Conservation Corps to work in Anoka County parks

A crew from the Conservation Corps Minnesota program will be working in the Anoka County parks again this year.

On the recommendation of its Parks and Recreation Committee, the Anoka County Board has approved a contract with the Conservation Corps Minnesota.

The cost, some $150,000, will come from state legacy grant funds through a metropolitan regional parks legacy fund grant agreement; no county dollars will be used, according to John VonDeLinde, county parks and recreation director.

Using the same funding source, the county entered into its first agreement with the Conservation Corps Minnesota last year to supplement the work of regular parks and recreation department employees, VonDeLinde said.

The Conservation Corps crew of five laborers and one crew leader provides its own equipment and transportation at no expense to the county, he said.

“The work they did last year was of great benefit to the county,” said County Commissioner Jim Kordiak, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee.

Crew members are college students or graduates in the fields of forestry and conservation who have a “passion” for the experience they are getting, according to VonDeLinde.

“They have a great work ethic,” VonDeLinde said.

From the county’s perspective the work of the Conservation Corps is “value added,” he said.

In 2011, the Conservation Corps members did oak wilt and buckthorn removal, landscaping work at Bunker Beach, Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park and Bunker Hills Activity Center as well as worked on the dog park at Locke Park in Fridley, VonDeLinde said.

For this year, the parks department has a full slate of projects lined up for the crew, he said.

They include:

Ecological restoration: Remove invasive species, apply herbicide, site preparation, prescribed burning, seeding, planting, mowing, seed collection, propagation and record data.

Horticulture: Remove invasive species, pruning, tree removal, planting, mulching, plant division, fertilization, pest control, watering.

Fisheries and wildlife management: Stream habitat restoration, water quality monitoring, wildlife habitat restoration, wildlife surveys and monitoring, deer and goose management, trapping, special hunt monitoring, data collection.

Soil stabilization: Riparian area bioengineering using native plants, plant collection and propagation, planting, erosion control.

Water resources management: Wetland restoration, plant inventories, monitoring, culvert repair and replacement, invasive species control, herbicide applications.

Parks improvements: Painting/staining, roofing, sign installation and repair, landscaping, carpentry, trail and roadway repair, picnic table repair, tree removal, trail corridor maintenance, irrigation, cleaning.

The Minnesota Conservation Corps was created in 1981 by the Minnesota Legislature to offer youth and young adult programs through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

In 1999, the Friends of the Minnesota Conservation Corps was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization by community supporters and program alumni, and the nonprofit assumed operations of the Minnesota Conservation Corps in 2003.

In January 2010, the Minnesota Conservation Corps (MCC) changed its name and logo to Conservation Corps Minnesota, to be consistent with the brand that was established in 2009 when it launched Conservation Corps Iowa.

According to VonDeLinde, the Conservation Corps has expanded into Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Under its agreement with the county, the Conservation Corps crew began work March 14 with the contract ending Dec. 31.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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