Chapter 10 is a major stakeholder in the $17,000 project which will improve water quality of the Mill Pond.  The rain garden will be approximately 1.5 acres of native plants (prairie) that run along the northwest side of the pond.  The garden will act as a buffer to pollutants and reduce rainfall runoff.  It will also be utilized as an outdoor classroom by Austin High School students.


Project partners include the Austin Park and Recreation Department, Austin School District, Mower County Water and Soil Conservation District, Cedar River Watershed District, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, A.C.E.S, and Spruce-Up Austin.  A $5000 matching grant from the Minnesota Lakes, Rivers, and Streams Partnership, which was founded by Michelob Golden Draft Light/Anheuser-Bush and the National Wildlife Foundation, has been applied for.


Mark Owens, Chapter 10 Vice President, initiated this project and followed through with partnering groups to make this project a success!



In 2007, Austin Chapter 10 led by Larry Dolphin in association with the Cannon River Watershed Partnership, began collecting water samples on the Cedar River north of Austin to test for E-coli bacteria.
Samples were collected upstream of housing developments, next to developments, downstream and if a straight pipe was found at the source.  Samples upstream had e-coli levels at the state's minimum for water quality standard.  Those taken next to developments had levels up to three times higher than the standard and those taken right at the end of a straight pipe were off the chart.
Larry took these findings to the Mower County Board and asked them to enforce existing clean water laws in regards to straight pipes and sewage pollution in the Cedar River.  The County did cite offenders and the City of Austin is currently in the process of annexing this development to tie them into Austin's waste treatment system.
Minnesota Public Radio wrote an article on E-coli pollution on the Cedar River and our sampling project, click on the link for more information: 
Austin Mill Pond Rain Garden Project 2010                             High School Environmental Projects
Cedar River Monitoring for Water Quality                               Wetbugs Program
Purple Martin Project                                                                 Non-Point Source Pollution Project
Shoreland Restoration Project                                                  Mower County Fair - Game & Fish Building
Ramsey Mill Pond Wildlife Management Area
Photo by Dave Cole - June 2010
Photo by Dave Cole - June 2010
Photo by Al Layman
Purple Martin Project Takes Flight
With Bob Goetz's enthusiam and passion, the city of Austin has more purple martins.  Bob, Chapter 10 Vice-President, gave a presentation about the plight of the purple martins in Austin at our April 2006 chapter meeting.  Chapter 10, along with Austin Audubon, Dave Crandall, Kyle Klaehn, Terry Dorsey, and the Austin Park & Rec provided financial support, manpower, housing, and location assistance.  The houses are located at East Side Lake and Horace Austin Park near downtown Austin and the Cedar River.  For more information on this project, contact Bob Goetz at 437-4608.
Shoreland Restoration Project
Chapter 10 donated $1,000 to assist the Austin Park & Rec Department in restoring the shoreland along the Cedar River and Whittier Park.  The Mower County Soil and Water Conservation Department was the lead agency in the development and restoration efforts.
High School Environmental Classes
Chapter 10 has supported the Austin High School Environmental Studies classes by funding field trips to the Hormel Nature Center, providing stream study supervision and scientific water quality equipment. This meshes well with the Ike's environmental and water management philosophy.
Seventh Grade Education Projects

Each fall, Chapter 10 funds a 7th grade program called "Wetbugs". The students learn about the various water insects in a general presentation at school, then students go to the Hormel Nature Center to wade in Dobbins Creek and collect insects they've learned about in the classroom. In addition, students perform water quality analysis of Dobbins Creek.

Non-Point Source Pollution


Leo Reding, legislator and Chapter 10 member, helped pass legislation to have water pollution fines returned to Mower County. This funding was used by Chapter 10 to create a Non-Point Source Pollution Pilot Project. With the guidance of several Ike's members, an education program was developed in the 4th grades in Mower County. Nine learning station models consisting of plexiglass cubes, each showing an aspect of non-point pollution were used in the 4th grades. Storytellers illustrated aspects of non-point pollution. These cubes could be placed next to each other to show a larger countryside view of these pollution problems. This program generated continued interest in the project and other cities later commissioned development of similar learning stations. They continue to be used throughout the Austin school system. In 1991, the NPSP Learning Stations and hands-on program were on display and demonstrated at the 20th Annual Conference of the North American Association for Environmental Education held in St. Paul.

Mower County Fair

Chapter 10 has been involved with the Game and Fish Building displays at the Mower County Fair since the late 1920's.  The Ikes provide supervision, technical support, and educational materials during the fair.

In 1999, Chapter 10 spearheaded a $13,000 project that replaced all fish display tanks and electrical service and wiring at the Game and Fish Building.

Cedar River Monitoring for E-Coli Bacteria
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