Friday, July 24, 2009

July 21, 2009 Meeting Notes

Twenty-seven people came together in Hutchinson to talk about the Minnesota River and how as a group of concerned citizens we can work together to protect and improve this valuable resource. The meeting was facilitated by Audrey Arner of rural Montevideo who did a fantastic job at keeping us on track and pretty much on time.

Welcome & Introductions:
Audrey reminded people of the Watershed Alliance’s goal to wrap up the meeting in two hours and said we had a full agenda to run through. First, people had a chance to promote any up coming events.
· The Minnesota River Board is holding their regular meeting and speaker’s forum on July 27th (Monday) at the Redwood Falls Community Center. The board meeting starts at 9 a.m. with lunch at 11 a.m. and the speaker’s forum at 12 noon (for only $20 per person). Speakers include Tim Palmer, Val L. Little, Sara Smith and Jim Doering. To pre-register call 507-389-5491 or send an email to
· Bike Ride Across Minnesota is taking place from July 26th through July 31st starting out in Ortonville and going through Montevideo, Redwood Falls, St. Peter, New Prague and ending in Welch Village. This is a great opportunity to get out to see the Minnesota River Valley and shoot photos of the riders. For more information,

Audrey asked everyone to introduce themselves, say who they represent and relate an observation about the Minnesota River. The responses were quite varied with a number of people talking about the type of fish they have caught recently and others telling stories of getting out to paddle a portion of the Minnesota River.

Minnesota River Communications Funding
Scott Kudelka presented the bad news about the McKnight Foundation funding request for his communication work and Watershed Alliance meeting expenses. Some background information - at the April 21st quarterly meeting we felt there was a good chance of getting at least two more years of funding (60% of the initial grant) after talking to our program officer Ron Kroese. Unfortunately due to the economic downturn we were denied the funding request in May. Scott read a personal note from Ron, “Shannon – I am truly sorry that the Foundation’s shortage of funds means we can’t continue to support your work. It is not a reflection of the Alliance’s efforts, but a result of the big drop in Foundation’s assets.”

Due to this major cut in funding, Scott’s role with the Watershed Alliance will be changing as his time is taken up by water quality monitoring and other projects. For the next 9 months to a year, Scott will continue to produce the following communication pieces: MN River Weekly Update, River Talk newsletter, MN River Minute, Water Is Us column and MN River Calendar. He will also continue to handle the promotion of the quarterly meetings including developing the invitation and writing the press release along with taking the meeting notes.

Other duties Scott takes care of include preparing the meeting agenda, coordinating the phone conference calls between meetings with the coordinating team, coordinating with the meeting facilitator, and overseeing committee assignments for the three committees (MN River Paddler Committee, River Friendly Label Committee and Canoe Trail Committee). Audrey told the group we would talk more about this later in the meeting.

Minnesota River Paddler Initiative:
Chantill Kahler-Royer gave the group a brief review of the paddler program including how the goal of this initiative is connect people to the river by awarding the following three patch/decals to the public. 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.

Three designs have been created by local artist, Char Kahler, and approved by the paddler committee to be reviewed by the larger group. Comments on the designs were requested of the larger group and include:
· Minnesota River Watershed Alliance will be added to the patch/decal.
· Four inches is the size we are looking at.
· Both patches and decals will be offered.
· Use the same font to give a consistence to the three patches/decals.
· Bring out the word Minnesota by using the color white.
· Make the canoe in the Tributary patch/decal look more like a canoe.
· Change the shape of the kayaks on the Extreme patch/decal to make it look less like rockets (the way they are stacked together)
The group was asked to give a thumbs up or down if they wanted to move forward with these three designs reflecting the changes offered. Over 75% of the group approved of this motion.

Scott announced good news in that the Watershed Alliance was awarded the Minnesota Waters’ River Friendly Community of the Year. This means we will get $1,000 to spend where we see fit along with two tickets to River Night Celebration on August 19th and a plaque. The group voted to use the funds to pay for the Paddler Program’s logo designs and to print up patches and decals.

