The 4th Minnesota River Congress
Thursday July 23rd 2015
4:30 to 8:30 PM Held at Turner Halle New Ulm, MN
The doors opened for
registration to the 4th Minnesota River Congress (MRC) at 4:30 with
a Networking Fair which has been held prior to all congresses to date. Back buy popular demand people from all parts
of the basin with diverse backgrounds were able to discuss projects,
initiatives, farming, fishing and all things Minnesota River Watershed
A meal was served at 5:45
PM and a pre-congress program was presented at 6:35 P.M. Congress participants were welcomed with
opening comments from Scott Sparlin who has been acting as the (MRC)
Organizational Team facilitator. MNDNR
Regional Director Dennis Frederickson spoke on the importance of working
together in being as inclusive as possible to gain multiple perspectives. He added that the Minnesota River Watershed
was a big area and needed to be managed on a watershed basis with broad
oversight for a comprehensive approach in which ideas and knowledge could be
shared freely. He encouraged the
congress to continue down its current path using the democratic unifying
approach it has established to date.
The next speaker to address
the congress was State Representative Clark Johnson.
He also encouraged the MRC
to continue to attempt to unify the diversity in the basin by being as
inclusive as possible and to find commonalities among the various communities
of interest. He felt the MRC has been on
the right track from the beginning and that democracy moves sometimes slower
than people want, but that it pushes us to understand the complexities of our
resources and people. He stated that if
a Minnesota River Commission bill was introduced in the Minnesota House of
Representatives that he would gladly co-sponsor such a bill.
The Lower Minnesota River
Watershed District then gave a presentation on the Minnesota River Commission
bill which has been introduced by Minnesota State Senator Kathy Sheran. They explained that they are the entity which
is responsible for keeping and paying for the maintenance of the Lower 25 miles
of the Minnesota River for barge traffic.
Costs have increased at a rapid rate over the course of the past 10
years and space is also becoming a premium for storage of the dredge spoils. They contest that an acceleration of actions
and initiatives is needed to significantly reduce sediment loads making their
way downstream. They feel targeting
upland storage and managed drainage systems will be needed to succeed in the
area of sediment reductions because of what the most recent scientific data has
revealed. They made the current proposed
commission bill available to attendee’s and links to it are available on line. It was acknowledged that the current bill’s
form will be further examined and is in a state of open discussion for
The next presentation was
introduced by Dennis Frederickson and given by the Commissioner of the
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Tom Landwehr. He built on the notion that big things often
come from small groups which grow with time and as that happens it reaches a
tipping point with the public. He
encouraged the MRC to continue to practice the democratic approach and to
continue to be inclusive to all who show passion and interest no matter what
their walk of life. He also shared the
importance of a watershed based approach with oversight which will be needed in
the future to accomplish the goals for a healthier set of resources in the
basin which are obviously linked to one another.
The last presentation
prior to official congress business was given by State Representative Paul
Torkelson who is also the co-chair of the Legislative Water Commission. Mr. Torkelson also shared that watershed
based management of our surface water resources was the best way to ensure
outcomes and have accountability for cleaner surface water. He spoke of the Governor’s buffer initiative
and the misconceptions and challenges associated with negotiations and that in
the end no one was completely happy with it, but he felt that it was a step in
the right direction. He also stated that
the congress was on the right track and needed to continue to be inclusive by
asking as broad an audience as possible to participate.
The official business
portion of the 4th Minnesota River Congress started with a review
and discussion of the prioritized purpose statements for the MRC. After thorough explanation from organization
team member Warren Formo a motion was made and seconded to adopt the
prioritized purpose statements as presented.
A vote was then taken and the motion carried unanimously.
The next item under
consideration for adoption was the action board structure description document
which will be used for clarification and explanation purposes in the
future. This was presented by
organization team member Bob Finley.
After a thorough explanation, discussion and questions a motion and a
second were made to adopt the action board structure description as
written. The motion to adopt passed on a
Linda Meschke a member of
the organization team then presented the Minnesota River Congress organization
structure chart. After examination and
discussion along with questions and further clarifications the chart was
adopted as presented by a motion with a second and unanimous vote in favor of
The business portion of
the congress continued with an examination, review and discussion on the action
board application form. A complete
description was given and after much further discussion a motion was made and
seconded to approve the action board application form as presented and for the
MRC to adopt it as an official document.
The vote was unanimous in favor.
The next item of business
was a presentation by the organization team facilitator Scott Sparlin to begin
a process of filing for articles of incorporation as a Minnesota Non Profit
under statute 317 A and to begin the process for filing as a federal tax exempt
501 c 3 organization. This was approved
by the full congress vote on April 16th 2015 at the 3rd
Lastly the consideration
of endorsing the Minnesota River Commission by the full congress was tabled
until our November 12th, 2015 5th Congress It was felt that a period of modification to
the bill would be taking place and that most attendee’s needed to read the
current bill and give it as much thought as possible before endorsement. The bill is under Minnesota State Senate File
2204. The bill has been voted on and
endorsed in spirit by the organization team for the MRC.
Having no further
business, The Minnesota River Congress adjourned at 8:45 P.M.