News Watch: Jul. 21

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Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food; Climate Change; Coal; Fish & Wildlife; Frac Sand Mining; Invasive Species; Mining; Oil & Pipelines; Parks & Trails;  Energy; Frac Sand Mining; Invasive Species; Oil & Pipelines; Parks & Trails; Politics & Administration; Restoration & Development; Transportation; Waste & Recycling; Water; Latest from Loon Commons Blog

Agriculture & Food
 
Climate Change
Coal
 
Fish & Wildlife
 
Frac Sand Mining
 
Invasive Species
 
Mining
 
Oil & Pipelines
 
Parks & Trails
 
Politics & Administration
 
Restoration & Sustainable Development
 
Transportation
 
Waste & Recycling
 
Water

Loon Commons blog: 

Restoring Lake Superior, one Cook County stream at a time
2014 Legislative Session Outcomes 

Forever Green Receives $1 Million
What is a watershed, anyway?
A Graphic View of Diversity’s Power

 

Connect with MEP on Facebook and Twitter

Ensure you continue to receive News Watch: Add lindsey@mepartnership.org to your safe-senders list. 

©2012 Minnesota Environmental Partnership, 546 Rice St. Suite 100, St. Paul, MN 55103

Did you receive News Watch from a friend? Subscribe here.

 

Soil Health: Numbers vs. Knowing

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Sometimes it takes a bit of an evangelist to remind us that praying at the altar of facts and figures can blind one to how they all connect in the bigger picture. In the case of production systems that build soil health, that preacher is Ray Archuleta.

“The soil is naked, hungry, thirsty and running a fever,” said Archuleta during a presentation at the National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health in February. Archuleta’s talk, which is featured on a recent LSP Ear to the Ground podcast, is peppered with this kind of blunt, colorful language. And the Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation agronomist doesn’t mince words when he says sick soil is something we all need to take personally. It’s the difference between “informational knowing” and “personal knowing.”

Informational knowing is acknowledging the latest data showing how cover crops, for example, can increase organic matter by a certain percentage and that in turn can result in more consistent corn yields down the line. Personal knowing is seeing the connections between having more living plant systems on the ground year-round and increased soil biota and how that healthier soil food web can have a domino effect on everything from how resilient a farm field is under adverse weather conditions to how clean the water is in the local watershed to how, ultimately, profitable that agricultural enterprise is.

“Informational knowing is where you go, ‘I see.’ But personal knowing goes into your soul, your inner being, and you understand. You go, ‘I see.’ ” Archuleta told a group of scientists, conservation agency personnel and farmers. “Unless our producers and our society goes at this on a personal level, personal knowing, we will not heal our land. It will be all academic and talking points.”

Archuleta is the kind of soil conservationist who is not afraid to use terms like “soul” and “inner being” when speaking to just about any group. Check out videos of his presentations and it becomes clear he’s comfortable preaching the soil health gospel to farmers large and small, conventional and not-so-conventional. It helps that his passion for the resource is accentuated with a gift for communication and a bit of entertaining theatrics. Archuleta’s soil slaking presentation, for example, has a succinct way of making, in just a few moments, even the most uninitiated audience member immediately see the difference between building our soil and mining it.

Tools vs. Systems

Society at large has a major stake in seeing a practice like cover cropping adopted, given its environmental benefits. The current issue of the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation reports that utilizing extensive cover cropping in just five states, including Minnesota, could cut overall nitrate loadings in the Mississippi River by 20 percent, which could play a significant role in reducing the size of the hypoxic Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico downstream. This is especially good news in Minnesota, where Pollution Control Agency research shows 73 percent of the nitrogen escaping into the state’s rivers is coming from cropland.

The Journal of Soil and Water Conservation results, which are just the latest in a long line of cover cropping benefits being documented by scientists, help bolster the argument for planting something like winter rye after corn harvest in the fall. But they don’t necessarily provide farmers the incentive to make cover cropping part of an integrated, holistic system for building long-term soil health. In fact, even studies showing that cover cropping can help maintain yields of cash crops like corn and soybeans won’t necessarily close the deal for farmers concerned about the hassle factor of adding yet one more tool to their production system.

