NEW ULM - Minnesota River Alliance Watershed Alliance members learned about the benefits of a National Blueways designation on Wednesday.
Rebecca Wodder, senior advisor to Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, spoke at the Flandrau State Park Beach House, to Department of Natural Resources personnel and other supporters of the Minnesota River.
She said the Minnesota River could be nominated for the Blueways designation.
Staff photo by Fritz Busch
Senior Advisor to Department of Interior Secretary Rebecca Wodder talks to members of the Minnesota River Watershed Alliance about nominating the Minnesota River for the National Blueways System Wednesday at the Flandrau State Park Beach House.
The National Blueways System is a permanent program for recreational and environmental engagement for active partnerships with long-range goals without watershed restrictions.
"Benefits include federal, state and other public funding for technical assistance and other conservation and recreation programs that would be concentrated in the first five years of designation," Wodder said. "We're looking for people that support big-picture thinking at the grassroots level. You already have that with the Watershed Alliance. There is lots of relevant expertise to tap."
Wodder said agreements could be made with help from the designation to make programs self sustaining.
Established last May in Washington, National Blueways was created to provide a blueprint for communities to plan and manage the health, resiliency and connectivity of their rivers and watersheds with an integrated approach to manage land and water resources.
Last year, the Connecticut River and Watershed in New England (New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut), was designated a National Blueway.
Dennis Frederickson, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Southern Region Manager said the program couples conservation, recreation and engaged citizens as well as public and private stake holders for river management.
Courtland Nelson, DNR Rivers and Trails Director, said he's excited about the program and the passion displayed at the Watershed Alliance meeting.
"We need to seize this federal opportunity and work with the DNR, Minnesota Historical Society, non-profits and other people and organizations," Nelson said. "This is a very advantageous way to move ahead."
Other Blueway benefits include Cabinet-level recognition leading to increased awareness, partner involvement, visitation, financial and technical assistance and expertise access, plus increased competitiveness for grants and other economic opportunities.
Federal agencies active in managing land and water resources in the river basin will coordinate activities with Memorandums of Understanding and Cooperative Agreements.
For more information, contact DNR Natural Resource Planner Cathi Fouchi at 507-359-6034 or Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) Executive Director Patrick Moore at 320-841-1487.
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org).