The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) tackled important issues in 2012 and accomplished major successes – achievements which touched the lives of Minnesotans across the state. From responding to historic flooding in east-central Minnesota and Duluth, to the destructive July winds in the state’s northern forests, to a drought which culminated in severe wildfire conditions, DNR staff worked with Minnesota communities to minimize impact, complete emergency infrastructure repairs and to respond to disasters as they were unfolding.
“Gov. Mark Dayton has directed all his agency commissioners, including me, to make Minnesota work for Minnesotans,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “DNR’s accomplishments in 2012 show what we can achieve when we collaborate with others and address hard issues.”
Two years into his administration, Governor Mark Dayton is continuing his efforts to build a Better Minnesota. The Dayton Administration is taking note of what has been accomplished so far while still considering the work that is yet to be done.
One important component of building a Better Minnesota is supporting a clean and healthy environment. Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 lakes and a state where people care about the health and integrity of our natural resources. A healthy environment is central to the quality of life that all Minnesotans enjoy, and a crucial component in the success of our economy. Governor Dayton is committed to protecting and improving our natural resources, and leaving a legacy of clean water, cleaner air, and better parks and trails for future generations of Minnesotans.
For years, the Minnesota River has been considered one of the most polluted rivers in the state. But collaborative efforts across agencies have made important progress toward improving the health of the river.
Recent testing from the Pollution Control Agency showed marked improvements in dissolved oxygen, phosphorus, and chlorophyll levels. That means conditions have improved to support the health of fish and aquatic species populations in the river.
More work must be done to reduce sediment, bacteria, nutrients, and other contaminants in the river. But the work of over 40 wastewater treatment plants and other clean up efforts have put the Minnesota River on the path to recovery.
Photo by John A. Kelley, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
November is Soil Month in Minnesota, and the Board of Water and Soil Resources is seizing the opportunity to celebrate our new state soil, Lester. With Governor Mark Dayton’s declaration earlier this year, Lester joined the ranks of iconic Minnesota symbols like the loon, walleye and the pink and white lady’s slipper. Lester soils are found in 17 counties in south-central Minnesota, covering more than 500,000 acres. These soils formed under alternating prairie and forest vegetation and the majority is now in agricultural production. Lester soils are extremely productive and are of significant importance to the Minnesota economy.
BWSR works with landowners and other agencies to promote soil health and prevent erosion. Since 2003, BWSR has helped prevent nearly 700,000 tons of soil erosion each year.
On Nov. 27, the regional Citizen Forums on the Environment will begin with forums in Rochester and Bloomington.
The forums are an opportunity for Minnesotans to interact with state agency commissioners and staff, and learn more about Minnesota’s Environment & Energy Report Card. Those attending the forums will be asked to answer key questions and submit more in-depth ideas for consideration.
The State of Minnesota wants to hear what Minnesotans’ priorities and visions are for the environment. The input gathered at the forums will be compiled and presented to the Dayton Administration at a statewide Environmental Congress next March.
The Minnesota Environmental Congress and the Citizens Forums leading up to it are the result of Governor Dayton’s Executive Order 11-32. To assess Minnesota’s progress toward clean air, water and energy, the Environmental Quality Board is convening Citizen Forums around the state to engage citizens in constructive dialogue, identify environmental challenges, and define a vision for Minnesota’s environmental future.
MPCA monitors the Minnesota river for low dissolved oxygen for the first time since 1988
Op/Ed by Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner John Linc Stine
Published in the Pioneer Press on Saturday, November 17, 2012.
Sometimes the science tells us we’re doing something right.
Earlier this week we stood with our state and local government partners to celebrate a noteworthy achievement. Together, citizens, state and local government along with private sector contributions have helped make the Minnesota River a lot cleaner with lowered pollution levels and increases in dissolved oxygen benefiting fish and other life in the river. There is still much to accomplish on the Minnesota, but this is undeniably great news.
