Turtle Creek News

Outreach Survey

Below is a link to our Outreach Survey. This survey is a tool I can use to make sure I am reaching the intended audience. At the end of the survey there will be a place to leave you e-mail to receive the mailer and other news electronically. Thank you in advance for your time.  

New Watershed Coordinator!

The Turtle Creek Watershed Project has a new coordinator. My name is John Mortenson and I am picking up where James left off. The project now has a North Dakotan at the helm. I was born and raised outside of Wahpeton, ND. Growing up I spent most of my day’s outdoors. Being one of three boys is what made my mother not want us in the house. Throughout high school I worked as a mechanic for a local co-op. I decided that being a grease monkey was not the future I wanted.

I am a 2012 graduate of NDSU (Go Bison) with a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Management and a minor in Range Science. I have spent the last two years working for the ND Game and Fish Department in Bismarck.

In my spare time you can find me either throwing cranks for that next big walleye, going afield to bag some wild game or cruising this state’s scenic roads on my motorcycle. I am passionate about the outdoors, but agriculture is also near and dear to me. So I understand that there must be a balance between conservation and land usage.

I am extremely excited to work with you to continue to enhance and restore the Turtle Creek watershed. Please feel free to contact me with questions or ideas.

  If You Missed Our Recent Tour & Workshops
You Missed This!















A Big Thanks to all All of Participants!


I'd like Extend My Heartfelt Appreciation To

Our Local Producer Workshop Leads & Site Hosts: 

Bryon Fylling, Mark Jennings, Casey Anderson, Gene Goven, Nick Faulkner, Myron Lick & Gene Wirtz.





Producer Led


Grazing, Watering & Wintering

Tuesday 11/4/14


Crops, Nutrients & Erosion

Thursday 11/6/14


Both workshops will be held at the South McLean SCD office in Turtle Lake.

RSVP’s Will Receive Printed Maps for Planning!

Call the SCD Office


You’re still welcome even if you forget to RSVP for the workshops.  Don’t be shy!

Fall Events 

·         Producer Tour

Tuesday 10/21/14 8:30AM-Midday

·         Workshop: Grazing, Watering & Wintering

Tuesday 11/4/14 9:00AM-Midday

·         Workshop: Crops, Nutrients & Erosion

Thursday 11/6/14 9:00AM-Midday

Workshop participants who RSVP with their locations will be supplied with maps to help them with their planning activities.

Ways to RSVP for one or more of these events:

  1. Mail the RSVP form in your latest Turtle Creek mailer to PO Box 537 in Turtle Lake.
  2. Call your watershed coordinator at the South McLean SCD office (701-448-2474).
  3. Email your watershed coordinator at TurtleCreekWatershed@gmail.com.

You’re still welcome even if you forget to RSVP for the workshops and/or the tour.

Please don’t be shy!

Producer Tour

The best way to understand if a practice is right for you is to see it in action.  That’s the idea behind our producer operation tour; we’ll visit three sites on Tuesday 10/21/14 so you can see what practices are working for a few of your neighbors.  The schedule is a follows:

·         Lick Farm: Innovative Crop Practices, Crops & Livestock

·         Goven Ranch: Grazing Management & Soil Health For Profit

·         Anderson Ranch: Grazing & Biodiversity, Cattle Watering

The tour begins at the Lick farmstead approximately 2 miles west of Turtle Creek on Highway 6 at 8:30 on Tuesday, 10/21/14.  Participants will then proceed to the following locations  simply by following one another.  Expect to finish up in the early afternoon, around 1:00.

Producer Led Workshops

The South McLean SCD will be hosting two consecutive workshops during the first week of November.  Each workshop will be led by 2-3 of your neighbors.  Workshops will begin with a brief introduction by each lead followed by informal discussions and planning regarding what might work for your operation.  You’ll leave with a working plan that you can put into practice whenever you’re ready!

RSVP by emailing your local watershed coordinator at, calling the SCD office, or emailing the watershed coordinator and we will provide you with printed maps to help you in your planning. Please include legal description (township, range, section, qtr) so we can print accurate maps. Hot coffee and baked treats will be provided.

Cover Crops

As summer draws to a close in the coming weeks, many producers in the area are thinking about cover crops.  Because cover crops can be used for such a wide variety of interests, they're quickly gaining popularity in agriculture.  Not sure what kind of things cover crops can help with?  The Area IV Research Farm in Mandan can help you with that!

Area IV Research Farm: Cover Crop Chart

Some producers are hesitant to give cover crops a try because they don't want to commit to the full three year program that the NRCS requires. While I fully encourage producers to plant cover crops for several consecutive years so that their full effects can be observed, I also recognize that three years can seem like quite a commitment. Fortunately the Turtle Creek Watershed Project can pay for 60% of cover crop seed costs, even for single plantings. If you'd like to plant them again next year you can either come back to us or go to the NRCS for a longer term but more lucrative arrangement.

