Thursday, January 19, 2012

January 17, 2012 Meeting Notes

Location: Ridgewater College, Hutchinson, MN

Facilitator: Audrey Arner

Minutes recorded by Sarina Otaibi

  1. Welcome and Introductions, 7:00 pm
    1. 24 Attendees

  1. Committee and Event Updates 
    1. Reports from Committees:
                                                              i.      MN River Paddler Patch Program: 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. During 2011 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. This year, the program wants to partner with Sauerkraut Days in Henderson, Minnesota, on June 23rd (Saturday).  Two paddles will be offered – one on the Minnesota River and another as a more challenging one on High Island Creek or Rush River.  They have been given time to use stage and announcement for announcing people who got patches. There is going to be a meeting about this event in Mankato. Contact Scott Kudelka or Chantill Kahler Royer about helping. (APPROVED)

                                                            ii.      Cathi Fouchi. National Blueway - State project proposal/profile. It has not been approved yet. The idea of focusing federal funding that they do have towards these areas. Meeting of the partners. For example, Fish and Wildlife people can help with marketing.

1.      50 year anniversary for 2013 summer for designation of State Water Trail. Find out more by contacting Erik Wrede of DNR (see Erik’s email at the end of the meeting notes).

2.      Green Corridor planning meeting. Will be compiling the info on Jan 27th. Projects of note: Completed 193 acre of WMA – Granite Prairie Project. LCCMR grant funding just started this last fall and winter., look for green corridor. No webmaster currently.

                                                          iii.      TMDL Open House – Patrick Moore. The Citizen Led Conversation to learn about and discuss Water Quality Goals for the MN, Blue Earth and Mississippi Rivers on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 in Mankato, MN, was a success. Patrick thanked the fellow citizens who greeted and engaged with all parties who attended the event. The goal was to have 80 people present but 135 people attended the event. Water Quality Standards are a part of the Clean Water Act and they are there to ensure accountability! MRWA supported the event. The Bush Foundation’s InCommons initiative paid for parts of the event. The next Dialogue event is in Owatonna, MN on Feb. 2. You have to register, 50 people signed up so far. Ag leadership dialogue happening, a lot happening. Momentum moving for a collaborative project between all parties.

                                                          iv.      Coordinating/Steering Committee. Chantill Kahler Royer nominated Megan Ulrich to be on the committee. Patrick Moore stepped down from the committee. (APPROVED)

  1. Announcements:
    1. 150 bicyclist want to bike from Montevideo to St. Peter to commemorate the US-Dakota Conflict. They are in the planning stages. Patrick emailed them to find out their details.
    2. The CURE Annual Meeting will take place on Saturday, February 11, 2012.
    3. Be aware that additional US-Dakota Conflict events will be announced in the future.

  1. Selected Priorities for 2012:
    1. MN River Paddler Patch Program (continued program) - 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.

    1. MN River Documentaries – River Revival (continued and supported) – film focus on large scale collaborations. Statement of willingness to support for the next 12 months? Maybe some shorter stories? Wants more funding for filming. John may ask for assistance.
                                                              i.      Chippewa 10% project

    1. Mayor’s Fishing Opener (received 19 votes) – There is a need there that we are not capitalizing on. What can we do to foster an ongoing competition or competition between all generations, don’t need expensive boats and guides, but make it family friendly, don’t even need a boat? People and families able to represent your community somehow. Biggest fish and the most fish caught. Connect with the soul of the river (biggest fish, most caught). Could be a month or a week long. Then have a ceremony at the end with a prize to be presented. Mayors come out to represent their community. And/or other categories such as birding. Fishing is a part of our culture so it is a broad based. The fishing can be done on the shoreline. Lots of public places to fish also. Make it during each town’s event all along the river.
                                                              i.      Celebrate the return of the fish populations in the river. This is a golden opportunity to reverse false information going around about the river.

                                                            ii.      Minnesota River Fishing events series among the local events held in each of the cities along the river. Bring opportunities and to communicate the agenda that the fish are safe to eat. Opportunity to get communities that are not engaged with the river to get engaged through this series.

                                                          iii.      Set up an email account for fisher people to send in their photos. Catch it, Click it, Post it. Use Facebook. Minnesota Mayors Fishing Opener. Media event. 1 day.

                                                          iv.      Incentive component: The town that wins gets the recognition.

                                                            v.      A lot of details to be fleshed out.

                                                          vi.      Scott will initiate the conversation by sending out the meeting notes by email.

    1. Focus on America’s Great Outdoors initiative and Blue Ways Program (received 15 votes) - Eric Wrede, MN DNR Water Trail Program Coordinator. The MN River State Water Trail was designated in the 60’s 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 south. Erik has submitted a story on River Revival to the DNR publication, Conservation Volunteer, to be considered for the 2013 publication year. The DNR will decide early 2012. Eric shared that the Department of the Interior has selected the MRWA as “One of the Top 100 Projects in the Country” under the America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative. The Obama Administration created the AGO Initiative to get people engaged in the natural world. Eric read a portion of the press release from the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar.
                                                              i.      Offer an endorsement and support. There is a youth and natural resource component.

                                                            ii.      Create our own listening sessions in our project areas.

                                                          iii.      Canoe, kayak and hike through newly acquire land; educate ourselves about what is there. Lay the ground work for marketing the Blue Way.

