For decades, Marilyn Bernhardson has been working to improve the environmental landscape of Redwood County. Whether that is focused on water quality or wildlife habitat, Bernhardson and the staff at the Redwood Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) have been working with local landowners to implement conservation practices that make a difference.

The efforts of the Redwood SWCD were recently recognized by Minnesota Pheasants Forever, which presented it with what is known as the Brood Booster award during its state convention.

The award recognizes individuals, programs, organizations and agencies that work to implement programs offered through the state and federal government that help the overall environment in the State of Minnesota.

“It’s exciting to be recognized by a group like this,” said Bernhardson.

The Redwood SWCD was nominated for the award, and Bernhardson said it is nice to know there are people who see the work they are doing and recognize it as valuable.

“It feels good to know they see what we are doing is benefitting wildlife and water quality,” said Bernhardson. “It is nice to know someone else is seeing value in what we have accomplished.”

Through myriad programs Redwood SWCD is making a difference, said Bernhardson.

For example, just in the past three years it has helped implement 32 grade stabilization projects that have helped keep more than 19,000 tons of sediment from getting into the waterways of the county. During that same three-year period, the efforts through SWCD have helped to restore 143 wetlands.

“Less than 1 percent of the natural wetlands still exist in Redwood County,” said Bernhardson, adding programs are helping to bring them back.

While these efforts may be specifically focused on improving water quality, the added benefits are well documented, as those efforts also help to create more habitats for wildlife.

While the efforts of the Redwood SWCD were being recognized by Pheasants Forever, Bernhardson is quick to point out that it is not just one organization that needs to be given credit for the impact that is being made in Redwood County.

“We are part of a very good team,” said Bernhardson, adding specifically the work being done through Redwood SWCD would not be possible without the collaborative efforts of agencies like the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “We work together very well. We have a dynamite staff, and everyone here is working hard to implement good conservation projects. We believe what we are doing is making a difference.”

Bernhardson said she believes the past efforts of SWCD, in concert with other agencies and organizations, can serve as a blueprint for future projects that will continue to make conservation a priority in Redwood County.