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Speak up about the environment next week at Citizen Forums

Posted on November 20, 2012 at 4:44 PM
Categories: Environment, Agriculture, Commerce, Health, Greater Minnesota, Transportation

Minnesota Environmental Congress

On Nov. 27, the regional Citizen Forums on the Environment will begin with forums in Rochester and Bloomington.

The forums are an opportunity for Minnesotans to interact with state agency commissioners and staff, and learn more about Minnesota’s Environment & Energy Report Card. Those attending the forums will be asked to answer key questions and submit more in-depth ideas for consideration.

The State of Minnesota wants to hear what Minnesotans’ priorities and visions are for the environment. The input gathered at the forums will be compiled and presented to the Dayton Administration at a statewide Environmental Congress next March.

Citizen forums:

  • Nov. 27: Wood Lake Meeting Center, Rochester, 9:30 a.m.-12 noon
  • Nov. 27: Normandale Community College, Bloomington, 6:30-9 p.m.
  • Nov. 28: Lake Superior College, Duluth, 5:30-8 p.m.
  • Dec. 10: Worthington High School, 3:30-6 p.m.
  • Dec. 12: Stearns County Service Center, Saint Cloud, 5:30-8 p.m.
  • Dec. 14: Minnesota State University, Moorhead, 3-5:30 p.m.

The Minnesota Environmental Congress and the Citizens Forums leading up to it are the result of Governor Dayton’s Executive Order 11-32. To assess Minnesota’s progress toward clean air, water and energy, the Environmental Quality Board is convening Citizen Forums around the state to engage citizens in constructive dialogue, identify environmental challenges, and define a vision for Minnesota’s environmental future.


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Minnesota River Breathes Easier

Posted on November 19, 2012 at 10:49 AM
Categories: Environment


MPCA monitors the Minnesota river for low dissolved oxygen for the first time since 1988

Op/Ed by Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner John Linc Stine
Published in the Pioneer Press on Saturday, November 17, 2012.

Sometimes the science tells us we’re doing something right.

Earlier this week we stood with our state and local government partners to celebrate a noteworthy achievement. Together, citizens, state and local government along with private sector contributions have helped make the Minnesota River a lot cleaner with lowered pollution levels and increases in dissolved oxygen benefiting fish and other life in the river.  There is still much to accomplish on the Minnesota, but this is undeniably great news.

Why did we make such a big deal of our discovery? Because, environmental changes normally happen in small steps over long periods of time.  Our water in the Minnesota didn’t get polluted overnight. It took decades of unsewered communities and non-existent regulation of pollution discharges. Similarly, it’s often difficult to measure environmental gains realized with a myriad of incremental steps by thousands of people over years and decades.


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Second Annual Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener Highlights Tradition in Marshall

Posted on October 15, 2012 at 1:40 PM
Categories: Sports, Environment, Outdoors

Blog - Pheasant Opener

The Governor’s hunting party included Adam Prock, his assistant chief of staff, and Nick Simonson, President of Lyon County Pheasants Forever.

This weekend Governor Dayton kicked off the Second Annual Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener in Marshall, Minnesota. Hunters reported strong pheasant numbers in the Marshall area during the second annual Governor’s Pheasant Hunt. The Marshall area, known for its pheasant habitat and hunter and dog-friendly lodging, hosted Gov. Dayton and hundreds of guests.

In an interview, Governor Dayton told the Marshall Independent, "It was really an incredible weekend. A lot of work went into putting this together and making it such a success. Perfect in every way, and lots of birds, which was exciting. Last year it was a little thin, but this year they're off to a very good start. Weather held up; I know there are a lot of people who wanted rain, but it didn't happen."

Although the Governor’s hunting party was not successful in bagging a bird, fifty-seven hunters harvested nearly 100 roosters during the morning hunt. Governor Dayton was happy to highlight the success of other parties. “It’s a great Minnesota tradition, and it proves that southwest Minnesota is good for pheasant hunting,” the Governor told a crowd. While on the trip, Governor Dayton also highlighted the conservation efforts made to preserve the native habitat of pheasants by proclaiming Prairie Protection, Restoration, and Management Day in the State of Minnesota.


