News Watch: July 31

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July 31, 2017

Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food, Clean Energy, Conservation, Mining, Oil & Pipelines, Pollinators, Pollution, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, Water, Wildlife & Fish

Featured Article
MPR News: Getting to clean water: Complex problem, no easy solutions

Agriculture & Food
Mankato Free Press: MnDOT promoting living snow fences at Farmfest

Clean Energy
Star Tribune: “It’s Electric” – and so is new school bus serving Lakeville students this fall
Midwest Energy News: Minnesota co-op plans state’s biggest energy storage project

Conservation
Duluth News Tribune: Amity Creek stabilization project begins in Duluth
Pioneer Press: Dakota County oak forest to be preserved as wildlife area
MPR News: Why Japanese beetles are especially bad this year

Mining
St. Cloud Times: Time on our waters is a reminder of the need to protect them
Duluth News Tribune: Massive copper mine tests Trump’s push to slash regulations

Oil & Pipelines
The Hill: Developer might not build Keystone XL pipeline

Pollinators
West Central Tribune: USDA study assesses pollinator health
Crow River Media: Want to help pollinators? Try these annuals and native grasses

Pollution
Duluth News Tribune: Acid spill at Falls mill raises communication concerns
Pioneer Press: Chlorine-carrying train car derailed in St. Paul, but officials there weren’t told
Mankato Free Press: Nearby hog farm proposes doubling production
Winona Post: Lead testing recall affects Winona

Transportation
Mankato Free Press: Poll: State should bear more transportation costs
Pioneer Press: Many bridges found deficient after I-35W collapse. Here’s how Minnesota responded
Star Tribune: Minnesota planners begin to consider driverless future

Waste & Recycling
Star Tribune: Farmers in Minnesota and Wisconsin are now recycling millions of pounds of plastic

Water
Bemidji Pioneer: Water works: Bemidji explores options after PFCs found in water wells near airport
Austin Daily Herald: Chance to talk water with Governor Dayton
International Falls Journal: Report: More than 100 miles of restoration needed
Rochester Post Bulletin: Governor wants to know…how can water quality be improved?

Wildlife & Fish
Alexandria Echo Press: Zebra mussels confirmed in Rush Lake in Otter Tail County
KMSP: Koi or pet goldfish released in MN lake responsible for carp die-off, DNR says
Star Tribune: Meet the scientists fighting the spread of zebra mussels in Minnesota
 

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Insider: July 28, 2017

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PUC Decision a Boost for Health, Clean Energy

On Thursday, July 27, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) took a much-needed step forward on cleaner, safer energy by updating the state’s calculations of the social cost of carbon in evaluating power use and generation. The updated amount takes more accurate accounting of the health costs of fossil fuel use, such as respiratory and heart conditions, and moves Minnesota closer to the current federal standard. The new cost will be recognized as $9.05 to $43.06 per ton by 2020, whereas the previous cost was the much lower 44 cents to $4.53, respectively – an update was a long time coming.

The Minnesota Environmental Partnership applauds the PUC for taking this important step in the right direction. Accounting for a more accurate cost estimate for carbon pollution will affect many PUC decisions, such as evaluating new natural gas use. With the health effects of climate change becoming more evident, this move is not a moment too soon. This decision will help Minnesota better focus on renewable power sources like wind and solar. 

Meanwhile, in Washington, the House Committee on Natural Resources is currently considering a bill that would prevent major federal agencies from even considering the social cost of major greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. In times of uncertain federal leadership on climate change, it is increasingly important that Minnesota shows leadership on investing in clean, health-conscious energy.


The PolyMet bill: Rep. Nolan’s war of choice in Minnesota’s waters

(From MinnPost) — In early July, 8th District Rep. Rick Nolan introduced HR 3115, a bill to force the completion of a highly controversial land exchange between the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and PolyMet Mining Corp. Nolan’s bill would fast-track the land exchange, requiring that it be completed within 90 days of the bill becoming law, even though no permits have yet been issued for the company’s proposed NorthMet mine. The bill would give PolyMet 6,650 acres of protected Superior National Forest (SNF) and pave the way for construction of PolyMet’s open-pit copper-nickel sulfide mine. PolyMet’s sulfide mine would be the first ever to be permitted in the state. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has said that “this type of mining creates highly toxic sulfide waste.”  >>Read More.

Rep. Emmer fast tracks bill to remove environmental protections in Minnesota

This week Representative Emmer introduced a proposal to exempt Minnesota from federal environmental protections. This proposal reinstates the Twin Metals mineral leases on the edge of the Boundary Waters, prohibits federal agencies from withdrawing mineral leases unless approved by Congress, and exempts Minnesota from presidential authority to establish national monuments, a designation that gives special places protected status. We need you to call or email below your U.S. Senators and Representatives and tell them to actively oppose Representative Tom Emmer’s proposal!


           


photo credit: MPCA

Our View: Increased nitrates put more demand on aquifers

(From Mankato Free Press) — In a state rich in water resources, there haven’t been a lot of worries about water supplies. But in recent years the Department of Natural Resources, cities and others have raised alarms about the overuse of deep aquifers and about pollution dangers to surface water. Hundreds of feet below southern Minnesota, the Mount Simon aquifer provides drinking water for more than 1 million area residents, including Mankato. As a recent MPR story noted, that aquifer has dropped by as much as 200 feet in some areas since pioneer settlement times. While there’s no danger of the aquifer drying up, officials worry about the growing use of the aquifer to provide drinking water and water for watering lawns and crops. >>Read More.


photo credit: MPCA

Proposed Nitrogen Rule wouldn’t do enough for MN waters

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is currently accepting public comments on its draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule, which aims to reduce the amount of nitrate pollution in the state’s groundwater. Nitrate contamination is a serious issue that requires a robust response, and unfortunately, the proposed rule is severely watered-down. It would fail to protect currently uncontaminated groundwater, focusing only on already-impaired waters. It would have a needlessly long 3-year phase-in period after an already 26-year wait on nitrogen standards. And the mandatory best practices it enforces fall short of any meaningful reduction of nitrogen fertilizer use. For more information, take a look at this fact sheetproduced by our friends at MCEA.

