Thursday, September 12, 2013

Le Sueur River Watershed Celebration

The Le Sueur River Watershed Network is sponsoring a family friendly celebration for the Le Sueur River on September 24th, 2013 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Jack McGowan’s Farm near Mankato, MN. The public is invited to this free event to learn about the river, what citizens can do to improve its water quality, and to share a meal with watershed neighbors.
Event organizers and citizen volunteers are planning to offer free Le Sueur River Watershed raised pork sandwiches, old-fashioned hand-cranked ice cream, live music and bonfire along the banks of the Le Sueur River. Participants are asked to bring a side dish to share. Children and families are welcome. The schedule of events includes a scavenger hunt and hands on learning about the fish, mussels, and macroinvertebrates living in the river from MN DNR and other local agency experts.
River music and sing alongs will be led by Scott Sparlin and Patrick Moore of the Minnesota River Watershed Alliance  and participants are encouraged to bring their instruments for a jam session. A new video by Queenan Productions will also be shown that documents how watershed residents and local staff are making a difference across the watershed. Participants will also have the opportunity to meet conservation partners from across the watershed and learn more about efforts in a fun, informal setting.
Since April of 2012, citizens have been meeting to discuss ways to improve the water quality of the Le Sueur River Watershed. This 711,838 acre watershed in Blue Earth, Waseca, Steele, Le Sueur, Faribault and Freeborn counties is a major contributor of sediment and nutrients to the Minnesota River. The event is a celebration for the network of citizens who have been meeting and talking and developing strategies to solve problems and reduce pollution in the watershed.   A list of seven first steps that can be taken to improve water quality in the river will be distributed at the event.  The list was developed by a focus group of farmers, recreational users, homeowners and agencies over the past year.

The event is free and open to anyone interested in learning more about the watershed or the emerging citizen’s group. For more information about what local landowners in cooperation with local government and state agencies are doing, visit the Le Sueur River Watershed Network website:  .

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Delegation takes Blueway effort to Sisseton, SD

Recognizing that a significant portion of the Minnesota River basin lies outside Minnesota, a delegation from the Blueway nomination project headed upstream Aug. 26. They were warmly welcomed by hosts in Sisseton, SD, and toured what some consider the true source of the Minnesota River.

In Sica Hollow State Park west of Sisseton, a little network of creeks tumble from the densely-wooded flanks of the prairie couteau, Buffalo Ridge. The rain and spring-fed streams form the Little Minnesota River, which accounts for about 90 percent of the inflow to Big Stone Lake – claimed to be the source of the Minnesota River.

The purpose of the delegation's visit was to engage support in South Dakota for the Minnesota River Blueway nomination. The visit opened with a lunch meeting at the Joseph Nicollet Tower Museum. The hosts learned about the Blueway project; the visitors learned about Dakota Indian history and the exploration of the area by Joseph Nicollet.

At Sica (pronounced 'See-cha') Hollow State Park, the group hiked the trails along the creeks, and heard more description of the area. "This is a spiritual place for the Dakota people," says Darlene Pipeboy, an educator and elder with the Sisseton-Wahpeton-Oyate Dakota community. "A combination of values brought the Dakota people here," she says. Woods, water, game, herbal medicines, the land, were all part of the native ecosystem. "Take care of nature, and nature will take care of you," Darlene says.

After a short stop at the historic Stavig House Museum in Sisseton, the delegation moved to the Sisseton City Hall for an open house gathering and potluck. Local guests and visitors heard a short overview of the Blueway project, and stayed for food and informal conversation with the visitors from Minnesota.

During a pause in the Blueway program at the federal level, the Minnesota Blueway project continues to develop support, particularly among state and federal elected officials from all four states claiming portions of the Minnesota River basin. Organizers remain optimistic that eventually the Minnesota River will become the second in the U.S. to be recognized as a national Blueway. For more information about the project visit the website at