I could not have predicted the immense education I would gain from launching this project... just on the topic of jurisdictional controls… and sometimes competing interests. A great example is the 9.7 mile segment of the Mississippi River that we have adopted. With its designation as a federal waterway and national waterway, it is technically policed by both the Coast Guard and the National Park Service. But I’ve been pulled over (yes, in my kayak, to check my license) by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department… and I know the waterways and adjacent landings to also be patrolled by the Brooklyn Center, Fridley, and Minneapolis police departments, as well as Anoka County Sheriff’s Department, Three Rivers Park District staff and the Minneapolis Park Police. Most of the public facilities along this stretch are maintained by either Anoka County Parks and Recreation Department, Three Rivers Park District, or the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board.
Of course, the same stretch of river is overseen by the MN Department of Natural Resources.
And as if all of that wasn’t enough, when it comes to discharge into the river, each of the Cities along the river has a storm sewer system that drains into the waterway. And the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization helps guide how many of these organizations all work together.
So when you have a question, who do you ask? Anyone. The one thing you discover about this task is that jurisdictions sometimes overlap, interests sometimes compete, and organizations do not always agree about the best way of doing things. But most everyone you’ll talk to agrees that the river needs better protection than we have given it… and anyone who’s trying to clean it up is okay in their book.
My default source of information is often the Adopt-a-River program at the Minnesota DNR. Program coordinator Paul Nordell either has the answer, or knows who to ask. And he has never been less than passionate about helping anyone who wants to help the river.
© 2009 Mike D. Anderson, Crystal, MN.