Written comments will now be accepted until August 25, 2017 –  tell the MDA to adopt a rule that will actually benefit state waters!

Act Now

Governor seeks your ideas for improving water quality 

Governor Mark Dayton wants Minnesota to accelerate the pace of progress towards clean water. He announced a new “25 by 25” Water Quality Goal, aiming to spur collaboration and action to improve Minnesota’s water quality —  25% by the year 2025. Without additional action, the quality of Minnesota’s waters is expected to improve only 6-8% by 2034.

Governor Dayton is seeking your ideas on how to improve water quality and is hosting a series of Town Halls over the summer and fall. For info on how to get involved, click the Act Now button.


                

Met Council votes to increase transit fares by 25 cents

(From Star Tribune) — Come Oct. 1, passengers using public transit in the Twin Cities will pay a little more. The Metropolitan Council on Wednesday unanimously passed a 25-cent fare increase for local and express buses, light rail and commuter rail, as well as a 50-cent hike for Metro Mobility, a service for disabled people. The council said the fare hike — the first since 2008 — was needed to battle a $110 million budget deficit expected by fiscal 2020-2021. This is due to an anticipated decline in motor vehicle sales tax revenue, “inflationary pressures” and growing demand for Metro Mobility, which is mandated by the federal government. >>Read More.


          

St. Paul city council to keep talking with trash haulers, aim for September citywide contract

(From Pioneer Press) — St. Paul will continue talking trash with 15 private, residential haulers, with the goal of signing a citywide contract by September. By a vote of 6-0, the St. Paul City Council voted Wednesday to support the seventh and latest proposal from the haulers, which would divide the city into service areas based on each company’s existing market share. Council member Dai Thao — who recently announced he would spend Tuesday evenings collecting trash in his ward to highlight the importance of coordinated collection — was absent. >>Read More.


           

Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement underway in Wisconsin

(From WPR) — Construction of a 12-mile segment of Enbridge Energy’s aging Line 3 pipeline is already underway in Wisconsin. The project is expected to cost more than $100 million for the Wisconsin portion of the pipeline. Enbridge’s Line 3 was originally installed in 1967 and runs 1,097 miles from Edmonton, Alberta to Enbridge’s Superior Terminal. The entire replacement project on the United States side is expected to cost around $2.6 billion. Corrosion on the outside of the pipeline due to a coating used at the time of installation has led to the replacement of the Canadian firm’s pipeline, said Enbridge spokeswoman Jennifer Smith. >>Read More.

 


                

As foodies seek local, Midwest farmers go global

(From MPR News) — A Minneapolis cafe serves up oat milk lattes, locally grown greens and a chocolate-caramel dessert bar made with perennial wheat grass flour. Its owners, chefs and customers bet on a future in which dramatic shifts toward a local, diverse and resilient food system are necessary to sustain life itself. But just miles from the bustling farmers markets, craft breweries and farm-to-table restaurants of the Twin Cities, a more traditional Midwest is thriving too: fields of corn and soybeans as far as the eye can see, hog barns, grain elevators, ethanol and meatpacking plants. These coexisting, contradictory worlds tug at Scott Haase and a growing number of Midwestern corn and soybean farmers. >>Read More.


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Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Part-time Fellow, Energy Policy Research | Fresh Energy 

Healthy Local Food Exhibit Staff | Renewing the Countryside

Forestry Policy Research Internship | Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

State Policy Community Organizer | Land Stewardship Project

Director | Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources

Aquatic Ecologist | RMB Environmental Laboratories, Inc.

State Director | Environment Minnesota

Organizing Manager – Central Region | Sierra Club

Organizing Representative – Minneapolis/Central | Sierra Club

Advancement Officer | Minnesota Environmental Partnership

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Minnesota Environmental Partnership
Copyright © 2017
546 Rice Street, Suite 100, Saint Paul, MN 55103
www.mepartnership.org
 

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.

Insider: July 21, 2017

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The Costs of Cutting the Clean Water Rule

EPA Director Scott Pruitt visited Minnesota this week as part of a multi-state tour to gather input from “stakeholders” on changes to be made on EPA regulation of waters throughout the United States. Pruitt has said that his agency plans to roll back the Clean Water Rule, which defines the legally protected “Waters of the United States” and has greatly increased the mileage of streams and wetlands protected by the Clean Water Act. This comes as little surprise, as Pruitt was previously involved in lawsuits against the Clean Water Rule, but rolling back the rule would be a serious mistake on the EPA’s part.

The Clean Water Rule is intended to clarify which waters are regulated under the EPA’s authority and extend protections to many wetlands and streams, including seasonal waters. As more than than 117 million Americans receive drinking water from public water systems that draw supply from headwater, seasonal, or rain-dependent streams, this rule is deeply important for our drinking water. In Minnesota, the Clean Water Rule restores protection to more than half of Minnesota’s streams, which help provide drinking water to more than a million people in our state. These waters are also critical to our local fishing and hunting economies.

At a time when nutrient runoff and other water pollution is jeopardizing the health of our rivers, now is not the time to move backward on the Clean Water Rule. The Minnesota Environmental Partnership and many of our friends have submitted comments against this rollback, and we urge the EPA to listen to stakeholders who depend on endangered waters throughout their review of current rules.

