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What’s new at the Eco Experience at the Minnesota State Fair?

Posted on August 24, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Environment, Technology

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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:

  • Home performance. How much energy does your home use and what is the environmental impact of a typical Minnesota home? Check out this interactive display. See equipment like blower doors, infared cameras, and other advanced energy audit equipment.

  • Home lighting. Do you become overwhelmed when you’re shopping the lighting aisle? Learn how to choose exactly what you need for many types of rooms.

  • Home envelope. Have you experienced ice dams? Learn how to seal and insulate your home to prevent them in this interactive display showing all types of insulating and sealing issue.

  • Saving water. See the latest info on low-flow fixtures, faucets, showerheads and plumbing fixtures. Saving water saves you money

  • Green materials. Check out the latest finishes, cabinets, high-efficiency appliances and Minnesota-made products.

  • Renewables. Have you considered solar or wind power for your home? See the latest products and meet professionals who can answer questions on the best options and performance of renewables for your home.

  • Landscaping. Learn how to implement things like rain barrels, pollinator gardens, drip irrigation, and permeable pavers. Check out our beautiful but eco-friendly mini gardens.

  • Paying for it. Learn how to pay for your home improvements through affordable financing and loan programs.

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Interior Secretary Salazar, Governor Dayton Tour Mississippi River for America’s Great Outdoors Initiative

Posted on August 21, 2012 at 2:47 PM
Categories: Environment

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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.

salazar-sm.JPG 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.


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Help Protect Minnesota’s Environment, Pt. 2: An Inside Look at Aquatic Invasive Species

Posted on August 01, 2012 at 1:00 PM
Categories: Environment

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The Asian Carp, native to Eastern Europe and Western Asia, has recently been found throughout American waters. Photo by Kate Gardiner

As Minnesota boaters and fishermen traverse our lakes and rivers this summer, it is important that we work together to impede the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Invasive species are animals, plants, or micro-organisms that are not native to a specific area. They can have harmful effect on the environment, the economy, and even human health.

An example of an aquatic invasive species in Minnesota is the Asian carp—a large, plankton-feeding fish. Currently, the Asian carp is moving northward in the Mississippi River and competing with native organisms for its source of food. This can cause a decline in the population of smaller sport fish. Asian carp also pose a potential danger to Minnesota boaters, with the ability to jump up to 10 feet out of the water when they sense a boat approaching. Often these jumping fish can land in boats injuring boaters, personal watercraft operators, and water skiers.


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Help Protect Minnesota’s Environment! An Inside Look at Terrestrial Invasive Species

Posted on July 25, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Categories: Environment

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Officials from the US Department of Agriculture set a trap for Emerald Ash Borer

With camping season in full swing, Minnesotans have an important role to play in keeping our campsites pest-free by learning the facts about terrestrial invasive species. Help the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) by stopping invasive species from following in your tracks.

Invasive species are plants, animals and micro-organisms that are not native to a particular area. These species can cause large amounts of damage in areas outside their natural habitat. Not only can invasive species harm Minnesota’s environment, but they can also have negative effects on our economy and even on human health once they take root.

Different species can spread in different ways; some can simply be blown by the wind while others are transported by humans, animals, soil, or water. In their natural habitat, these species do not usually cause problems because they live in balance with the other plants and animals. However, when aggressive species spread long-distances – a process usually assisted by humans– these species are rarely good neighbors to the existing group of plants and animals. Usually there are not natural enemies or other defenses to protect the existing group from the new, invasive species.


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Minnesota Leading the way in Responsible Electronics Waste Management

Posted on July 23, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Environment, Public Safety, Technology

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An exhibit on E-Waste presented by the MPCA at the 2011 Minnesota State Fair as part of their Eco Experience facility.

In a world increasingly dependent on smartphones and laptops, the issue of responsibly disposing of these electronics is becoming more and more pressing. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) reports that in the last year, Minnesota took in nearly 33 million pounds of electronic waste for recycling, making Minnesota a national leader in collections of e-waste for recycling.

What is electronic waste? E-waste, as it’s called, is what’s created when electronic materials are disposed. This can include cellphones, computers, printers, televisions, digital cameras, etc., and as technology continues to advance and we continue to upgrade our devices, the amount of e-waste we produce continues to rise as well.

