Thursday, January 31, 2013

Draft National Blueway System Pre-Proposal page 1

Some portions had to be shortened to meet page limitations. They will get added back in for the full proposal.

Minnesota River Watershed PRE-PROPOSAL


Nominated National Blueway Name, Hydrological Unit Code, Size and Location:

The Minnesota River (HUC 4 - 0702) flows through south-central Minnesota on a 335 mile journey from Big Stone Lake on the South Dakota border to its confluence with the Mississippi River at Fort Snelling. This large basin drains nearly 20 percent of Minnesota’s land base, roughly 10 million acres in the state plus a small portion in northern Iowa and eastern South Dakota. Twelve major watersheds make up the Minnesota River Basin. All or part of 39 Minnesota counties contribute to the watershed as the river moves from a mostly rural landscape to a major urban setting. In between you will find communities of all sizes dominated by agricultural lands with a few remaining sections of native prairie, forests, wetlands and shallow lakes. The river valley floor and bluffs provide one of the highest conservation focus areas in southern Minnesota. About 870,000 people inhabit the basin, most in the Lower Minnesota River Watershed.


The immense Glacial River Warren carved the present day Minnesota River Valley (5 miles wide at some points) over 10,000 years ago. As a result, the channel of the current day Minnesota River is continually shifting and changing in the large space available on the valley floor.


In 1992, Minnesota’s Governor Carlson called for the river to be “cleaned up” so that our children might safely swim fish, picnic and recreate on it. Thus began the partnerships that have led to the submission of this river for the National Blueway Designation.


Nominating River or Watershed Partnership: The Minnesota River Watershed Alliance (MRWA) is an organized network of citizens, public agencies and nonprofit organizations dedicated to communicating the benefits of an ecologically healthy Minnesota River Watershed to others. The group actively works toward the river’s improvement and protection. Formed in February of 2005, this group of river advocates has channeled the power of the entire basin to advance a number of wide ranging initiatives including a Minnesota River Paddler Program that promotes rivers in the Minnesota River Basin to encourage more people to paddle. Each year the group picks an action item to focus on. In the past this has included a Conservation Lands Easement Initiative to permanently protect critically sensitive lands, assisting with organizing the Minnesota River Summit in 2007, initiating the Minnesota River to Lake Pepin Friendship Tours, and a Minnesota River Film Documentary. The Watershed Alliance uses weekly, quarterly, and bi-weekly communication initiatives –all focusing on the Minnesota River Basin reaching over 600 people in the watershed. The MRWA meets quarterly, each meeting being sponsored by a member group or agency. Additional information about this alliance can be found at .


Sponsoring Federal or State Agency: The two sponsoring agencies are the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the US Fish and Wildlife Service – Midwest Region.


See Appendix A for letters from sponsoring organization and agencies.