Mississippi River Critical Area Bill Signed Into Law

Hip Hip Hooray! The Mississippi River Critical Area Reform Bill has passed the state legislature and was signed into law last week by Governor Pawlenty!

The critical area legislation was a small part of the Clean Water Land and Legacy Bill (HF 1231), which includes millions of dollars for clean water, outdoor heritage, parks and trails, and arts and cultural programs. The critical area section of the bill directs the DNR to conduct rulemaking for the corridor and provides an appropriation of $500,000. The public rulemaking process will include mapping all the corridor bluffs and slopes and establishing new districts and standards that better match the geographic character of the river. Read more about the critical area bill in FMR's web fact sheet.

The passage of this bill represents a huge accomplishment for the river and for FMR. During the past five years, FMR studied and evaluated the critical area framework, along with the help of resource experts, public officials and citizens, and we determined that changes were needed. Many stakeholders had input into the discussion about improving the critical area framework and the legislation that has now become law. And it took the work of many to accomplish this important victory for the river.

FMR would like to thank all the legislators, groups and individuals that helped pass this landmark legislation. Topping the list of critical area heroes are the bill's chief authors, Rep. Rick Hansen and Sen. Katie Sieben. Both of them worked tirelessly to see this bill through the process, and we commend them for their willingness to work with the League of Minnesota Cities and others to strike a balance regarding concerns that were raised about the bill. Rep. Jean Wagenius was instrumental to passage of the bill, and many other co-authors assisted as well.

Special thanks goes to allied organizations that supported the bill. We greatly appreciate the efforts of Audubon Minnesota, the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, Friends of the Parks and Trails of St. Paul and Ramsey County, the National Park Service, and the Sierra Club, all of whom advocated for the bill through public testimony or lobbying elected officials. Many other groups signed on to support the effort and we are grateful to them as well.

FMR citizen activists also played a key role by contacting legislators and the governor regarding the bill. The efforts of these unsung heroes had a big impact through focused contacts at critical times in the process, and we cannot thank them enough for their efforts.

Last, but certainly not least, FMR would like to express our gratitude to our lobbyist, Cristine Almeida and her team. Their guidance and assistance was essential to our success.

Stay tuned for the future posts about the DNR rulemaking process, which is likely to start before the end of 2009.