Reding receives SWCD award

Published 9:45 am Wednesday, December 5, 2012

For Austin resident Leo Reding, creating opportunities for others to become stewards of the land has made a positive difference in Minnesota.

Leo Reding, of Austin, has been chosen by the Mower County Soil and Conservation District as the 2012 Wildlife Conservationist of year. Among the many improvements on his land east of Austin, are windbreaks, bird houses and grasses Reding planted on what was once cropland. Photo by Nate Howard

The Mower Soil and Water Conservation District recognized Reding as the 2012 Outstanding Wildlife Conservationist for his dedication to wildlife and the environment.

Reding has devoted much of his career to public service, both in Austin as a former mayor and in the region as a former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. During his time in the House, he contributed to many conservation initiatives and habitat policy programs. Reding served in the House for portions of three decades, before retiring in 1994. But Reding’s leadership was not finished when he left office. During his time in office, the Reinvest In Minnesota program began.

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Reding continued his efforts by teaming with current Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin, in an effort to use creative methods to achieve multiple local goals.

“Leo is a man of action,” Poppe said. “Long after his service in the legislature he continues to influence public policy.”

Reding worked with Poppe to designate a portion of funds to showcase how retention ponds can provide flood mitigation and wildlife habitat. In 2010, a road impoundment project was constructed with those funds. The project was developed using an impoundment designed to reduce the flow of water without compromising habitat.

The vision for this funding came through a habitat project on Reding’s property. Several years ago, Reding took a portion of his marginal crop ground and converted it into a wildlife pond. The wildlife pond was also designed to provide additional storage during large rain events.

“We pushed the dirt up and put overflow outlets in,” Reding said. His wetland is part of a small habitat complex with native prairie and tree plantings. “We wanted to have a small area that could show others what you could do with ground like this.”

This past year, as crop prices rose and grasslands gave way to the plow, Leo actually added to his conservation land.

“I very much appreciate Leo’s persistence and perspective,” Poppe added. “He has been a great role model.”