Conservation Minnesota has engaged thousands of people across Minnesota to learn about the conservation issues that concern them the most. Overwhelmingly, Minnesotans’ primary concern is protecting our water. Your concerns are our mission, and that is why we’ve been on the road all summer meeting with lake associations in 21 counties throughout northern and central Minnesota in conjunction with our Minnesota Waters program.
Lake associations play a vital role in protecting our water. People who own property on lakes have first hand knowledge of the health of their lakes and every aspect of their lives is directly affected by water quality. As we visited more and more lakes this summer, we observed the areas surrounding the lakes; homes, businesses, infrastructure and recreational venues. A common theme emerged that is key to the indispensable value that lake association members have in efforts to protect water. Lakes are like any other neighborhood or municipality. The difference is that the social, cultural and economic health of their neighborhoods is directly tied to the health of the lake. We visited a couple of lakes where aquatic invasive species (AIS) and agricultural runoff have overwhelmed the lake and are destroying water quality. The effects of poor water quality were evident; resorts and businesses closed, plummeting property values, nobody fishing or swimming, and frustrated property owners. In an effort to prevent the devastation caused by AIS, agricultural runoff, sulfide mining and other threats to our water, Conservation Minnesota is connecting with lake association members in a direct, meaningful and, productive way to elevate their voices and bring forward their concerns to decision makers.
One thing is certain; lake associations want to become more involved in the decision-making process and have a voice at the table when it comes to protecting water and wildlife. They are searching for the tools to become more directly involved with their local, state, and federal governments. Conservation Minnesota and the Minnesota Waters program is providing those tools, along with the power of a statewide network of lake associations and individuals who are working to protect water. We’ve heard individuals talk about feeling powerless to do anything about the threats to their lakes. When we tell them their concerns are shared by hundreds of other lake associations throughout the state and describe the power of the network that has been created, the expressions of being powerless turn into expressions of hope.
Conservation Minnesota and the Minnesota Waters program are grateful for the opportunity to lift the voices of lake association members across the state and turn their concerns and hope into action to protect the legacy of this “Land of 10,000 Lakes” for future generations.