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Gass column: Carlton County launches 'Adopt a Drain' program

Chris Gass

The season of spring may well be considered the season of new as the latest models of products like boats, motorcycles, grills and summer-time recreation equipment begin hitting store fronts, and catalogs fill mailboxes with the newest releases for warm-weather fun like gardening, camping and backyard get-togethers.

It stands to reason that producers know we are wide-eyed after being held up in the long cold spell. To top it off, summer time services are entering their swing and making business known through advertisements for lawn care, tree maintenance, stump removal and so on.

Well, let me add just one more to the list. The Carlton County Soil and Water Conservation District is proud to release a new initiative for the area that has been catching traction elsewhere through the nation.

It aims to be an easy opportunity for everyone to take part in local conservation efforts while also being a steward for community improvement and resource management, and we duly hope that it might encourage residents to have a hand in the well-being of their local city.

Welcome the Carlton County Adopt a Drain (AAD) program! As the name suggests, it mimics some of the underlying intentions of Adopt-a-Highway in promoting volunteers to help keep trash out of our landscape and public areas. However, the program goes a step further in being scaled at a local level. Meaning participation might be right outside your front door and that the benefits are felt right in your community.

Those drains lead right into our local water bodies. This in turn means we can have an impact on the well-being of our nearby waterways, but also can help to reduce the costs put into cleaning and maintaining these landmarks down the road.

The water will eventually cycle out, but the pollutants aren't guaranteed, too. The effect of water pollutants will tend to be felt, and concentrate, in the area they are initially released and often even settle not far from where they came.

We should remember our downstream for much of the waters in this area ends up in Lake Superior — not really a destination we should think of lightly.

Consider that you might collect an ice cream pail full of material each time you go out. Well, if you go out twice a month for four or more months, you'll have stopped an impressive pile of pollution and that's just your effort.

Imagine the effect seen by a small army of volunteers who help clean debris over a whole season. The impact becomes gargantuan and adds up overtime. Further yet, think of it as a small investment now for big savings in the future.

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Find the AAD program at carltonswcd.org.

Chris Gass is a MN GreenCorps member serving at the Carlton Soil and Water Conservation District and focusing on stormwater and urban forestry. Reach him at 218-384-3891 ext. 5. Information on the SWCD can be found on Facebook and at carltonswcd.org.

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