Insider: September 1, 2017

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photo credit: Freshwater Society

                                   White Bear Lake Ruling May Impact Other MN Waters

On Wednesday, August 30, Ramsey County District Judge Margaret Marrinan ruled that state officials had failed to exercise adequate stewardship of White Bear Lake and the aquifer beneath it. The lake, located among the northern suburbs of St. Paul, had reached distressingly low water levels in previous years. Judge Marrinan ruled that the DNR had not managed the water’s sustainability, in violation of state law, by allowing too much water pumping by the surrounding cities. The ruling requires the DNR to restrict expanded water use and enact policies that would cut down on water pumping in the area during dry periods. It is unclear at this time whether the DNR will seek to appeal the decision.

This case will certainly have local impacts on the White Bear Lake community. But it connects to larger questions of how the state conducts enforcement of existing environmental laws. The Minnesota Environmental Rights Act, referenced in Judge Marrinan’s decision, declares that everyone in Minnesota has the both right to protected land, air, and water and the responsibility to contribute to their protection, and it provides for mechanisms for ordinary citizens to make sure that the state is living up to its end of the bargain. Though the DNR plays a critical role in using sound science to make decisions on water protection, it does not always meet its obligation to keep our lakes sustainable. In situations like White Bear Lake, it may fall on citizens and action groups to demand that Minnesota’s resource laws be followed, not only when it is convenient, but whenever it is necessary.

At a moment when nutrient pollution and mining decisions are under debate around the state, cases like this one make us question: how can we do better? Water is Minnesota’s most precious resource, and it’s important to remember that keeping its clean is the right – and responsibility – of all of us.

The Energy Fair comes to St. Paul September 9-10

Join dozens of groups from the clean energy community at The Energy Fair, September 9th and 10th at Harriet Island Park in St. Paul. Admission is FREE to 80+ workshops and 60+ exhibits on sustainable living, community resilience, and clean energy. The fair will feature several speakers from MEP member groups, including keynote speaker Tara Houska of Honor the Earth, as well as Fresh Energy’s Michael Noble. There will be free rides available from Metro Transit and all-electric shuttle from Union Depot. Solar Professional Day September 8th. All access passes and information can be found at We hope to see you there!

Tracy Schools to light up with solar arrays

(From Marshall Independent) — Tracy Area Public Schools will be lighting up savings with its own solar arrays in the near future. The Tracy School Board voted 5-1 to place the array on the west side of the high school and directly to the east of the elementary school soccer field. Board member Ben Ludeman was the sole “no”vote and refused to comment. There had been a choice of two sites for the high school array. In addition to the chosen site immediately on the west side of the school, there was a patch across the driveway to the parking lot to the northwest side of the school that was considered. “Construction will start this fall, and, dependent on weather may have to be completed in the spring ’18,” Tracy Superintendent Chad Anderson said. >>Read More.


Antidepressants turning up in Great Lakes Fish

(From Duluth News Tribune) — Human antidepressant drugs are showing up in the brains of fish in the Great Lakes region, an unexpected byproduct of human waste that isn’t being removed in the sewage treatment process. The University at Buffalo in New York reported Thursday that “high concentrations” of antidepressants are building up in the brains of trout, walleye, bass and several other fish sampled from the Niagara River between lakes Erie and Ontario, the downstream end of the Great Lakes system. The drugs were found in all 10 species studied, said Diana Aga, lead scientists on the study who said the discovery raises “serious environmental concerns.” >>Read More.

