Monday, November 14, 2011

Watershed wide, Citizen-Led, Water Quality Conversation Scheduled for Dec. 6th in Mankato

The public is invited to attend a watershed wide, citizen–led conversation on water quality issues facing the Minnesota, the Blue Earth and Mississippi River south of the Twin Cities to be held on Tuesday December 6 at the Mankato City Center Hotel from 5 to 8 p.m.  The event is free, but advanced registration is required.

The conversation is being sponsored by a wide range of grassroots citizen groups, farm groups, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and InCommons.  The dialogue comes on the eve of public comment periods for proposed water quality goals for the three rivers.  The purpose of the meeting is to explore how citizens, businesses and government can share leadership by collaborating to restore water quality in the Minnesota, Blue Earth and Mississippi Rivers.

The meeting will feature a meal and round table discussions facilitated by InCommons  - a community-based initiative that connects Minnesotans to share tools, knowledge and resources to address complicated problems.  This past summer, InCommons helped sponsor a series of meetings around the state about the state government shutdown and revenue shortfall. 

For this meeting, InCommons was asked by event organizers to connect with “Art of Hosting” trained facilitators to help facilitate “courageous conversations” about proposed water quality goals among farmers and environmentalists, upstreamers and downstreamers, business owners and government agency employees, urban and rural citizens.

“We hope to create a judgment free space where we can experience what it is like to really listen to each other with everybody taking on a piece of the work, based on what the proposed water quality goals are,” said one of the event organizers.

The public is invited to attend. To register for the meal and dialogue call 1-877-269-2873 by November  30, 2011.  Seating is available for 80 people on a first come, first served basis.  Organizers are expecting a full house, so don’t delay.

Friday, November 04, 2011

November 1, 2011 Meeting Notes

Thank you to the Land Stewardship Project for hosting this meeting! Thank you to Audrey Arner for facilitating and Megan Ulrich for recording the minutes.

November 1, 2011 Meeting Notes

Location: Ridgewater College, Hutchinson, MN
Facilitator: Audrey Arner
Minutes recorded by Megan Ulrich
Social hour from 6 to 7 pm 

I.          Welcome and Introductions, 7:00 pm

            35 Attendees
II.        MN River Paddler Patch Program - James Fett

This program promotes recreation within the MN River and its tributaries, by awarding paddlers with patches or decals specially designed by an artist chosen by the MRWA. This summer, the Patch Committee was present for Montevideo’s Fiesta Days, where they attended a tour of Moonstone Farm, kayaked on the Chippewa River and took part in the festivities, including holding an awards ceremony where they gave out patches/decals to those who had successfully paddled stretches of the MN River and/or its tributaries.

III.       MN River Friendship Tour (MRFT) - Patrick Moore, Susie Carlin

The idea for the Friendship Tour began two years ago as an upstream-downstream exchange program with the Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance and farmers on the MN River. In August and September of 2011 the MN River Ag. Water Resources Coalition and the MN River Board went to Lake Pepin and folks from Redwing, MN did a MN River fall farm tour. The MRFT committee held a contest in Jan.-Mar. of 2011, held meetings in St. Peter and Redwing, MN, built relationships and took part in the River Revival documentary. The committee was able to facilitate an explosion of dialogue between Farmers and Environmentalists. Along with the Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance the committee helped to facilitate a County Commissioner Exchange Program. Co. Commissioners from the Redwing area will be visiting Mankato, MN on Nov. 10, 2011. Patrick stressed the value of having and facilitating face-to-face conversations.

IV.       River Revival Documentary - John Hickman, Scott Kudelka

The idea to make a movie about the MN River Board originally came from Jim Wulf. The project was taken up by John Hickman and Jon Carlson. Jon is a master film-maker who through his work experience was able to get the support of Ron Schara and his program MN Bound on channel KARE 11. Minnesota State University, Mankato sponsored the project and after 2+ years of work, excerpts from the documentary were aired 4 weeks in a row on Ron Schara’s MN Bound in April and May of 2011. This show is watched by 220,000 viewers each week. On June 12, 2001 River Revival: Working Together for the Minnesota River premiered on KARE 11 and was viewed by 85,000 people. A secondary result of the project resulted in MSU Water resources Center updating their website through funds from the McKnight Foundation and MN State Legacy Funds.

