Conservationists issue wake-up call to Minnesotans
ST. PAUL -- A new report issued earlier this month proposes launching a new era in Minnesota conservation. The report was released at a St. Paul meeting, attended by some 100 outdoor enthusiasts, conservationists and environmentalists. "Minnesota...
ST. PAUL -- A new report issued earlier this month proposes launching a new era in Minnesota conservation.
The report was released at a St. Paul meeting, attended by some 100 outdoor enthusiasts, conservationists and environmentalists.
"Minnesota Calling: Conservation Facts, Trends and Challenges" documents demographic, state funding and scientific trends that pose unprecedented challenges to the state's wildlife, lakes, forests, prairies and wetlands.
A new collaboration, the Minnesota Campaign for Conservation, researched and produced the report. The group contends, if left unaddressed, these conservation challenges will jeopardize Minnesota's outdoors traditions and threaten Minnesotans' quality of life.
Leading the list of concerns is the projected 1.2 million population growth expected in Minnesota by 2030. Campaign leaders estimate this increase will result in the loss of another 1 million acres of natural areas or farmland to development with in the next 25 years.
They also noted that an amount of farmland equal to the Mall of America is lost daily and converted to development. At this pace, by 2030, an area of land equal to the size of Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota and Carver counties will have been converted from undeveloped to developed land.
"Throughout history, Minnesotans have risen to the challenge whenever our natural resources are threatened," said David Hartwell, Minnesota business owner and Campaign for Conservation Chair. "Now we are facing threats like nothing we've seen before. It's time to again answer Minnesota calling us to her aid."
Minnesota Calling cites new trends that multiply the impact of a growing population. Fewer people per household, larger lot sizes, increasing number of second homes and increasing real estate development in regions rich with natural resources, add to the stress on Minnesota's natural resources.
The report outlines six "disturbing trends" in Minnesota's natural resources:
n Continuing loss of wetlands.
n Increasing development of lakeshore especially on shallow lakes.
n Declining water quality in lakes and rivers.
n Fragmentation of forests and prairies
n Invasive species threatening lakes, rivers and wildlife.
n Development encircling and isolating public recreation lands.
"These trends threaten our economy and our way of life," said campaign director John Curry. "Minnesota's nearly $9.2 billion tourism industry depends on clean water, abundant wildlife and enjoyment of our forests, parks and trails."
However, Curry said the state's forests, wetlands and prairies are only a remnant of their original status. "Our losses are at a tipping point," he said. "We have only 1 percent of our original prairies; 50 percent of our forests and 58 percent of our wetlands."
Despite these trends, Campaign supporters noted that general fund state funding for conservation dropped by 47 percent the last five years and is now at a 30-year low.
Minnesota Calling suggests that health and economy are important aspects of developing a conservation vision for the state.