Reading the numbers reported by such a studies allows one to see, but hearing Archuleta put it all together and talk about “farming in nature’s image” makes one actually see. There’s no better example of that than North Dakota’s Burleigh County, where farmers, scientists and soil conservationists are opening up a lot of people’s eyes to the opportunities available when soil is treated as a living system, and not just a plant stand.

“Farmers, once they have the understanding, they will find a way to make it work,” he maintains. Shovel Worms

“Understanding” is a key word here. For example, in much of agriculture these days, “soil health” and “cover cropping” are often used interchangeably. That’s not a completely bad thing, considering that cover cropping does produce numerous benefits above and below the surface of the soil. However, as Archuleta reminds us, cover cropping is a tool, a tool that can be applied without necessarily having a deep understanding of how having more plant life present in a field before and after the typical growing season sparks the kind of long-term biological activity that produces multiple benefits far down the line.

Archuleta concedes he graduated from college with a reductionist view that you could apply one practice to a field while ignoring all of the wider impacts—positive and negative—that practice was having on the rest of the ecosystem. He now understands that “it’s about relationships and understanding interconnectedness” and until the principles of ecology are applied to farming, agriculture will never be truly sustainable.

Recognizing ecological relationships is key when things don’t go as planned, which is often the case in farming. Farmers who have tried cover cropping in recent years have had mixed results, particularly during the oftentimes brutally short growing season we have in states like Minnesota. If cover cropping is just an isolated tool, it’s much easier to drop it and return to business as usual when things go awry. But when such a practice is part of an integrated system involving no-till and livestock, for example, it has value beyond just covering the land for a season. In no-till systems, cover crops can help suppress weeds and break up soil compaction. And if a farmer has cattle, cover crops can provide a cheap source of feed while closing the nutrient cycle.

Farmers who adopt cover crops and stick with them tend to use them as part of other innovative practices, says Rob Myers, who has conducted in-depth surveys on farmers’ use of cover cropping in the Upper Mississippi River watershed. Using such a comprehensive systems approach to build soil health makes it more likely a farmer will make such practices a permanent part of an operation, according to Myers, who is the regional director of Extension Programs for the north central region of the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.

Making connections and understanding their context requires close observation. Archuleta is a big believer in farmers getting off the tractor, taking out a shovel and literally digging in to assess the impacts their production systems are having on the health of their soil. One can tell a lot from how dirt looks, smells and feels. When he gives presentations around the country, the agronomist is genuinely shocked at how few farmers closely monitor the well-being of their soils. That’s too bad, because nothing builds personal knowing like grubbing into a handful of prime loam. It can create the kind of awareness that allows a farmer to see connections.

A few years ago I watched Martin and Loretta Jaus lead a group of government agency wildlife experts on a tour of their Sibley County dairy farm. The experts were there to see the songbirds, raptors and other critters that call this organic operation home. The farmers talked about how they have integrated diverse, multi-year crop rotations and rotational grazing of livestock to build up a farm that’s economically and environmentally sustainable. But before the natural resource professionals left, Martin made a point of spading up a double handful of soil and allowing the professional conservationists breath in its fragrant life. His point was clear: whether it’s wildlife or milk, it all starts with this stuff.

As Loretta told Minnesota Public Radio earlier this week: “It’s a pretty sweet system when you let it work.”

News Watch: Jul. 17

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Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food; Coal; Energy; Frac Sand Mining; Invasive Species; Oil & Pipelines; Parks & Trails; Transportation; Waste & Recycling; Water; Wildlife & Outdoor Recreation; World News; Latest from Loon Commons Blog

Agriculture & Food
Minn Post: Project Sweetie Pie teaches north Minneapolis youth about gardening 
Pioneer Press: Minnesota grape harvest stomped out by harsh winter 
Pioneer Press: Wisconsin raw milk farmer loses appeal 

Coal
Star Tribune: Duluth-based Minnesota Power settles with EPA (Beth Goodpaster from MEP member group, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, quoted)

