Sometimes bad news becomes good news. That’s the case with the recent demise of Minnesota Waters, forcing it into dormancy status less than two weeks ago. However, this past Friday, the Conservation Minnesota board agreed to keep the majority of Minnesota Water’s programs alive so freshwater efforts will continue to be a nonprofit focus. This indeed is a welcome step.
Minnesota Waters is a six-year organization that was formed when the Rivers Council of Minnesota and the Minnesota Lakes Association. When merger talks occurred, the Freshwater Society was poised to be part of the mix, but decided against it at the last minute. If all three groups had joined forces, it would have made for a strong and united nonprofit freshwater effort.
Minnesota Waters has been known for its work with citizen water quality monitoring and a strong focus to combat aquatic invasive species. It has greatly aided lake associations over time, and association members became the core of the organization. Lakes and their problems – shorelines and water quality – dominated the agenda. River issues were worked on, but seemingly were not at the top of the priority list.
Conservation Minnesota not only has a strong lobbying presence at the Capitol, something Minnesota Waters lacked, but keeps close tabs on the Conservation Legacy Funds for clean water and freshwater habitat.
As we know, CM was instrumental in helping get the Legacy amendment passed and has consistently followed up on it. So it is very welcome news that CM is stepping up to the plate and helping out a fellow nonprofit doing important work on lakes and rivers. As we know, along with nonpoint pollution issues and continuing AIS concerns, water quality will always remain a key environmental focus. An evolving process in consolidating Minnesota Waters’ programs into the CM structure hopefully will make a big difference as we strive for improved water quality for Minnesotans.