Public Comment Period Open for Draft South Metro Mississippi and Minnesota River Clean-up Plans
February 27 to April 27
Public comments on the draft sediment clean-up plans for both the South Metro Mississippi and the Minnesota Rivers will be accepted by the MN Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) from February 27 to April 27. The notice for public comments was published in the State Register on Feb. 27. MPCA is scheduling informational meetings for the public, stakeholder advisory committee members and science advisers. The MPCA will announce details of these meetings on their website.
We held a public open house to provide information on the South Metro Mississippi River's clean-up plan in May, 2011; the release of the plan has been delayed in the meantime. We encourage people to familiarize themselves with and weigh in on this important plan. The Mississippi River's draft plan is at www.pca.state.mn.us/ktqh98b.
Precision Conservation Agriculture Conference Thursday, March 29 from 8:30 a.m.-3:45 p.m. in St. Anthony (Silverwood Park, 2500 W. County Road E)
Precision conservation effectively and efficiently targets scarce resources to the spots on the landscape where they will do the most good. The conference will focus both on technology -- much of it derived from vastly improved terrain mapping developed from Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) laser scanning -- and the decision-making process by which policy-makers choose where to employ their time, energy and scarce financial resources. The keynote address will be delivered by Dave White, chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Dr. David Mulla, a University of Soil Scientist and a pioneer in employing modern LiDAR-based technology in the service of conservation, will describe current and emerging strategies. For more information, and to register, see http://www.freshwater.org/index.php/about-the-society/whats-new/497-precision-conservation-conference-set-march-29.
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EPA Announces Availability of Green Infrastructure Technical Assistance to Selected Partner Communities
Letters of interest must be received by April 6
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting letters of interest from communities interested in receiving direct assistance for projects that facilitate the use of green infrastructure to protect water quality. Technical assistance will be provided through EPA contract support, and will be directed to watersheds/sewersheds with significant water quality degradation associated with urban stormwater. The total EPA assistance available is approximately $950,000, and will be distributed among 10 to 20 projects. The value of the assistance available to each project will be approximately $50,000 to $100,000. For more information, please see EPA's green infrastructure website: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/greeninfrastructure
Earth Day in the City: Minneapolis Watershed Cleanup
Saturday, April 21 from 9:30 a.m.-noon in Minneapolis (E. 36th St. & E. 44th St. at W. River Pkwy)
Join this Earth Day tradition in the Minneapolis River Gorge! People come from throughout the local river corridor neighborhoods and metro area to contribute to the health and vitality of the Mississippi River Watershed. All ages are welcome and all supplies provided. We'll meet at two sites along the parkway and bluff-top. Pick whichever works better for you - the oak savanna at East 36th Street and West River Parkway, and the maple basswood forest at 44th and the parkway. No registration is required; complete details and directions are available at http://www.fmr.org/participate/events/earth_day_cleanup-2012-04-21.
Protecting the St. Croix River Basin Conference: Citizen Engagement
Tuesday, April 24 at UW-River Falls
This year's "Protecting the St. Croix" conference features a "Civic Engagement" theme with which to launch implementation of the St. Croix phosphorus reduction strategies. The conference explores phosphorus removal case studies and ways to encourage collective action on water quality through discussion, reasoning, and citizen participation. Minnesota and Wisconsin are seeking US Environmental Protection Agency approval for the St. Croix water quality improvement plan (a.k.a. TMDL). The next step seeks input and involvement from stakeholders implementing on-the-ground phosphorus reduction for water quality improvement. Strong community and sincere civic engagement will be required to successfully implement water quality projects to meet the goal of reducing phosphorus by 100 tons per year. Learn how you can help make it happen. For additional program and registration information, visit http://stcroixriverassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/StCroixBrochure2012.pdf.
Save the Date: 18th Annual Great River Gathering
Thursday, May 10 beginning at 5:00 p.m.
For more information on this event, contact the St. Paul Riverfront Corporation at http://www.riverfrontcorporation.com.
National Academy of Sciences Colloquium: The Science of Science Communication
May 21-22 in Washington, DC
This colloquium will survey the state of the art of empirical social science research in science communication and will focus on research in psychology, decision science, mass communication, risk communication, health communication, political science, sociology, and related fields on the communication dynamics surrounding issues in science, engineering, technology, and medicine with five distinct goals: 1) To improve understanding of relations between the scientific community and the public, 2) To assess the scientific basis for effective communication about science, 3) To strengthen ties among and between communication scientists, 4) To promote greater integration of the disciplines and approaches pertaining to effective communication, and 5) To foster an institutional commitment to evidence-based communication science. For more information, and to register, see http://www.nasonline.org/programs/sackler-colloquia/upcoming-colloquia/science-communication.html?utm_medium=etmail&utm_source=National%20Academies%20Press&utm_campaign=Sackler%20Invite%20II%20-%20with%20share%20tools&utm_content=Downloader&utm_term=.
Conference: ACES and Ecosystem Markets 2012
December 10-14 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL
ACES and Ecosystem Markets 2012 is an international collaboration of three dynamic communities - A Community on Ecosystem Services (ACES), the Ecosystem Markets Conference, and the Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP). The focus of the conference will be to link science, practice, institutions and resource sustainable decision making by bringing together ecosystem services communities from around the United States and the globe. It will bring together leaders in government, NGOs, academia, tribal organizations, and the private sector who are interested in natural systems and their relationship with human well-being. For more information, see http://www.conference.ifas.ufl.edu/aces/.