Energy
Duluth News Tribune: Minnesota Power cheers windmill-shipping milestone 
Mankato Free Press: Opinion: New wind plants smart for Xcel 
Minnesota 2020: Hindsight: Changing Passive Energy Policy 

Frac Sand Mining
Winona Daily News: Frac sand barge plan tabled: City board concerned about possible permitting, environmental review 

Invasive Species
Associated Press: New emerald ash borer infestation found in southeastern Minnesota (In Pioneer Press
Associated Press: Wasps let loose in Winona to fight ash borer (In MPR)

Oil & Pipelines
Minn Post: Earth Journal: Computer modeling shows disastrous impact of a pipeline break at Mackinac  
Minn Post: Earth Journal: Map shows areas most at risk as rail shipments of oil continue to rise  
Twin Cities Daily Planet: Opinion: The Indian Wars are not over 
Zenith City Weekly: Enbridge Energy’s black gold rush (Featuring MEP’s Andrew Slade)

Parks & Trails
Pioneer Press: St. Croix River park boss taking on Mississippi river unit, temporarily 

Transportation
Minnesota 2020: Hindsight: Transportation and Health: Modes Matter 

Waste & Recycling
Star Tribune: Commentary: Don’t be complacent about waste reduction in town 

Water
MPR: California water wasters face $500 a day fines
MPR: Volunteers clear flood debris from Mississippi 
MPR: Brains On: Water, water everywhere – but how does it get there?  

Wildlife & Outdoor Recreation
Duluth News Tribune: Local View: Keep public land for recreation 
Pioneer Press: Minnesota veterans honored with new wildlife area 
Twin Cities Daily Planet: Decline in hunting permits shows shifting leisure trends (In Minnesota 2020

World News
NPR: Australia Repeals An Unpopular Tax on Carbon Emissions 
NPR: Facing a Toxic Dump In South Africa, He Cleaned Up 

Loon Commons blog: 

Restoring Lake Superior, one Cook County stream at a time
2014 Legislative Session Outcomes 

Forever Green Receives $1 Million
What is a watershed, anyway?
A Graphic View of Diversity’s Power

 

Connect with MEP on Facebook and Twitter

Ensure you continue to receive News Watch: Add lindsey@mepartnership.org to your safe-senders list. 

©2012 Minnesota Environmental Partnership, 546 Rice St. Suite 100, St. Paul, MN 55103

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News Watch: Jul. 14

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Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food; Environmental Education; Energy; Fish & Wildlife; Mining; Oil & Pipelines; Parks & Trails; Residential Sustainability & Sustainable Development; Transportation; Water; Latest from Loon Commons Blog

Agriculture & Food
Star Tribune: National sweetener battle grows increasingly bitter 
Twin Cities Daily Planet: Research funding boost to help new University Bee Lab facility in battle against waning honeybee population 

Energy
Capitol Chatter: Blog: Capitol notebook: Renewable fuel group blasts big oil (In Duluth News Tribune

Environmental Education
Minnesota 2020: Blog: Education in the Wilderness 

Fish & Wildlife
Ely Echo: High Lake and Miners benefit from new trout stocking plan 
MPR: Marshy outposts capture the sound of frogs – and change (In Rochester Post Bulletin
MPR: Palm oil productions threaten African apes 
Star Tribune: Alaskan wolf pups rescued from fire heading to Minnesota Zoo 

Mining
Mesabi Daily: PolyMet singled out in DFL release 

Oil & Pipelines
Associated Press: Oil train safety: Who’s behind the influence game in Washington (In MPR
Associated Press: Oil train safety. Comments aimed at swaying regulators (In MPR

Parks & Trails
Pioneer Press: Crosby Manitou State Park: A North Shore hidden gem 

Residential Sustainability & Sustainable Development
Duluth News Tribune: Opinion: Reader’s view: Spraying for mosquitoes is dangerous and doesn’t help 
Minnesota 2020: Blog: A Case for Urban Ecosystems: What is a Biophilic City?
MPR: Creeping Charlie: What it is, how to get rid of it 
MPR: Quest to save groundwater aims at love for lush, green lawns

