VERNON CENTER — Blue Earth County Commissioner Will Purvis knows firsthand about the erosive power of the river.
He lives along the Blue Earth River on the farm site southwest of Vernon Center that has been in his family since 1913.
“We have a 1938 photo of the river channel and compared it to 2009. The river has moved onto our property 350 feet in that time,” Purvis said.
The land along the river was put in the Conservation Reserve Program and now is covered with grass and trees. “We’ve slowed (the erosion) but haven’t eliminated it.”
Purvis has taken a leading role on the County Board in water-related issues, and the county is one of a handful in the state that is more aggressively identifying land along streams and rivers that need to install required buffer strips.
“We have 94 percent compliance, which isn’t bad, but 100 percent is what we’re shooting for. Most people are very receptive when they’re notified they’re out of compliance.”
Purvis and Commissioner Drew Campbell also have been involved in outreach with conservationists and residents around Lake Pepin on the Mississippi River, where much of the Minnesota River’s sediment is filling in the lake.
“They invited us to Red Wing in September and we talked about the sediment and we developed a good dialogue,” Purvis said.
They invited the group to Blue Earth County recently to view projects aimed at reducing erosion, including drainage ditch designs near Mapleton aimed at releasing water more slowly into the rivers and a project to restore and protect riverbanks from eroding.
“I think we’re all going in the same direction. We don’t like our soil washing into the river and ending up in Lake Pepin, and they don’t want it.”