Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Minutes from the October 2006 meeting

Sixteen people attended a quarterly meeting of the Minnesota River Watershed Alliance in Hutchinson. Michael Groh, Independent Consultant served as the facilitator of the meeting.

Communications Coordinator:
· Scott Kudelka introduced himself as the new communications coordinator of the Minnesota River Watershed Alliance. He started on September 27th and will be working out of the Water Resources Center at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Under this position Scott will report directly to Shannon Fisher, Director of the Water Resources Center. Two handouts were provided to the group at the end of the meeting by Scott outlining his responsibilities and some of the tasks he is currently focusing on.

Minnesota River Summit:
· On January 10-11, 2007 a summit is being held at the Holiday Inn in New Ulm for an extended conversation on what has been accomplished, to celebrate the success and help direct a future path for water quality efforts in the Minnesota River Watershed. Up to 180 people in nine different categories including agriculture, business and government will be invited to participate in both small and large group discussions over this day and half event. In addition there will be a public open house on the evening of the 10th for those people who couldn’t commit to entire summit and the general community at large.
· A list of potential invitees is currently being complied with equal representation from the nine different groups. Agriculture and businesses are two categories where help is needed in finding people who are willing to participate in this type of event for the entire one and half days.
· Action Item: the please review the list of potential invitees to identify people in the agriculture and business sectors who might want to attend the summit. Any names and their contact information should be forwarded to Scott Kudelka at scott.kudelka@mnsu.edu or Water Resources Center; 184 Trafton Science Center S; Mankato, MN 56001.
· Future Action Item: the invitations are scheduled to be sent out on November 7th. The Summit planning committee may need assistance in the future from the Alliance to help recruit participants if they fall short in one or more of the categories (business, agriculture, non-governmental organizations, individuals, federal/state government, local government, education and research institutions, watershed projects, and elected officials.)

Schmidt Foundation:
· Lori Nelson wrote a grant application of $1.5 million to the Schmidt Foundation for a local cash match of the Alliance’s CREP I land easement fundraising project. Scott Sparlin, William Stangler and Diane Wiley of behalf of the Minnesota River Watershed Alliance, Minnesota River Board and other partners met with the board of the Schmidt Foundation to present this proposal and answer any questions. Scott felt there was a lot of positive feedback from the board and in turn they were told they presented a good case for the funds.
· Presently the Schmidt Foundation gives out $2 million in grants a year. A final decision will be made at the end of the month. Scott said they left the door open for a lesser level of funding - $500,000 – if their original request is deemed too large by the foundation.
· Action Item: none at this time since the decision will be made in-house at the Schmidt Foundation.
· Future Action Item: if the Alliance receives even 1/3rd of the funding request it can be used as a springboard to sell the CREP fundraising project to other organizations, foundations, individuals, etc.

Big Stone II Coal Plant:
· Patrick Moore reported there has been six days of administrative hearings on the proposal to build a second coal plant on the South Dakota side of Big Stone Lake across from Ortonville. Minnesota. Up to this point the testimony has been overwhelming against building the second coal plant.
· He sees two issues of major concern for Minnesota. 1. The power companies have stated that at least 189 pounds of mercury will be discharged each year from the plant, directly impacting the Minnesota River Valley and water quality. 2. A permit for the removal of 10,000 acre feet or 3.2 million gallons of water from Big Stone Lake has been approved by South Dakota DNR for the production of the Big Stone II Coal Plant. This was done without any consultation from the Minnesota side despite a Boundary Waters Commission agreement between the two states. Currently the Big Stone Coal Plant removes 8,000 acre feet of water from the lake. In addition a water permit has been granted to the Granite Falls Ethanol Plant.
· Action Item: Patrick and Duane Ninneman of CURE have been directed to draft a letter to the Minnesota DNR and Administrative Judge for the hearings stating as an organization, the Alliance is against this type of action of water removal without consultation of all parties. A template will be sent out to the Alliance participants for their review. They will have three days to respond to the letter.
· Additional Action Item: Patrick and Duane will also send out a generic letter to all Alliance participants for anyone wanting to send a letter to the administrative judge about issues regarding the construction of the Big Stone II Coal Plant.

