In yesterday's edition, the editorial board of the Mankato Free Press, located at the band of the Minnesota River, gives a thumbs up to those working together to clean up the river's water:
Thumbs up: To all the area river rats who have dedicated much time and energy to improving the health of the Minnesota River.
As sort of a reward for all their hard work, the Minnesota River watershed may be among the first to be given the new National Blueways System designation. The nomination and national recognition could result in a lot of attention and resources from federal agencies to improve the river.
This river valley has the benefit of being the home to numerous citizen-led groups that are bound and determined to give the river the respect and care it deserves. Progress doesn’t come at lightning speed and funding isn’t at the levels needed to do all the work that needs to be done to clean up the river. But patience and persistence are paying off. Just this week the state announced that phosphorus pollution has significantly declined.
As the flow of interest about the river continues, chances are those improvements will continue into the future.
During her Blueways-related visit last week, Rebecca Wodder, senior adviser to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, learned more about those coalitions. In Senior adviser to Secretary of Interior tours Minnesota River, West Central Tribune staff writer Tom Cherveny reported:
More than two decades of work to clean up the Minnesota River has brought together a diverse partnership of stakeholders in the state’s namesake watershed, and produced something once unimaginable.
The river once derided as an open sewer is a candidate for designation as one of the country’s first Blueway Rivers, intended to be a “badge of honor, a mark of prestige.”
The designation is a way of saying: “We’ve got something really good here you might want to come and see,” said Rebecca Wodder, senior adviser to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar. Wodder has spent the past two days touring the Minnesota River and meeting with a variety of citizen, business and local government groups, as well as state and federal agencies. All are working to promote the Minnesota River’s designation as a Blueway River. . . .
To win the designation, the coalition of partners in the Minnesota River must demonstrate that the river offers high-quality natural and cultural resources. To make their point, the local hosts led Wodder to sites ranging from the Minnesota History Center in Morton to the Whispering Ridge Aquatic Management Area along the Renville-Redwood county line.
Wodder said the department is also looking for watersheds where there are “committed and diverse stakeholder partnerships.” . . .
The partners — ranging from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to Clean Up the River Environment and the Minnesota River Watershed Alliance — are putting together an application for the Blueway designation to be submitted later this year. If accepted, it would be the first step in a two-step process to win the designation. . . .
Read the entire article at the Tribune. The Free Press reported in Minnesota River to get federal attention with new "Blueways" program:
The Minnesota River watershed could become one of the first in the nation to be designated a National Blueways System under an new program aimed at focusing federal, state and private resources on entire river systems without additional regulation.
“I think it would be great. It’s always good to be one of the first,” said Patrick Moore, head of Clean Up the River Environment, based in Montevideo.
“To me it’s like being on the National Register of Historic Places — it might not mean a lot of money directly, but it gives you legitimacy when you’re asking others for money.” . . .
All is not well, however. KEYC-TV reported last week that exotic carp might be leaping from the water, however clean it might be. In Asian Carp Threaten MN River, viewers learned:
Giant, flying fish may soon be a potential danger in the Minnesota River.
Asian Carp have been present in the Missouri River system for some time, but during the floods in 2011 they made their way to lakes and streams in southwestern Minnesota.
To someone who doesn't know much about fishing, the giant fish can look like a pretty nice catch, but Asian carp and its relatives are worse for fisherman than a tangled line.
Carlson says, "We are talking about Native fish being decimated by just their presence because they eat everything out of the food web."
Rick Carlson with the MN Asian Carp Coalition and New Ulm Sport Fishermen says Asian carp, including the infamous 'flying carp,' are dangerous to boaters and other water recreation activities, and can take over entire aquatic ecosystems.
Nate Hodgins says, "Years later you got a 100 pound fish and once they get to that size there are not a lot of natural predators that can keep them under control. . . .
View the entire clip here:
Photos: Scenes along the Minnesota River Valley. Photos by Sally Jo Sorensen/Bluestem Prairie.