There has been much positive feedback on the documentary due to its optimism and informational content. Because of sponsors, including; Friends of the MN Valley, MN Valley Audubon Chapter and BARR Engineering, there are currently copies available for free to academic institutions or state agencies, to use the documentary for educational purposes. There are about 500 copies for distribution.

Discussion was held on the possibility of running the documentary on KARE 11 again, in the winter months and showing River Revival at the DNR building at the MN State Fair. Scott Kudelka and John Hickman are available to host a showing anywhere in the state. There will be a Feb. showing in New Ulm. Please spread the word and host a showing in your community with one of the free DVDs. The documentary can also be viewed online at: and

An additional video that can be viewed on the website  was done for the Natural Resources Conservation Service conference and included agriculture industry.

V.        Governor’s Fishing Opener – Lee Sundmark

After extensive research and conversations, with Mankato city staff and Explore MN Tourism and possible planners, it has been discovered that there would need to be a community leader or 2 citizen co-chairs to lead this effort. It would be a massive undertaking with considerable logistical difficulties. It was discussed that perhaps the Alliance should brainstorm and consider holding a similar event that is different and unique but which would require less time and energy while accomplishing the same objectives as the Governor’s Fishing Opener, in order to keep the interest generated from the documentary River Revival. Patrick Moore suggested that we consider re-inventing the Governor’s Opener to include a MN River-wide event, concentrating on a regional focus with simultaneous celebrations and events up and down the MN River. He also noted that lack of hotel space within individual cities along the River is a limiting factor for the Governor’s Opener. Brad Cobb stated that the Committee would re-convene in late-summer/early-fall of 2012.

VI.       America’s Great Outdoors - Erik Wrede, MN DNR Water Trail Program Coordinator

The MN River State Water Trail was designated in 1963 by the State Legislature as a canoeing and boating route. This is the first Water Trails program nation-wide as well as the largest program in the Nation. Water Trails are also known as Blue Ways, especially in the southeast. Erik has submitted a story idea on the Minnesota River to the DNR publication, Conservation Volunteer, to be considered for the 2013 publication year. The DNR will decide early 2012. Erik shared that the Department of the Interior has selected the upper Minnesota River watershed as one of the top 100 projects in the country[t1]  under the America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative. The Obama Administration created the AGO Initiative to get people engaged in the natural world. Erik read a portion of the press release from the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar. The report will be released to the public on Thursday, November 3rd at noon. There will also be a web chat with DOI Sec. Salazar along with the Nov. 3rd report. The upper Minnesota River watershed was initially proposed as a project to receive this honor to the State of MN by Dennis Frederickson and Cathi Fouchi. Another project, focusing on expanding recreational opportunities at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers in the Twin Cities also received this honor[t2] .  There is no money attached with these honors at this time, but it is very possible that technical and/or financial assistance will be provided in the future.  Both the Dept. of the Interior and the Minnesota DNR plan to work closely with groups like the MRWA is determining the priorities under this designation.

