Conservation grab bag: Bad BWSR idea, and a fellow trout angler passes

Posted on January 26, 2012

A proposal emerged last week to combine the Board of Water and Soil Resources with the state Department of Agriculture.

Bad idea.

As Joe Albert reports in the Jan. 27 Outdoor News (and this website) it's part of the House GOP's Reform 2.0 effort to find more efficiencies in state government. Sounds reasonable, but legislators should look elsewhere for problems in government.

BWSR is the state soil and water conservation agency that administers programs that prevent sediment and nutrients from entering state lakes, rivers, and streams (and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico "dead zone.") The 20-member board consists of representatives of local and state government agencies and citizens, and it runs lean and mean on staffing. BWSR has been around since 1987 and administers 90 soil and water conservation districts, 46 watershed districts, 23 metro watershed management organizations, and 80 county water managers.

The staff at Outdoor News relies heavily on BWSR employees as sources for conservation and farm policy items, so we know the Board and its charter pretty well.

Per Albert's story, the good news is that legislators who understand BWSR and how it works (from any political persuasion) appear to recognize that the agency doesn't need fixing. House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee Chair Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, said: "I have to be honest - BWSR is an organization that works very well ... They do good work - on the ground they're doing really good stuff that we want to expand on."

This isn't the first time the idea to meld BWSR into Ag has come along. It's faded away in the past; here's hoping that's what happens this time, too.

How about one from the "you-can't-make-it-up" file? Check out this case of a company that probably won't be winning a good corporate citizen award anytime soon. This is why we have environmental regulations, folks. One-hundred years ago, before conservationists passed all those irritating environmental laws, this would have been business as usual. Today it's shocking. Thank you Teddy Roosevelt.

In the meantime, don't think I'll be dropping a dry-fly in this stream.

Friend and frequent Outdoor News contributor Mark Strand has new "e-book" celebrating the fine sport of turkey hunting.

"Turkey Camp... and other turkey hunting stories," contains a dozen stories about the addicting sport of gobbler chasing. It's written and illustrated by Mark Strand, lifelong hunter and angler, and a longtime outdoor writer and photographer and filmmaker.

"Turkey Camp" is published in e-book formats, readable on all modern e-readers and computer screens. It's available from all major e-retailers or directly from the authors website.

Finally, I'm sad to hear about the passing of an old friend from the Minnesota Conservation Federation, Dave Moran. He passed away on Jan. 11 at the age of 81 after fighting a hard, tough battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Dave was one of the first guys I met during my early years at Outdoor News. Then president of the MCF, he was a big advocate for mourning dove hunting years before the season actually became a reality. A guy who could broker deals, Dave focused on big picture issues like wetlands conservation, WMAs, and water quality.

Here's an excerpt from a piece about on Moran from current Minnesota Conservation Federation Executive Director Gary Botzek:

A Minnesotan his whole life, Dave Moran grew up in St. Cloud and lived in Bloomington, Prior Lake, and Lakeville. He's survived by his wife of 57 years, Joanne, with whom he raised four children: David, Jr., Danelle, Douglas, and Donald.

Moran served in the Air Force for four years and worked for North Central and Republic Airlines in administrative capacities. While working for the airlines, the Moran family lived in South America. After he retired from the airlines he earned single and multi-engine flying certificates and became a flight instructor and charter pilot at Flying Cloud Airport. He logged 6000 hours of flying time.

Dave and fellow MCF booster Gordie Meyer were longtime hunting and fishing partners. Not only did they hunt and fish together, but they traveled to numerous conservation meetings around the state for a number of organizations.

They worked on Consolidated Conservation lands in Northwest Minnesota, the dove season, they worked on WMAs, they worked on RIM, and they worked on Legacy funding. They were joined by MCF greats Al Farmes and Frank Schneider in their many conservation efforts.

In the early 1990s, Gov. Arne Carlson asked Dave to serve on a new task force that was looking at ways to protect the ever deceasing wetlands in the state. The result of the study was the Wetlands Conservation Act of 1991 which is still a conservation main stay in Minnesota.

They worked the longest and hardest on the restoration of the Vermillion River in Dakota County where trout are back in business due to their efforts.

Dave served on the Minnesota Conservation Federation board for many years including serving as president. He was also president and board member of the Scott County Pheasants Forever and a board member of the Fish and Wildlife Legislative Alliance.

Dave was passionate about preserving the environment and working to save our wetlands and trout streams so that future generations would be able to enjoy walking in the fields and forests full of wild birds or throwing a fishing line into a clean stream in an attempt to work with mother nature to see if the fish would bite today. That passion was his legacy!

The MCF is honored that Dave Moran gave so much time and energy to our organization. We plan on planting a tree in his honor on the same Vermillion River native prairie site where Gordie Meyer's memorial stands.

Long live the memory of David E. Moran. He was loved by many and will be missed by the same.