Unlike throwing away a piece of paper, however, disposing of electronics can have a huge impact on the environment and on our health; e-waste contains high levels of lead, cadmium, and other chemicals that can pollute the ground and water supply if they aren’t properly disposed of. Electronic waste should always be taken to certified recycling facilities that are trained to manage these hazardous chemicals.


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Fighting the Flight of Gypsy Moths in Minnesota

Posted on July 20, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Agriculture, Outdoors, Greater Minnesota, Environment

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Gypsy moths are tree pests that can defoliate large sections of forests and are among America's most destructive tree pests, having caused millions of dollars in damage. These moths are common in Wisconsin, but are now threatening Minnesota as well. Their preferred hosts are oak, poplar, birch and willow trees. The moths spread slowly on their own, but people can unintentionally speed up the process if they unwittingly transport firewood and other objects on which the moths have laid their eggs. 

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has recently completed treatment of approximately 150,000 acres of land in Carlton and St. Louis Counties to slow the spread of the moth. The infestation was identified last summer and the MDA has been working hard to slow down the infestation before it takes hold.


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Met Council Receives Xcel Energy Award for Energy Efficiency

Posted on July 18, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Environment

Metropolitan Council Environmental Services (MCES) recently received an award from Xcel Energy for their continued engagement and success as a partner in Xcel's Conservation Improvement Program. Due to Metropolitan Council Environmental Services’ cost- and energy-saving measures, Xcel Energy has awarded MCES its 2012 “Xcel Energy Efficiency Partner”. This is the third time MCES has received the award (previously in 2009 and 2010).

Met Council XCEL award.jpgXcel’s Minnesota Efficiency Partner program recognizes customers and trade partners for their substantial energy efficiency efforts, and highlights efforts to help the environment by implementing and promoting energy-efficiency improvements.

MCES, one of three divisions of the Metropolitan Council, collects and treats wastewater at its seven regional treatment plants. It also develops plans to preserve and manage the region's water resources. MCES treatment plants process an average of 260 million gallons of wastewater every day from more than two million residents.


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Lieutenant Governor Leads Group to Germany

Posted on July 12, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Categories: Lt. Gov. Prettner Solon, Environment

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-Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon during her trip to Germany 


This week, Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Pretter Solon is leading a 16-member delegation in Germany, joined by Iowa’s Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds.  The delegation is made up of experts from Minnesota and Iowa that will study Germany’s energy and power systems, in the search for finding more energy efficient methods that could aid in creating and maintaining a more sustainable Minnesota.  
   
What is it About?

A group of experts from Minnesota and Iowa are in Germany this week learning about energy solutions that could help Minnesota. The trip is organized by the University of Minnesota’s Center for German and European Studies together with Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics and Germany’s Foreign office. The group will hear from both Germany’s economics and environment ministries in hopes to learn more about their renewable energy projects.
 


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DNR encourages families to say “I Can!” to outdoor recreation

Posted on June 26, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Environment, Outdoors, Greater Minnesota

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With summer officially underway in Minnesota, the Department of Natural Resources is offering residents a chance to learn the ropes of camping and climbing through their introductory “I Can Camp!” and “I Can Climb!” course offerings at Minnesota State Parks throughout the summer.

The “I Can!” program series is organized by the Parks and Trails division of the DNR as a way to introduce young families to the many opportunities that Minnesota offers for outdoor recreation. Beyond their camping and climbing programs, the “I Can!” series also includes lessons in fishing, paddling, and archery.

While all of these courses will be available at Minnesota state parks throughout the season, those interested in camping and climbing can benefit from combined weekend courses being offered in late June at Blue Mounds and Interstate parks.


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MPCA and DNR Streamline Permit Process

Posted on June 19, 2012 at 10:14 AM
Categories: Environment

In seeking new ways to save people and the state money, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) will use a permit already employed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) to meet the requirements of MPCA Clean Water Act permit. 

The MPCA and the DNR are working together to make sure that pesticide discharges to waters are controlled in order to protect aquatic life and water quality.  During the permit development process, the MPCA found it could continue to protect the environment and reduce permit fees by using the DNR’s already employed Aquatic Plant Management permit that would also meet the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act and the MPCA’s Pesticide General Permit. You can read more on MPCA’s efforts to control water quality in the state here: http://www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/water/index.html

The MPCA and DNR’s reform of this permit will save more than $1200 up front and another $345 annually for more than 180 permit holders representing thousands of Minnesotans.  The estimated cost savings to the state are $150,000 annually.


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