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We Asked, They Answered: Beth Kallestad

Beth Kallestad will begin writing a column for the Outdoors page beginning next week. She is the executive director of the Northfield-based Cannon River Watershed Partnership, which strives to "improve and protect the surface and ground water resources and natural systems of the Cannon River watershed," according to its Web site. It is a membership and grant-supported organization. Kallestad answered a series of introductory questions via e-mail.

What in your past prepared you to serve as executive director of the partnership?

I have a BS degree in biology and an MS in environmental health. I had volunteered for CRWP as a citizen stream monitor and staffed their display at the county fair and festival. Prior to working for CRWP I worked for an environmental consulting firm and for the Minnesota Department of Health in their environmental health division. I've always been interested in water quality and when the watershed analyst position was open at CRWP in 2005 I applied and was hired.

The R-E covers Red Wing, of course, as well as Cannon Falls, Welch and Miesville. What are some of the projects the partnership is working on in these communities?

CRWP staff and volunteers are monitoring streams such as the Little Cannon River, Belle Creek, Pine Creek, Trout Brook, Spring Creek, the Cannon River and the Byllesby Reservoir.

We have been working with Goodhue County and concerned citizens on issues regarding septic systems at an area campground as well as with some "unsewered" communities in the county. We've also been working on an E. coli reduction project with the Goodhue County Soil and Water Conservation District.

This year the Byllesby Reservoir Total Maximum Daily Load study should be finalized by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. CRWP assisted with the data collection and creation of this document. It is essentially a study that looks at the phosphorus levels in the lake, where they should be and how to get there.

After the study is approved the real work to try and clean up the problem begins. We are also working with the city of Red Wing to assist with storm water issues as we are able.

Why is there a need for the partnership? I always thought the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources was responsible for the state's rivers and watersheds.

CRWP is a nonprofit organization with the mission to engage people to protect and improve the waters and natural systems of the watershed. The main way we do this is by, as our name states, forming partnerships with citizens, government agencies, businesses etc., to help monitor the water and work on projects that will make a change for the better.

The DNR has some responsibilities for the water with respect to issuing permits for a variety of activities, regulating usage, and maintaining trails, parks, and access to water, but they aren't able to do everything that needs to be done.

If people are interested in volunteering with the partnership, what are things they can do locally and who should they contact?

Right now the most popular volunteer activity is lake and stream monitoring. We have one of the largest citizen monitoring groups in the state, but my goal is to have a volunteer on every stream and lake so the more the merrier.

We also have some inside opportunities such as assisting with mailings. On Sept. 19 we will be having a watershed-wide river cleanup and are looking for people throughout the watershed to assist. ...

The best thing to do is to call (507) 786-8400 ... or send an e-mail to staff@crwp.net.

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