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Redwood Falls Gazette
  • DNR establishes committee to address Minnesota River shared landscape concept

  • To ensure there are pieces of land that would allow for more uses, under a shared landscape concept, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has created a citizens advisory committee that is going to be putting together recommendations for the DNR.
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  • Scattered throughout the Minnesota River Valley are sections of land which have been dedicated to everything from wildlife management to natural resource conservation.
    Under a variety of state and federal programs, the land falls into specific categories that distinguish those areas as valuable in their own right. Perhaps that value is found in the scientific and natural assets that can be found there, or its proximity to the river makes it a logical site to focus on water quality.
    While these programs have helped to ensure the future of the river, they are often adjoining other program land, and from one piece to the other what can be done on them varies.
    In one location, hunting might be an accepted practice, while just a few feet away it is prohibited.
    Finding a way for those who want to enjoy the myriad opportunities one can find in the river valley can become a bit of a challenge, especially as some of those opportunities would seem, at first glance to be in competition with each other.
    To ensure there are pieces of land that would allow for more uses, under a shared landscape concept, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has created a citizens advisory committee that is going to be putting together recommendations for the DNR.
    “There are so many possibilities that could happen,” said Catherine Fouchi, a DNR regional planner in the New Ulm region.
    Fouchi, who is coordinating and moderating the activities of the committee said the group was appointed by Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner, with the group intended to represent as many of the different interest groups who utilize areas of the river valley.
    “We want to hear everyone’s thoughts,” she said.
    The committee is made up of representatives from production agriculture and recreational groups, as well as those representing different government agencies.
    According to Fouchi, the shared landscape concept has been gaining momentum, as more of those interest groups speak up about having their interests met.
    During the most recent state legislative session the DNR began working on a proposal that would create a new land designation.
    A citizens group from the middle Minnesota River, made up of individuals from the Redwood and Renville counties region, also began working on a proposal to create a conservation recreation area.
    The two proposals were alike in some areas, but for the most part there were differences that needed to be ironed out before the two groups could come together in a joint effort. That effort would create a proposal that could be offered to the governor and the legislature for potential policy action.
    The new unit designation idea would offer the option of these conservation recreation areas that would allow for multi-use options, such as horse trail riding and hunting on the same piece of land. The challenge then becomes finding ways for different groups with varying interests to co-exist on the same piece of land.
    Page 2 of 2 - While Fouchi said the committee has not specifically stated its ultimate goal, as it has a lot of work to accomplish in the next couple of months, the concept of proposing the creation of this new designation is one option to consider.
    Loran Kaardal, who is one of the members serving on the committee, said the idea would be to acquire land only from willing sellers, adding this is such a new concept the idea could lead to a pilot project in the region.
    “The key is finding the balance in conservation, recreation, culture and heritage,” said Kaardal, adding the concept could also be good for the local economy.

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