Monday, May 04, 2009

April 21, 2009 Meeting Notes

On one of our first real spring days of the season, thirty-one people came out for the Minnesota River Watershed Alliance’s quarterly meeting at the Hutchinson Event Center. We were fortunate to have Audrey Arner serving as our facilitator. Once again she did a great job of keeping us on task and letting everyone have a voice in the decision making process.

Welcome & Introductions:
Scott Kudelka welcomed and thanked everyone for coming out and gave a brief history of the Minnesota River Watershed Alliance (Watershed Alliance) before introducing Audrey Arner as the meeting facilitator. Audrey talked about how this is group of season river advocates and those who show up have a voice in how the Watershed Alliance moves forward with their initiatives. “We bring attention to what is happening with the river”. As a way to introduce ourselves, Audrey asked everyone to give an observation of spring. These observations included paddling a flooded field and coming within a few feet of 30 to 40 swans, the corn planter waiting to start planting, hearing the sound of frogs, and the woodpile not disappearing as fast as it had over the winter.

Minnesota River Paddle Patch/Decal Initiative:
A brief overview of this initiative was given by Scott Kudelka. The committee’s recommendation of offering three different paddle patches/decals received unanimous support from the group. The group also voted to rename it the Minnesota River Paddler Program to make it easier to promote and for the public to understand.

An interesting and fun discussion took place on what to name each of the different patches/decals. Everyone felt the names of the first two patches/decals – Minnesota River Tributary Paddler and Minnesota River Extreme Paddler made sense and voted to stick with those names.

For the third patch/decal a number of potential names were submitted to be voted on including the use of 335 (length of the Minnesota River), CRAM (Canoe the River Across Minnesota), Source to Mouth, Go the Distance the word “club” versus “paddler.” After quite a bit of discussion and two different votes, the group went with Minnesota River 335 Paddler.

The Watershed Alliance will award three paddle patches/decals to anyone who meets the following criteria:
· Minnesota River Tributary Paddler: Paddle any three of these major tributaries; Chippewa River, Lac qui Parle River, Pomme de Terre River, Yellow Medicine River, Hawk Creek, Redwood River, Cottonwood River, Watonwan River, Le Sueur River, Blue Earth River, and one stretch of the Minnesota River.
· Minnesota River Extreme Paddler: Paddle the following rivers in the Minnesota River Watershed; Little Minnesota River, Whetstone River, Yellow Bank River, Chippewa River, Lac qui Parle River, Pomme de Terre River, Beaver Creek, Yellow Medicine River, Hawk Creek, Redwood River, Cottonwood River, Watonwan River, Le Sueur River, Blue Earth River, Big Cobb River, Maple River, Rush River, High Island Creek, Sand Creek, and three stretches of the Minnesota River (Upper, Middle and Lower) for a total of 22 paddles. Documentation is required for this patch/decal – photos, affidavits from another source, etc.
· Minnesota River 335 Paddler: For anyone who paddles the entire length of the Minnesota River from the Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge to Fort Snelling at the confluence with the Mississippi River either in one paddle or by segments.

The group felt it would be good to keep the name of the Minnesota River patch/decal separate from an annual event – CRAM (Canoe the River Across the Minnesota) – to avoid confusion.

Five options on how a design should be created for each of the paddle patches/decals were presented: 1. Hire a firm or individual, 2. Hold a contest; 3. Utilize the artistic talent of the Watershed Alliance; 4. Engage the Art Department at Minnesota State University, Mankato; and 5. Use the 99 Designs web site. The group voted to have committee work with an artist to come up with a design for each of the patches/decals to be presented at the next meeting.

The Minnesota River Paddler Program Committee is made up of the following individuals:
· Chantill Kahler-Royer (,
· Joel Wurscher (,
· Brooke Patterson (,
· James Fett (,
· Franz Albert Richter (2161 Hwy 59; Clarkfield, MN 56223),
· Jesse Anderson (,
· Scott Kudelka (

Minnesota River Friendly Label
Linda Meschke reported on the efforts of the committee working on launching a Minnesota River Friendly Label to recognize businesses, farms, individuals, organizations, schools, etc. working to improve and protect the Minnesota River. An application is being created by the group that will paperless to go along with the river friendly idea. The group is looking at having three steps as the different businesses, organizations, farms, etc. become more river friendly (maybe red, white and blue). A check list will be part of the application to cover what they are doing now and what they would consider doing. This application is being patterned after the River Friendly Faith Program. One of the goals is to involved youth and the community.

