The Sauk River Watershed District is starting the new year with a new district administrator: Jon Roeschlein, a five-year SRWD member who has worked with watersheds and conservation districts for decades. Roeschlein is taking the place of Scott Henderson, who resigned Oct. 15, 2021, and he looks forward to continuing the momentum Henderson established during his time.

“(Henderson) was very instrumental in moving this district forward and getting some things rolling, so I’m hoping to be able to fill the shoes a little bit,” Roeschlein said. “We’ll try to keep that momentum and those projects and programs going, maybe bringing a few new ideas to the table to discuss on how we can do things and make it better for the residents we serve. I’d like to carry on the legacy, so to speak, of the former administrators and board members.”

Roeschlein grew up in Glencoe, graduating from high school there before getting a degree in natural resources and conservation management from the University of Minnesota Crookston. From there, he began work as a seasonal employee with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Morris, then worked on a seasonal term for the Douglas County Soil and Water Conservation District in 1986-87. At the time, the Conservation Reserve Program was gaining popularity, so Roeschlein helped with people’s plans for putting their land into the CRP.

Next, Roeschlein went to Wheaton to manage the Traverse County Soil and Water Conservation District for a year and a half, followed by 27 years as the district administrator for the Bois-De-Sioux Watershed District.

“The (administrator) position isn’t new, but the watershed district here is much different than what I was used to out in the Red River Valley,” Roeschlein said. “Their primary purpose out there was flood damage reduction and water quality improvement. Here, we focus more on water quality improvement, with water quantity management running hand-in-hand alongside it.”

Roeschlein has been the ditch and permit manager for the SRWD since fall 2016. He also served as the interim district administrator after Henderson’s resignation, and he will continue to be the interim ditch and permit manager until another one is appointed.

The SRWD board selected Roeschlein as the new district administrator around the first of December, the position effective Jan. 1. Roeschlein was told there were 15 other applicants for the position.

Although Jan. 3 was technically Roeschlein’s first day of work as the SRWD administrator, his previous experience has streamlined his transition into the role.

“There are a few things we need to finish out yet as far as making the transition, but other than that, everything’s been going pretty smoothly,” Roeschlein said. “I’m essentially doing the same job I’ve been doing for the past two months.”

The SRWD is currently working with a couple of different project teams in district sub-watersheds. One of the projects involves the JD2 team, identifying issues in Lake Osakis and the JD 2 sub-watershed; another project is stabilizing the Getchell Creek area near Freeport which has been having erosion issues, so they are adding a flood plain bench in an area where the bank has been sloughing off. The Getchell Creek projects are paid for by grants and other outside resources.

“We have been pretty successful. This district has a really good track record of pulling in outside money to help,” Roeschlein said.

One of Roeschlein’s motivations for conservation is the fact that he enjoys fishing and hunting, and generally recreating outdoors with his family.

“I grew up doing some of that with my folks and my family,” Roeschlein said. “It kind of drives home the message that we need to do everything we can to protect and improve our important water resource. Man can’t survive more than a few days without water, and we need good, clean water to do it.”