Monday, October 20, 2014

Minnesota River Congress - 9/15/14 Henderson Listening Session Raw Individual and Collective Table Responses

Minnesota River Congress, Regional Listening Sessions
Raw Individual Responses and Collective Table Responses
Henderson, Minnesota
25 individual participants

Question 1. 

If a new basin wide citizen led entity were to be formed, how could it best add value to current localized efforts to protect and enhance natural resources, improve water quality, or expand and diversify recreational use or appreciation of the Minnesota River Watershed and its Tributaries?

Raw Individual Responses, each bullet is an individual response.

·        New energy, unified message, start initiatives to expose citizens more to the river, dissect science into common terms for local citizens, use latest technology to reach as many citizens as possible.
·        Combine variety of expertise from different areas to publish information about river health for general public.  Develop fundraising for specific project development to inform public.
·        A communications entity to get past the popular statements and talk about making changes.  Coordination and sponsor river/watershed recreation and education events, spreading knowledge and awareness of others in the watershed.
·        Leverage federal funds, especially when federal farm bill is rolled out just like the Red River Valley did getting 50 million dollars this year.  Provide a baseline of regulations that provide the protections needed from upland drainage effects.
·        Increase capacity for things that small localized efforts can’t always do very well on their own/don’t have the numbers or resources.  To do; graphic design/branding, project engineering, data base management, monitoring.  Create a network for watershed professionals, (programs).  Municipal services for tourism development regarding the river.
·        Secure regional funding to tackle goals and objectives.  Utilize existing personnel and boldly tackle pollution issues with doable strategies.
·        Create greater public awareness of the river and tributaries in terms of water quality and recreation
·        Help bring more resources for recreational trail development along the river and tributaries, including paved trails and also water trails.  This will help local and regional tourism greatly.
·        Create a culture of volunteerism willing to work on the river watershed.  Sponsor learning events along the river, like Riverblast.  Move it around each year, heritage funds?  Lobby for river watershed issues and research.  Advocacy in the form of tourism, arts, recreation.
·        One entity would create a better more powerful voice than small entities throughout the basin.
·        Controlling the watershed so as to maintain proper levels during high water times.
·        Identify and focus financial resources available to promote access to the river.
·        Expanded efforts to enhance the river image as a focus for identity, activities, etc.
·        Too much inaction from past meetings, conversations, and suggested actions.
·        Poor perceptions, misconception between farmers and metro.
·        Appreciation, publish stories, tell the history (the river was the highway), historical signs, tourism value, economic development.
·        It would help to get more people aware of the problems concerning the river, therefore, maybe be willing to do something to improve it.
·        Promote scenic routes like the Scenic Byways.  Educate citizens that we are all responsible for erosion, not just farmers.
·        Identify current localized efforts, because if public or entity doesn’t know what current efforts are they won’t know how to add to those.
·        There is much strength in numbers, focus basic programs, water quality, DNR, expand and diversify recreational usage and appreciation.  Add weight to current activities, add weight to current programs and get behind one another.  We need to stick together more than we do.
·        Be a clearing house for local efforts to address the various areas stated.  Track successes/non successes of efforts by local groups/organizations.
·        Lobby legislators to expand CRP programs, expand riverside lands and lobby to have setback laws on county ditches to be enforced and expanded.
·        Exchange ideas and seek out sponsors for a trail from the Upper Minnesota to the Lower Minnesota River.  Trails can bring a new perspective and appreciation of the river valley.
·        It could give all the groups a more centralized voice, a group to come to a common ground before moving forward with ideas.
·        Share all collective ideas and efforts.  Promotion of river as a resource for fun.  Support programming for youth and healthy living.

Question 2. 

If a new Basin-wide (Watershed Wide) citizen led entity was to be formed, what sorts of activities should it undertake to add value to our current situation?

Raw individual responses, each bullet represents an individual response.

·        Relate to general public by promoting recreational activities and direct contact with the river; birding trail, canoe routes, biding trails, botanical teaching, bridge information and tours.  Ecology school classes, community education.
·        Curriculum development for k-12, 4H?  Provide resources to local watershed groups, SWCD’s.  Host speakers/community events, documentaries.
·        Grass roots efforts like LeSueur River Watershed Network.  Media contact and technology.
·        Lobbying at St. Paul would be good.  “Explore the River” events with guest speakers on mussels, fish, geology, water testing, aquatic plants.  Many people never see the river from the river, only the bridge.
·        Levy funds for mitigating N impacts and nutrient reduction strategy.  Provide flood damage and disaster reductions management funds.
·        Create a website and publish a regional magazine.
·        A lobby day at St. Paul, Minnesota River Day at the Capitol.  Bike or Recreational “week” or “month”.  Major informational efforts, capitalize on key river cities involvement
·        Lobbying
·        Lobbying efforts at the state and federal levels.
·        Learning events up and down the river.  Independent research.  Sporting events, canoeing, fishing (basin-wide).  Lobbying, but don’t become known only as a pressure group.
·        Speaker’s bureau, people to provide information on a list of topics.  Develop a curriculum to fit charter school in their “must teach about list”
·        Education, what do we currently have?  What should be emphasized?  What technology could be utilized?
·        Publicize more in the local papers to educate people as to what is actually going on in the river.
·        Information distribution, collection, training and teaching.
·        Lobbying, advocacy, organizing of various river related groups.  Awareness campaigns.  Supporting with resources.
·        Lobbying
·        Find then encourage small pockets of willing conservationists to demonstrate and share practices.  Work with local decision makers to cut red tape and permits for conservation practices.
·        Work at fixing the lock and dams for better commodity movements
·        Events that serve the dual purpose of getting people on the river and creating awareness of river needs, joys, issues.  Form long term planning goals with intentions to deal with changing river.

