Environmental Protection Agency. Once approved, this ten-year plan will be the guiding document behind water quality improvement efforts in the Basin.

Specific projects that result from the Partnership/Plan will be described here as they develop.

LAKES REU Project

Beginning in 2014, UW-Stout in Menomonie began working with college students from all over the country every summer to study multiple aspects of the Red Cedar River watershed.  With the help of grant money from the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, students come from many diverse locations and backgrounds to gain a unique work, academic and social experience in the Red Cedar River watershed.  They study everything from the geology of the region, the economics and sociology, to the biology and chemistry of the river itself.  These students report on their findings at the end of the summer, and the Red Cedar River Water Quality Partnership uses these findings to help plan and implement activities in the watershed aimed at improving water quality, and improving many facets of living within the watershed.  More information can be found at the Linking Applied Knowledge in Environmental Sustainability (LAKES) REU website here.

Red Cedar Demonstration Farm

After conversations among Dunn County staff regarding ways to assist county residents with agricultural concerns, a partnership was formed by steering committee members including County Conservationist Dan Prestebak, Conservation Planner Leah Nicol, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) District Conservationist John Sippl, Farm Business Production Management Instructor Mark Denk from Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC), and Dunn County UW-Extension Agricultural Agent Katie Wantoch. The group is known as the Dunn County Soil and Water Health Partnership.

The Partnership began brainstorming ways to manage county farmland located on Highway 12/29 East, the site of the former Dunn County Health Care Center, and managed up until that time by the Neighbors of Dunn County, a standing committee of the Dunn County Board of Supervisors. The land was being rented out to a local farmer.

During some of these discussions, it was suggested that it would be ideal to use the land to demonstrate best managment practices for soil and water conservation. The Partnership submitted a proposal to the Neighbors of Dunn County for rental of the farmland with the following goals:

  • Demonstrating soil and water conservation best managment practices for the Dunn County community, area farmers, and CVTC students;
  • Providing an opportunity for soil and water conservation education, on-farm research, and field demostrations.

The Neighbors of Dunn County approved the proposal in December 2014 with a five-year lease, and Red Cedar Demonstration Farm became a reality. The Partnership has since established research projects and field days on approximately 150 acres that also includes some land owned by the City of Menomonie. Additionally, CVTC students utilize the land for educational experience and are assisted by an agreement with local implement dealers for use of tractors, tillage, planting and harvesting equipment.

More information can be found at the Dunn County UW-Extension website.