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Conservation dollars cutting down on erosion

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WINDOM, Minn. -

 

Since the 2006, the Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance has secured about $3.3 million worth of state funding.

Those dollars are being used from Cottonwood County to Steele County.
 
From state coffers to Southwestern Minnesota wetlands, conservationists say grant money is being put to good use with environmental projects across the Greater Blue Earth River Basin.
 
"It's extremely important,"said Beck Alexander, a Watonwan watershed technician. "Our landscape links directly with our water bodies."

Conservationists say state money designated for environmental work also ties in directly with recreation.
 
"If you enjoy the outdoors like most of us do, it's very important...it makes a big difference," said Dave Bucklin of the Cottonwood Soil and Water Conservation District.
 
One such project made possible with state grant money is an area on the south side of Windom. Many years ago it was used for farmland. Now it is a wetland environment.

However, conservationists say when it comes to taking farmland out of production, they look to avoid property that produces high yields.
 
"We're very sensitive to the issue of taking any farmland out of production, because our economic engine here in southwest Minnesota is agriculture," said Bucklin.
 
A significant portion of the grant money has also been used for projects aimed at fighting erosion.
 
"When we allow habitat to become degraded to the point where there isn't vegetation on it...that soil in place, that soil ends up in our water bodies," said Alexander.
 
Area conservationists say they are looking to expand their efforts and hope to secure more state money down the road.