The application is currently being developed and the committee welcomes suggestions and ideas for the checklist. One of the next steps is identify a group of 20 to 25 businesses, organizations, farms, schools, etc. that are already being river friendly to award this label as a way to launch the program. Please send suggestions to the committee members:
· Linda Meschke ( ,
· Dee Czech (,
· Brooke Patterson (,
· Chantill Kahler-Royer (,
· Joe Domeier (,
· Mary Mueller (,
· Jill Sackett (,
· Jim Klang (,
· Scott Kudelka (

Minnesota River Canoe Trail:
Loran Kaardal gave a brief description of the Boy Scout Canoe Trail Program developed in 1968 and how it was rediscovered when he ran across pamphlets in Miss Tiffy’s attic. Part of this effort is to build infrastructure (access points, drinking water, toilets, campsites, etc.) and the other part is get people out on the river by holding paddles or parties like CRAM. Loran feels the MN River Watershed could be one of the top designations for canoeing/kayaking in the state.

The committee is looking to partner with the DNR to help them guide us through the process including putting in the infrastructure on this canoe trail and also being able to reserve canoes from the state parks and campsites. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for the public to use this infrastructure and get out on the water; to upgrade the trail to fit the clientele.

Erik Wrede of the DNR stated the key is building partnerships and citizens need to take the lead because legislators like citizen-driven initiatives. There are potential funding sources for this type of work including the Bonding Bill and the Parks & Trails monies from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. Although right now access to those funds are not clear but a canoe trail should fit within the guidelines.

According to Erik Wrede, our effort will help set a precedent on how other water trails are developed. The Watershed Alliance is one of the first groups to be this organized and developing partnerships to make it happen.

There was some discussion among the group about how there has been some problems with floods destroying or washing away established campsites, in particular in the lower portions of the Minnesota River. The DNR recognizes there is a need to plan and design for flooding events.

Committee Members:
· Loran Kaardal ( ,
· Brad Cobb ( ,
· Patrick Moore ( ,
· Scott Sparlin ( ,
· Scott Kudelka (

Minnesota River Magazine
Scott Kudelka, Linda Meschke, Forrest Peterson and others have been working with the publishers of Womeninc and Midwest Caregivers from the Fairmont area to develop a Minnesota River Valley magazine. The owner – Kay Sauck – is excited about the possibilities of getting this regional magazine off the ground and has a fall launch planned if they can line up enough advertisers.

At this time they are planning for a circulation of 15,000 copies making up a readership of 60,000 to be mailed out to a list of potential subscribers from across the Minnesota River Watershed. Departments will include Lifestyle (River Life), Environment, Arts, Recreation, and Business. In addition, there will be an online edition. They are thinking of setting the subscription rate at $12.00 per year to make it affordable.

Kay Sauck wants to have the Watershed Alliance as a partner because the idea for this magazine came from Forrest Peterson who presented it to Scott Kudelka. After the idea made it into the MN River Communications Plan, Linda Meschke mentioned it to Kay Sauck who jumped at the chance of publishing this magazine. Our role would be as an advisory board to help with story ideas, identifying potential advertisers and how to promote the magazine. As the communication coordinator, Scott would have a half page column to write about the Minnesota River. There is also the possibility of having a portion of the profits funneled back into the watershed for community grants including for efforts of the Watershed Alliance. This is what they do with the magazine Womeninc.

The group thought it was a great idea and voted to have the Watershed Alliance continue supporting this magazine concept and help move it forward. Some of the ideas we can help with include providing story ideas, potential writers, artists and photographers and providing mailing lists from the various nonprofit organizations since these people are already interested in the river. This would help keep the start-up costs down.

Loran Kaardal asked if this would stop us from working with other people interested in putting together a publication about the Minnesota River. There is a local editor looking to develop a Minnesota River newspaper. The group felt this would be ok as long as we do not try to sell articles, photographs and other material to two or more publications.

Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Funding:
Lori Nelson planned to give an update on what is happening with a list of projects from the Minnesota River Watershed that were forwarded to Senator Dennis Fredrickson but had an early morning commitment. Scott Kudelka explained how a group of organizations and individuals gathered on March 6th in Mankato to talk about the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment on the advice of Senator Fredrickson and Representative Terry Morrow to discuss how we could work together to advance project ideas for this funding source.

As a result, a list of projects were put together for the Clean Water portion of the funding and tied to various TMDLs in the Minnesota River Watershed and forwarded to Senator Fredrickson. Unfortunately, the funding mechanism still hasn’t been decided for the Arts and Trails funds and they were left off the project list. Scott read an email from Lori Nelson explaining how she and Scott Sparlin have talked to Senator Fredrickson’s legislative assistant. The Minnesota River project list will most likely be put into a larger omnibus bill covering the Clean Water funding.

To help promote this bill the group was encouraged to sent a letter, or an email or call Senator Fredrickson and Representative Morrow along with their own legislators. If a legislator gets at least 10 calls, emails or letters on a particular issue they feel the need to address it in some form or fashion.

Upcoming Events
· The annual Nobel Conference will be happening on October 6 & 7 at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. This year’s topic is water and the committee organizers are looking for local / regional water-related topics for booths, posters and evening presentations. Some suggestions included Traverse de Sioux site, Minnesota River Long-time Residents interviews, MN River Trends Report and Senator Dennis Fredrickson.
· Check out Minnesota Waters’ Lakes and Rivers Conference at the Mayo Convention Center in Rochester on May 7th & 8th. For more information go to their web site at Scott Kudelka, Kim Musser and Rick Moore along with Art and Barb Straub will be doing a presentation on the Long-time Residents of the Minnesota River web site on Friday at 1 o’clock. This web site includes stories on Audrey Arner and Richard Handeen of Moonstone Farm and Joe Michel. Minnesota Waters is dominated by lake’s people – they need river people.

Next Steps:
Contact Senator Fredrickson and Representative Morrow to thank them for their support of Minnesota River Projects and advocate the list of projects for the Clean Water funding. In addition, contact your own legislators.
Develop ideas on how to promote the Minnesota River Paddler Program – when and how to unveil. At the July 21st meeting, the group will have a chance to review designs for the three paddle patches/decals.
Consider developing a CRAM for 2010 committee
Develop a list of potential businesses, organizations, farmers, individuals, schools, etc. for the MN River Friendly Label. Send any contact information to Linda Meschke along with criteria for the application. A marketing plan will be developed for the group to review at the July 21st meeting.
The Canoe Trail Committee will continue to work with MN DNR on leg work for developing a Minnesota River Canoe Trail.
Think about the Minnesota River Valley Magazine – input, layout, history, art, poetry, regions, writers, etc. Franz Albert Richter brought up the Minnesota River Currents magazine that was published in the 1990s. Scott Kudelka has all the copies of this magazine.

Meeting Evaluation:
At the end, Audrey asked for comments on the positive and negative aspects of tonight’s meeting. Everyone felt it was a very productive meeting and gave Audrey a round of applause for facilitating the meeting.

Next Meeting:
The next quarterly meeting is scheduled for July 21st (3rd Tuesday) starting at 6 p.m. at the Hutchinson Event Center in Hutchinson. We will start with a social hour at 6 p.m. with food and drink and begin the meeting right at 7 p.m. and strive to wrap things up in two hours.

Dee Czech,
Jim Wolf,
Kathleen Wolf,
Chantill Kahler-Royer,
Mike Lein,
Brooke Patterson,
James Fett,
Al Odenthal,
Franz Albert Richter,
Dwight Swanson,
Linda Meschke,
Brad Cobb,
Loran Kaardal,
Joel Wurscher,
Charlie Woehler,
Susie Carlin,
Larry Gunderson,
Ron Otto,
Gary Lenz,
Duane Ninneman,
Ron Bolduan,
John Hickman,
Erik Wrede,
Kristy Rice,
Gene Jeseritz,
Mark Schnobrich,
Jim Schafer
Joe P. Michel,
John Rodeberg
Audrey Arner,
Scott Kudelka