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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

      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.

      Even in the metro area, Minnesota’s rich natural (and historical) heritage is on full display. The small stretch of the Mississippi River that Governor Dayton and Secretary Salazar toured is home to Lilydale, Crosby, and Hidden Falls Regional Parks, as well as the launch point for Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventure trips. Fort Snelling, at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, was also part of the tour, which highlighted Minnesota’s role as a leader is maintaining both preservation and development efforts side-by-side, in our major cities and elsewhere.

      You canfind more information on the AGO Initiative's website.