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How’s the water? Much better after 40 years of the Clean Water Act

Posted on September 25, 2012 at 3:20 PM
Categories: Environment, Outdoors

Testing Minnesota's waters for plant health

MPCA wetland monitoring staff examining plant species to check wetland health in Anoka County. Photo courtesy MPCA. 

St. Paul-- Two massive oil spills into Minnesota rivers devastated fish and wildlife in the early 1960s. At the time, no laws required that spills be reported or cleaned up.

By the early 1970s, such catastrophes were becoming common. In Ohio, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland was so polluted that it caught fire – for the tenth time. Time Magazine reported that Lake Erie was dying from all the waste dumped into it. St. Louis took its drinking water from the muddy Missouri River because the Mississippi was far worse.

With the publication of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” an environmental movement swept across the nation to the halls of Congress, which passed the federal Clean Water Act on Oct. 18, 1972. The Act’s goal was simple: that all waters be fishable and swimmable where possible. 

“The Clean Water Act was has forever changed how we monitor and protect our water,” says Commissioner John Linc Stine of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). “The Clean Water Act has raised the bar of our expectations. Those expectations are high in Minnesota because 99 percent of the water found here, started here. This means our water protection efforts have an exponentially positive impact on the many states to our south, east and west all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.” 

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Up-Close with Invasive Species at the State Fair

Posted on August 24, 2012 at 11:18 AM
Categories: Outdoors, Environment

Minnesota DNR Building at the State Fair

The DNR Building promises more than a few opportunities to learn and have fun at the fair.

As you enjoy corndogs, deep fried candy bars, camel sliders and bacon ice cream (really!) at the Minnesota State Fair this year, make sure you stop by the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) building. You’ll be able to cool off and learn about the impact of invasive species on Minnesota’s environment. The DNR’s emphasis is on increasing Minnesotans’ awareness of invasive species and equipping people with the necessary tools to do their part in helping prevent these species from spreading. 

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Asian Carp (above) are an invasive species in MN waters

Renee Vail, who coordinates the DNR exhibits at the State Fair, adds that “Minnesotans are passionate about our natural resources, and this is an effective and entertaining way for us to communicate conservation messages.” 


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What’s new at the Eco Experience at the Minnesota State Fair?

Posted on August 24, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Environment, Technology

Eco photo building Tiny House.jpg

Getting ready for the seventh year at the Minnesota State Fair, the Eco Experience is better than ever! Every area of the exhibit has added new components to get Minnesotans to take action in their everyday lives.

Energy Solutions Home: This brand new component of the Eco Experience showcases real solutions for your home. Saving energy will not only save you money but makes a difference in the air we breathe and the water quality in our communities. Put together by the Minnesota Department of Commerce and partners from around the state.

The Energy Solutions Home includes these features:

  • Home performance. How much energy does your home use and what is the environmental impact of a typical Minnesota home? Check out this interactive display. See equipment like blower doors, infared cameras, and other advanced energy audit equipment.

  • Home lighting. Do you become overwhelmed when you’re shopping the lighting aisle? Learn how to choose exactly what you need for many types of rooms.

  • Home envelope. Have you experienced ice dams? Learn how to seal and insulate your home to prevent them in this interactive display showing all types of insulating and sealing issue.

  • Saving water. See the latest info on low-flow fixtures, faucets, showerheads and plumbing fixtures. Saving water saves you money

  • Green materials. Check out the latest finishes, cabinets, high-efficiency appliances and Minnesota-made products.

  • Renewables. Have you considered solar or wind power for your home? See the latest products and meet professionals who can answer questions on the best options and performance of renewables for your home.

  • Landscaping. Learn how to implement things like rain barrels, pollinator gardens, drip irrigation, and permeable pavers. Check out our beautiful but eco-friendly mini gardens.

  • Paying for it. Learn how to pay for your home improvements through affordable financing and loan programs.

