Thursday, October 15, 2009

Water, and passion, will always find their place

I enjoy spending time on the water. I mean, I really enjoy riding the current of the river, soaking-up all of the scenery, wildlife and serenity that tend to be found along the shoreline. The whole idea of restoration—conservation and removing debris from the river—simply helps me justify the amount of time that I try to spend on the water.

It never seems like enough time. But this year, my river miles were even fewer because of the muscle problems and surgery that stood in the way. And going forward, the odds are good that my physical work on the river will be a little less aggressive, long term. That doesn’t mean I won’t be picking up debris and continuing my geo-trashing work. It just means I probably won’t be lugging appliances, construction debris or safes up the riverbank anytime soon.

That’s why I spent a good part of September reflecting on the emails I had received about our project in recent months (see the posts below). And it’s why I’ve been thinking about ways I can make good use of this blog, beyond reporting on my personal activities. For starters, I’m going to start reporting more on the activities of others… and sharing news about river issues, restoration projects and conservation groups that are at work all over the country, and all over North America. I’m going to use the web to gather relevant stories, and I’ll post quick access to those stories here.

Now… what of the passion I have for the scenery, wildlife and serenity of the river and woods? Well, I have an idea for that, too: I’m going to do what I can to hone my writing skills and photography techniques… in an effort to capture and share some of the sights I have seen and places I have been. You see, it occurred to me that anyone who finds their way to is already rather passionate about the topic of river stewardship; any story I post here, advocating conservancy, is pretty much “preaching to the choir.”

I have realized that conservation begins with appreciation. Someone who hunts, fishes, hikes, climbs, paddles or camps does not need to be told how valuable our natural resources are; they have been there, and seen that. Thus, if I can encourage more people to visit the shoreline, walk the trail, or notice the forest… matters of conservation will come naturally to those people. Those people, and the places they visit, will be enriched. will remain a blog focused on matters of river restoration and clean-up. But watch for a new "companion site," coming soon, which will ask people to notice and appreciate... places. And with that appreciation, perhaps natural conservation will follow.

Like water, passion finds a way to reach its destination. And one of mine is waiting just outside.

© 2009 Mike D. Anderson, St. Michael, MN. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Not by air, not by land, and certainly not by river or sea.

Most of my interest in river conservation and restoration has to do with what I can physically see, reach, and remove… or at least inventory so the debris can be removed later. However, there is a story in today’s New York Times which reminds me of those things I cannot see.

The article focuses on a coal plant in Masontown, Pennsylvania. But a correlating side-bar offered by the NY Times shows that what’s happening in that community could be happening somewhere close to yours. According to the story, it seems that in their quest to reduce air pollution, the plant was using water to “scrub” the emissions, but then releasing the contaminated water into a local river.

Just so we’re clear, I don’t consider myself anything near an activist, and I certainly have nothing against the coal industry. I believe our future must be fueled by a wide variety of energy solutions, including solar, wind, wave, bio-fuels… and yes, hopefully, even clean coal (if we can eventually get that figured out). But I point this article out to you as a reminder that, apparently, not everyone is abiding to the rules set forth by the Clean Water Act.

Sometimes, citizens need to be vocal about these matters. After all, the driving idea behind the Clean Water Act is that the few and powerful should not profit… by damaging or destroying a water resource that belongs to all. Moving pollution from the air to the water is not an upgrade.

© 2009 Michael Anderson, St. Michael, MN. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sometimes, it is the thought that counts

On September 19, the St. Michael/Albertville River Team (aka, S.M.A.R.T.), hit the shorelines for their annual clean-up. This being our first year living in St. Michael, I would love to have been involved. But because it was less than a month after surgery—I wasn’t cleared for kayaking yet—I was not in a position, physically, to join in. Further, that was the weekend before our youngest son was going to leave for basic and specialty training for the National Guard… so there were important going-away festivities which took priority for me.

Since moving to St. Michael, I’ve been fortunate to make the acquaintance of long-time Crow River steward, Curt Oien. We met through our mutual acquaintance, Paul Nordell, who oversees the Adopt-a-River program for the Minnesota DNR. Curt and I have had several e-mail conversations, plus a few phone calls, and on one occasion were able to spend a half-day paddling on the Crow River.

Curt knew that I had wanted to get involved with the fall clean-up. But he also knew the circumstances which would prevent my being there.

Last week, I got in touch with Curt to see if he could get together and review some photos that I had taken over the summer, on my four different excursions down the Crow River. (I’m thinking about entering a photo contest sponsored by the Crow River Watershed District, and wanted his input on which pictures I should use.)

When I arrived, Curt presented me with a t-shirt from the fall clean-up. He said, “When they were handing-out the t-shirts, I claimed a couple extras, as there were two people that I knew had been involved with clean-ups on the Crow River this summer, but who could not be there for the fall project.” I was delighted to have the shirt… and glad that he realized how badly I wanted to be there.

You meet the coolest people on the river.

© 2009 Mike D. Anderson, St. Michael, MN. All rights reserved.