Cory Netland, Coordinator, Hawk Creek Watershed Project
Cory Netland grew up on a farm a half-mile away from a state park and rode his bike over there to go fishing and came to love the place. This became the basis of him being drawn to water, wildlife and natural resources. According to Netland, he knew at an early age this was what he wanted to do and it became more apparent through high school and into college at the University of Minnesota Duluth where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. Netland says it all worked out for him as he started a diverse career path in the field of conservation. This also includes his personal life, volunteering as the Habitat Coordinator for two Pheasants Forever chapters, and spending time trapping, paddling and fishing.
After graduation Cory took a job with the Lac qui Parle Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) as a Farm Bill Technician working to enroll and maintain land in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) program. Three years later he moved onto Renville SWCD to do the same type of work. One of the most successful projects that stand out for Cory happened during those early years at Lac qui Parle. “To me there is nothing more rewarding then the wetland restoration work we did in Lac qui Parle,” stated Netland. “To go from being cropland one year to under construction and the next year watching ducks fly into these wetlands.”
Early in 2009, Netland started as the project coordinator of the Hawk Creek Watershed Project, guiding the efforts of a three member staff to improve and protect water quality in one of the Minnesota River Basin’s major watersheds. For three years he oversaw the day-to-day activities, grants management, and provided guidance for the project’s future direction. In this role, Netland says Beaver Creek’s sediment reduction story stands out for him. What worked here says Cory is the availability of programs like RIM, CREP and other programs like streambank stabilizations filled in the holes. Cory is now working for MN DNR primarily handling Aquatic Habitat (Shoreland Restoration) Grants in southern Minnesota.
“I love the outdoors and this is (Minnesota River) largely an unappreciated resource,” gushes Netland. The Minnesota River is absolutely amazing. I encourage everyone to go take a look because it’s amazing all the way from St. Paul to Ortonville. There are great things about it the entire distance. I spend as much time as I can down there and it really stands out to me how much difference we have made even in the last six years and prior to that before the easement programs were available. I have seen pictures and that stands out as well with some of the areas that were cropped before and now are beautiful wildlife habitat.”