Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Bill would scrap plan to protect Mississippi River

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – A plan two years in the making to protect
the 72 miles of the Mississippi River running through the Twin
Cities could be scrapped if a legislative proposal is
green-lighted.

The Department of Natural Resources worked with interest groups
and local governments to draft new rules guiding development along
the river. Minnesota Public Radio reported Monday that the rules
include the height and distance that new buildings must be from the
river, requirements for controlling runoff and land-clearing
restrictions.

But work stopped in January because of a state deadline on
rulemaking. Legislators want to keep it that way by stripping the
DNR of its rulemaking authority. The initial push for stricter
rules was driven by concerns over pollution and preserving the
region’s aesthetic quality.

Whitney Clark, executive director of Friends of the Mississippi
River, pointed out a three-story condo near Fort Snelling as an
example of development too close to the riverfront. Its foundation
is about a foot from the edge of the bluff, which is constantly
eroding.

“The developer here was following the rules, and the rules
weren’t protective enough,” Clark said.

Water quality is another concern. The Department of Health
advises people to limit their consumption of fish from the
Mississippi, and runoff from yards and streets flows directly into
the river.

Sen. Benjamin Kruse, R-Brooklyn Park, is sponsoring the bill to
lift the DNR’s rulemaking authority. He said people and businesses
along the river already work to protect it, both for its scenic and
economic value.

“Even if you have to boil it down to that, they understand that
caring for this river, caring for the shoreline, is fundamental to
preserving their property values,” Kruse said.

The Legislature charged the DNR with creating the rules two
years ago. Two years before that, the DNR hired Friends of the
Mississippi River to gather citizen input on what should be done
about the river.

DNR hydrologist Jeff Berg said the department needs more time to
continue the work and make sure all voices are heard on the
issue.

“We got a lot of involvement from local governments, business
interests and environmental organizations,” Berg said. “So I think
we had the right people at the table. You could pick up tomorrow,
next year, a couple years from now, and it’s still a good starting
point.”

The bill has passed the Senate but has yet to have a hearing in
the House.

 

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