Friday, January 25, 2008

A quick guide to some great "Natural Resources"

Having acknowledged that river restoration can be a daunting task, I’d like to point out some wonderful resources—and amazing people—who take great pleasure in making the job easier.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
I’ll start by giving kudos to the DNR for having a great home page, which illustrates the important role these folks play in preserving habitat, protecting our resources and promoting stewardship of the outdoors. But go a little deeper, and you’ll find some very specific, helpful assets to take advantage of.

First, visit the State Parks section of the web site. For several of our expeditions last year, Julie and I used a few of these beautiful places as our “base camp,” including William O’Brien, Interstate, and St. Croix State Park, among others. Enjoying these assets is a great way of rewarding yourself for a job well done, and the rates for camp sites are very reasonable.

More to the point, you’ll be very impressed with the Adopt-a-River section of the web site. It includes a How-To Kit, clearly authored by people with some experience (which means, you get to learn from other peoples’ mistakes… and start off on the right foot). One of these stewards is Megan Godbold, a member of the Conservation Corps who is passionate about helping people preserve our resources. If you can't find the answers you need at the web site, know that Megan responds to email with courtesy for people, and a strong conviction for our natural resources.

Making WAVs in Wisconsin
River restoration in Wisconsin is supported by a program called Water Action Volunteers. WAV is a joint effort of the Wisconsin DNR and the University of Wisconsin Extension Service. The WAV home page also provides valuable tips about planning your river clean-up, securing funding or donations from the private sector, and more.

During the process of planning my clean-ups in Wisconsin waters, I have found Kris Stepenuck to be a great source of help and information. Kris is a volunteer stream monitoring coordinator… and can answer all your questions about the WAV program if you’re planning a clean-up in Wisconsin. Just send her an email. (If she doesn’t have the answer you need, she’ll probably know where you can find it!)

The Wisconsin DNR also has an impressive web site, giving visitors the ability to make reservations for camping sites online, and more.

The National Park Service is a wonderful site that can lead you to some of the most breathtaking places in the U.S. But the site can also help you drill-down for comprehensive information about those places, including the network of National Scenic Waterways. For example, visit a section of the site dedicated to The Saint Croix River. It is filled with great information—and some wonderful photos—of this, one of my favorite waterways.

Are there any others? Of course there are. Now, I happen to enjoy navigating the waters of Minnesota and Wisconsin, because they’re close to home. But whether you’re voyaging rivers in Missouri or Montana, Arizona or Arkansas, Colorado or the Carolinas… there are state agencies who are responsible, in part, for facilitating the restoration and maintenance of the rivers near you. Just Google it, using these words: “River, natural resources, clean-up, state, [state name].” In Canada, you can do the same thing, but trade the word “province” for state, and enter your province name, along with “.ca.”

Where ever you are in North America, if you discover a great information source that you’d like to share with others, just send me a link by email, and I’ll be happy to post it at this blog for others to discover.

When you speak with any of these people, whose calling is to help each of us restore a waterway, protect a habitat or preserve another natural resource… remember to say, “Thanks.” They’re doing important work. And we’re all better for it.

© 2008 Mike D. Anderson, Crystal, MN.

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