We're starting to see one genuine rural-metro divide in Greater Minnesota media. Republican lawmakers carry on in legislative committees and to metro media about how their constituents hate environmental regulations almost as much as they hate the metro.
Meanwhile, reports in their districts' small town newspapers report that their constituents are showing up at town hall, demanding protection for the environment and the creatures in it.
Like pollinators. In the March 2, 2017 issue of the Pope County Tribune of Glenwood, Tim Douglass reports in Environmental issues dominate Town Hall meeting in Glenwood:
About 30 area residents showed up last Friday to voice their concerns at a Town Hall meeting that brought Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, and Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, to the Pope County Courthouse in
Glenwood during the legislative session.
Anderson and Westrom heard opinions on a host of environmental concerns, including buffer strips, ditch mowing, solar panels, pollinators and clean-water initiatives. . . .
After those comments, Anderson was questioned about the mowing of state road ditches. He said it had been a major issue through committee hearings and said that at this point the bill would “take away the permit” requirements and remove the any regulation on a date for mowing. Right now, the law, that’s been on the books for nearly 30 years, states that the state road ditches cannot be mowed before Aug. 1. That, he said, was never enforced until the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) decided to enforce it this year.
One of those attending the meeting, said there is a real issue with diminishing numbers of bees, butterflies and other pollinators and “I really think we shouldn’t be cutting everything and start considering what’s happening to our pollinators.”
Anderson stated that he thought that there were other ways to increase and save pollinators, explaining that the there is another 8 million in state land that could be better utilized for pollinators. He also stated that there are about 250,000 acres of state roadside ditches and if the cost is just $10 an acre to mow, farmers are saving the state about $2.5 million per year. “You have to consider that too,” Anderson said.
Another attendee suggested that it was nonsensical to spend all this time “getting rid of plants and now we’re going to have to start replanting those same plants somewhere else. An example was the milkweed.
When asked if there could be some kind of compromise on the date for mowing, Anderson said he would be open to that, since he didn’t think the Governor would sign a bill that allows mowing of ditches at any time.
Residents at the meeting began peppering Anderson and Westrom, who showed up a few minutes late and walked in during the road ditch discussion.
“The problem is the monolithic landscape, one man said. “There’s no flowers for insects or grass for cover, just all corn and soybeans.”
“I agree we need to help our pollinators and that’s important but I’m not sure if not mowing road ditches will help.
“Well why should we spend thousands of dollars reclaiming habitat, when we already have it with road ditches?” another asked.
Buffer strips along the state’s waterways, something Gov. Mark Dayton has championed, was also part of the discussion and most at the meeting were in favor of buffer strips to protect waterways. One woman said she moved to Minnesota years ago from North Dakota and said “the lakes now are not the lakes of my childhood.”
She also said that legislators are always talking about costs and thinking in terms of such a idolatrous economy instead of “doing something to hold on to our clean water, land and something beautiful.” . . .
Read the rest at the Pope County Tribune. The concerns residents share parallel those voice by residents in the other half of Westrom's district, according to the coverage in the Morris Sun Tribune, as we noted in Town hall buffer message to Backer not quite what he proposes in St. Paul.
But many his constituents are showing up at town halls and saying something else. Or writing letters to the editor like the Really smart guy in Stevens County who praises Jeff Backer for voting for 2015 & 2016 buffer bills.
We'll continue to watch these developments in the rural districts, as well as the idolatry at the state capitol.
Photo: Screengrab of Rep. Paul Anderson chairing the ag policy committee.
If you appreciate our posts and original analysis, you can mail contributions (payable to Sally Jo Sorensen, 33166 770th Ave, Ortonville, MN 56278) or use the paypal button in the upper right hand corner of this post. Those wishing to make a small ongoing monthly contribution should click on the paypal subscription button.
Or you can contribute via this link to paypal; use email firstname.lastname@example.org as recipient.