The group also nominated Chantill and her Mom, Char (the logo designer), to attend the River Night Celebration.

Minnesota River Paddler Program Committees:
· 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 wasn’t able to make the meeting and there was nothing to report since the committee hasn’t met since the April 21st meeting.

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 provided the group with a number of points about the ongoing progress of improving the Minnesota River Water Trail.
· Encouraged people to join the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota’s (they purchase land and advocate for parks and trails, build partnerships and energize people and create new parks and trails and raise private funds) Action Team ( to receive information on grant opportunities.
· The National Park Service has a Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program that provides assistance to locally-led natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation projects to help applicants conserve rivers, preserve natural areas, and develop trails and greenways ( Loran talked about how we need to improve safety, access to the river, put in more toilets, find portable water, develop more campsites, improve the existing campsites, put in more signage and help direct people on how to get on the river.
· The Tatanka Bluffs (a nonprofit in Renville and Redwood counties) is planning to submit a $½ million for the 2010 Clean Water Legacy funding as they should be the only water trail putting in for an improvement request. There are 4,500 miles of water trails in Minnesota – we should be able to get a little slice of the funding.
· Loran encourages other segments of the MN River Water Trail to see their own DNR Parks & Trails people for help with getting funding to improve facilities in the other segments. They are the guardians of the Clean Water funding of the trail monies.
· Loran reported on the Minnesota River Segment 2 (Granite Falls to Fort Ridgley) bus tour on July 9th that looked at the recreational possibilities and current canoe facilities including campgrounds, boat access points and tourism places. Randy Thoreson of the National Park Service was on the trip and expressed his excitement at how organized this effort is to improve the Minnesota River water trail.
· As a result of this tour, the Tatanka Bluffs organization is applying for the National Park’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program technical grant. This would allow them to work with Randy Thoreson for a year (maybe two) to develop a plan.
· Loran requested a letter of support from the Watershed Alliance for this grant application and it was approved by the group. Scott will prepare a letter with help from Loran and send it to Randy Thoreson.

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

Minnesota River Magazine
Edwin Dumalag of MPCA reported on the status of the initiative to develop a regional magazine revolving around the Minnesota River. Right now Kay Sauck of the Womeninc magazine ( is trying to line up investors to fund the magazine but ran into some snags. Kay has been talking about expanding it to be a statewide focus in order to increase the number of potential subscribers from 15,000 to 100,000 which looks better to investors. At this time they are still looking at a fall release. According to Edwin, Kay wants our help and guidance with getting the magazine up and running including putting together a list of writers and photographers along with a list of potential subscribers.

The group offered a number of suggestions for potential funding opportunities including the Southwest Initiative Foundation, Pheasants Forever, etc. There was also concern about a magazine painting the watershed in a bad light or slandering it. One positive example of a river focused magazine is Big River ( Edwin said it is key to have another avenue for communicating what is happening in the Minnesota River Watershed. He also asked the group to submit contact information of people who would be interested in subscribing to the MN River Magazine to his email address:

Future of the Watershed Alliance
Audrey introduced this point by recapping the January meeting where the group decided to move forward with the three initiatives (Paddler Program, River Friendly Label and Canoe Trail). Now with the elimination of funding for the communication coordinator, it is time for the Watershed Alliance to adjust and replan.

Patrick spoke about how the Watershed Alliance came together to speak as one voice as a watershed group to be an overarching people’s organization for the Minnesota River. We didn’t want to be an organization to compete with other groups.