Transportation 
Pioneer Press: Snelling/University ‘urban village’ plans take shape – but there’s a price 
Pioneer Press: St. Paul to Woodbury Gateway Corridor buses get nod over light rail 
Star Tribune: How Minneapolis accepted Southwest Corridor light-rail deal 
Twin Cities Daily Planet: Residents should fight Southwest Light Rail as is 

Water
MinnPost: Lake of the Woods algal blooms worsening despite phosphorus cuts 
Rochester Post Bulletin: Water festival may drive you to think 

Loon Commons blog: 

Restoring Lake Superior, one Cook County stream at a time
2014 Legislative Session Outcomes 

Forever Green Receives $1 Million
What is a watershed, anyway?
A Graphic View of Diversity’s Power

 

Connect with MEP on Facebook and Twitter

Ensure you continue to receive News Watch: Add lindsey@mepartnership.org to your safe-senders list. 

©2012 Minnesota Environmental Partnership, 546 Rice St. Suite 100, St. Paul, MN 55103

Did you receive News Watch from a friend? Subscribe here.

 

News Watch: Jul. 10

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Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food; Climate Change; Conservation; Environmental Education; Flooding; Invasive Species; Nuclear Energy; Mining; Oil & Pipelines; Transportation; Water; Wildlife; Latest from Loon Commons Blog

Agriculture & Food
Star Tribune: Our wet spring set the stage for plant problems 

Climate Change
Huffington Post: Federal Government Still Spending Billions to Subsidize Fossil Fuels 
MinnPost: Earth Journal: Climate change is visiting fire, floods and other harm on U.S. military bases (In MinnPost

Conservation
Duluth News Tribune: Conservation Corps crew breaks up Jay Cooke logjam 

Environmental Education
Digital Journal: Audubon Center of the North Woods to host Will Steger Foundation’s “Summer Institue for Energy Education”(Featuring MEP member group, Will Steger Foundation)

Flooding
Twin Cities Daily Planet: Gov. Dayton: Too early to decide on special session for flooding 

Invasive Species
Associated Press: DNR: Violations up for aquatic invasive species (In MPR
Star Tribune: DNR: Too many boaters violating invasive species law 

Nuclear Energy
Associated Press: Xcel blamed for cost overruns at Monticello plant (In Winona Daily Press
Duluth News Tribune: Our view: Nuclear waste here? Actually, why not? 
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Other view: End stalemate on nuclear waste fix (In Duluth News Tribune

Mining
Brainerd Dispatch: Milford Mine Memorial Park to gain feom $279,000 state grant 
Junior Mining Network: Duluth Metals Announces New Mangement Appointments for Twin Metals Minnesota Project 
Junior Mining Network: PolyMet Reports a Year of Significant Progress at Shareholders’ Meeting 
MinnPost: Will copper/nickel mining be Minnesota’s Bakken fields? Not so fast 

Oil & Pipelines
Associated Press: ND pipeline leaks about 1M gallons of saltwater (In MPR
Northland’s NewsCenter: Environmental survey of proposed Enbridge Sandpiper pipeline route continues in Minnesota 

Transportation
MinnPost: New Southwest LRT plan lauded and lambasted at public meeting 
MPR: Met Council OKs ‘train like’ rapid bus route for St. Paul 
MPR: More cities sign off on SW light rail agreement 
Pioneer Press: Opinion: Building ridership? 
Pioneer Press: Spend on Minnesota roads and bridges, not light rail, think thank says 
Twin Cities Daily Planet: Community Voices: Constant growth–the cancer model: Southwest LRT v. democracy 

Water
Associated Press: Wisconsin DNR taking input on water quality (In Pioneer Press
MPR: State wants Superfund designation to deal with drinking water contamination 

Wildlife
MPR: Rainy June a setback for many of Minnesota’s birds 

Loon Commons blog: 

Restoring Lake Superior, one Cook County stream at a time
2014 Legislative Session Outcomes 

Forever Green Receives $1 Million
What is a watershed, anyway?
A Graphic View of Diversity’s Power

 

Connect with MEP on Facebook and Twitter

Ensure you continue to receive News Watch: Add lindsey@mepartnership.org to your safe-senders list. 