Dayton’s 25 by 25 meetings head north, then to Twin Cities Metro

Governor Dayton has so far hosted three of his ten planned town hall meetings on his proposed “25 by 25” Water Quality Goal throughout Minnesota. The Governor is seeking input on how we can improve the health of our state’s waters by 25% by the year 2025, and wants to hear Minnesotans’ ideas. The next several meetings will be coming to Crookston, Ely, St. Cloud, and Bemidji, with events in the Metro to follow. For more information on how you can give your own input at a town hall, visit



photo credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

Fall Field Day to follow-up on cover crops; Mower SWCD offering free tours of three farms on Oct. 31

(From Austin Daily Herald) — Local producers will reopen their Mower County farms this fall to show their cover crops after harvest as well as discuss other soil-health practices. Mower Soil and Water Conservation District is planning a free Fall Field Day for Oct. 31 as a follow-up to a similar tour offered in late May on cover crops and soil health that drew about 90 people. In the spring, the event showcased cover crop fields at three area farms – Tom Cotter, Tom Finnegan and Terry and Cindy Hamilton – by busing participants to the sites. Cotter and Finnegan have been doing extensive outreach work on cover crops and soil health under a Cover Crop Champion grant this year awarded by the National Wildlife Federation to the Mower SWCD office. >>Read More.


Line 3 pipeline construction in Wisconsin sparks protests, arrests

(From MPR News) — Six self-described “water protectors” have now all been bailed out of a Wisconsin jail after being arrested Tuesday for protesting an oil pipeline. The protesters temporarily stopped construction of what’s known as Line 3, the oil pipeline Enbridge Energy wants to build across northern Minnesota. It would replace an existing 50-year-old line that’s still under regulatory review in Minnesota, but the company has already started work across the border. Alexander Good-Cane-Milk of the Yankton Sioux Tribe in South Dakota was among the protesters. He locked himself to a piece of heavy equipment just across the Minnesota border, south of Superior, Wis., according to his girlfriend Ta’Sina Sapa Win. >>Read More.


The great butterfly release

(From Le Center Leader, featuring Izaak Walton League of Minnesota) — It was a day finer than a frog haircut four ways. I enjoy going to the Steele County Fair. I had a purpose there. No, I wasn’t the guy they shot out of a cannon. I volunteered at the Friends of Rice Lake State Park (RLSP) booth located at the Izaak Walton League’s Building during the fair. It’s a fine place to be. >>Read More.


DOT releases new statewide bicycle map

(From Savage Pacer) — Minnesota is among the friendliest states for bicyclists, according to the League of American Bicyclists. And now it just got a little friendlier. The Minnesota Department of Transportation released the 2017 statewide bicycle map and it’s now available a ton of places.You can find a copy of the new map at the Minnesota State Fair at the Kick Gas exhibit, which is at the Eco Experience Building on Randall Avenue, MnDOT says. You can also get it at MnDOT’s booth, which is in the Education Building on Cosgrove Street. You can also get one online and you will also be able to find maps at campgrounds, rest areas and visitor centers throughout Minnesota cities. >>Read More.

Southwest LRT barrier wall raises the ire of neighbors, lawmakers

(From Star Tribune) — Lawmakers and some Minneapolis residents continue to raise questions about a proposed concrete wall that would separate freight and light-rail trains along a short stretch of the planned Southwest LRT route. News of the mile-long, 10-foot-high, 3-foot-wide wall emerged earlier this month after the Metropolitan Council reached an agreement with BNSF Railway over sharing the freight giant’s right of way just west of Target Field. The Met Council will build and operate the 14.5-mile light-rail line connecting downtown Minneapolis with Eden Prairie. >>Read More.

Weekly Outdoor Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!            

1. What is Minnesota’s official state grain?

2. What are the names of the two U.S. National Forests in Minnesota?

3. What 60-mile-long land formation in southwest Minnesota features more than 200 wind turbines?

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Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Minnesota Organizer | Pesticide Action Network

Public Engagement Fellow | Sierra Club North Star Chapter

Conservation Director | Friends of the Mississippi River

Membership and Individual Giving Associate | Land Stewardship Project – Apply by September 1

Director of Public Affairs | Northeast Minnesotans for Wilderness

Executive Director, Southwest | Regional Sustainable Development Partnership University of Minnesota Extension

State Policy Community Organizer | Land Stewardship Project

State Director | Environment Minnesota

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Trivia Answers: 1) Wild rice 2) Chippewa and Superior 3) Buffalo Ridge

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The Minnesota Environmental Partnership (MEP) is a coalition of more than 70 environmental and conservation organizations working together for clean water, clean energy, and protection of our Great Outdoors.

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