From its Headwaters to the Twin Cities, the Mississippi River has benefited from coordinated management plans and community efforts to protect its water quality and shoreland habitat--except for 26-mile stretch in Central Minnesota. Starting in St. Cloud and stretching north through Stearns and Benton counties, this stretch is governed by 11 different jurisdictions (four cities, five townships and two counties). These communities presently have no uniform land use controls to protect the magnificent river they share. Significant population growth and development pressure and contributing upland pollution could significantly damage the health of the Mississippi River. This project's goal was to restore and protect the natural resources of the Mississippi River and its tributaries, and reduce habitat fragmentation along its banks in central Minnesota. The project coordinated with local units of government to develop and implement specific river protection policies with limited success. Individual landowners were contacted to implement sound shoreland and upland management practices. Also, in conjunction with this project a portion of the Sauk watershed was selected as part of the USDA NRCS Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) to reduce pollution entering the river and reducing downstream impacts. Over 50,000 acres had conservation practices planned or applied. Local units of government were offered workshops and technical assistance to implement policies, such as adopting a Natural Resource Overlay District along the river. The City of Sartell was key receiver of this assistance. Also, a major Take a Day OFF (Outdoor Family Fun) event was held to increase the publics' awareness of this wonderful natural resource in their backyard. Over 1000 people attend this event annually. The public policies and landowner practices implemented has resulted in a healthier Mississippi River today and for decades to come.
Minnesota Water Research Digital Library