Last Sunday I wrote about the need for a stronger and more unified conservation voice in Minnesota as a means to push back against legislative and other assaults on the state’s lands and waters. Minnesotans care about the state’s woods, prairies and wildlife, I said. But their considerable goodwill for land and water stewardship isn’t leveraged often enough in a common effort by the state’s conservation and environment groups, which instead too frequently focus on their individual agendas. A sample of letters I received in response to the column follows:
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Nothing important will get done in Minnesota if the various conservation, environment and wildlife groups don’t join forces to fight for what’s left.
They have far more in common than divides them.
Dan Wilm, Pequot Lakes
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I wonder if a natural resource-based legislative watchdog could be formed that tracked Capitol shenanigans and forwarded the information to the state’s outdoor groups. The information then could be shared with the groups’ members, as needed.
Most legislators just want to keep their jobs and don’t have a clue about environment degradation. In the end it’s not about ducks, deer, moose or fish. It’s about sedimentation, degradation of water quality, increasing demand on our resources and loss of natural areas.
Phil Vieth, Hastings
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I’m a musician and something of an outdoorsman who is increasingly concerned about the state’s environment.
I share the belief that cohesion and consistency are crucial in combatting the loss and degradation of our precious resources.
I view the Legacy Amendment as a great example of crafting a message to create a new coalition melded from disparate groups to preserve some quintessentially Minnesota resources. It seems that another creative leap of that sort could be applied to our current problems.
I wonder how that could happen? And I’m sure like many others, I’m left asking, “How can I help?”
Two years ago, my daughters and I made a trip to state parks in areas we don’t normally go. I had hoped the girls would find the trips inspirational. I thought: We love the pristine waters and forests of the northern part of the state, but surely there is more to see.
For one of our trips we went to Blue Mounds State Park and Pipestone National Monument. What we found was shocking. In both locations, water was inaccessible, in the first case by E.coli, and in the second by toxic fertilizer/pesticide run-off.
Signs were posted to absolutely NOT enter the water. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the signage at Pipestone prior to stepping into the waters below the beautiful waterfall there. I felt ill the rest of the day, as did my kids.
Is this the legacy we want to leave? Parks we can’t use? As Minnesotans, it is time to stand up for our waters and lands.
John Munson, Lino Lakes
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Unfortunately, our primary resource “protection” right now is a governor with only limited time left on the job.
I will connect with my legislators. What else can I, or anyone, do?
Alan Arthur, Wayzata
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Unless the agriculture lobby is somehow reined in (good luck with that), we’re going to continue down the habitat destruction path, regardless of which party is in power.
Mark Prestrud, Rosemount
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I’m a farm boy who spent many hours putting up hay at what was then known as the Madelia Game Farm back in the day, and is now known as the DNR Madelia Research Station. I don’t agree with Gov. Dayton on most things, but he needs to hold firm on buffers.
Again and again, the alarm needs to be sounded about what’s happening to Minnesota and its natural resources.
Maynard Kelsey, Washington County
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We don’t live in Minnesota anymore, and don’t have any reason to pontificate other than wanting to see another portion of our planet improved.
I agree that all conservation groups should come together to “get it done” at the Capitol in St. Paul.
The Twin Cities’ major companies, 3M, General Mills, Cargill and others should be part of the effort, and I would think various foundations would support it as well. To help get farmers on board, tax incentives could be developed as an incentive.
There’s really no difference between organizing an effort like this and building a stadium. It just takes a dedicated group of people to develop a plan, and then organizing and implementing the plan. But it has to “start” with a loud voice. Maybe that’s what’s happening here.
I’m betting the boards of all the “good” companies in Minnesota and elsewhere with a “dog in this fight” in terms of maintaining the state’s quality of life, would help.
John Ochs, Ponte Vedra, Fla.
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Like a lot of Minnesotans, the “outdoors” has largely helped define my life and that of my wife, as well as those who have come before us. For this reason among others, including our health, the state’s resources should be conserved.
My wife and I live in the urban ant heap now, and I feel trapped. That’s why we’re heading up to the cabin today, near Orr. For my wife’s 80th birthday, I offered to upsize her engagement ring. She asked instead for an indoor composting toilet at the cabin, because the outhouse is pretty cold in winter.
My wife grew up in Fergus Falls. Her dad tied his own trout flies, and with his double-barrel shotgun could drop two roosters, in brush, flying in opposite directions out of a fence row. I saw him do it. As a boy, his dad, a Norwegian immigrant farmer, would give him two shotgun shells and expect him to come home with four ducks.
Remember: We all breathe the same air and drink the same water.
John Fahning, Twin Cities
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We need to find someone who can find a way to organize a group to set goals and raise the funds to get legislators to listen. I believe that is our only hope! Many sportsmen will contribute to a good ad campaign describing the problems.
I am an 80-year-old retiree living on Gull Lake (where I see a rapid deterioration in fishing) and don’t have enough resources to help much. But I am willing to go make sales pitches to those who are in positions, or who have the finances, to make a difference.
Jerry Pattison, Brainerd