Audrey spilt up everyone into four groups to talk about how the Watershed Alliance should move forward in light of the McKnight Foundation decision not to fund the communication coordinator for another two years. Each of the smaller groups reported their ideas to the larger group.
· Group 1: Coordinating team to pick up the slack and pick up some of the tasks Scott has been taking care of in the past.
· Group 2: Cut some of the meeting costs including food and rental of space to use those funds for communication coordinator.
· Group 3: Can we do with less – cut some of the communication products.
· Group 4: Raise more funds – look more creatively at funding sources – an example would be the Lutheran and Catholic churches or the Southwest Initiative Foundation.
· Group 1: Relocate the meeting to somewhere cheaper or free.
· Group 2: Coordinating team to pick up slack.
· Group 3: Secure funding from a large corporation.
· Group 4: Look at the Otto Bremer Bank Foundation ( or other funding sources.

Patrick asked for volunteers to take on some of those roles that Scott had been doing for the Watershed Alliance. This will allow for a new leadership to emerge. The Watershed Alliance operated before the communication coordinator and will continue to do so. We want a place for river advocates to work alongside those people whose job it is to improve water quality.

National Heritage Area
Jonathan Moore presented information on the National Heritage Program (managed by the National Park Service - and the idea of working on one for the Minnesota River Watershed. He explained the concept as people + story + place = a National Heritage Area.
· People: there is a critical mass of residents who feel strongly about telling a nationally-significant story through their place. Their backgrounds reflect the diversity of the area, and their numbers are large enough to attract the attention of legislators.
· Story: there needs to be a story of national importance that can only be told here and nowhere else.
· Place: there needs to be spaces and places that physically embody the story and can continue to tell the story into the future.

Jonathan pointed out that our rural landscape is changing and we need to look at how this is going to affect our communities. One way might be looking at developing and improving other economic aspects including recreational opportunities and tourism. A feasibility study could be done by the National Park Service through a legislation action. This wouldn’t become a National Park – it would continue as a living and working landscape with no limitations on what a landowner can do – keeps it under local control. To help develop a National Heritage Area, the National Park Service awards up to $1 million in grants with a 50-50 match. According to Jonathan, there are no National Heritage Areas in Minnesota and no one is currently planning one. Right now the Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway is interested in this concept.

Central MN River Valley Historical and Cultural Resources Conservation Plan
Patrick Moore and Brad Cobb reported on a meeting facilitated by Wayne Ostlie of Great River Greening that brought together experts to help develop a conservation plan for historic and cultural resources in the Central Minnesota River Valley. The plan will be completed by June 30th and will be a public document that everyone can use and appreciate. According to Loran Kaardal, it will be used as a selection tool when it comes to purchasing significant pieces of property in the watershed whether for culture, historic, recreational or natural characteristics. A public meeting to gather input will be held this fall. Brad Cobb will forward that date through Scott Kudelka.

Request of letter of support
Nathan Barta of rural Renville County came in front of the group to request a letter of support discouraging the expansion of the Renville County Landfill. According to Nathan, Renville County has been trying to acquire his family farm and CRP land for a landfill expansion.

Currently the county is going through a permit renewal process and will have a public meeting on July 28th (Tuesday) at the Renville County Office Building in Olivia scheduled for 6 p.m. The draft permit is open for public review and comment through August 12, 2009.

This permit renewal doesn’t call for any expansion of the landfill and according to Diane Mitchell of Renville County, they are looking at environmental alternatives to reduce the amount of waste deposited in the landfill including the use of transfer station.

The group voted to hold off any action of a support for now in order to review the information and make an informed decision.

Next Meeting:
The next quarterly meeting is scheduled for October 20th (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.

Chantill Kahler-Royer,
Brooke Patterson,
James Fett,
Al Odenthal,
Franz Albert Richter,
Brad Cobb,
Loran Kaardal,
Joel Wurscher,
Susie Carlin,
Kristy Rice,
Jim Schafer
Joe P. Michel,
Jesse Anderson,
Edwin Dumalag,
Tom Clarke,
Jack Lauer,
Tom Keaveny,
Katie Bovee,
Patrick Moore,
Forrest Peterson,
Lee Sundmark,
Megan Ulrich,
Norma Syverson,
Nathan Barta,
Randy Thoreson,
Audrey Arner,
Scott Kudelka