The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Special Report: Amber Waves to Muddy Waters

December 6, 2011

Special Report, Day 1: From Amber Waves to Muddy Waters

(Continued)

MANKATO — Fisher would like to see more focus on similar projects in the Le Sueur and Blue Earth river basins — both of which contribute mightily to the sediment in the river.

“For less money we could target some higher-priority areas more intensely. We know, bluff by bluff, where the problems are. If we want to make an impact, why not take big chunks of money and hit those areas hard?”

Dennis Frederickson, a former Republican state senator from New Ulm who is now the Department of Natural Resources director of southern Minnesota, is known for his support of the river and keen ability as a conservative senator to get environmental projects approved in the Legislature.

“Certainly drainage off the landscape, from fields and other lands, is a contributor to some of that impairment,” Frederickson said.

“Agriculture is a huge economic factor in the Minnesota River watershed and the state, so what we do needs to make economic sense for the farmers and make sense for the river.”

Frederickson said everyone needs to focus on solutions that can make a difference rather than spending too much time arguing about fault.

“It’s important not to square off in issue groups or stakeholder groups one against the other. Every segment in society contributes to the impairment of the river. We need to spend our time and money determining how to improve those impairments instead of arguing about where the faults are.”

Frederickson said dealing with issues related to agriculture may be thorny but not impossible.

“ We’ve dealt with issues with herbicide and pesticide and genetics over the years.

Let’s use that same creativity to find how we can farm and raise the abundant crops we do without impairing the waters.”

While agriculture is a powerful economic and lobbying force, pressure from urban policymakers and those around Lake Pepin are increasingly calling for more regulation of agriculture drainage.

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Special Report: Amber Waves to Muddy Waters