State to share plan on natural resources

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 8, 2008 - 12:20 AM

Touted as a blueprint for protection and enhancement, the $300,000 study outlines several steps for action.

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A White Pine from the Pinestead Tree Farms in Isanti.

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A new statewide plan, billed as a comprehensive blueprint to help Minnesota protect and enhance its natural resources, will be unveiled today at the state Capitol.

The $300,000 study offers recommendations for several key issues, including:

• Land and water habitat fragmentation, degradation, loss and conversion.

• Land-use practices.

• Transportation.

• Energy production and use, and mercury as a toxic contaminant.

The report says critical stream and lake shorelines, land habitats and large blocks of forestland should be protected by easements or acquisitions. Shallow lakes and wetlands need to be restored. "A healthy environment requires a healthy economy, and a sustainable economy requires a sustainable environment,'' the report says.

OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS:

• The acquisition of 54,000 acres of private land within state parks should remain a high priority.

• Critical stream and lakeshore land needs to be protected, using a variety of methods and incentives for shore land owners.

• The state should accelerate efforts to restore and improve shallow-lake habitat and restore some of the 500 drained shallow lakes.

• The state must invest to restore wetlands, both on public and private lands.

• Review state drainage policies; retaining water on the landscape is critical for improving water quality, reducing flooding, maintaining wildlife habitat and enhancing biological diversity.

• A state land-use guide should be developed.

• Adopt policies that will gradually transition biofuel feedstocks for ethanol to perennial crops.

The plan was ordered by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR), which oversees spending more than $20 million annually from the state's environmental trust fund -- money from the state lottery. The intent is to help the LCCMR determine where to spend those dollars.

The University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment and two consulting firms did the study. More than 125 experts, including university scientists and natural resource planners and professions, participated in the 18-month effort.

FOR MORE: To see the report, go to www.lccmr.leg.mn/statewideconservationplan/SCPP_FinalPlan.html.

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