For more information:


Mining Truth launches campaign to highlight financial risk from PolyMet

The Mining Truth coalition launched a public information campaign this week with a goal of ensuring Minnesota taxpayers are protected as permit applications are considered for PolyMet’s proposed sulfide mine in northern Minnesota. Billboards near the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources headquarters in St. Paul and along I-35 highlight the $934 million damage deposit experts say is needed to cover cleanup costs. “PolyMet’s own permit application says polluted water from the site will require expensive treatment for decades, if not centuries, after this proposed mine closes” said Kathryn Hoffman, Executive Director of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. >>Read the full press release here.


photo credit: Pioneer Press

Counterpoint: PolyMet is just feeding Minnesotans a line

(From Star Tribune, by WaterLegacy advocacy director Paula Maccabee) — U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and others seeking to prevent independent court review of the PolyMet land exchange aren’t walking a fine line (“Rep. Nolan walks ‘a very fine line,’ ” July 14) when they say they want to reduce America’s carbon footprint while still promoting the PolyMet copper-nickel mine proposal. In fact, they are feeding us a line — to benefit a small group of multibillion-dollar foreign corporate investors at the expense of climate change, as well as at the expense of our Minnesota water quality and public lands. The PolyMet mine project proposed for Minnesota would be a climate-change disaster. >>Read More.

Attend July 25th Twin Metals Forest Service Hearing

The U.S. Forest service will hold the second of its listening sessions on mining impacts in the Superior National Forest in Virginia, MN on Tuesday. This is a chance for concerned citizens to help make sure that the environmental study of mining in this area takes the critical hazards of copper sulfide mining into account. If you can attend this, meeting let us know by clicking the Take Action button!


           


 

Minnesota’s underground drinking water stable, but threats remain

(From MPR News) — Hundreds of feet below the ground, the Mt. Simon aquifer runs from south central Minnesota to the Twin Cities. More than a million state residents depend on the aquifer for drinking water. Mt. Simon has always been a robust source of water. Well drillers more than one hundred years ago found the aquifer had so much pressure in some places that it forced water to the surface, a phenomenon known as a “flowing well.” “Those days are long gone,” said Jim Berg, a research scientist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. >>Read More.


photo credit: MPCA

Proposed Nitrogen Rule wouldn’t do enough for MN waters

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is currently accepting public comments on its draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule, which aims to reduce the amount of nitrate pollution in the state’s groundwater. Nitrate contamination is a serious issue that requires a robust response, and unfortunately, the proposed rule is severely watered-down. It would fail to protect currently uncontaminated groundwater, focusing only on already-impaired waters. It would have a needlessly long 3-year phase-in period after an already 26-year wait on nitrogen standards. And the mandatory best practices it enforces fall short of any meaningful reduction of nitrogen fertilizer use. For more information, take a look at this fact sheetproduced by our friends at MCEA.

Written comments will also be accepted until August 11 –  tell the MDA to adopt a rule that will actually benefit state waters!

Governor’s “25 by 25” meetings starting soon

Starting at the end of July, Governor Dayton will host a total of ten 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. Citizens and groups are invited to hold their own meetings to develop proposals and concerns to share with the administration. For info on how to attend or host a meeting, visit www.eqb.state.mn.us/25by25


                

Met Council needs to slam the breaks on proposed fare hikes

(From Star Tribune, by TLC and St. Paul Smart Trips director Jessica Treat) — People used Metro Transit more than 82 million times in 2016, to go to work, to school or just to get around without adding to congestion. The Metropolitan Council will vote next Wednesday on whether to raise fares on those tens of millions of trips. It’s clear that the Met Council is in a difficult position. There’s a sense that increasing fares will somehow appease legislative leaders who, for years, have either ignored or attacked transit funding. But on this issue, many in the Legislature are simply out of step with what the public wants and needs. >>Read More.


          

After heated hearing, St. Paul city council delays vote on trash plan

(From Pioneer Press) — The St. Paul City Council will spend the next week mulling over the latest proposal for organized residential trash collection, which has received mixed reaction from residents and haulers. Following a heavily attended public hearing, the council chose Wednesday to hold off on voting on whether to enter into final negotiations for a five-year or seven-year contract with the city’s 15 private haulers, a proposal hammered out across nearly 11 months of difficult negotiations. The hearing drew 23 speakers in opposition and 18 in support. A council vote likely will take place July 26. The proposal — which has yet to be finalized — would charge all St. Paul homeowners rates of $21 to $32 per month, depending upon barrel size, on top of an annual administrative fee of $52 that has drawn many questions. >>Read More.


           

Northland College divesting oil, coal and gas investments

(From Duluth News Tribune) — Northland College in Ashland is cutting ties with the fossil fuel industries that most scientists who study climate say are spurring global climate change.The small college’s board of trustees last week voted to fully divest all of the school’s endowment funds from fossil fuel related investments — coal, oil and gas companies — within five years. The move comes after student activists have been pushing for the action since 2012. Nearly 3 percent of the school’s $28 million endowment, about $823,000, is currently invested in fossil fuels, according to the group Carbon Underground 200. >>Read More

House bill aims to make permitting process easier for pipelines that cross state borders

(From Inforum) — As Republicans rush to join the Trump administration’s efforts to boost oil and gas production, the House pushed two measures on Wednesday aimed at easing the permitting process for pipelines that cross state and international lines. Lawmakers voted, 254-175, to pass a bill by Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., which would transfer authority to issue permits for pipelines and power transmission lines that cross international borders from the State Department to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Mullin and other Republicans argued the measure is necessary to keep politics out of the pipeline permitting process. >>Read More.


                

The surprising state where solar energy is flourishing

(From ozy.com) — Minnesota is on a hot streak in converting sunlight into usable power. The state tripled its solar energy capacity through the first quarter of this year. And, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, it has increased solar output twelve-fold since 2015. The vast majority of that energy has been led by state utility Xcel, including the 100-megawatt North Star and Aurora Solar projects. Yet while Minnesota still lags in total wattage, trailing industry leaders such as California, North Carolina and Arizona, the Gopher State is the epicenter of one nation-topping experiment: community solar, where multiple clients can subscribe to a single network — called a solar garden — to split costs and avoid the hassle of personally owning housing panels. >>Read More.