©2012 Minnesota Environmental Partnership, 546 Rice St. Suite 100, St. Paul, MN 55103

Did you receive News Watch from a friend? Subscribe here.

 

Is your swimming hole safe? Better check.

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As Minnesotans, we have 10,000 lakes. And we have hot summers. That combination gives us the right as Minnesotans to be able to jump into a lake to cool off. Here in Duluth, we have the coldest lake of all to jump into, big icy Lake Superior. But before you dive in this summer (more…)

News Watch: Jul. 7

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Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food; Climate Change; Environmental Education; Great Lakes; Invasive Species; Mining; Pipelines; Transportation; Renewable Energy; Waste & Recycling; Water; Wildlife; Latest from Loon Commons Blog

Agriculture & Food
Associated Press: University of Minnesota is studying urban heat (In MPR
Duluth News Tribune: Saginaw organic farm sows seeds on other people’s property 
MPR: Raw milk producers aim to regulate themselves 
Winona Daily News: Minnesota seeks farmers’ help on nitrates in water 

Climate Change
Duluth News Tribune: Opinion: Climate-change denier concocted blatant lies 
Star Tribune: Opinion: Both climate, diet theories missed the mark 

Environmental Education
Duluth News Tribune: Ideas for getting kids outside to explore the outdoors 
Minn Post: Summit Academy students, Will Steger break ground on cabin-building initiative in BWCA (MEP member group Will Steger Foundation featured

Great Lakes
The Huffington Post: 27 Reasons The Great Lakes are Truly the Greatest 

Invasive Species
MPR: DNR declears second Becker County lake infested after zebra mussel found 

Mining
Associated Press: Major partner gives up right to take bigger stake in Twin Metals copper-nickel mine near Ely (In Star Tribune) (MEP member group, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, featured
Mining Weekly: Duluth takes reins of flagship Minnesota project 
MPR: Major partner won’t expand stake in mine near Ely 

Pipelines
Duluth News Tribune: Opinion: Keystone pipeline will secure US energy independence 
Duluth News Tribune: Surveyors scour proposed Enbridge Sandpiper pipeline route 

Transportation
Minn Post: Opinion: Why don’t more Minneapolitans bike, walk, or take transit? 
MPR: Cities along SW light rail route eye pot of money 
Star Tribune: Hundreds of metro bus stops have thousands seeking shelters 

Renewable Energy
Associated Press: St. John’s University becomes greener with additional solar, removal of coal boilers (In Star Tribune
Rochester Post Bulletin: Goodhue County fields interest from solar energy companies 

Waste & Recycling 
Minn Post: Minnesota’s new recycling law means business 

Water
Minnesota 2020: Hindsight Blog: Minnesota Beach Monitoring Keeps us Safe on Hot Summer Days (Written by MEP’s Andrew Slade
MPR: Businesses want voice in Mississippi River regulations 
MPR: EPA rejects Mesabi Nuggest water quality variance 
MPR: Report: Rivers hurt by erosion in southwestern Minn. 
MPR: State officials promise tougher approach on nitrates contaminating groundwater 
Star Tribune: Editorial: A new threat to Twin Cities water quality 

Wildlife
Star Tribune: Rescued trumpeter swam succumbs to infection, is euthanized 

Loon Commons blog: 

Restoring Lake Superior, one Cook County stream at a time
2014 Legislative Session Outcomes 

Forever Green Receives $1 Million
What is a watershed, anyway?
A Graphic View of Diversity’s Power

 

Connect with MEP on Facebook and Twitter

Ensure you continue to receive News Watch: Add lindsey@mepartnership.org to your safe-senders list. 

©2012 Minnesota Environmental Partnership, 546 Rice St. Suite 100, St. Paul, MN 55103

Did you receive News Watch from a friend? Subscribe here.

