2017 Legislative Update

Advocating to clean up and protect our lakes, rivers, and water resources

Environment and Natural Resources Omnibus Bill
Last week Governor Dayton vetoed a number of big budget bills including the Environment and Natural Resources Omnibus Bill. The Governor said that a number of harmful policy and budget provisions within the bill required his veto. A few issues he cited in his veto letter include items that effect our lakes and rivers, including: language to minimize the stream buffer law and forbid enforcement of the law; transferring all water-related decisions (like water quality standards) out of the hands of scientists at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and into the hands of Administrative Law Judges; and shifting funding for local Soil and Water Conservation Districts out of the general fund and into the Legacy Amendment funding (by cutting the recommendations of councils like the Clean Water Council and the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council). With the regular legislative session required to adjourn by May 23, it will be interesting to see if lawmakers can reach a compromise in time, or if a special session will be required to finish their work.

Bonding Bill
Another important issue we’re watching at the Capitol is the bonding bill. There are a number of important projects to protect and clean-up lakes and rivers that we’re working to see included in the bonding bill, such as: significant investment in wastewater treatment plants across the state; clean-up of the St. Louis River estuary; and fully investing in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. Each of the projects have been floated in proposed bonding bills, but at the time I am writing this, the House has yet to put together a bonding package that has enough votes to pass.

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)
Finally, as lawmakers head down the home stretch, we are continuing to work to see that many important provisions concerning aquatic invasive species (AIS) make it into the final bills that will become law. We’ve supported expanding zebra mussel research to new lakes across the state; allowing new research methods to better understand invasive Asian carp; and we continue to advocate for long term funding for the Minnesota AIS Research Center at the University of Minnesota. We will continue to work to see that our concerns about AIS are addressed in the end of session negotiations.

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Minnesota River Congress

Minnesota River System Enthusiasts,  Time is drawing near, this Thursday in Redwood Falls at the Redwood Area Community Center the 8th Minnesota River Congress will take place with the theme of “State of the River”.  If you have not registered already and plan on attending please either respond to this email or register on line here.  ​https://www.eventbrite.com/e/8th-minnesota-river-congress-tickets-32831354465  This will help us with our planning and we hope to see you there.  Feel free to forward to your networks

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A cover crop field day will be held on the Dan and Crystal Ley farm located near Richmond on Tuesday, May 16th.  The Leys participated in a 3 year Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to determine the potential economic value of various winter small grains planted as cover crops in the fall and harvested in the spring as silage.  Dan planted cereal rye, winter triticale, spelt, and winter wheat in strips on a 12 acre field in the fall of 2015 and 2016.  Dan has been measuring silage yield and forage quality of the cover crops as well as yield impact on the following soybean crop.  He also tracked changes in soil health in the small grain fields and compared that to an adjacent check strip with no cover crops.  Standard series soil tests, along with the new Haney Soil Health Tool, were also run on each strip.  Dan also monitored physical soil changes including soil temperature, soil moisture, permeability, and compaction.  The Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and Ag. Resources Consulting, Inc. of Albany assisted Dan with these tests.


The field day will take place from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Tuesday, May 16th.  You will see what these crops look like prior to harvest and hear speakers from the U of M Extension, Ag. Resources Consulting, Inc., and the SWCD summarize the data, including economic value of the winter small grain silage.  There is no cost to attend the event and a light lunch with refreshments will be provided.


Directions(24198 222nd Street, Richmond MN): if you are coming from the east, drive 4 1/2 miles west of Richmond on State Highway 23 to 246th Avenue, then about ½ mile north on 246th Avenue to 222nd Street, then east about ¼ mile on 222nd Street to the site.   From the west, drive about ½ mile east of Roscoe on Highway 23 then north on 246th avenue as above.  Signs will be posted.  Contact Brad Wenz at 320-251-7800, ext. 3 for more information or visit the SWCD website at www.stearnscountyswcd.net.


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