Veterans' transportation expanding
■ Crow Wing County releases water planning data
The Crow Wing County Land Services Department is revising the 2008 local comprehensive water management plan, also known as the water plan.
Water planning, the county reported, identifies what works best to protect and enhance Crow Wing County’s water resources. Part of this identification process is to measure the county’s water resources in order to observe trends in order to prioritize resources for protection or restoration efforts. As part of the revision process, Crow Wing County Land Services Department is working to include a number of recent scientific studies and data-driven measures designed to provide a baseline to help guide land use planning and project implementation, the county reported in a news release.
In January, the county completed phase two of a lakeshore research study project to calculate the amount of impervious surface coverage on larger lakes in Crow Wing County. This study was conducted in response to the 2011 land use ordinance revisions, which require performance standards depending on the amount of impervious coverage per lot. Impervious surfaces are hard surfaces on a lot such as rooftops, sidewalks, patios and driveways that don’t allow water to soak into the ground.
Impervious surface data was calculated using high-resolution aerial photography and property sketches from the property valuation and classification office. The amount of impervious surface was calculated for the entire riparian lot as well as within 250 feet and 500 feet of the shoreline to determine how much impervious surface was located close to the shoreline.
Phase one was conducted earlier in 2012 and included 12 lakes. Phase two included another 20 lakes. The results of both phases of the project indicate the average impervious surface percentage on riparian lots on the county’s larger lakes is less than 10 percent, the county reported. For example, Lake Edward, Hubert and Lower South Long lakes were all measured at 6 percent, Upper South Long Lake was measured at 7 percent, and Whitefish was measured at 5 percent. To view the full report — http://www.co.crow-wing.mn.us/index.aspx?nid=925 — go online.
The lakes measured correspond with the lakes part of a water quality screening project conducted in 2009 and 2012, the county reported. The project aimed to determine whether a water quality trend could be determined based on all the available water quality data that had been collected during the years. These reports — http://www.co.crow-wing.mn.us/index.aspx?NID=705 are available online.
With more than 500 lakes in the county, these tools are very effective to prioritize which lakes to focus protection or restoration strategies on, the county reported.
“Studies have shown that water quality begins to decline when impervious surface coverage reaches 12-15 percent” said Land Services Supervisor Chris Pence, in a news release. “This local data about Crow Wing County lakes will help guide land use decisions about keeping our lakes clean.”
The county’s revisions to the land use ordinance in 2011 include performance standards for stormwater management and shoreline buffers that take effect at 15 percent and 20 percent impervious coverage, respectively.
In addition to surface water, Crow Wing County is also gathering data on ground water quality, including levels of nitrate. “Since we’ve begun testing for nitrates the last few years, we have observed nitrate levels that are generally well below the safe drinking water standard of 10 parts per million. This is great news,” said Mitch Brinks, water protection specialist.
All of this data will be included in the 2013 revision to the water plan, which has identified surface water, ground water and aquatic invasive species as its top priority concerns.
Water planning questions may be directed to Brinks at 824-1125.
■ Veterans’ transportation expanding
Brainerd area veterans will soon be able to get a ride to the Brainerd Veterans Administration clinic, courtesy of the Veterans Transportation Service.
The expanded transportation option for Veterans begins Feb. 19. Initially, transportation services will be available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Transportation is available within a 20-mile radius of Brainerd for veterans who do not have other means of transportation due to financial or medical hardship.
To schedule a ride, veterans may contact the Veterans Transportation Service office by calling 800-247-1739, extension 7622. Veterans must be able to independently get in and out of a vehicle.
The Veterans Transportation Service is a collaborative effort between the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and the Voluntary Service program at the St. Cloud VA Health Care System. The DAV donated an eight-passenger van to the VA, while Voluntary Service is responsible for coordinating volunteer drivers.
“We hope to expand the service to five days per week in the very near future,” said Barry Bahl, director of the St. Cloud VA Health Care System. “We want to do everything we can to help Veterans receive the health care they need, and the transportation program will eliminate one of the barriers that many Veterans face.”
Volunteers are needed to expand the program; there are two different volunteer assignments available. Drivers will be assigned to drive an eight passenger van while transportation assistants will be responsible for assisting with loading, securing, and unloading riders safely.
Both assignments require excellent customer service skills and a sincere desire to help veterans get the health care that they need. The driver and assistant will work as a team to safely transport veterans to their appointments and will generally require a time commitment of approximately five to eight hours per day. The number of days per month is flexible. All volunteers are asked to complete the registration process that includes a limited background check and orientation sessions. Drivers need to have a valid Minnesota driver’s license, pass a physical examination, and show proof of a safe driving record and insurability.
To learn more about these assignments and the registration process, contact the Voluntary Service office at 800-247-1739, extension 6365.