Question 3.  If a new Watershed wide citizen-led entity were to be formed, how could it best assist existing organizations, (NGO’s, governing bodies) in achieving their goals?

 Raw individual responses, each bullet represents and individual response.

·        Resource people to go to a “body” to provide information, helps to serve the groups goals and or interests.
·        Large group could help provide concentrated pressure, but also recognize value of citizen input.  Would mean people would have become more involved.
·        It would help the governing bodies and organizations to know the concerns and ideas of the people in each area of the basin. (Awareness)
·        Help by prioritizing which of their new ideas could succeed.
·        Schools—create portable learning labs, speaker’s curriculum and events.
·        Assist in every way possible.  Provide resources, advice, offer assistance in organizing, how to navigate the government to get things done.  Drafting legislation, filling out forms.
·        Background information on if it has worked or not elsewhere in the basin.
·        Providing basin wide data, facts, figures to supplement their information.  Be an activist on distributing the information/goals of organizations.  Speakers, seminars, papers.
·        Like the clearing house idea of such and organization.  Develop a kind of catalog of organizations already available, contact info and what they do.
·        More learning events, such as explain the Farm Bill.  Disruptive innovation.
·        The basin wide entity could filter information for local organizations.
·        Help get citizens involved in projects.
·        Providing regional technical support for specific types of services (grant writing, publicizing).  Provide a clearing house of usable data.  Minnesota River data center on steroids.
·        Facilitate grass root sub watershed meetings.  Emphasize land stewardship, Teach and provide technology experts.  Bring new energy, build bridges.
·        Data base design and management, graphic design, gran proposal review/refinement.  Social media presence and management.  Strategic planning.
·        Is this organization willing to be a leader in change?  Changing ag production practices?
·        Library of information to collect and catalog.  Facilitation of co-funding grant applications.  Maybe 2 to 3 small groups want the same project type but can’t apply on their own; this group could apply and divide the funds perhaps.

Question 4.  How should existing units of government, State, and Federal agencies, NGO’s, other communities of interest such as agri-business, businesses, farm organizations, be represented or involved in a new citizen-led entity?

Raw individual responses, each bullet represents and individual response.

·        Need membership dues to support the “Congress”.  Who votes?
·        Decisions made by grass roots folks.  Involvement/representation should be open however it can be assembled.
·        Keep business and government out of it.  Allow citizens only.  Business and politicians donate money to may not have what’s best for citizens in mind and only be concerned about bottom line.
·        Local (city, maybe county), interest groups.  Limit State and Federal groups.
·        Everyone has to be involved in order to get things accomplished, but how does everyone or representatives get a vote?
·        That is a problem, how would you get balanced representation?  So Farm Bureau sends a rep, CURE sends a rep etc. who would make up Congress?
·        Create sub committee’s of technical experts from various groups.  Create steering committee with representation from the various groups.
·        Research role, providing information.  Ex officio? Advisory role.
·        I think the key question remains; can today’s existing organizations develop a consensus or goals and objectives?  Or is it time to blow up the model and make it a diverse citizen panel.
·        Be part of advisory board.  Not worried about the fine details as long as there is a good leader in this new association. Balance.
·        Any representation or involvement that works for them.  For some it might be “keep them in the loop” for others it might be electing someone to be on the board.
·        Depends, for advocacy everyone.  For regulation a board involving government with a technical committee.

Question 5.  Should a new inclusive basin wide (watershed wide) citizen-led entity be formed it could accomplish the suggestions brought forth tonight?

Raw individual responses, each bullet represents and individual response.

