The Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts honored John Forrest and the Brainerd Rotary Club along with Crosby officials at the association's 28th annual trade show last week in Bloomington.

Forrest and the club were honored as 2018 Outstanding Conservationists of North Central Minnesota, while the city of Crosby received the 2018 Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Community Conservationist Award.

Forrest and the club worked to protect more than 190 acres on the Mississippi River in Brainerd with a park featuring natural ecosystems for the public to learn from and enjoy, featuring walking trails along the river, through floodplain forest, pollinator prairie and natural wetlands.

The Rotarians partnered with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the city of Brainerd, private landowners and foundations to acquire 100 acres of land, 1,971 feet of Mississippi River shoreline and 1,225 feet of Little Buffalo Creek shoreline.

"We're deeding this land to the city for public use forever and ever and ever," Forrest said in a news release.

Forrest and the Rotarians also worked with the Soil and Water Conservation District to restore 11.25 acres into a native prairie seed bank. This included buckthorn removal, prescribed burning, a solarization project and the planting of 10,000 native plugs.

Also according to the news release, Crosby was instrumental in the success of a stormwater project and by adopting ordinances to mitigate for future development, serving as an example of how other cities can deal with erosion, stormwater and water quality problems.

Each year, the state's SWCDs recognize individuals and organizations for outstanding accomplishments in implementing conservation practices and improving Minnesota's natural resources. The award program is conducted with support from The Farmer magazine.