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Paynesville Press - June 5, 2002

Ex-ag teacher retires from watershed board

By Michael Jacobson

After ten years on the Board of Directors for the North Fork of the Crow River Watershed District (NFCRWD), LeRoy Hillbrand has retired.

Leroy Hillbrand Hillbrand - who taught agriculture at Paynesville High School for 33 years, starting in 1946 - was appointed to the board originally for one year and then served three three-year terms.

He credits his interest in conservation practices in agriculture for his interest on the watershed district board. "I've always been interested in soil conservation," he explained. "That was part of my job teaching ag."

The watershed district is dedicated to water quality along the North Fork of the Crow River, starting north of Brooten and ending downstream of Lake Koronis. It encompasses around 350 square miles of drainage and includes 450 miles of farm ditches. It also includes three lakes: Grove Lake, Rice Lake, and Lake Koronis.

The North Fork of the Crow River flows through the city of Paynesville.

The watershed district, according to Hillbrand, uses education and funding to reduce pollution and raise water quality. It is interested in erosion in farm fields, lawncare and the use of fertilizers near lakeshore, having working septic systems near waterways, city sewer systems, and feedlot runoff.

"The water quality in all our lakes has improved in the last ten years," said Hillbrand with pride.

The NFCRWD is a government entity that levies taxes for its operating expenses, which includes three full-time staff members. It uses grants to fund conservation projects.

The watershed district has worked with the Department of Natural Resources; county, state, and federal agencies; and lake associations for Grove, Rice, and Koronis to accomplish conservation projects, said Hillbrand.

Hillbrand - who lives in Paynesville Township with his wife, Eileen - does farm mediations, farm management consultations, and runs a nonprofit hobby farm. He and his wife also enjoy traveling.

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