·        Yes, we can only give it a try and see how long it works.  But doing this process it shows what we need to watch for.
·        Yes, it would be a great asset in many ways!! We have to really get serious about improving our great Minnesota River.
·        Yes.
·        Yes, we are running out of time; however some movement is better than no movement.
·        Yes, the Minnesota River is in need of a basin wide more inclusive citizens group to represent interest of all who have a stake.  A number of issues such as flooding and erosion need to be addressed.
·        Yes
·        Yes, but no regulatory power, enough regulations.
·        Why not try
·        Yes, initially focus on creating a forum for open discussion, create a specific structure and purpose could evolve later.
·        Yes, intergenerational dialogue.  Eventually will need rules to manage water.
·        Yes, prioritize doable goals.
·        There should be some successful activity that should come to fruition, accomplishment.
·        Yes, (if we have doable goals and recruit young people it will succeed)
·        Certainly, we have to do better.  But while you want it to be inclusive, the core mush be manageable and be intergenerational.
·        Yes, if it has a stable funding source and if it is bringing additional resources to the basin instead of competing for resources and if it is truly adding value.
·        Yes.
·        Yes, with thoughtful, detailed planning.  It is a big basin, what lessons were learned fro the Minnesota River Board?
·        Yes, if it is citizen led.  If it is like the Minnesota River Board, no way.  I think this is more doable if local level is established or created and congress brings it all together.
·        I suppose there is a vacuum now that MRB has dissolved.  It seems a new organization is needed, so yes.

There were 19 yes, with some having conditions. 5 people left early with other commitments.

Question 1. Table responses, each bullet represents one table response.

·        Create culture of volunteerism to work on river projects.  Sponsor learning events between metro-rural, urban-Ag, etc.  Help promote recreation tourism.  Advocacy NGO of river water quality issues.
·        The group supports two themes:  A central clearing house of information and data.  To support efforts that plan and create trails.
·        Related to appreciation of the river, teach some history of the river, stories, shipping, early recreation.
·        2 tables had many individual responses but no consensus at tables on Q 1.

Question 2. Table responses, each bullet represents one table response.

·        Identify current localized efforts because if public or entity doesn’t know what current efforts are they won’t know how to add to these efforts.
·        Improve pubic information, awareness, match state and federal dollars.  Technology savvy, pooling resources, service sharing and marketing campaign.
·        Lobbying at state and federal levels on water quality and quantity issues.  Help balance upstream drainage vs. downstream flooding issues.  Pressure agencies to work together instead of conflicting rules and policies.  Sponsor a Minnesota River Day at the Capitol.  Sponsor learning events.  Promote water management, and benefit of water retention, controlled intakes.  Web site and magazine.
·        Events that get people out on the rivers, documentaries, speakers.  Work with K-12/4H etc. to get kids exposed, curriculum development?  Standards mapping?  Minnesota River School?  Project adoption.  Regulatory things, levy funds, get benchmarks for reductions, disaster response.
·        Provide clearing house of current activities, organizations, units of government, or individuals who are undertaking activities in the basin.  (Activities need not be basin-wide).  What has been successful in the past and how can we learn from one another.  Provide opportunities for “hands on” involvement in field days to get kids outside and start building an affinity to the river.  What do we have, what should be emphasize?  But we need to understand what meets the state standards.  Develop and provide a speakers bureau of skilled presenters who know the river.  Pursue funding for subsidized or free education for any age group.
·        Learning opportunities uses/activities/resources.  Information gathering and distribution.  Work to reduce red tape and advocate for good practices for the river and promote usage.  Represent the different interests and get community involvement.

Question 3.  Table responses, each bullet represents a table response.

·        Do portable leaning labs, help create events, speakers etc.  Teach how to get things done.  Go to them with information on what has and has not worked.  Pass basin wide facts and figures along etc.
·        Information clearing house with credible information.  Help counter the influence of “big ag” and impact on water quality.  Create an understandable vision.  Sustainable Ag practices to take to the greater public.  Disruptive innovation.  Help get more citizens and landowners participating in projects
·        Facilitation of meetings.  Pooled resources support for terrain analysis, data clearing house, strategic planning, grant proposal review.  Teach land stewardship, environmental education.  Catalog directory of who to call for X,Y, Z.
·        Provide a clearing house of who is doing what and what has been successful in the past.  Provide at a reduced cost a professional grant writer or at least a grant reviewer.  Provide updates on calls for grant proposals.  Clearing house professional, resources people to speak intelligently to any issue and understands the issues.  Entity would help organizations understand the issues and provide ideas to improve.  Two way street
·        Provide info about recreation on the river.

Question 4 Table responses, each bullet represents a table response.

·        Sources of erosion are multiple, both human and natural sources.  Teach best management practices to all
·        Governments stay home.
·        Local, State and Federal Government act in ex-officio role.  Is a Township or Township officer a concerned citizen?
·        Depends, if it is to be regulatory then elected officials have to be involved and everyone else would be on committees advising.  If not then everyone can and should be involved or represented.  Balance! Leadership!
·        Government should provide research and information as advisors only.  A liaison role.  Helping with grants.

Question 5 Table responses, each bullet represents a table response.

·        Yes, there is strength in numbers.  Add focus to efforts already in place.  Work with existing organizations to publicize existing conditions and problems.
·        Yes, with some stipulations.  Locals come up with their own problems.  This is urgent; we need to get serious soon.  Focus on a few doable projects early to show results to keep people interested.
·        Yes, needs to be basin wide.
·        Yes, must try, need realistic goals.  Focus on 4 or 5 specific objectives in a specific time frame.  Create a forum for open discussions.  Younger people.
·        Yes, needs to be basin-wide and inclusive to all who wish to participate.