    1. Foster friendship tour (received 5 votes) – style pilot project in the watershed. Convene all parties, talk, monitor, Beaver Creek? 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.
    2. Take a stand on the Minnesota Dam Issue (received 5 votes) – Alliance to make a statement or position against the dam staying.
    3. Commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the US-Dakota Conflict (received 2 votes) - Study, read, and/or talk?
                                                              i.      Spirit Village – to build the tipi like structures along the river to represent all past people

                                                            ii.      Acknowledge the Dakota people without mentioning the war

                                                          iii.      The role of the Alliance is to encourage this idea.


NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, April 17th, 2012 from 6:00-9:00 pm at Ridgewater College in Hutchinson, MN. Meeting Host: Water Resource Center.


  • Scott Sparlin,
  • Patrick Moore,
  • Brad Cobb,
  • Lee Sundmark,
  • Peter L. Johnson,
  • Forrest Peterson,
  • Ron Bolduan,
  • Susie Carlin,
  • Chantill Kahler Royer,
  • Cathi Fouchi,
  • Megan Ulrich,
  • Elliott Schofield,
  • Jesse Anderson,
  • John Hickman,
  • Al Odentahl,
  • James Wolf,
  • Kathleen Wolf,
  • Sarina Otaibi,
  • Mike Lein,
  • Gary Lentz,
  • Jianhina Qium,
  • Audrey Arner,
  • Scott Kudelka

Anniversary of the MN River Trail


That’s great news, thanks to all the MRWA folks for continuing to be champions for recreation and conservation in the watershed.  The Minnesota River was one of the very first Water Trails in the nation.  It was legislatively designated as one of the first four “Canoe and Boating Routes” in Minnesota in 1963 (along with the Big Fork, Little Fork and St. Croix Rivers).  This designation pre-dated the 1968 federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and to the best of my knowledge was the first designation of rivers in the nation for recreation management.  At the national level, I have not heard of any designations of this type that come even close to 50 years. 

The 50-year anniversary of what is now called the Minnesota River State Water Trail will be in 2013, but it is never too early to start hyping it up or holding events.  As you know, the U.S. Dept. of Interior’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative has suggested potential designation of the upper MN River as a National Blueway (or National Water Trail – the Dept. of Interior is still deciding on the name).  Interior asked for a federal agency to serve as the project host, and had a project proposal process and deadline that didn’t allow time for seeking public input on the proposal (insiders say Secretary Salazar is pushing hard on this initiative). 

Alice Hanley at USFWS and Cathi Fouchi at DNR took the lead in a recent project profile proposal to Interior laying out very broad conservation and recreation goals, and stressing the need to work closely with local units of government and interest groups in setting priorities and action plans.  My sense is that the existing level of partnership and collaboration in the watershed is well beyond what Interior might expect from other projects. 

It is possible that we might be able to get Secretary Salazar or his designee to visit Minnesota’s two projects identified by Interior.  The Mississippi River project in the cities will most certainly try to get him out in a 24 foot cedar strip canoe with urban kids in the Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventures (UWCA) program.  We may want to consider paddling or some other form of recreation for an event – that’s a discussion for later.  I have heard that the Secretary likes to fish, and may even appreciate a pre or post-event guided trip without all the news hype.

Separately, the DNR Commissioner is interested in having a paddling event to raise awareness of the Water Trails program, and inviting the Governor is also a possibility.  I like your idea of tying in recreation on the water with tours of recent land acquisitions, regardless of whether there are dignitaries present or not.  Let’s keep talking about all of these options. 

Thanks all!

Erik Wrede

DNR Water Trails Coordinator

(651) 259-5624


Thursday, January 05, 2012

January 17, 2012 Meeting Announcement

Join the Minnesota River Watershed Alliance (Watershed Alliance) for its quarterly meeting on January 17th (Tuesday) from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Ridgewater College in Hutchinson.  This is a great chance for the public to hear what is happening in the Minnesota River Basin.

Those attending the meeting will have a chance to choose a “Clean Up the Minnesota River” project to work on in 2012.  In the past years, the Watershed Alliance has strived to enroll critically sensitive land into permanent conservation easements, develop a friendship tour between citizens in the MN River Basin and Lake Pepin, and supported the effort to produce a film documentary on the Minnesota River. 

The January quarterly meeting is being sponsored by the Friends of the Minnesota Valley (Friends).  This nonprofit organization formed in 1982 to support the Minnesota River Valley National Wildlife Refuge through citizen action and advocacy.    

One of the Friends more successful outreach programs is their “Community Cleanups for Water Quality,” which helps individuals, organizations and local governments improve water quality and river aesthetics.  The clean-ups keep leaves, dirt and other junk from getting into storm water systems and reduce the amount of excessive phosphorus in the waterways.  For more information on Friends,

This quarterly meeting goes from 6 to 9 p.m. at Ridgewater College (room 141) in Hutchinson.  Ridgewater College is located at 2nd Century Avenue SE on the south end of Hutchinson.  The Watershed Alliance encourages landowners and recreational users to be part of this effort to improve and protect the Minnesota River Basin. 

We begin at 6 p.m. with a social hour and food to give participants time to interact with each other and share stories and concerns about what is happening in their part of the Minnesota River Watershed.  At 7 p.m. the formal part of the meeting starts, with the group striving to wrap up all discussion by 9 o’clock.

The Watershed Alliance is an organized network of citizens, public agencies and private organizations dedicated to communicating the benefits of an ecologically healthy Minnesota River Watershed to others and are actively working toward its improvement and protection. 

Our goal is to meet four times a year as we strive to communicate what is happening in the Minnesota River Watershed through many formats including the internet and print media. 

For more information on the meeting and Watershed Alliance please contact Scott Kudelka at 507-389-2304 or