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Working to protect the Mississippi River and its watershed in the Twin Cities area
FMR led a series of four stakeholder meetings this fall as part of a DNR study of the Mississippi River Critical Area program, a 30-year-old state designation that provides protections for the river corridor from Anoka to Hastings.
The first three stakeholder meetings were organized by stakeholder group: corridor businesses and developers; environmental and civic groups and citizens; and state and local government. Stakeholders provided input and ideas about the program’s strengths and weaknesses and possible strategies for addressing some of the weaknesses. The fourth meeting brought all stakeholders together to confirm areas of general agreement, discuss areas with opinion differences and identify stakeholder preferences and priorities among strategy options.
Approximately 65 stakeholders participated in the process. There was a surprising amount of agreement among stakeholders on several issues. Virtually everyone agreed that the river corridor is a community asset of state and national significance, and the river’s unique resource values should be protected by law. Most stakeholders agreed that corridor protection should remain in the critical area program and continue to be administered by DNR. All three groups identified the need for more consistency in how the law is applied; better definitions for terms, such as “bluffline”; the importance of outreach, education and technical assistance to local communities; and the need for more funding to ensure the program is effective.
Although there were differences of opinion about how the program should be implemented, many agreed that the program needed to be updated through new legislation or rulemaking, and that some form of oversight is needed to ensure local decisions adequately protect a regional resource. There was also discussion about the need to make minor boundary adjustments to the critical area corridor and districts, but stakeholders only want that to occur if overall protection remains the same or increase.
Input from all the meetings has been documented and posted on the web at our Critical Area Study project page and will be summarized in a report to the DNR available on FMR’s web site later this month. The DNR will then use the information in its report to the legislature, which is due on February 1, 2008.
Find out more at our Critical Area Study project page.
Please contact Irene Jones through our contact form or at 651-222-2193 x11 if you have questions.