Maddy Rehn (center) is the new district technican at Kittson Soil and Water Conservation District. She joins district technician Jeremy Benson (left) and Jamie Osowski, the district administrator. (Enterprise Photo by Linda Andersen)
By Linda Andersen
Visit the Kittson Soil and Water Conservation District, located in the lower level of the courthouse in Hallock, and meet some friendly, helpful people who are ready to offer a variety of services to landowners and who are even looking for a few volunteers to help them with their needs. On hand during a recent visit by the Enterprise were Jamie Osowski (district administrator), Jeremy Benson (district technician), and new employee, Maddy Rehn (district technician). Absent from the office that day was Justin Muller (district technician) who was away for training.
First, some information about the new face in the office, Maddy Rehn: Rehn grew up in East Grand Forks in a family that liked to be outdoors. “We go to the lake every weekend. I grew up camping. I’ve been to a few national parks and several states parks,” she said.
She likes to hunt and fish and said her dad often took her and her sister catfishing in the summers.
She earned an undergraduate degree in equine science and animal science from North Dakota State University and went on to earn a master’s degree in natural resource management from the same university.
“I thought it would open doors and fit together nicely,” she said of adding the master’s degree to her undergraduate degree.
She began her duties in Hallock in January 2018 and said she is enjoying “just learning all the different programs and meeting the community.”
“She’s (referring to Osowski) been teaching me what we do on a day to day basis,” Rehn said of her activity in the office so far. She added that she’ll be doing more work with a school program, Enviro-thon, in the future.
She commented, too, that she likes the size of Hallock adding, “People have been very welcoming to me.”
“We are here to help landowners take care of their natural resources,” she said in explaining the purpose of the Kittson SWCD.
Rehn, along with Osowski and Benson, explained some of the Kittson SWCD’s services available to landowners. A tree program is one of these services. Every fall they order trees (about 6,000 last fall) from Schumacher’s Nursery at Heron Lake, Minn. During the winter and into spring landowners can reserve trees which they pick up when they arrive – usually at the end of April or beginning of May. A 2018 Tree catalog showed 21 varieties of trees that are available, some of which are Black Hills spruce, American Plum, Bur Oak, crabapple red splendor, green ash, highbush cranberry, and Juneberry.
The fruit bearing trees are “conservation grade trees” intended for birds and wildlife, although the fruit is also suitable for jams and jellies.
They have often sold trees in the past for farmstead shelter belts in the country and new home developments. Although trees in the past were sold in large quantities, they are now offering trees in smaller increments which will make them more practical for purchase by people who would just like to buy a few for their yards.
Benson recommended that good tree choices for property owners in town would be the Siouxland cottonwood, white spruce, silver maple, or lilac.
A tree order form offered some information on pricing. Single, potted trees range from nine dollars to fourteen dollars. Conifers and deciduous trees are twenty five for thirty-five dollars or five for ten dollars.
They also offer other products such as tree matting, tree tubes, and Plantskydd, which is a deer, rabbit, and vole repellent that has shown good results. They can also offer assistance in planting to those who have bought large numbers of trees.
The Kittson SWCD is also interested in helping property owners design rain gardens which, according to Benson, put water that runs off a house or business in a landscaped area. Rain gardens control flooding and filter polluted runoff.
The Kittson SWCD is also in need of volunteers for their rain gauge program. Rehn collects information from township observers who send her rainfall data from the townships. She sends the information to the Minnesota Climatology office.
This reporter walked out of the SWCD with a dandy new rain gauge as a new volunteer monitor from Arveson Township. They still need volunteers from McKinley, Cannon, Peatland, Hazelton, Klondike, Pelan, Clow, and Poppleton townships.
The Kittson SWCD offers a variety of other programs. For more information visit their website (www.kittsonswcd.org) or call (218) 843-2619 and ask to be put on the mailing list for their attractive biannual newsletter.