We can help you get started as soon as this Fall, so what are you waiting for? You have to start somewhere and we'd like to help you give it a try!

Portable Cattle Watering

I’ve had the opportunity to work with a livestock producer who was interested in a portable pump and tank system for cattle watering.  Such a system has significant positive implications for water quality; by providing cleaner water away from existing water bodies, cattle are far less likely to overgraze and compact the soil near the stream banks and shorelines that provide such an important filter for livestock waste runoff.  Below are some photos demonstrating what the system looked like upon delivery.


      Healthier streams and lakes aren’t the only benefits of such a system.  Below are just a few of the potential benefits that might be of interest to livestock producers throughout the watershed.

     Clean Water:  You wouldn’t be very healthy if you drank out of your toilet.  Why should cattle be all that different in this regard?  Many of you already know that you can significantly increase cattle weights simply by providing fresher, cleaner water.  Cattle have a natural tendency to drink from the cleanest water source around, and that will always be the water that they didn’t have to wade through to drink.

      Accident Prevention:  Some of you working with livestock on the creek have concerns about the hazards of cattle on the steep slopes near the southern portions of Turtle Creek.  Others that operate near the northern reaches of the creek have periodic battles with hoof rot.  In both cases, a portable off stream watering system can become a great tool in mitigating these risks.

      Range Management:  Many producers have been improving their operations through advanced range management.  Portable wind breaks are a well-established tool for controlling grazing patterns.  Portable watering systems can be used in a similar fashion within pumping distance of a water body.  What’s more, the vegetation you’ll be protecting through grazing management will serve as a filter, further improving the quality of the water source you’re pumping from.

       Investment Protection for Renters:  Not everyone has the financial resources needed to by his/her own rangeland.  This is especially true of those first starting off in the cattle business.  While you may have thought of several ways in which you might upgrade your operation, it’s pointless to spend money on permanent infrastructure that you cannot take with you should you decide to buy your own property or otherwise change locations somewhere down the road.  A portable watering system is one important investment that you can always take with you wherever you end up in the coming years.

These pump and trough units come with a solar panel and deep cell batteries, so they're fully capable of running without a nearby power source.  The biggest difficulty with this system is that they cost several thousand dollars and the NRCS cannot help pay for non-permanent tanks.  The Turtle Creek Watershed project has no such restrictions.  We can provide 60% cost-share reimbursement for mobile pump and tank systems that are used in a way that has a positive impact on water quality in Turtle Creek.

Would one of these systems help you address one or more of your management concerns?  Do you live in the vicinity of Turtle Creek or one of its tributaries?  Let me know and I’ll talk through the cost share process and get you in touch with a dealer I have worked with.  Whenever you’re ready I’ll begin working on cost sharing your new portable pump and tank system through the Turtle Creek Watershed Project.

Visit Us at Turtle Days on Saturday


Summer, friends, and racing turtles.  What's not to love!  While you're busy catching up with old friends on Saturday don't forget to stop by and learn about what the Turtle Creek Watershed Project can do for you!  

You'll find us at the vendor & craft show at the Turtle Lake Community Center (2095 11th St. NW) from 10:30 to 3:00 on Saturday, 7/12/14.  Why not come by and see if we can't help you pay for your project?  You'll still have plenty of time to make the alumni meeting and the tractor pull!

A Weekend At The Fair

I spent the weekend talking to McLean County residents at the county fair in Underwood.  In case you missed us we had demonstrations that helped show different aspects of the the relationships between water and soil.  We made a stream channel with sand and flowing water, watched the formation of sedimentary sequences in a peanut butter jar, and watched water accumulate into streams in a watershed model adorned with plastic jungle animals.  Needless to say, a good time was had by all.

If you missed us this weekend don't despair; we'll be attending the Turtle Days vendor fair on Saturday, 6/12/14.  I'll see you all there!

Look for us at the McLean County Fair

I'm happy to announce that I'll be attending the McLean County Fair!  Look for the Turtle Creek Watershed Project booth at the Vendor show.  I'll be showing off some science experiments, giving out treats to survey participants, handing out information about the project, and taking information for those that are interested in our cost share program.  There's even a rumor that a banjo player from Kentucky may even be there...

Check out the McLean County Fair website for more information on the fair.  The fair runs from Friday 6/20 to Sunday 6/22.  

I can't wait to see you all there!

