Steele County SWCD
235 Cedardale Dr.
Owatonna, MN 55060

Ph: (507) 451-6730 - Ext.3

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Seeking Applicants!

The Steele County SWCD is seeking applicants for the 2014 Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve Riparian Easement Program. Eligibility focuses on cropland near streams, lakes or drainage ditches. This is a great opportunity for both new contracts and landowners with existing Conservation Reserve Program land who would like to permanently take their land out of agricultural production. For additional information contact the Steele County SWCD office.

Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM)

The RIM Reserve program is the primary land acquisition program for state-held conservation easements and restoration of wetlands and native grasslands on privately owned land in Minnesota. This program partners with public and private landowners, non-profit organizations and the citizens of Minnesota.

RIM/WRP Partnership

The RIM Reserve program has successfully partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) programs that are compatible with the RIM Reserve program to create the premier private lands wetland restoration program in the nation. Partnerships with the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) have resulted in over $260 million federal dollars leveraged into the State of Minnesota via the RIM Reserve program.


The Straight River Marsh Project

The Straight River Marsh in southern Steele County is still in the process of being restored to a natural state after decades of being drained and used for agricultural production. With a 1,200-acre marsh and 9,000 acres of surrounding uplands, the land area is about the same size as the city of Mankato.

From the time of Minnesota’s settlement, local landowners and local government units sought to improve conditions for farming by excavating private and public ditches, all draining into the Straight River 12 miles upstream of Owatonna. That increased drainage, subsidence of peat soils in the marsh, and maintenance needs of the drainage systems have all contributed to increased flooding within the marsh, causing many landowners to consider other options for their lands. Conservation programs, such as the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve program and the USDA Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), have given these landowners environmentally beneficial alternatives for their lands.

The Steele County Soil and Water Conservation District and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service have led the local effort to promote the benefits of restoring the marsh to landowners. RIM Reserve is administered statewide by the Board of Water and Soil Resources.

Through RIM Reserve and WRP, a total of 31 permanent conservation easements have been secured resorting over 1,700 acres of wetlands and adjacent uplands. In addition to these conservation easements on privately owned lands, other parcels have been purchased are being managed as public conservation lands. Project partners including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the MN Department of Natural Resources, and the MN Department of Transportation have purchased 4 properties with the project area.