Upcoming Environmental Events


Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

State Policy Community Organizer | Land Stewardship Project

Director | Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources

Executive Director | Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts – Apply by July 26

Friends Group Coordinator | Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota – Apply by July 24

Aquatic Ecologist | RMB Environmental Laboratories, Inc.

State Director | Environment Minnesota

Organizing Manager – Central Region | Sierra Club

Organizing Representative – Minneapolis/Central | Sierra Club

Advancement Officer | Minnesota Environmental Partnership

See all job postings


Follow Us

   

Minnesota Environmental Partnership
Copyright © 2017
546 Rice Street, Suite 100, Saint Paul, MN 55103
www.mepartnership.org
 

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.

 

News Watch: July 20

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July 20, 2017

Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food, Clean Energy, Climate Change, Conservation, Environmental Justice, Mining, Parks & Trails, Pollinators, Pollution, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, Water, Wildlife & Fish

Agriculture & Food
Mankato Free Press: My View: Farming can be sustainable and profitable
Duluth News Tribune: Multitude of markets: Northland residents have no shortage of options to buy locally grown food
Faribault Daily News: Faribault’s newest business offers array of local organic foods
Waseca County News: State investigating Monsanto weed killer after farmers’ complaints
Wall Street Journal: America’s farmers turn to bank of John Deere

Clean Energy
Star Tribune: Regulators debating whether to raise “social cost of carbon” in Minnesota
Minnesota Daily: Editorial: Charging stations needed at the U

Climate Change
MinnPost: A new way of seeing sea-level rise looks at chronic flooding of U.S. cities
MPR News: Climate scientist says he was demoted for speaking out on climate change

Conservation
Star Tribune: Goats at work: St. Paul’s weed-eating brigade moves to Crosby Farm Regional Park

Environmental Justice
MinnPost: Will we reverse the little progress we’ve made on environmental justice?

Mining
Duluth News Tribune: PolyMet land exchange: Right or wrong? Wrong: even the appraisal cheats the public
Timberjay: Study: Copper mining would have economic costs (featuring Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters)
Rochester Post Bulletin: Lawsuits against Winona frac sand mining ban joined into single case
Star Tribune: Foes of Twin Metals mine jam St. Paul listening session; advocates stay away

Oil & Pipelines
Duluth News Tribune: Northland college divesting oil, coal and gas investments
Bemidji Pioneer: In wake of Keystone fight, House bill aims to make permitting process easier for oil pipelines that cross borders

Parks & Trails
Duluth News Tribune: Duluth gets $750,000 grant to refurbish Lincoln Park

Pollinators
Park Bugle: Wildflower Project aims to turn scrappy pieces of land into pollinator-friendly gardens

Pollution
Pioneer Press: 3M refuses to pay latest cleanup bill from state
MPR News: EPA chief meets with Dayton on regulations

Transportation
Star Tribune: Edina investigates possible Dan Patch commuter rail service
Alexandria Echo Press: Watch for bicyclists this week in Alexandria
Star Tribune: Majority objects to Metro Transit fare increases as Met Council gets set to vote
West Central Tribune: Kandiyohi County Board eyes local sales tax to fund highway needs
Winona Post: Mn/DOT, county plan which roads to repair

Waste & Recycling
Pioneer Press: After heated hearing, St. Paul city council delays vote on trash plan
Mankato Free Press: Neighbors’ appeal of Waseca County wood recycling plant dismissed

Water
Star Tribune: EPA’s Pruitt, in departure from Trump budget, backs federal funding for Great Lakes cleanup
Detroit Lakes Online: MN city water treatment data now online
Winona Daily News: Wabasha isn’t ruling out legal opposition to dredge storage plans

Wildlife & Fish
MPR News: Minnesota scientists dive deep to learn why walleye are stressed
Alexandria Echo Press: Eurasian watermilfoil found in Lake Victoria
International Falls Journal: Minnesota gets money for bat research

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News Watch: July 17

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July 17, 2017

Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food, Clean Energy, Climate Change, Conservation, Environmental Justice, Mining, Parks & Trails, Pollinators, Pollution, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, Water, Wildlife & Fish

Agriculture & Food
Agrinews: RFS proposal draws mixed reactions
Inforum: Corn crop on verge of collapse under brutally dry conditions

Clean Energy
Mankato Free Press: Report: Solar more cost effective than natural gas
Albert Lea Tribune: Board requests increased setbacks for wind project

Climate Change
WCCO: ‘It’s climate change‘- Will Steger on massive iceberg break-off

Conservation
Agrinews: Wild carrot is noxious weed

Environmental Justice
MPR News: Listen: roundtable on environmental justice

Mining
Duluth News Tribune: Nolan pushed bill to force PolyMet land exchange
Ely Echo: Mining opponents speak out; Rom, Piragis face some pushback during Tuesday Group visit
Mankato Free Press: Fight over copper mining in northern Minnesota heats up

Parks & Trails
Duluth News Tribune: Superior gets major grant for Wisconsin Point project
West Central Tribune: Transformation of Willmar’s Rice Park begins

Pollinators
Star Tribune: Queen of forgotten bees: Minnetonka woman is on a mission to save native species

Pollution
Star Tribune: Minnesota expected to get $47 million from Volkswagen settlement

Transportation
MinnPost: Streetcar desire: Transit options for Riverview corridor may not include light rail – but they do include rail
Minnesota Daily: Most used pedestrian bridge in Minnesota to be rebuilt

