In April 2010, the Obama administration announced what is known as the American Great Outdoors Initiative to find ways for people to get out and enjoy the landscape that is the U.S.
Shortly after that initiative was announced, it was also announced the U.S. Department of the Interior would be compiling a report listing projects across the U.S. that would help make the plan a reality.
Requests were made to have representatives from varying sites across the nation submit plans regarding how they would meet the parameters of the initiative through the use of different outdoor natural amenities.
Among the plans submitted was one written by representatives of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources which suggested as a potential project the Upper Minnesota River, which stretches from New Ulm northwest to where the river begins.
According to Cathi Fouchi, a regional planner for the DNR in the southern part of the state, the plan submitted talked about the valuable assets the Minnesota River has to offer, as well as outlined some of the efforts already being done to meet the goal outlined in the initiative.
It was announced earlier this month in the American Great Outdoors report the Upper Minnesota River project had been sel-ected as what was described as a prospective National Blueway. While the specifics of that designation are still to be determined, the good news is the portion of the river in this area has received attention.
One of the reasons the project was selected was due to the efforts of organizations such as the Green Corridor Project and the efforts it has already done to create public infrastructure along the river to ensure public access to the river.
“This designation is a pretty big deal,”?said Brad Cobb, Green Corridor, Inc. director. “It is nice to know others are now advocating for the river.”
In addition to getting people outside through the project, Cobb said there is an element of economics involved in this designation, as more people are going to be made aware of the river. Those with an interest, whether they are hunters, enjoy taking a canoe trip or just enjoy watching birds, are going to visit the river, and they are going to spend money on those trips. That is good for everyone.
Fouchi said there are still some unknowns about the project, including the potential of any funding being provided to enhance the work being done.
She did say there is the potential of some technical assistance from federal agencies.
“We want people to know this is not just a DNR?project,”?ex-plained Fouchi. “There are many partners in-volved in this plan.”
A total of 100 projects were listed in the report with two designated in every state.
Page 2 of 2 - More about the designation and the report can be found online at www.doi.gov.