“We’re in an area called the Anoka Sandplain,” said Anoka Conservation District Manager Chris Lord. “Our soils are different here than they are anywhere else in the metro, so we are believed to be a really important contributor for ground water recharge. It’s essentially fueling the groundwater needs of the entire Twin Cities – two million people need us to manage our landscape well, to keep water soaking into the ground to refill the aquifers.”
Meaning the county and what happens on our land an in our water has a lasting impact. The Anoka Conservation District recently released its ten year comprehensive plan showing the areas it hopes to work on and improve.
“Early on in the process we realized you can’t just manage water without managing the living landscape – plants and animals on it. You can’t do that well without also managing soils. If you really want to do good even just with water, we can’t ignore the rest. Everything is interconnected and interdependent,” said Lord.
Projects that might seem small or insignificant can in fact have lasting benefits for the environment, even a small pollinator garden.
“The roots start going deeper into the soil and loosens up the soil so the rain that falls on that spot of land soaks in, it doesn’t run off into the road anymore.”
Other benefits might include using less lawn fertilizer, or maybe even a little less gasoline when you mow.
“You take this little tiny simple action that helps pollinators, and it may also help recharge groundwater a tiny bit, and it may help reduce runoff,” said Lord.
Knowing that small actions like planting a pollinator garden can have lasting impacts, during the comprehensive planning process, Chris Lord and his staff and board looked at 283 different actions.
“In our process we looked at every action we could and asked ourselves this question: ‘How does this action help with this resource or that resource?’
We ended up creating a digital web of all the little strands that are all connected. Now what we can do is, we can pick an action and see what my return on investment is. It’s not just about pollinators I know now. If I do this garden it’s going to give me tons of tiny little bits of benefit all over the place.”
The goal is to find which actions lead to the most improvement and do those the most often.