December 22, 2015

Contact: Celi Haga



St. Paul, Minn. – As 2015 draws to an end, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR)  recognizes outstanding work done at the local level this past year to advance Minnesota conservation. 

John Jaschke, BWSR’s Executive Director, explains, “Our local government partners are on the front lines of the state’s conservation work. The excellent work being done by Dan, Brad, and Darren shines a light on the passion and commitment of Minnesota’s local conservation staff. We applaud Lake of the Woods County for their leadership and commitment to conservation.”

2015 Outstanding Watershed Employee of the Year
Dan Wilkens, District Administrator for the Sand Hill River Watershed District, was honored at the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts annual meeting on December 4, 2015.  Dan was involved in the creation of the district in 1975, and has served as District Administrator since 1999.  He is a leader on Red River Basin flood control and statewide drainage issues.


2015 Outstanding District Employees of the Year
Brad Mergens, District Manager for the West Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District, and Darren Newville, District Manager for the East Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District, were honored at the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts annual meeting on December 7, 2015. Brad and Darren were honored for their partnership to develop the successful Otter Tail County Buffer Initiative and their track records as exceptional district managers.


2015 County Conservation Award
Lake of the Woods County was honored at the 2015 Association of Minnesota Counties annual meeting on December 8, 2015, for its work to improve state wetland mitigation policy.  County staff helped drive changes to the Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act that will improve the targeting of wetland mitigation sites.


More information about the BWSR’s local government partners and the local conservation delivery system can be found at BWSR’s website: Full profiles of the award winners are available on the BWSR homepage. Pictures of the award winners are available by request.


BWSR is the state soil and water conservation agency, and it administers programs that prevent sediment and nutrients from entering our lakes, rivers, and streams; enhance fish and wildlife habitat; and protect wetlands. The 20-member board consists of representatives of local and state government agencies and citizens. BWSR's mission is to improve and protect Minnesota's water and soil resources by working in partnership with local organizations and private landowners