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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Xcel’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.
-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.
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.
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.
Today, Governor Dayton will lead a delegation on a ten-day trade mission to China, traveling to Beijing, Shanghai and Xian (the capital of Shaanxi Province) for market and industry briefings, business match-making events, networking events and meetings with key U.S. and Chinese government officials. The 50-member group of business, industry, education and government leaders will attend market and industry briefings, networking events, and meetings with key U.S. and Chinese officials.
The delegation will also host multiple receptions for top Chinese government officials and business executives to showcase Minnesota companies and export industries, as well as promote the state as an ideal destination for direct investment by China. Minnesota has had an official relationship with China since signing the sister-state agreement with Shaanxi Province in 1982.
As the trip unfolds, the Governor’s office will be covering the delegation in a special blog series that explores how trade missions foster new relationships via commerce, agriculture, trade, and the environment. You can get daily updates on the delegation by signing up for our e-mail list, checking back on the blog, or following Governor Dayton on Twitter and Facebook. We will showcase highlights of the delegation, highlight our sister-province relationship, and post photos of the Governor’s meetings across the state. We hope that you will travel along with us as the Minnesota delegation embarks on its trade mission across China.