VII. Asian Carp – Richard Carlson, citizen, Ottertail Co., MN

An Asian Carp Taskforce has been appointed by Gov. Dayton. According to Mr. Carlson there is no one on the task force to represent the MN River, and the taskforce has no plans to protect the Minnesota River from this invasive species. Mr. Carlson shared that the taskforce is researching death pills that are species-specific for Silver and Asian Carp, however this is new research and technology, with field testing being done in 2012, and it is not approved by EPA. There are currently no electric barriers installed, although it is possible that a dormant flood-plain barrier might be a good fit for the MN River. Mr. Carlson seeks MRWA support for a non-governmental entity to represent the MN River on the Governor’s Asian Carp Taskforce. Erik Wrede shared that the planning that the taskforce is doing will be completed this winter in order to take action this spring. Susie Carlin shared that the MN River Board will be meeting on Nov. 21st at the Sacagawea Lodge in Dakota Co. and that this issue will be added to the Agenda. Audrey Arner suggested that the issue be tabled for the January meeting when the Alliance typically decides its priorities for the year. Tim stated that we need to know the protocol for appointing someone to this taskforce. Patrick Moore suggested Mr. Carlson represent the MN River and general support was given to Mr. Carlson on the issue, although it is unknown if the MRWA has the authority to influence taskforce appointees.

VIII. TMDL Open House – Patrick Moore

Patrick requests the honor of your presence and participation in a Citizen Led Conversation to learn about and discuss Water Quality Goals for the MN, Blue Earth and Mississippi Rivers on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Place to be decided in Mankato, MN. Look for more information to follow in the MRWA weekly newsletter. Please be there to greet fellow citizens and engage in conversation to raise awareness as a society and address the issue of reducing sediment in the MN River by 50% to 60%. The goal is to have 80 people present. Please magnify this work through your local media. Water Quality Standards are a part of the Clean Water Act and they are there to ensure accountability! Audrey shared that this meeting on Dec. 6th will be an Open House our style: Looking Out 20 Years. Patrick asks you to Be Present, Be Yourself and Engage.

IX.       Chippewa 10% Project – George Boody and Terry VanDerPol, Land Stewardship Project (LSP) and Partners

Audrey Arner shared that this project is all about landscape perennialization. Making changes on the land in order to have a positive impact on water quality. George shared a brief history and explanation of the LSP.  This project is about working farmland, not ‘set-aside’ lands. Changing land use on working farmland can have multiple benefits for farmers and water quality. The goal is to help the Chippewa River Watershed Project meet its goals for the reduction of Suspended Sediment and Nitrogen (Nitrate) in the Chippewa River as well as to improve river habitat and recreational use goals. The project uses voluntary approaches to encourage new farmers or to assist current farmers in converting land from annual, row-crop production into perennial, grazed lands with grass-fed cattle and niche market pork and lamb. The project uses a combination of scientific modeling, economical benefits to producers along with the environmental benefits of land-use, land-cover changes. The LSP is involved in outreach events, workshops and forums and the team includes a 12-farmer Advisory Committee and an Economist. Economic case studies are being done and the work includes risk management. Suggestions are welcome for the farmer Advisory Committee. Please see the Chippewa 10% Project hand-out for more information at

MRWA was asked to brainstorm some ideas for support and ideas, specifically;

·         Who should we (LSP Chippewa 10% Project) be talking to?

·         Ideas for speakers

13 ideas were given to LSP at the meeting.


NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, January 17th, 2012 from 6:00-9:00 pm at Ridgewater College in Hutchinson, MN. Meeting Host: Friends of the MN Valley


  • Brad Cobb,
  • Al Odenthal,
  • John Hickman,
  • Chantill Kahler-Royer,
  • Ron Bolduan,
  • Susie Carlin,
  • Cathi Fouchi,
  • Josh Schulte,
  • Tyson Rainey,
  • Peter L. Johnson,
  • Terry VanDerPol,
  • Franz A. Richter,
  • Jianhua Qian,
  • Megan Ulrich,
  • James Fett,
  • Anne Queenan,
  • Tom Berg,
  • Joel Wurscher,
  • Richard Carlson,
  • Lee Sundmark,
  • Dee Czech,
  • Patrick Moore,
  • Erik Wrede,
  • Dwight Swanson,
  • Jesse Anderson,
  • Barb Schutte,
  • Wayne Schulz,
  • George Boody,
  • Becca Bell,
  • Loretta Jaus,
  • Lansing Shepard,
  • Jim Wolf,
  • Kathie Wolf,
  • Forrest Peterson,
  • Tim Lies,
  • Audrey Arner,
  • Scott Kudelka