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Cowbell Run During the Murray County Fair

Have you heard what’s happening this year at the Murray County Fair 5K?   Not only can you participate in a 5K, but we now will be offering a 1 MILE option that you can run or walk.   The sound of cowbells will ring early on Saturday, August 19th as the racers and walkers take off on a fun event to support next year’s fair activities.

All participants will receive a useful souvenir prize and the top entrants in each category will triumph with extra prizes. 

If you are walking, there will be an opportunity for you to win something too.   Thanks to Jim’s Market and Culligan water for their special donations for water and snacks along the way.

Get moo’vin to join the fun.   Go to to register for the Murray County Fair COWBELL RUN.

USDA Authorizes Emergency Haying and Grazing of CRP Acres for Murray County

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) has authorized emergency haying and grazing use of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres for Murray County. This authorization only applies to certain CRP covers.  

The emergency haying authorization became effective July 25 2017, and ends August 31, 2017.  The emergency grazing authorization became effective July 25, 2017, and ends September 30, 2017.  

The eligible CRP acreage is limited to acres located within the approved county. Eligible producers who are interested in haying or grazing CRP under the emergency authorization and current CRP participants who choose to provide land for haying or grazing to an eligible livestock producer, must first request approval to hay or graze eligible acreage from FSA and obtain a modified conservation plan from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to include haying or grazing requirements. 

Since Murray County is authorized for emergency haying and grazing, producers are reminded that the same CRP acreage cannot be both hayed and/or grazed at the same time. For example, if 50 percent of a field or contiguous field is hayed, the remaining unhayed 50 percent cannot be grazed; it must remain unhayed and ungrazed for wildlife. In addition, participants are limited to one hay cutting and are not permitted to sell any of the hay.

Please contact the FSA office at (507) 836-8567 for more information.

Free Nitrate Water-Testing Clinic Coming to Slayton

Homeowners who rely on private wells for their drinking water supply should test for nitrates on a regular basis.  Private well owners are encouraged to participate at the free nitrate testing clinic that will be held from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday August 17th in the Horticulture Building at the Murray County Fair.

The clinic is sponsored by Murray County Environmental Services. Nitrates are the most common contaminants in Minnesota’s groundwater and a significant number of the state’s wells have high nitrate levels.

In order to participate in the testing, homeowners must bring at least one-half cup of water in either a Whirl-Pak plastic bag or a Ziploc-type bag.  In order to get a good sample, allow the water to run 5 to 10 minutes before filling the bag. Homeowners with distillators, reverse osmosis, or other nitrate removal systems should take two water samples   one before and one after the treatment process. This will determine if the nitrate removal system is working. Homeowners with just a water softener need to take one sample - either before or after the water passes through the water softener. Only water from private wells will be tested.

Samples should be taken no more than 24 hours before the testing and they must be refrigerated. Samples should be cool when arriving at the clinic. To ensure accuracy, homeowners should mark the bags with their name, phone number, and a well identification number if more than one well is sampled.  

Homeowners may remain anonymous. In that case, they should simply choose another easily recognized number to put on the well samples. It is not necessary to provide information about the well or well location.

Samples are analyzed on the spot and results are given directly to the homeowner. The process usually takes less than five minutes. If the nitrate level in a sample is elevated, clinic staff can refer the homeowner to certified labs that will retest the water.  For more information on the clinic, contact Murray County Environmental Technician, Sarah Soderholm, at 507-836-1165.

Raptors are Coming to the Murray County Fair!

What is a raptor?  Eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, kestrels and more....

The University of Minnesota Raptor Center will have two opportunities on Thursday, August 17th for you to visit with feathered friends and learn about why they are so important in our environment.   Participants can ask questions, take photos or just relax and watch the raptors.   There will be two programs starting at 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. with some extra time available for question and answers after each show.

The public is invited to come and admire these magnificent birds for free under the center tent.   This event is sponsored by the Murray County Central FFA and Slayton Building Materials.

“Shetek Revisited” Highlights the History and Culture of the Early Lake Shetek People

Lake Shetek State Park will again be hosting several programs highlighting the history and culture of the people living at Lake Shetek in 1862.  

Life on the prairie for the approximately 50 people living at the Lake Shetek settlement in 1862 was not easy but they depended on each other and endured the hardships in order live out their dreams for a new life.  There were also a number of Dakota Native Americans living around the lake much as their people had been for centuries.  Here at Lake Shetek, these two groups of people learned to get along and live as neighbors.

All that changed in August of 1862 when the Dakota, driven by starvation and broken promises, declared war on the white settlers in SW Minnesota.  This war would last six weeks in Minnesota and for many more years in the West.  Fourteen settlers at Lake Shetek would also lose their lives as a result.

In addition to other programs, on Saturday, August 19 Lake Shetek State Park will be hosting a bus tour journey back in time to August of 1862 and guided through the events that took place on that fateful day.  We will talk about the lives of the early settlers and Dakota people before the conflict while touring to the significant sites located around Lake Shetek and end with how their lives were changed afterwards.  We will meet in the picnic area parking lot at Lake Shetek State Park promptly at 9:00 am with the tour ending approximately at 12:30 pm.  The cost of the tour is $5.00 per person and reservations are required due to limited seating.  Please either call the park at (507) 763-3256 with the number of people attending or stop in at the park office to sign up.  State Park vehicle permits are required for entry into the park and can be purchased at the park office on the day of the tour.

Missouri River Watershed Needs Your Input

In 2013, a national water quality survey done by the U.S. EPA found that 55% of the nation’s rivers and streams were in poor biological condition. Nearly 75% of Minnesotans depend on groundwater for their primary source of drinking water. Whether nationally or locally, water is highly valued for its many uses. The Missouri River Watershed One Watershed, One Plan is giving you a voice in managing our local water resources. They will be holding two public kick-off events for you to voice your opinion and vote on what water resources matter to you. 

The goal of this group is to develop a comprehensive plan that will address water management within the Missouri River Watershed. This watershed drains the southwestern portion of Murray County, west of the Buffalo Ridge, including the city of Chandler, MN. It also drains part or all of Lincoln, Pipestone, Rock, Nobles, and Jackson counties. Local landowner input is critical to the development of a successful plan so everyone is invited to attend. 

Within Murray County, 27 streams have been assessed for impairment and all have been designated as impaired. Impairments include nutrients/eutrophication, turbidity, fecal coliform and bioassessments of aquatic macroinvertebrates, fish and plants. Both Chanarambie and Champepedan creeks within the watershed are listed on Minnesota’s Impaired Waters list as being impaired for turbidity and fecal coliform. Turbidity is a measure of how cloudy the water is and at high levels can make the water unsuitable for recreation or aquatic life. Fecal coliform is an indicator of the possible presence of pathogens and at high levels can make users ill. The Missouri River Watershed One Watershed, One Plan is looking for your input in determining how these waters will be managed for future generations.

The public kick-off events will be held on Tuesday, August 22 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Hickory Lodge at 2015 N. Humiston Ave, Worthington, MN. Another will be held on Wednesday, August 23 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Pipestone Ambulance Services building at 811 5th Street SE, Pipestone, MN.  Come out to ask questions and tell us what water resources are important to you. 

Your local County Environmental Services, Soil & Water Conservation District and Watershed District employees will be present to answer your water resource questions. Additional information is available on the Nobles Soil & Water Conservation District website at