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EPA Launches Recovery Potential Screening Website to Assist Restoration Planners
Climate Change Handbook to Assist Water Managers in Planning for Climate Change
Monitoring programs under the Clean Water Act have identified tens of thousands of US water bodies that do not meet Water Quality Standards and are in need of restoration. This website provides technical assistance for restoration programs to help them consider where to invest their efforts for greater likelihood of success, based on the traits of their own geographic area's environment and communities. Step-by-step instructions in recovery potential screening provide watershed managers with a methodology for comparing restorability differences among their waters. The steps in the methodology link to several online tools and resources that are used in recovery potential screening. A library of recovery potential indicators offers technical information on specific recovery-related factors (ecological, stressor, and social), how they influence restorability, and how to measure them. For additional information, see water.epa.gov or contact Doug Norton.
Developed cooperatively by the U.S. EPA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, California Department of Water Resources, and the Resources Legacy Fund, the "Climate Change Handbook for Regional Watershed Planning" provides a framework for considering climate change in water management planning. Key decision considerations, resources, tools, and decision options are presented that will guide resource managers and planners as they develop means of adapting their programs to a changing climate. The handbook uses the California Department of Water Resources' Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) planning framework as a model into which analysis of climate change impacts and planning for adaptation and mitigation can be integrated. In addition, the handbook provides a checklist for identifying and prioritizing the vulnerability of local watersheds. The checklist includes questions about water demand and supply, wildlife and habitat, sea level rise, critical infrastructure, and hydropower. See www.water.ca.gov.
UMN's River Life Web Site Updated!
River Life, a program of the Institute on the Environment at the Univ. of Minnesota, is pleased to announce the launch of their new web site at riverlife.umn.edu. Launched in late August, 2011, the web site reflects their evolving program and commitment to help their audience learn more about rivers and river issues. River Life uses social media, a digital atlas and case study reports to develop and share knowledge on the scientific and professional practices that create inclusive, sustainable rivers. They discuss science, planning, engagement, inclusion, sustainability and river issues in a spatial, thoughtful, and timely manner. While visiting the web site you can explore useful and interesting River Resources, keep up-to-date on what has caught our attention in the media in the River Portal, and examine the stories of how communities and individuals have lived with the river at River Stories. Make the river a part of your curriculum or teaching and get on the ground experience with the river as a part of River Rangers. See how stories, resources and issues connect spatially with the River Atlas - a bird's eye view of rivers and river issues.
MN DNR's Adopt-a-River program
To date, the Adopt-a-River program has helped over 82,000 volunteers collect nearly 6 million pounds of trash and clean 10,000 miles of shoreline. For more information about how to help clean Minnesota's lakes, rivers, wetlands, ditches or ravines public waters, visit http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/adoptriver/index.html or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Citizen Stream Monitoring Program and Citizen Lake Monitoring Program
The MPCA is currently recruiting volunteers for the Citizen Stream Monitoring Program and Citizen Lake Monitoring Program. Volunteers are asked to take readings of water clarity at a designated site every week from April through October. The readings are taken using equipment provided by the MPCA. Training is provided, so volunteers do not need special experience or expertise. Lake volunteers must have access to a boat to do their monitoring, but a boat is not necessary for the stream program. To learn more about becoming a volunteer, call Laurie Sovell (for the streams program) or Johanna Schussler (for the lakes program) at the MPCA at 651/757-2227 or toll-free at 800/657-3864. More information is available at http://www.pca.state.mn.us/cmp.
State Revising Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is coordinating a review of the state Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan, first developed in 1990. As directed by the law, the plan "includes components promoting prevention and developing appropriate responses to the detection of inorganic nitrogen from fertilizer sources in ground or surface water." The Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan has a three-phased structure: 1. Promotion of the voluntary adoption and implementation of best management practices (BMPs); 2. Evaluation of the adoption and effectiveness of the voluntary BMPs; and 3. Responses to instances wherein voluntary BMPs have not been adopted or are ineffective in mitigating the occurrence of nitrate in ground or surface water (potentially including regulatory action). Statewide public hearings will be part of the revision process. Copies of the 1990 plan and nitrogen fertilizer BMP publications are available at http://www.mda.state.mn.us/chemicals/fertilizers/nutrient-mgmt/nitrogenplan.aspx.
EPA Completes Research to Inform Development of New Recreational Water Quality Criteria
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has completed studies that serve as a scientific foundation for developing new or revised water quality criteria for recreational waters, such as lakes, rivers and oceans, by October 2012. EPA's research studies were focused on predictive modeling, method development and validation, and epidemiological studies. The new or revised criteria will replace the current criteria recommendations EPA issued in 1986 and are to be used by states, tribes and territories in their adoption of new water quality standards. These standards are to protect people who engage in recreational water activities from potential illness associated with fecal contamination in the water. The completion notices and reports from the studies are available on EPA's website at http://water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/waterquality/standards/criteria/health/recreation/index.cfm. Some of the studies have also been published in professional journals and others are in the process of being submitted for publication. For more information contact Lisa Christ by e-mail.
Nutrient Best Management Practice (BMP) Challenge
Best Management Practices (BMPs) for fertilizer use are designed to save farmers money and maintain optimal crop yields. The BMP Challenge program works to give farmers growing corn for grain or silage an opportunity to test reduced nutrient and tillage rates on their fields, without worrying about loss to their income. Essentially, the Nutrient BMP challenge pays farmers cash if their yield and income are reduced by adopting the nutrient BMPs. It is available to corn farmers in Minnesota as well as a number of other states, for up to 160 acres per farm. There is also a Reduced Tillage BMP challenge that Minnesota farmers are eligible for, which encourages use of no-till, ridge-till, stip-till, and other options.