Survey Results

Though we continue to receive post-meeting surveys, we have received enough responses to get a general idea about what many of our watershed producers are thinking.
  • I was happy to see that participants had an overwhelmingly positive experience.  We'll try to keep up the positive atmosphere in the future!
  • Strong majorities are comfortable engaging members of the project and are comfortable with how the project is being run.  Despite the positive results, we will continue to work toward keeping our operation cooperative, transparent, and to always do our best to help producers in our watershed.
  • Most of you are thinking about the importance of your operation in improving and maintaining good water quality in our area.  That's great!  Even if you never embark on a cost-shared project with us, this issue will never go away, and the more we keep it in mind the more good decisions will be made by our friends, neighbors, and future generations.
  • Almost all participants were positive or neutral regarding likelihood of participating in cost share.  A couple of people mentioned that they'd like to know a bit more as to how cost share works.  We will be looking to providing more clarity on this issue in the near future. I will be addressing this topic on the website in the near future as well as providing some information in the June mailer.
  • Many are interested in attending upcoming meetings.  We look forward to having another meeting in the Fall, and we're starting to think about a conservation practice demonstration tour around that time as well.   Be sure to keep your eye out for dates and meeting topics once you're thinking about winding down for the winter!
We will continue to update our results as additional survey forms come in.  My thanks to all of you that took the time to let us know your opinion.  Your responses really help us get a better picture regarding what your concerns are and how we can improve.

Thank You To All Of Our
Meeting Attendees


We were very encouraged to host over 40 guests at the South McLean Soil Conservation District for our first Watershed Community Meeting on 3/25/14. It is increasingly clear to me that many watershed residents are passionate about water issues. I look forward to working with the many Turtle Creek Watershed Residents to solve what problems we can. I came out of the meeting with a better understanding of some of the water related problems we are facing, and I hope that you learned a thing or two about our watershed and some of the ways Turtle Creek Watershed can help.

If there's one thing I'd like everybody to remember it's that the Turtle Creek Watershed Project is not in the business of regulation. We are simply a resource for watershed producers, how much benefit we are to you depends mainly on how much you choose interact with us.

We will host our second watershed community meeting in the Fall.  We look forward to working with many of you well before that time.

Turtle Creek in Area Newspapers
It's time to get the word out about our water quality issues in Turtle Creek, and a recent article in many area newspapers is helping us do just that.  Many McLean County Residents have been aware of water quality problems for some time, but we need wider support to address the problem. Water doesn't respect property lines or municipal boundaries, so cooperation is key. Many of us have heard the saying 'it takes a village to raise a child'. It is just as approporiate to say 'it takes a watershed to clean a stream'.

Our thanks go out to Mr. Stu Merry for his excellent reporting.

Website Launch

The Turtle Creek Watershed Project website is live!  In the coming months and years this site will serve as a way for the Turtle Creek Watershed Coordinator to communicate with anybody interested in participating in the restoration and preservation of the Turtle Creek Watershed.  You will find the tabs located above to be useful in navigating to information related to various aspects of the project.  Below are brief descriptions of the content you will find under each tab.

News:  This is where you can learn about what's going on in the Turtle Creek Watershed Project.  In this section we will share successes, concerns, opportunities, and event information.  Things to look for include announcements and recaps of public meetings, notable achievements, monitoring results, etc.

What Can I Do?:  From riparian management to creating nitrate bioreactors, there is a wide range of things you can do to help out our waters.  Some of these practices may be perfect to you, others may be ineffective or unrealistic for your operation.  After all, nobody knows your land like you do.  The content under this tab is aimed at describing and providing resources so that you can think about what may work for you.

Financial Support:  We are proud of our neighbors who do the important work of feeding a hungry world, and we understand that you work hard for your money.  Luckily, many practices which help protect our waters are also designed to provide you with an opportunity to save you money over the years.  Still, implementation of these practices may be costly up front.  We can help.  Under the financial support tab you will find information on cost-share opportunities available to you through the Turtle Creek Watershed Project.  We also have information on other ways in which you may receive compensation for helping the watershed. 

About the Watershed:  Aimed at describing our watershed in various ways, this tab contains general background on the Turtle Creek Watershed such as physical characteristics, ecological characteristics, information on land use, watershed trends, etc. 

Contact Us/Schedule Consultation:  It is our hope that this website provide information that will help you better understand what you can do to restore and maintain the natural qualities of our waters, as well as how we at the Turtle Creek Watershed Project can help you do it.  The information provided in this tab is aimed at providing you with a variety of options by which you can contact us for a consultation, to request information, or even just to chat about you role in the watershed.

Turtle Creek,
Nov 7, 2014, 10:46 AM
Turtle Creek,
Nov 7, 2014, 10:46 AM