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Interior Secretary Salazar, Governor Dayton Tour Mississippi River for America’s Great Outdoors Initiative

Posted on August 21, 2012 at 2:47 PM
Categories: Environment

salazar.jpg 

Governor Dayton joined by US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar (second from left) and staff at the Mississippi River National Recreation Area

US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar visited Minnesota last Thursday to promote the president’s America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative. He was joined by Governor Dayton in St. Paul, where the two toured the Mississippi River National Recreation Area and discussed the importance of spaces like the river for the preservation of outdoor recreation.

salazar-sm.JPG The Mississippi River is one of AGO’s targeted projects nationwide, and one of two in Minnesota. AGO is aiming to partner with other federal agencies and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to increase recreational access to the river, particularly for communities of color, and to create a coordinating body to maximize local agencies’ participation in restoration, preservation, and education programs on the river.

Governor Dayton and Secretary Salazar spoke Thursday on the importance of the AGO Initiative and the positive impact the program could have on Minnesota’s natural waterways. AGO’s other potential project in Minnesota is to expand the infrastructure of parks and trails along the Minnesota River and to provide other improvements and restoration efforts in the Upper Minnesota River Watershed. The AGO also wants to designate both the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers  “National Blueways,” which would afford federal protection to the entirety of the rivers rather than just segments designated National Rivers or Recreation Areas.


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Help Protect Minnesota’s Environment, Pt. 2: An Inside Look at Aquatic Invasive Species

Posted on August 01, 2012 at 1:00 PM
Categories: Environment

Asian Carp.jpg

The Asian Carp, native to Eastern Europe and Western Asia, has recently been found throughout American waters. Photo by Kate Gardiner

As Minnesota boaters and fishermen traverse our lakes and rivers this summer, it is important that we work together to impede the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Invasive species are animals, plants, or micro-organisms that are not native to a specific area. They can have harmful effect on the environment, the economy, and even human health.

An example of an aquatic invasive species in Minnesota is the Asian carp—a large, plankton-feeding fish. Currently, the Asian carp is moving northward in the Mississippi River and competing with native organisms for its source of food. This can cause a decline in the population of smaller sport fish. Asian carp also pose a potential danger to Minnesota boaters, with the ability to jump up to 10 feet out of the water when they sense a boat approaching. Often these jumping fish can land in boats injuring boaters, personal watercraft operators, and water skiers.


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Help Protect Minnesota’s Environment! An Inside Look at Terrestrial Invasive Species

Posted on July 25, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Categories: Environment

EAB trap.jpg

Officials from the US Department of Agriculture set a trap for Emerald Ash Borer

With camping season in full swing, Minnesotans have an important role to play in keeping our campsites pest-free by learning the facts about terrestrial invasive species. Help the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) by stopping invasive species from following in your tracks.

Invasive species are plants, animals and micro-organisms that are not native to a particular area. These species can cause large amounts of damage in areas outside their natural habitat. Not only can invasive species harm Minnesota’s environment, but they can also have negative effects on our economy and even on human health once they take root.

Different species can spread in different ways; some can simply be blown by the wind while others are transported by humans, animals, soil, or water. In their natural habitat, these species do not usually cause problems because they live in balance with the other plants and animals. However, when aggressive species spread long-distances – a process usually assisted by humans– these species are rarely good neighbors to the existing group of plants and animals. Usually there are not natural enemies or other defenses to protect the existing group from the new, invasive species.


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Minnesota Leading the way in Responsible Electronics Waste Management

Posted on July 23, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Environment, Public Safety, Technology

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An exhibit on E-Waste presented by the MPCA at the 2011 Minnesota State Fair as part of their Eco Experience facility.

In a world increasingly dependent on smartphones and laptops, the issue of responsibly disposing of these electronics is becoming more and more pressing. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) reports that in the last year, Minnesota took in nearly 33 million pounds of electronic waste for recycling, making Minnesota a national leader in collections of e-waste for recycling.

What is electronic waste? E-waste, as it’s called, is what’s created when electronic materials are disposed. This can include cellphones, computers, printers, televisions, digital cameras, etc., and as technology continues to advance and we continue to upgrade our devices, the amount of e-waste we produce continues to rise as well.

Unlike throwing away a piece of paper, however, disposing of electronics can have a huge impact on the environment and on our health; e-waste contains high levels of lead, cadmium, and other chemicals that can pollute the ground and water supply if they aren’t properly disposed of. Electronic waste should always be taken to certified recycling facilities that are trained to manage these hazardous chemicals.


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