If there’s one meme that kept popping up during the recent legislative session it went something like this: a group like Conservation Minnesota would point one of the pressing problems affecting our natural environment and folks would come out of the wood work to claim, “well, it’s always been like that.”
We saw this game play out a whole bunch after Governor Dayton proposed the tried and true strategy of buffer strips along ditches and streams to help prevent the problems associated with agricultural runoff. Among other things, such a move would help clean up the Minnesota River. But it wasn’t long before people were announcing in letters to the editor and other forums, “well, it’s always been like that.”
Personally I’m a little skeptical of these sorts of arguments. After all, back on April 29th, the Star Tribune published a hard hitting story pointing out that in Southern Minnesota over half the streams and lakes have become so polluted that they are no longer safe for swimming and fishing. I was born in the 1980’s but I’m still pretty sure that those lakes are rivers haven’t always been unsafe to swim in.
Fortunately, in this job I am able to meet with a number of professionals and concerned citizens in the west metro who deal with water quality. And believe me the water quality of the Minnesota River is a top concern.
So, recently, I asked one of these professionals if the Minnesota River had always been so prone to flooding and look brownish green as it did to me the week before.
Her answer was a firm, “no.”
Trust me folks, our lakes and rivers haven’t always been like they are now, and if we adopt the right commons sense policies like buffer strips they don’t have to stay that way forever.