Waste & Recycling
Duluth News Tribune: Paddlers promote “positive trace ethic” by cleaning up litter along Minnesota, St. Croix and Mississippi rivers
Star Tribune: Minneapolis curbside composting yields high interest, less organic waste than expected
Star Tribune: Arden Hills neighbors raise stink over garbage idea for park

Water
City Pages: Imagine whitewater rapids coursing through downtown Minneapolis
Austin Daily Herald: ‘Future river keepers’ – Bill Thompson, nature center emphasize water care
Brainerd Dispatch: Nolan heralds Great Lakes funding
Mankato Free Press: Minnesota agency using electrofishing to learn water quality
West Central Tribune: Willmar water needs to cut back on the salt: City, Municipal Utilities plan improvements
Duluth News Tribune: Noisy fish? Lake Superior underwater noises include ships, wind…and eelpout
Rochester Post Bulletin: Wabasha neighbors band together in fight against Corps’ dredging plan

Wildlife & Fish
Bemidji Pioneer: Minnesota grouse drumming counts up 57 percent
Austin Daily Herald: Bugs to birds for your yard; Plants, insects key to attracting birds to your yard
Detroit Lakes Online: Purple martins faring well in parts of Minnesota

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Insider: July 14, 2017

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Protecting and Celebrating our Great Lakes Waters

On Wednesday, July 10, a bipartisan group of Congressional Representatives released a bill that would fund the vital Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) with a $300 million appropriation, despite the Trump administration’s previous proposals to cut the program. If passed and included in the federal budget, this bill would allow federal departments, state agencies, and local leaders to continue work on cleaning polluted areas, preventing the spread of invasive species, and reducing fertilizer and nutrient runoff in the Great Lakes. Much more needs to be done to preserve and restore these waters, but this is a strong step in the right direction.

The Minnesota Environmental Partnership applauds the legislators on both sides of the aisle who have come together in support of GLRI. The Great Lakes are among the world’s greatest freshwater treasures, and for Minnesotans, Lake Superior is an vital part of our livelihoods. The health of our lakes and rivers, the economies of cities like Duluth – they all add up to our common interest in keeping the Great Lakes clean and thriving.

If you’ll be in the Arrowhead region this weekend, it’s a great time to celebrate this common heritage! Lake Superior Day is this Sunday, and Duluth and Grand Marais will be holding events to recognize the importance of our nation’s largest lake and to teach the public about Great Lakes protection. Click here to learn more about Lake Superior Day and how you can get involved!


Attend July 18th or 25th Twin Metals Forest Service Hearing

The U.S. Forest service will hold the first of its listening sessions on mining impacts in the Superior National Forest on Tuesday. This is a chance for concerned citizens to help make sure that the environmental study of mining in this area takes the critical hazards of copper sulfide mining into account. If you can attend one of these meanings, let us know by clicking the Take Action button!


           


photo credit: DNR

State grant money to go toward area buffer compliance

(From Mankato Free Press) — About $5 million in new state funding is trickling down to farmers across the region to help them comply with Minnesota’s vegetative buffer laws. The new cost-share program will allocate funding to local conservation officials, who can then work with farmers on covering part of the cost of planting so-called buffer strips or other alternative practices. “If they’ve got questions, they should give our offices a call and we’ll walk them through the process and make sure they come into compliance,” Nicollet County Soil and Water Manager Kevin Osterman said. >>Read More.
 


photo credit: MPCA

Proposed Nitrogen Rule wouldn’t do enough for MN waters

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is currently accepting public comments on its draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule, which aims to reduce the amount of nitrate pollution in the state’s groundwater. Nitrate contamination is a serious issue that requires a robust response, and unfortunately, the proposed rule is severely watered-down. It would fail to protect currently uncontaminated groundwater, focusing only on already-impaired waters. It would have a needlessly long 3-year phase-in period after an already 26-year wait on nitrogen standards. And the mandatory best practices it enforces fall short of any meaningful reduction of nitrogen fertilizer use. For more information, take a look at this fact sheetproduced by our friends at MCEA.

The MDA will hold a hearing this Monday in St. Paul – if you can attend, tell the MDA to adopt a rule that will actually benefit state waters! Written comments will also be accepted until August 11.
 

Governor’s “25 by 25” meetings starting soon

Starting at the end of July, the Governor will host a total of ten 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. Citizens and groups are invited to hold their own meetings to develop proposals and concerns to share with the administration. For info on how to attend or host a meeting, visit www.eqb.state.mn.us/25by25


                

Minnesota’s first e-bus hits the road

(From Alexandria Echo Press) — Future yellow school bus wheels will go round and round with electricity harnessed from wind power.Three partners collaborated to roll out the electric school bus pilot program: Schmitty & Sons, Dakota Electric Association of Farmington and Great River Energy, the power supplier for Dakota Electric. “It has been a really cool project and we have had great partners with Dakota Electric and Great River Energy, so it has been awesome to work on,” said Mike Forbord, who works in divisional operations with Schmitty & Sons of Lakeville, Minn., that operates a fleet of 100 school buses serving area districts. >>Read More.


          

St. Paul says it has a deal with garbage haulers on organized collection

(From Pioneer Press) — The city of St. Paul says it has reached an agreement in principle with a consortium of 15 garbage haulers who will coordinate residential trash collection between them. If approved by the St. Paul City Council later this month, haulers would divide residential routes — homes of one to four units. They could begin citywide pickup as soon as spring or summer of 2018.Financial details are expected to be released by early next week, in advance of a public hearing before the council on July 19. A final contract is possible in August. >>Read More.


