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The Ortonville Independent
Ortonville, Minnesota
July 28, 2009     The Ortonville Independent
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July 28, 2009

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A SUCCESSFUL BOOK SIGNING was held last weekend during Odessa's 130th Anniversary celebration. Subject was Odessa native, Arlo Janssen with his book ti- tled "Parsonage in a Pear Tree." Arlo grew up in the parsonage of Odessa's Trinity Lutheran Church. He's shown above at right, with wife, Ofelia at left. Looking on and waiting to pick up one of Arlo's signature books is Odessa native Valeria (Mueller) Tuggle, now of Greenback, WA. Valeria graduated from Odessa High School in 1940. By Scott Kudelka, Communica- tions Coordinator Fish populations in the Minnesota River are one of the natural resources that have suffered due to a dramatic change in the landscape as the native prairie disappeared and wetlands were drained. Today, we are seeing a re- markable comeback by fish species like paddlefish and lake sturgeon. This semimonthly column examines the issue of water through eight con- versation topics. Our goal is to look at water in the context of the Minnesota River Watershed. Read about the dramatic change with fish species in the Minnesota River and how the Yellow Medicine River came by its name. Learn how excessive phosphorus runoff can affect water quality and what all of us can do about it. Check out Cedar Mountain Scientific and Natural Area, Franklin's "Catfish Days" and Upper Sioux Agency State Park. The word on the street is that fishing has seen a dramatic transformation in the Minnesota River and it's a positive one. Recently a number of articles in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, West Cen- tral Tribune and Clara City Herald have highlighted the variety of species and numbers of fish that are being caught in the Minnesota River, espe- cially in the Granite Falls area. One of the greatest success stories is the return of the paddle fish, a pollution-sensitive species along with an increasing num- ber of other bottom-dwellers - lake sturgeon and flathead catfish. Other species that have seen a resurgent in numbers are walleye and white bass. Government officials give credit for this recovery of a viable Minnesota River fishery to the upgrades of mu- rticipal sewer systems in the 1970s and 1980s. Although, they also point out there is still a sediment erosion prob- lem that needs to be taken care in order to continue improving of water quality. Yellow Medicine River that flows into the Minnesota River at Upper Sioux Agency State Park came by its name through the Dakota Indians, who lived for thousands of years on the banks of Lake Shaokatan. The Dakota called this ri'eer "Pezhihutazizi kapi which translates to peji (generic name for grasses and all erect plants without wooden stems), huta (root), zi (yell.ow) and kapi (they dig). The Dakota dug the yellow root of the moonseed plant to be used as a medicine. Moonseed is usually found at the margins of'open- ings in forests, often near streams. As a nutrient for plant growth, phos- phorus is a key component for plants, but too much also causes a lot of prob- lems. Elevated levels of phosphorus stimulate algal growth and often lead to undesirable conditions. This can -cause all sorts of problems including increased turbidity and reduced light penetration in our waterbodies. Ac- cording to the State of the Minnesota River Water Quality Summary 2000- 2005 Report, as algal cells die their de- composition consumes large amounts of dissolved oxygen. Lower dissolved oxygen can impair the waterbodies' ability to support aquatic life. There have been instances where outbreaks of highly elevated algal growth or algal blooms have released toxins into the water. As a result a number of animals including pets have died after ingest- ing these toxins. All of us - whether living out in the country, in an urban area or on a farm - can help reduce excess phosphorus from reaching our waterbodies and help improve water quality in the Min- nesota River. For farmers it can mean applying phosphorus only to fields that have an agronomic need for phosphorus; re- ducing the amount of annual runoff from agricultural fields through crop selection and soil conservation prac- tices to minimize soil erosion; and maintain buffer strips around water re- sources where no phosphorus is ap- plied. Urban .dwellers can use rain barrels and rain gardens to allow phosphorus to be used by plants in their yards; re- move yard clippings and leaves before they are washed into the stormwater system and use phosphorus-free fertil- izer on your lawn (this is now a Min- nesota law). If you live on a lake or own a cabin, agairr you will want to use rain barrels and rain gardens along with planting your shoreline in native flowers, grasses and plants to filter runoff from reaching the water For those homes not connected to a wastewater system, one of the best things you can do is make sure your in- dividual septic system is upgraded and properly working. At 3.4 billion years you wouldn't find older exposed rock anywhere in Minnesota than along the Minnesota River. One of the best places to ex- plore bedrock knobs and ridges hap- pens to be Cedar Mountain Scientific and Natural Area (SNA) near Franklin in Renville County. According to the MN DNR, a central knob includes two rock types known only from this site: Cedar Mountain Gabbro and Cedar Mountain Granodiorite. Cedar Moun- tain SNA has a diverse landscape of mesic prairie, rock outcrop, flood plain forest, and oak woodland. Several threatened species are found here in- cluding the prairie bush clover, lichen, plains prickly pear cactus, water hys- sop and Carolina foxtail The City of Franklin is hosting its annual Catfish Days over the weekend of July 24 - 26 as people from all over the country try their luck at pulling the largest catfish out of the Minnesota River. Approved by the MN Depart- ment of Natural Resources, the fishing tournament starts at 3:00 p.m. on Fri- day and ends on Sunday with trophies and cash prize for channel and flathead catfish. Catfish Days is a weekend of fun featuring live bands on both Friday and Saturday evenings, two parades, co-ed volleyball tournament, Fire De- partment Water Ball, Kiss the Catfish Contest among other activities. Go to the web site fish days.htm for the latest informa- tion. Yellow Medicine Watershed is lo- cated in Lincoln, Lyon and Yellow Medicine counties and part of the greater Hawk Creek-Yellow Medicine River Watershed in the Minnesota River Basin. Organized as a watershed district on August 26, 1971, the mis- sion of the Yellow Medicine River Wa- tershed District (YMRW) is to provide an organized means for proper man- agement and protection of water re- sources. Funded by tax payers in the three counties, the YMRW board places an emphasis on flood control, water control management through the process of viewing and approving drainage permits and water quality problems. In addition to improving water quality and providing flood pro- tection, the YMRW strives to increase wildlife habitat and create enhanced recreational opportunities. A technical staff of two people conducts water quality monitoring of lakes, rivers and streams in the watershed, along with establishing and maintaining records and hydrological data. One of the best places to try your luck at catching fish from the shore of the Minnesota River is Upper Sioux Agency State Park located between Redwood Falls and Granite Falls on State Hwy 67. This state park was es- tablished in 1963 and includes the his- toric Upper Sioux Indian Agency, which had been attacked during the Dakota Conflict of 1862. Located at the confluence of the Minnesota and Yellow Medicine rivers, Upper Sioux Agency offers a modern campground with electric hookups, comfort station and two rental tipi's along with a visi- tor center, hiking trails and a separate horse camp. On many weekends dur- ing the summer you will find a large group of people fishing along a narrow strip of land where the Yellow Medi- cine River flows into the Minnesota River. The Minnesota River Watershed Al- liance (Watershed Alliance) is an or- ganized network of citizens, public agencies and private organizations dedicated to communicating the bene- fits of an ecologically healthy Min- nesota River Watershed to others and are actively working toward its im- provement and protection. The Water- shed Alliance meets four times a year and encourages landowners and recre- ational users of the river to be part of this effort. Big Stone County Cancer Support Group 5th Annual Saturday, September 19 MN 1:00-10:00 p.m. Meal served Page 10 INDEPENDENT Tuesday, July 28, 2009