Why did we make such a big deal of our discovery? Because, environmental changes normally happen in small steps over long periods of time. Our water in the Minnesota didn’t get polluted overnight. It took decades of unsewered communities and non-existent regulation of pollution discharges. Similarly, it’s often difficult to measure environmental gains realized with a myriad of incremental steps by thousands of people over years and decades.
The Governor’s hunting party included Adam Prock, his assistant chief of staff, and Nick Simonson, President of Lyon County Pheasants Forever.
This weekend Governor Dayton kicked off the Second Annual Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener in Marshall, Minnesota. Hunters reported strong pheasant numbers in the Marshall area during the second annual Governor’s Pheasant Hunt. The Marshall area, known for its pheasant habitat and hunter and dog-friendly lodging, hosted Gov. Dayton and hundreds of guests.
In an interview, Governor Dayton told the Marshall Independent, "It was really an incredible weekend. A lot of work went into putting this together and making it such a success. Perfect in every way, and lots of birds, which was exciting. Last year it was a little thin, but this year they're off to a very good start. Weather held up; I know there are a lot of people who wanted rain, but it didn't happen."
Although the Governor’s hunting party was not successful in bagging a bird, fifty-seven hunters harvested nearly 100 roosters during the morning hunt. Governor Dayton was happy to highlight the success of other parties. “It’s a great Minnesota tradition, and it proves that southwest Minnesota is good for pheasant hunting,” the Governor told a crowd. While on the trip, Governor Dayton also highlighted the conservation efforts made to preserve the native habitat of pheasants by proclaiming Prairie Protection, Restoration, and Management Day in the State of Minnesota.
The DNR Building promises more than a few opportunities to learn and have fun at the fair.
As you enjoy corndogs, deep fried candy bars, camel sliders and bacon ice cream (really!) at the Minnesota State Fair this year, make sure you stop by the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) building. You’ll be able to cool off and learn about the impact of invasive species on Minnesota’s environment. The DNR’s emphasis is on increasing Minnesotans’ awareness of invasive species and equipping people with the necessary tools to do their part in helping prevent these species from spreading.
Asian Carp (above) are an invasive species in MN waters
Renee Vail, who coordinates the DNR exhibits at the State Fair, adds that “Minnesotans are passionate about our natural resources, and this is an effective and entertaining way for us to communicate conservation messages.”
Getting ready for the seventh year at the Minnesota State Fair, the Eco Experience is better than ever! Every area of the exhibit has added new components to get Minnesotans to take action in their everyday lives.
Energy Solutions Home: This brand new component of the Eco Experience showcases real solutions for your home. Saving energy will not only save you money but makes a difference in the air we breathe and the water quality in our communities. Put together by the Minnesota Department of Commerce and partners from around the state.
The Energy Solutions Home includes these features:
Governor Dayton joined by US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar (second from left) and staff at the Mississippi River National Recreation Area
US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar visited Minnesota last Thursday to promote the president’s America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative. He was joined by Governor Dayton in St. Paul, where the two toured the Mississippi River National Recreation Area and discussed the importance of spaces like the river for the preservation of outdoor recreation.
The Mississippi River is one of AGO’s targeted projects nationwide, and one of two in Minnesota. AGO is aiming to partner with other federal agencies and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to increase recreational access to the river, particularly for communities of color, and to create a coordinating body to maximize local agencies’ participation in restoration, preservation, and education programs on the river.
Governor Dayton and Secretary Salazar spoke Thursday on the importance of the AGO Initiative and the positive impact the program could have on Minnesota’s natural waterways. AGO’s other potential project in Minnesota is to expand the infrastructure of parks and trails along the Minnesota River and to provide other improvements and restoration efforts in the Upper Minnesota River Watershed. The AGO also wants to designate both the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers “National Blueways,” which would afford federal protection to the entirety of the rivers rather than just segments designated National Rivers or Recreation Areas.