One of the greatest parts about my job as Conservation Minnesota’s west metro community coordinator is getting to work in all sorts of different communities where the conservation work necessary to protect the Minnesota we love is being done on a daily basis. And while important work is being done all over the state, in my opinion one of the best examples of such a community would have to be Bloomington, Minnesota.
Lots of people don’t associate Bloomington with the great outdoors. After all it is the state’s fourth largest city, and home to the Mall Of America. However, it’s also home to great examples of the natural treasures that make Minnesota such a great place to live. It’s located right next to the Minnesota River National Wildlife Refuge, one of the few national refuges located in major urban areas in the country. In addition, the city of Bloomington is home to a wealth of beautiful parks and open spaces including Hyland Lake Park Reserve, as well as a number of amazing lakes.
Bloomington has been blessed with these great natural resources but keeping them pristine is no small undertaking. For example, Bloomington’s large street network helps its residents get around town, but it also creates a huge amount of storm water when it rains that largely ends up in the Minnesota River. Likewise Bloomington has quite a few lakes and ponds—which is great for recreation—but this also means the city’s residents and pets can be get sick from toxic blue-green algae blooms caused by run-off pollution.
In order to address all these issues I’ve been working with a dedicated group of volunteers from all over the city of Bloomington to explore the possibility of recreating a city commission of ordinary residents to work on conservation and sustainability issues. In the past Bloomington had a similar commission and not only did it help the city find ways to address conservation issues, but it was also deeply involved with creating the Minnesota River National Wildlife Refuge in the first place. By recreating a similar commission we will hopefully be able to tap into and important underutilized resource: Bloomington’s residents. And it will give folks from all over Bloomington the chance to be able to help address issues like water quality, energy usage, and transportation in a whole host of ways.
Which is a long way of saying that by partnering with other residents and city government Conservation Minnesota is helping to make big things happen all over the state, especially in Bloomington. Which is a great reminder of how privileged I am to have this job.