Tuesday, August 10, 2010

July 20, 2010 Meeting Notes

July 20, 2010 Meeting Notes:

The July Quarterly Meeting for the Minnesota River Watershed Alliance was held at Max’s Grill in Olivia to coincide with the Clean Water Council Meeting. We met at 5 o’clock in order to wrap our business by 6:30 to join the Clean Water Council meeting and support Scott Kudelka’s Minnesota River Basin Trends Report presentation. Participants of the Watershed Alliance felt this would be a great way to show citizen engagement in the Minnesota River Basin and give the two groups a chance to interact with each other.

Brad Cobb of the coordinating team welcomed everyone to the Olivia and provided a little background about the Minnesota River Tour for members of the Clean Water Council, Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources and Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council sponsored by Renville and Redwood SWCDs.

As the facilitator, Audrey Arner asked everyone to introduce themselves and give an example of hope or enthusiasm for the Minnesota River. The responses were varied: the River Ranger Program, more recreational use of the river, no longer ignored, more new people experiencing the area including young people, more news coverage of the environment, folks paying more attention, leaving things better than we found it, High Island Lake being renovated, we can do things before tipping point (climate change, etc.), dialogue with ag community, able to go swimming without getting sick, new bike trail at Big Stone Lake, “kayaking with Kate” program for women, more young farmers involved in water quality, more canoe access points, greater communication effort upstream and downstream, more people getting educated on the river, folks in this room, cooperation is making the river better for everyone, and number of proposals to the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.

Minnesota River Paddler Program

Scott Kudelka provided the report on how the launch of the Minnesota River Paddler Program and Blue Earth River paddle went on June 12th. Despite the weather not cooperating, everyone involved felt the event went off very well. The rain came down the hardest at the ribbon cutting ceremony for designating the Blue Earth River as Minnesota’s new state water trail and right before the 25 to 30 paddlers headed downstream to Highway 90. On the river we stopped at Dead Man’s Gulch and Triple Falls to give people a sense of the Blue Earth River’s unique beauty. For the afternoon portion of the event somewhere between 100 and 120 people showed up through out to hear four different bands play. We were fortunate to have such high caliber of music with everyone volunteering to perform for free. The paddler committee awarded 21 patches/decals including a MN River 335 one to Tim Krohn and John Cross of the Mankato Free Press who paddled the entire river in 1998 and 2008.

Next the paddler committee plans to come up with ideas on how to continue to promote the program in order to award more patches/decals. One idea they have been kicking around is to hold another paddle next year only a different part of the basin like the Chippewa River. Right now the biggest hurtle has to do with funding. The June 12th event cost around $1,000 with expenses including port-a-potties, PA system, and shuttle service. The paddler committee will be meeting before the October 19th quarterly meeting to brainstorm a list of ideas for continued promotion of the program.

Minnesota River Film Documentary

John Hickman reported on the ongoing progress of producing a one-hour documentary on the Minnesota River Basin. John and Jon Carlson the videographer have been going out across the basin shooting scenes of the effort to improve water quality. There is a new highlight reel including interviews with Chris Domeier of the DNR, Audrey Arner at her pond on Moon Creek and former Governor Arne Carlson discussing why the an improved Minnesota River is important. The video made its debut on July 16th at the Mississippi River Forum sponsored by the National Park Service and the McKnight Foundation thanks to Larry Gunderson. John talked about their trip down the Le Sueur River with Carrie Jennings of Minnesota Geological Survey who provided an overview on erosion sources and what is happening to the stream banks. One of the best parts of that trip is how Jon and the camera survived without going into the water. John Hickman and the Water Resources Center continue to search out funding for the project including the development of the web site: http://mnriver.org/

Lake Pepin Friendship Tour

Patrick Moore, Michael McKay of the Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance and Lyndsey Weber, a CURE intern reported the on the plans to bring together citizens from the Minnesota River Basin and Lake Pepin area to discuss water quality issues. The first part of the tour will take place on August 23rd and 24th with a group of farmers and citizens from the Minnesota River Basin traveling to the Lake Pepin area to view firsthand what is happening to this lake as it fills up with sediment from the Minnesota River and other water quality issues including too much nutrients. They are working with Warren Formo of the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resources Coalition to recruit farmers who want to participate in this exchange. A second tour will take place in September or October with Lake Pepin resident making the journey over to the Minnesota River Basin to get a better understanding of what is happening here when it comes to effort of installing conservation practices and working on other water quality improvements. Patrick said they need help with coming up with ideas for people to participate in this exchange tour from the basin and will be looking for a diverse selection of people to attend a reception for the second tour most likely to be held in New Ulm.

Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener

Lee Sundmark wasn’t able to attend tonight’s meeting. Instead he sent an update for the group. “In terms of a future Governor’s Fishing Opener on the Minnesota River, what I need next is a fiscal agent. Someone that can handle money that would be donated through various venues supporting the cause for the next few years. I can’t in my capacity as a state worker. Once that’s ironed out, I intend to pass-the-hat to have more pass-the-hats hats made. Sounds like a Dr. Seuss line doesn’t it? I’ll be following up with the New Ulm Convention and Visitors Bureau to see that they are still interested. We do need a community champion able to accommodate all the participants. Assuming they are still interested . . . I’ll need to get the rest of my committee together for a bit more comprehensive planning. I’ve not forgotten Tim’s encouragement to broaden the scope of involvement to all folks who have a vested interest in a Minnesota River Opener, not just New Ulm folks.” To help Lee out with this initiative by serving on the committee both Ron Bolduan and Tony Miller volunteered to serve on it along with Jesse Anderson and James Fett. Scott Sparlin was also brought forward as someone who could be on the committee along with Terry Sveine of the New Ulm Chamber of Commerce.

Next Steps

• All paddlers are encouraged to get the word out about the Minnesota River Paddler Program and the three patches/decals. If you have ideas for other ways to promote this program please contact one of the paddling committee members (Susie Carlin, Joel Wurscher, Jesse Anderson, Brooke Patterson, Chantill Kahler-Royer, James Fett and Scott Kudelka).

• Log onto the http://mnriver.org/ to see what is happening with the Minnesota River Film Documentary.

• Contact Patrick Moore at 320-269-2984 or patrick@cureriver.org to submit participant suggestions for the Lake Pepin / Minnesota River Friendship Tour.

• Contact Lee Sundmark at 320-234-2550 or lee.sundmark@state.mn.us if you want to help out with planning for a MN Fishing Opener.

Next Meeting:

• The next quarterly meeting is scheduled for October 20th (3rd Tuesday) starting at 6 p.m. at a new location – the Minnesota Water Resources Conference at Saint Paul RiverCentre (175 West Kellogg Boulevard) in St. Paul. The coordinating team felt this would be a great way to attract new people to the quarterly meetings and a chance to connect with other groups engaged in citizen action. For those who want to attend the conference go to: http://wrc.umn.edu/waterconf/


• Patrick Moore,

• Al Odenthal,

• Katharine Plowman,

• John White,

• Duane Ninneman,

• Kay Eggers,

• Jim Wolf,

• Lyndsey Weber,

• Ron Bolduan,

• Gary Lenz,

• Darby Nelson,

• Clint Knorr,

• Brad Cobb,

• Dave Czech,

• Dee Czech,

• Megan Ulrich,

• Larry Gunderson,

• John Hickman,

• Robb Collett,

• Jeff Nielson,

• Tony Miller,

• Dwight Swanson,

• Cory Netland,

• Tom Kalahar,

• Karen Flom,

• Rob Sipp,

• Michael McKay

• Audrey Arner,

• Scott Kudelka