        


photo credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

State keeps Palmer amaranth at bay: Vigilant landowners benefit eradication effort

(From West Central  Tribune) — Propane blow torches, herbicide, the sharp blades of mowers, hand pulling, and most important of all, the vigilant eyes of landowners. These are among the weapons the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has employed to eradicate Palmer amaranth from 30 conservation plantings in Yellow Medicine and Lyon counties. And so far, it’s been working. “I think everything we have been doing has been successful, but there is just a series of things we need to keep doing to keep sure we’re not getting any mature plants out there,” said Anthony Cortilet, noxious weed program coordinator with the Department of Agriculture. He said the department is in the process of employing someone to work full time on the eradication effort this year. The state launched its eradication effort after it was discovered that 13 landowners had unknowingly spread seed mixes containing Palmer amaranth on the 30 conservation sites last year. >>Read More.


           

Enbridge’s Line 3 proposal: Why 13 young Minnesotans launched a legal fight against a pipeline

(From Star Tribune) — Most people have heard of the Dakota Access pipeline, but many Minnesotans may not know that Enbridge, one of the companies behind DAPL, is proposing an enormous pipeline expansion through our state. Enbridge wants to construct a new pipeline called “Line 3” to carry tar-sands oil from Alberta to Superior, Wis. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will hold hearings on the pipeline proposal this fall and will decide whether to permit it in 2018. While citizens may testify at the hearings, some parties have been formally recognized as “intervenors,” based on having submitted petitions declaring that the project would directly affect them. Intervenors will participate officially in court proceedings, representing their specific opposition to Line 3. >>Read More.


                

High Energy; students study energy conservation

(From Austin Daily Herald) — Aggie McKichan stood by a series of propellers attached to rotors; some were situated so the blades turned horizontally and some, vertically. Next to the spinning objects were fans; together, they demonstrated the creation of electricity generated in the rotation of the blades — in effect, wind turbines. The 11-year-old was one of over 70 fourth to sixth graders who gathered this year to study energy conservation as part of the E3 Program. “E3” stands for “Engineering and Environmental Sciences for Everyone.” >>Read More.

Report: Solar plus storage can beat natural gas in Minnesota

(From MPR News) — A new report from the University of Minnesota’s Energy Transition Lab shows adding energy storage is becoming a cost effective way to meet electricity demand in the state. The report looked at several scenarios, including a common one in the summer: A hot day when electricity demand is much higher than usual because of air conditioning. “What would be more cost effective: to build a conventional plant or to put in a big battery? Or, alternatively, to put in a big battery and a big solar array at the same time? [The consultants] found that putting in solar plus storage was actually cost effective right now,” said Ellen Anderson, who directs the Energy Transition Lab. >>Read More.

Upcoming Environmental Events


Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Administrative and Outreach Coordination Internship | Midwest Renewable Energy Association – Apply by July 17

Strategic Communications Internship | Midwest Renewable Energy Association – Apply by July 17

Executive Director | Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts – Apply by July 26

Friends Group Coordinator | Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota – Apply by July 24

Aquatic Ecologist | RMB Environmental Laboratories, Inc.

State Director | Environment Minnesota

Organizing Manager – Central Region | Sierra Club

Organizing Representative – Minneapolis/Central | Sierra Club

Advancement Officer | Minnesota Environmental Partnership

See all job postings


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Minnesota Environmental Partnership
Copyright © 2017
546 Rice Street, Suite 100, Saint Paul, MN 55103
www.mepartnership.org
 

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.

News Watch: July 13

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July 13, 2017

Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food, Clean Energy, Conservation, Environmental Justice, Mining, Oil & Pipelines, Pollinators, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, Water, Wildlife & Fish

Agriculture & Food
Winona Post: Local kids learn how to garden
Star Tribune: No kidding: Minneapolis City Council candidates queried about goats

Clean Energy
Austin Daily Herald: High energy; students study energy conservation
Northfield News: Council sets up city solar subscription decision for July 18

Conservation
MPR News: Report: Solar plus storage can beat natural gas in Minnesota
West Central Tribune: State keeps Palmer amaranth at bay: Vigilant landowners benefit eradication effort
Alexandria Echo Press: DNR warns lakeshore property owners equipment to remove aquatic plants illegal
Inforum: Grant benefits prairie conservation in Grand Forks county
Rochester Post Bulletin: Corps studies plans to create Lake Pepin islands

Environmental Justice
MPR News: The fight for Native fishing rights in Minn., Wis.

Mining
MPR News: After Supreme Court victory, peat mine proposal’s fate in DNR’s hands

Oil & Pipelines
Star Tribune: Enbridge’s Line 3 proposal: Why 13 young Minnesotans launched a legal fight against a pipeline
Inforum: Disaster declaration declined for DAPL costs; feds unlikely to cover $38 million bill

Pollinators
Elk River Star News: Mainstreams: Bringing back the bees
St. Cloud Times: Legislature must do more for pollinators

Transportation
Alexandria Echo Press: Minnesota’s first e-bus hits the road
Star Tribune: Streetcars among 6 options for transit route between St. Paul, MSP
Marshall Independent: Area officials, MnDOT staff talk transportation funding

Waste & Recycling
Pioneer Press: St. Paul says it has a deal with garbage haulers on organized collection

Water
Mankato Free Press: State grant money to go toward area buffer compliance
Duluth News Tribune: Lake Superior Day events all weekend
Pioneer Press: New state funding will help landowners install buffer strips along Minnesota’s waters
Duluth News Tribune: House bill has Great Lakes funding, targets wolves
Austin Daily Herald: CRWD seeking volunteers for river clean-up

Wildlife & Fish
Timberjay: “We knew this was coming” Bat numbers plummeting in Arrowhead
Star Tribune: Dayton says walleye restrictions on Lake Mille Lacs could be eased

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

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News Watch: July 10

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July 10, 2017

Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food, Clean Energy, Climate Change, Conservation, Environmental Justice, Mining, Oil & Pipelines, Parks & Trails, Pollinators, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, Water, Wildlife & Fish