Review of the last two meetings:· A brainstorming session had been held to come up with fundraising ideas for CREP I land easement project. Ideas have ranged from applying for grants through nonprofit organizations like the Schmidt Foundation, to approaching the state legislature and doing presentations at schools in the Minnesota River Watershed. A flyer and web site on the CREP I project has been developed and put in place for the Alliance. The flyer was handed out at the Ducks, Wetlands, and Clean Water State Rally in St. Paul. Lori Nelson and Larry Gunderson were ready to approach the Lake Pepin TMDL group about this issue as a way to reduce sediment and phosphorus levels in the lake at their March meeting but unfortunately due to some confusion they were left off the agenda.
· Ron Bolduan, nature photographer, speaker and naturalist has been going into the schools to do presentations on environmental issues. He is ready to do the same thing for promoting the Alliance’s CREP I fundraising project. At this time he is looking for approval from the Alliance to use their name in the presentation, travel expenses to offset the high cost of gas, and names of teachers that would be interested in this presentation
· Action Item: no one among the people attending this meeting voiced any concern to allow Ron to use the Alliance name when approaching schools to make presentations on the CREP I fundraising project.
· Action Item: after reviewing the budget of the McKnight Foundation grant it was decided among the meeting attendees to reimburse Ron up to $200 through January for his expenses with the school presentations. These funds will be taken from the expense budget line item: “MinnRivWA Meeting Expenses/Promotions/ Supplies.”
· Action Item: participants of the Alliance are asked to forward any names of teachers and their respected school to Scott Kudelka at scott.kudelka@mnsu.edu and he will forward them to Ron Bolduan.
· Action Item: Scott Kudelka will work with Ron on developing a letter to be sent to the teachers and a power point presentation on the Alliance’s CREP I land easement project.
· Action Item: to approach the Lake Pepin TMDL group about the CREP I land easement fundraising project.

· Scott Kudelka reported on the McKnight Foundation grant budget. There is $2,000 per year for three years to pay for an outside facilitator for the Alliance meetings. In addition there is $5,550 for FY07; $5,700 for FY08 and $5,900 for the final year. The other budget line items cover the coordinator’s salary, benefits and travel and expenses. The budget cycle runs from July 1st through June 30th.
· As part of the grant the Alliance needs to raise a cash match of $30,000 in increments of $5,000; $10,000 and $15,000 over the three year grant cycle. There was a discussion on how to raise those funds. According to Scott Sparlin, Shannon Fisher has already contacted a number of organizations asking for contributions and has enough funds to cover the first two years of this cash match.
· Action Item: Scott Sparlin will talk to Shannon Fisher about the matching funds and make sure the Alliance is on track. If not, the coordinating team will need to come up with a fundraising plan to raise the match.
· Action Item: Patrick Moore will contact the Southeast Regional Foundation in Hutchinson to see about using their meeting room facilities for free. It was felt if Alliance participants wanted to have food for the meetings it could be done through Subway or some other fast food business. Some people said there was no need for food at the meetings.

External Communications Strategy:
· The Alliance’s one action item for this year is to raise up to $7 million to match federal funds for CREP I land easement program by December of 2007. This will be done by changing people’s attitudes and approaching institutions, organizations, individuals, schools, state government, etc.
· There was a wide ranging discussion on the best way to coordinate this fund raising project. Suggestions for raising the funds included hosting one-on-one house parties of 7 to 20 people, getting Ron Sahara involved in the effort and approaching the big conservation nonprofit organizations like Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever.
· Ultimately the CREP I fundraising project could be handled two ways: One as a grassroots approach where Alliance participants volunteer their time to contact organizations, individuals and schools to raise the funds. Scott Sparlin feels that no matter how much money is raised this has been a successful project. The Alliance has proven it can come together on one goal and work towards a final conclusion. The second way is to handle it like a capital foundation project by hiring a consultant to focus directly on raising the $7 million.
·Other comments:
o If we can get a number of alpha or big donors on board it will be easier to approach the ones on the B and C levels.
o Even if we wanted to approach the state government for funds there was a question on whether the legislature could approve the request with it being a nonbinding year.
o Redirect the focus of organizations like Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited to make this priority their priority. We can use the example of ongoing drought situation in the Great Plains pushing the waterfowl migration pattern to the east.
o Approach the ethanol plants for donations by focusing on a water quantity issue.
o Approach the local sportsmen clubs who have access to pull tab funds.
o Bring the SWCDS into the discussion by highlighting how they could get their acre requests to the top of the list.
o People don’t seem reluctant to give to a project – it is something tangible.
o Look at carbon sequencing opportunities and the need for manufacturing companies to buy carbon credits.
o Use people in the Alliance and other groups to articulate the need and make the initial contact and than set up a face to face meeting.
· Action Item: Lori Nelson will explore the possibility of submitting a grant request through the Beldon Foundation.
· Action Item: the coordinating team will work on an overall strategy for raising the matching funds for CREP I land easement project and send it out to the Alliance participants.
· Action Item: Scott Kudelka will draft a letter to be sent out to the organizations, individuals and others on the CREP I land easement fundraising project. He has been directed to use the flyer created by the Alliance.

Comments on the meeting:
· The participants felt Michael Groh did a good job with facilitation of the meeting and there is a need to keep using an outside facilitator.
· Cut the unnecessary expenses of the meeting room and food.
· Send out a hard copy card or letter for the meeting invitation.
· The next meeting will be held on January 18th (Thursday) in Hutchinson (the location will be determined in the near future).

· Ron Bolduan,
· Richard Fish,
· Patrick Moore,
· Scott Sparlin,
· Dee Czech,
· Michael Lein,
· Larry Gunderson,
· Loren Engelby,
· Chris Domeier,
· Jim Wolf,
· Mary Wolf,
· Duane Ninneman,
· Lori Nelson,
· Chantill Kahler-Royer,
· Michael Groh,
· Scott Kudelka