Watershed Projects

The Turtle River Watershed Project

The Turtle River Watershed is the largest of our project areas, covering approximately 685 square miles or 438,400 acres of north-eastern North Dakota.  Communities located within this watershed include:  Larimore, Arvilla, Emerado, Grand Forks Air Force Base, Gilby, Manvel, Mekinock, Kelly, McCanna, Niagara, and Petersburg.  Recreational, commercial, residential, wild life, agricultural land uses, soil types and landforms, and climate conditions all contribute to the water quality of the Turtle River and the overall health of the watershed.  Poor land use management impairs fishing, drives soil salinity, destroys wildlife habitat, promotes overland flooding, increases soil erosion and weakens producer yields.

The Turtle River Watershed (Implementation) Project began in the fall of 2009 and will span the course of 5 years.  The Grand Forks County Soil Conservation District in cooperation with the NRCS, ND Department of Health, and ND Forest Service will provide financial or technical assistance to implement non-point source pollution Best Management Practices (BMP’s) to improve Turtle River water quality and watershed health.  These practices focus on preventing sources of pollution from entering waterways, allowing the watershed to cleanse itself.  The following examples of BMP’s describe a few of the conservation improvements that can be made.  Residents of the Turtle River watershed interested in implementing similar conservation practices on their property are encouraged to contact the Grand Forks County Soil Conservation District.  Cost share assistance is available for eligible practices but must be applied for before any work is done on a project.

Septic Replacement or repair

The need for this practice was identified, and beginning in 2011, applications have been taken and approved based on the following criteria.

  • Section 319 cost share assistance cannot exceed 60% of total eligible costs. The balance (i.e., 40%) of cost will be the responsibility of system owner. All bills will need to be submitted at one time. There will be ONE cost-share check processed for each system.
  • System is privately owned and must have been installed before January 1, 2000 and is discharging effluent directly into a waterbody and/or identified as a primary source of pollutants impairing beneficial uses of waterbody.
  • Existing failing system needs to be physically located 1 mile or less from the Turtle River or it’s tributaries. Motion made by Grand Forks County Soil Conservation District September 14, 2010 to adopt these policies.
  • Failure of the system cannot be attributed to mismanagement or accidental damage by the current owner.
  • System has been identified through appropriate study or investigation, to be a primary source of pollutant.
  • The system is for private household or privately owned dairy facility.
  • The system replacement or repairs have been installed according to Plumbing Codes of private Sewage Disposal Systems (Chapter 62-03.1-03) and or any requirements established by local District Health Unit.

Riparian Buffer Strip, Filter Strip, Field Borders

Consists of areas of permanent, typically native, prairie grasses planted along fields, drainage areas or streams.  The grasses prevent soil erosion by wind or overland water flow, utilize excess nutrients such as Phosphorus and Nitrogen, and utilize excess water to help with salinity management, and provide food and cover for wildlife.  Field Border areas can be used for hay, following specific guidelines.

Stream bank Stabilization

Projects vary depending on the conditions of the area they are applied to, but the goal is the same; preventing catastrophic erosion of stream channels.  Erosion of stream banks on the Turtle River and its tributaries contribute excessive sediment loads, choking streams, promoting aquatic nuisance species growth, and inhibiting fishing and other recreation uses.  Catastrophic failure of channel walls can threaten homes, cropland, grazing areas, roads, power lines and other forms of infrastructure.

Stream Channel Restoration

Restores the natural meander to portions of the Turtle River or its tributaries from artificially channelized flow.  Restoring the natural meander of the stream slows water flow, reducing stream bank erosion and catastrophic failure and provides increased storage during Spring snowmelt or storm events to alleviate flooding.

Prescribed Grazing and Livestock Watering Management

Prescribed grazing and livestock water management have potential to economically benefit the land owner over the course of several years.  When applied properly, prescribed grazing and associated watering management can improve animal health and productivity, prevent livestock injury associated with being stuck in mud around stream channels or falls from stream bank failures, promotes forage vigor, and reduce short term drought impacts on production.   By providing livestock with clean watering sources, producers prevent E. coli and fecal coli form pollution of streams, which promotes disease control.

The English Coulee Watershed

The assessment of the English Coulee Watershed was completed in 2010, and the SCD is currently considering applying for funds to begin implementation.  Practices would be similar to those listed above for the Turtle River Watershed.


If you would be interested in any of the practices above and have land in either of the watersheds, or have questions on these projects, please contact:

Kristine Lofgren
Watershed Coordinator
Grand Forks County
Soil Conservation District
Phone: 701-772-2321 Ext 3
kristine.larson@nd.nacdnet.net