Featured Article:
Alexandria Echo Press: Group learns about tallgrass prairie, conducts bird surveys (featuring Land Stewardship Project and CURE)

Agriculture & Food
Austin Daily Herald: Cover Crop champs kicks off Water Festival
International Falls Journal: Plans for Aquaponic farm still on the table
Grand Rapids Herald Review: Garden is ‘cool’ community cooperative venture

Clean Energy
Star Tribune: With more electric cars coming, Minnesota officials consider changing network
West Central Tribune: Public invited to see wind and solar projects
St. Peter Herald: Aurora Solar Project begins full operations

Climate Change
Mankato Free Press: Local study aims to adapt to climate change

Conservation
International Falls Journal: County moves toward settlement with Blandin
Bemidji Pioneer: ‘Azhegiiwe Bagwajaya’ii’ He/She Returns to Nature/Wilderness camp
West Central Tribune: Maples next in tree pandemic?

Environmental Justice
Duluth News Tribune: State director gathering Native American input on Grand Mound
MinnPost: Short notice, low turnout: Northern Metals’ meeting draws criticism

Mining
St. Cloud Times: Nolan gets hearing on bill to push through PolyMet land swap

Oil & Pipelines
WKOW: Fifth annual Love Water Not Oil Horse Ride kicks off in Madison
MinnPost: Reading between the lines of Minnesota’s Draft EIS for Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline

Parks & Trails
Rochester Post Bulletin: Natural shift grows concerns for park neighbors
Fergus Falls Daily Journal: Minn. state parks and trails programs offer valuable educational skills for beginners

Pollinators
Tri-State Neighbor: Learn what you can do to help bees

Transportation
Star Tribune: Duluth projects puts protected bike lane on training wheels
Star Tribune: Afton parades its new look in midst of major infrastructure project

Waste & Recycling
Pine Journal: Getting the dirt on SKB Environmental

Water
Marshall Independent: Dayton to hold water quality town hall in Marshall
West Central Tribune: MPCA fine paid as city looks back on stormwater projects in 2016

Wildlife & Fish
Star Tribune: Dayton cancels meeting with Mille Lacs-area businesses after protest
Mankato Free Press: Wright County to require boat inspections to combat invasives
Austin Daily Herald: Saving the martins; Open house to provide insight on the birds

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Insider: July 7, 2017

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

   
photo credit: NASA

Sulfide Mining Debate Continues in the Northland

Less than two weeks remain until the U.S. Forest Service begins its two listening sessions on a proposed 20-year mineral withdrawal in the Superior National Forest. The first will take place on July 18 at the RiverCentre in St. Paul, and the second will be held at Virginia High School in the Iron Range. These hearings will be used in development of an environmental impact statement for this proposal, which would include more than 230,000 acres of national forest land in the Rainy River watershed. The Forest Service is also taking comments through August 11 by email at comments-eastern-superior@fs.fed.us.

The comment period continues to be contentious. The mineral withdrawal would head off an enormous risk of toxic sulfide pollution, like the effects pictured above, in Northern Minnesota’s vulnerable waters. And groups like Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and Save the Boundary Waters have issued calls for volunteers to speak up at the hearings on this important issue. Pro-mining advocates have announced that they will boycott the St. Paul hearing. It will take concerted action by concerned citizens to make sure that the Forest Service takes the critical environmental hazards of copper sulfide mining into account in their decision.

Meanwhile, Congressman Rick Nolan has introduced a bill, HR 3115, that would force the Superior National Forest to accept a land exchange with PolyMet for their open-pit sulfide mine, with the land value set at at the incredibly low price of $550 per acre. Allowing this level of sulfide pollution for such a cheap exchange does a disservice to Minnesotans and our national forests, and MEP has issued the Action Alert below to demand that Minnesota’s federal lawmakers oppose the bill. Thanks to dedicated defenders of Minnesota’s great outdoors, more than 2,000 emails to this effect have been sent to our Senators and Representatives, and we encourage all our friends to join in! Use the Action Alert or call your Senator or Representative to tell them to stand up for public lands and vulnerable waters in Minnesota!


Stop bill that lets Polymet pay fire sale prices to turn Superior National Forest land into an open-pit sulfide mine

If Rep. Nolan’s bill becomes law, all challenges to this land exchange on behalf of taxpayers would end and this land exchange would move forward. If PolyMet wants to destroy public land for their sulfide mine proposal, the very least they can do is pay a fair price for it.

We need you to tell Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Al Franken and Representatives Tim Walz, Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum to oppose HR 3115!
 

Come to the Forest Service Listening Session in Virginia, MN to speak up on sulfide mining!

(From Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness) —The U.S. Forest Service is holding two listening sessions in July to gather input on a proposed 20-year moratorium on the leasing of federal minerals to mining companies in the Superior National Forest upstream of the Boundary Waters. Join us to tell the Forest Service how sulfide mining near the Boundary Waters would affect your wilderness experience.

We want to see passionate Boundary Waters supporters like you on July 25 from 5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. in Virginia. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and the session will be held in the auditorium. RSVP here!

 


       

Photo credit: US Fish & Wildlife Service

Letter: Bees get no help from Minnesota Legislature

(From Detroit Lakes Online, by CURE program director Peg Furshong) — On June 23-24, over 150 people of all ages gathered at Glacial Lakes State Park to learn about the Tallgrass Prairie and just how important this ecosystem is for pollinator habitat. With less than 1 percent of this rare ecosystem left, it is considered the most threatened natural environments, and as such, the animals and insects that live there are threatened as well. But while Minnesotans in our region and beyond care deeply about pollinators, our legislators are out of step. >>Read More.


