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Land and Water Tour breaks community barriers

LAKE SHORE —The first Land and Water Tour brought together 57 local ranchers, producers, landowners and lakeshore dwellers to explore their connections through the Lake Margaret watershed last month in Lake Shore. 

John Ringle, Soil and Water Conservation Services manager and environmental services director, gave the tour’s opening remarks, calling attention to the fact that “whatever happens on the land affects the water,” and therefore it’s crucial for both streamside and shoreline owners to always be working together to keep our watershed healthy.

The morning portion of the tour included a trip to the Koehler farm and WR Ranch where Howard Moechnig of Midwest Grasslands and Jeff Duchene, a grazing specialist with the Natural Resource Conservation Services, spoke  about grazing management practices and equipment to help ranchers and producers improve their livestock’s health, while helping reduce pollutants that negatively impact the watershed. 

The afternoon entailed a boat tour on Lake Margaret led by Kelly Condiff of Cass County Environmental Services and Jane Kimball of Blue Heron Gardens. Condiff and Kimball pointed out specific lakeshore restoration projects recently completed to help decrease the high phosphorus pollutant levels found in Lake Margaret. 

Condiff emphasized that just as ranchers and producers have to do their part to maintain a healthy watershed, so do the lakeshore owners. “Creating a buffer zone, with native vegetation or a no-mow mentality can be one way of helping out your watershed,” he said. Information may be obtained by contacting area lake associations, Cass County SWCD or ESD at or the Natural Resource Conservation Services at