 

News Watch: Jul. 3

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Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food; Climate Change; Growth & Development; Invasive Species; Mining; Oil; Parks & Trails; Superfund Sites; Transportation; Water; Wildlife; Latest from Loon Commons Blog

Agriculture & Food
Associated Press: US providing $50M for Red River Basin conservation (In San Francisco Chronicle
MPR: Gypsy moth quarantine imposed in NE Minnesota 
Star Tribune: Waterlogged fields wash out Minnesota corn, soybean crops 
Winona Daily News: South St. Paul’s last beef plant idles 300 workers 

Climate Change
Climate Progress: In Newest Climate Push, EPA Proposes to Limit Methane Pollution From Trash Dumps 
New York Times: NASA Launching Satellite to Track Carbon  
St. Cloud Times: Your Turn: Learn from past – change to change climate 

Growth & Development
Minnesota 2020: Determining Rural Minnesota’s Capacity for Growth 

Invasive Species
Bemidji Pioneer: At Itasca State Park, Klobuchar highlights AIS fight 
Bemidji Pioneer: Zebra mussel found in another Becker County Lake 
Pioneer Press: Some in Northern Minnesota resigned to zebra mussels’ spread 

Mining
Duluth News Tribune: Opinion: Northland doesn’t need more mining pollution 
Mesabi Daily News: Flooding gets in way of steel dumping discussion 
Twin Cities Daily Planet: Community Voices: PolyMet supporters spread misinformation concerning efficacy of iron amendment for Minnesota waters 

Oil
Pioneer Press: As oil shipments soar on rails, new Minnesota regulations take effect 

Parks & Trails
Pioneer Press: New online tool helps you pick perfect Minnesota state park 

Superfund Sites
Twin Cities Daily Planet: General Mills plans for TCE cleanup, likely won’t begin for at least another year 

Transportation
MPR: Blog: Green Line ridership up during second week 
MPR: Yes or No? Dayton presses Mpls. for vote on SW light rail 
Star Tribune: Car2Go expands to St. Paul, starts July 19 
Star Tribune: MnDOT contemplates complex plan for Iron Range highway 

Water
Duluth News Tribune: Our View: More to be done for the Great Lakes 
MPR: Flood damage tally for Minnesota so far: $32 million and rising 
Pioneer Press: DNR asks for feedback on Mississippi River development rules 
St. Cloud Times: Letter: Don’t let Obama take over water rights 

Wildlife
MPR: Decoding frog sounds to understand why the populations are dropping 
MPR: Rogers stops radio-collaring bears for research 
Star Tribune: DNR controversy has revealed a lack of understanding about harvesting game 

Loon Commons blog: 

Restoring Lake Superior, one Cook County stream at a time
2014 Legislative Session Outcomes 

Forever Green Receives $1 Million
What is a watershed, anyway?
A Graphic View of Diversity’s Power

 

Connect with MEP on Facebook and Twitter

Ensure you continue to receive News Watch: Add lindsey@mepartnership.org to your safe-senders list. 

©2012 Minnesota Environmental Partnership, 546 Rice St. Suite 100, St. Paul, MN 55103

Did you receive News Watch from a friend? Subscribe here.

 

News Watch: Jun. 26, 2014

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Today’s Topics: Agriculture and Food; Climate Change; Conservation; EPA Carbon Ruling; Fish and Wildlife; Frac Sand Mining; Geology; Green Infrastructure; Invasive Species; Mining; Parks and Trails; TransportationLatest from Loon Commons Blog

Agriculture and Food
 
Climate Change
Conservation
EPA Carbon Ruling
 
Fish and Wildlife 
 
Frac Sand Mining
 
Geology
Green Infrastructure
Invasive Species
 
Mining
 
Parks and Trails
Transportation
Minnesota 2020: A Wake-up Call for WalkUPs 
 

Loon Commons blog: 

Restoring Lake Superior, one Cook County stream at a time
2014 Legislative Session Outcomes 

Forever Green Receives $1 Million
What is a watershed, anyway?
A Graphic View of Diversity’s Power

 

Connect with MEP on Facebook and Twitter

Ensure you continue to receive News Watch: Add lindsey@mepartnership.org to your safe-senders list. 

©2012 Minnesota Environmental Partnership, 546 Rice St. Suite 100, St. Paul, MN 55103

Did you receive News Watch from a friend? Subscribe here.