           


photo credit: MPCA

Proposed Nitrogen Rule wouldn’t do enough for MN waters

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is currently accepting public comments on its draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule, which aims to reduce the amount of nitrate pollution in the state’s groundwater. Nitrate contamination is a serious issue that requires a robust response, and unfortunately, the proposed rule is severely watered-down. It would fail to protect currently uncontaminated groundwater, focusing only on already-impaired waters. It would have a needlessly long 3-year phase-in period after an already 26-year wait on nitrogen standards. And the mandatory best practices it enforces fall short of any meaningful reduction of nitrogen fertilizer use.

The MDA will hold hearings this month in McIntosh and St. Paul – if you can attend, tell the MDA to adopt a rule that will actually benefit state waters! Written comments will also be accepted until August 11.
 

St. Cloud among 10 sites for Dayton’s water quality meetings

(From St. Cloud Times) —  Gov. Mark Dayton is organizing town halls throughout Minnesota to discuss water quality. The Democratic governor has made improving the state’s drinking and recreational waters a top priority for his final term in office. He spearheaded a new law requiring buffer zones between cropland and waterways and defended it from GOP attempts to repeal it. >>Read More.


          

10 things to know about the proposed City Loop

(From Rochester Post Bulletin) — Work continues on a proposed City Loop to connect pedestrians and bicyclists to various points in the Destination Medical Center district. Proposed in the original DMC concept plan, the urban trail network seeks to use existing and new pathways to offer connections to green spaces throughout the center of the city as a way of encouraging private investment and enhancing quality of life for residents. St. Paul-based SRF Consulting Group is refining the concept while it works with city staff on transportation plans that also include street use, transit and parking needs related to DMC. >>Read More.


        


photo credit: Chesapeake Bay Program

Applicants needed for EQIB funds; Farmers can apply until Aug. 18

(From Austin Daily Herald) — Mower County agricultural producers and landowners looking to solve natural resource problems on their farms need to contact local conservation staff in advance of a mid-August deadline. Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced farmers need to apply by Aug. 18 for USDA funding in 2018 under the federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). EQIP is a voluntary program providing financial and technical assistance to ag producers and landowners. These contracts give financial assistance to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air, and related resources on ag land and non-industrial private forestland. >>Read More.

Minn. oil pipeline fight stokes threats, fears of Standing Rock

(From MPR News) — Each day for decades, five pipelines have quietly pumped more than 2 million barrels of Canadian crude oil below northern Minnesota’s forests, lakes and rivers to refineries around the Upper Midwest. It’s a network that for years saw little public scrutiny. The lines were built in an era with no federal environmental law requiring studies or public hearings, keeping opposition to a minimum. Those days are gone, replaced by a massive multi-year permitting process that requires transparency and public input — and an environmental movement determined to make its voice heard. >>Read More.

Upcoming Environmental Events


Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities

Executive Director | Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts – Apply by July 26

Friends Group Coordinator | Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota – Apply by July 24

Aquatic Ecologist | RMB Environmental Laboratories, Inc.

SE MN Wastewater Facilitator | Cannon River Watershed Partnership – Apply by July 7

Chief Development Officer | Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy – Apply by July 10

State Director | Environment Minnesota

Organizing Manager – Central Region | Sierra Club

Organizing Representative – Minneapolis/Central | Sierra Club

Advancement Officer | Minnesota Environmental Partnership

See all job postings


Follow Us

   

Minnesota Environmental Partnership
Copyright © 2017
546 Rice Street, Suite 100, Saint Paul, MN 55103
www.mepartnership.org
 

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.

 

News Watch: July 6

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July 6, 2017

Today’s Topics: Agriculture & Food, Clean Energy, Climate Change, Conservation, Mining, Oil & Pipelines, Parks & Trails, Pollinators, Pollution, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, Water, Wildlife & Fish

Agriculture & Food
Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder: Thousands of garden plants gifted to North Mpls
Austin Daily Herald: Applicants needed for EQIP funds; Farmers can apply until Aug. 18
AgriNews: Nitrogen fertilizer rule develops with public input

Clean Energy
Mankato Free Press: North Mankato looking at solar, other sustainable practices
Alexandria Echo Press: Sun power on tap: Minnesota solar project complete and producing renewable energy
Star Tribune: Minnesota dealers predict shift to electric cars will broaden Volvo’s appeal

Conservation
Minnesota Daily: Scientists not renewed for a second term advising the EPA, UMN professor among them 

Mining
Duluth News Tribune: Nolan presses PolyMet land exchange in legislation
Timberjay: Environmental group seeks additional PolyMet review

Oil & Pipelines
MPR News: Minn. oil pipeline fight stokes threats, fears of Standing Rock

Parks & Trails
Star Tribune: Minnesota state parks fees rise for the first time in a decade
​Winona Post: Fishing made easy – no license, no equipment and no experience needed at Minnesota state parks

Pollinators
Inforum: Pollinator seminar set for July 11 in Fargo
Osceola Sun: Summer-long exhibit invites you to explore all things ‘bee’

Transportation
Northfield News: Hiawathaland Transit continues to expand
Pioneer Press: A $1.2 billion streetcar line in St. Paul? A vote approaches
Rochester Post Bulletin: 10 things to know about the proposed City Loop

Waste & Recycling
Star Tribune: Landfills sue state over push to burn more garbage

Water
Star Tribune: Two-state flotilla along St. Croix plots mission against invasive species
St. Cloud Times: St. Cloud among 10 sites for Dayton’s water quality meetings
Marshall Independent: Lyon County OKs funding for road retention project
West Central Tribune: MPCA fines Willmar $18,500 after stormwater audit

Wildlife & Fish
MPR News: Minn. loons could get aid from BP oil spill cleanup funds
St. Cloud Times: Walleye fishing on Mille Lacs lake to close for 3 weeks
Detroit Lakes Online: Study: Warm waters increase lake trout hooking mortality
Mankato Free Press: Fish kill on Lake Elysian untimely but not unusual
 

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

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