many people talking to each other in a conference room
Sharing ideas, sparking innovation, and advancing conservation at the Environmental Commissions Conference 2022
News

Commissions Lead the Way on Conservation!

by John Anderson,
Local Government Program Manager

The conversation around environmental policy can be dominated by work at the Capitol in St. Paul or in Washington DC. While what happens in those places certainly matters, it’s important to remember that much of the work that protects the Minnesota we love is happening at the local level in communities across the state.

Local governments can enact bold policies to advance conservation, but each city's progress may not be widely shared with other local governments. This is why Conservation Minnesota convenes environment commission members from across Minnesota each year. This year, the annual Environment Commission Conference took place on Saturday, April 30th. It brought together 50 commission members from over 20 cities to make connections, share ideas, and discuss challenges and successes in their communities. The more local governments can collaborate, the more significant the collective impact we can have as a state.

These commission conferences have proven successful at advancing work across the state. While attending the conference in 2018, White Bear Lake Environmental Advisory Commission member Gary Schroeder learned that the city of St. Anthony put together a pollinator pathways map, an online tool that allows residents to upload information and photos about their pollinator friendly lawns and gardens. It encourages residents to visualize where more pollinator friendly plantings might be needed in the community. Inspired by St. Anthony's project, Gary brought the idea back to White Bear Lake and worked with city staff to create its own map of pollinator friendly plantings in the community.

This year, the Commission Conference shared information on energy reduction initiatives, electric car infrastructure, and climate emergency declarations. We hope that this annual conference continues to spark ideas, innovation, and advance conservation at the local level.

Conservation Minnesota is the only organization currently hosting gatherings of environment commission members from across the state. It’s part of our commitment to taking care of Minnesota.

If you're part of an environment commission and would like to get plugged into this work, or if you're looking to start one in your city, contact John Anderson, Local Government Program Manager, at: johna@conservationminnesota.org