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Continued: Anderson: Status quo on land, water issues is a threat to the state

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: October 26, 2013 - 5:18 PM

Then you’re not the type of person our times demand.

Government not the answer

It would be a lot easier to sit back and wait for the DNR to fix the problem. Or, how about (fill in the blank)? Maybe they’ll do it.

No, they won’t.

Among reasons: In Minnesota, the DNR and other state agencies ultimately are lapdogs for the Legislature. And for the governor.

That’s why natural resources in this state aren’t defended with the vigor they require. Bureaucrats know above all else that their budgets and even their jobs can be at stake if they propose big solutions to big problems, such as revising the state’s ancient ditch laws, or regulating the vast subsurface tiling that has occurred, and is occurring, across southern and northwestern Minnesota.

It’s not that state agencies don’t employ good and qualified people. They do. But they’re leashed to the Legislature, sometimes for the better, but mostly for the worse. Consequently, as a matter of survival, over time the risk-taking gene has been bred out of most state employees.

Doubt that? Recall, then, the major environment or conservation movements in this state, not least the recent passage of the Legacy Act, whose enactment depended not on government but on a groundswell of public support.

What, then, to do?

For starters, recognize the problem, its scope and complexity, and recognize as well it won’t be solved if we keep doing what we’re doing.

Then we form a council, made up of representatives from the most successful conservation, wildlife and environment groups, as well as advisory professionals from state and federal agencies.

The council also must have members from Minnesota businesses — entities that, frankly, have been AWOL while the state’s resources have been compromised.

That means 3M, General Mills, Medtronic, United Health, Target, Ecolab and/or others must lend some brain power to this effort, if only to benefit their employees and therefore their bottom lines.

Twofold mission

The council, the executive committee of which should number no more than a dozen or so, and which also should include representatives from academia and agriculture, should develop a mission that is at least twofold:

• Recognize that innovation and out-of-the-box thinking will be central to any lasting solution, and that, while federal farm bills and other hoped-for pie-in-the-sky legislation might someday provide some relief, that relief eventually will be rescinded. So we need a new, better and more permanent approach.

• The council must also recognize that any proposed solutions will be only as good as the number of people they engage.

Fortunately, Minnesota’s natural resources enjoy a constituency that runs wide and deep — witness, for example, the overwhelming voter support for the Legacy Act.

  • related content

  • Five-state pheasant hunt road trip hopes to spread a message

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    Showing the worth of public land is goal on five-state run.

  • VIDEO: Hits and misses from a South Dakota pheasant hunt

    Saturday October 26, 2013

  • A wide variety of wildlife, from ducks to pheasants to bees, depends on a healthy and diverse farmland landscape, which is fast disappearing in Minnesota.

  • Minnesota’s grasslands are threatened by the status quo in conservation, as are the state’s wetlands and water sources.

  • Duke, a black Labrador, in Yellow Medicine County with a rooster pheasant. ORG XMIT: MIN1310041245540852

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