Friday, July 1, 2011

About this site

My wife and I have been involved in a number of river clean-up efforts, first in the 90’s, and starting again around 2007. We created to document our experiences, and to share some of the things we learned along the way.

In the early fall of 2009, I scaled-back the physical work I had been doing on the river following surgery to repair some torn muscles. At that time, I started placing more of my conservation focus on writing and photography, creating a new site at  My logic was simple:  Conservation begins with appreciation. So I use "Footprints" as a place to share wildlife and landscape photography.

Another blog serves as a gallery for photos unrelated to conservation: We decided on that name because in addition to street-candid, travel and other photography, I'm going to use this site to document worthwhile human service projects… the kind of efforts that are having a positive impact, but might not get the attention as they deserve. I hope to document two or three people or projects a year at this site, so if you hear of someone doing something really important, please get in touch with me.

This URL is available.  If your non-profit group or company has an interest in owning the “CleanUpTheRiver” URL, again, please feel free to drop me an email. I’m going to hold on to it until I find an organization that will do something smart and meaningful with it.

Until then, this site stays up as an archive to our river restoration adventures... and as proof that "Anyone, on any given day, has the power to improve a place."


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A picture-perfect finish to 2010

The experience was nearly a year ago (January 16), but I remember it well. A good friend and fellow conservationist called to invite me over. His name is Curt Oien (you’ve seen me write of him here before), and his home overlooks a stretch of the Crow River near St. Michael, as well as a vast meadow and woods that belong to the Crow-Hassan Park Reserve, a parcel of the Three Rivers Park District.

Curt had seen a number of Trumpeter Swans, recently, exercising in open water just down the hill, and he wanted to share them. (Truth is, it was a harsh winter, and Curt had been helping the birds survive with pails of delicious corn.) They were familiar enough with his presence that, barring any scares from passing snowmobiles, he could sit nearby for hours, feeding them.

So, I joined Curt on a trip down to the river. If I recall correctly, it was very cold that day (around ten degrees), but the wind was mercifully quiet. And sure enough, the collection of Trumpeters was there. I watched Curt hand-feed the group, and I crawled around on the ice near shore to find the most advantageous position to shoot pictures. Among many other shots I took that day was the photo you see above; I have recently been notified that this picture is the winner in the wildlife category of a photography contest sponsored by the ten-county Crow River Organization of Water. (Click on the photo above to see a larger version.)

As this shot was taken, I was on my knees near the riverbank, shooting across and down-stream toward the birds. The gentle haze is steam rising from the open water into the crisp winter air. And those puffs in the background are not clouds, but ice chunks on the opposing bank, covered by the light snow which had fallen the night before.

Click here to see all of the award-winning photographs, including a shot that earned Curt an honorable mention (any other day, his shot could have easily beaten mine!).

This is the second year our work has been recognized by this group; last year, the winning shot was an injured deer, "Cooling Off in the Crow River."

In the coming months, I'll take a more casual approach to updating, as I focus on a couple of other projects and wait for the spring clean-up season. So Happy New Year, and here’s hoping your 2011 is prosperous… and picturesque. Stay connected via my other site,

© 2010 Mike Anderson, St. Michael, MN. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The original river clean-up continues

While I was out last week, this story from Reuters explained that G.E. must do more to clean-up the Hudson River in New York. Interesting, because this is one of the issues that gave voice to the environmental movement back in the 70s... and work remains to be done.

Click hear to read the Reuters article.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

A nice letter to get

This past week, I received a letter informing me that one of my submissions has won the 2010 C.R.O.W. photography competition, in the wildlife category. I'm not sure which picture it was just yet, but will share it here when the winning shots are posted at the C.R.O.W. website.

The Crow River Organization of Water is a joint powers board composed of counties which share the watershed.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Vote by today or tomorrow for the Friendship Tour

If you haven’t voted yet, consider spending a couple of minutes to advocate for the Minnesota River – Lake Pepin Friendship Tour. The project is one of three finalists being considered in an effort to preserve Lake Pepin, and can benefit from a considerable grant from the Bush Foundation if chosen. For more information, and to cast your vote, visit this link:



Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vote for the Minnesota River's "C.U.R.E."

Recently, I've written about the perils facing Lake Pepin in this space. Seeking to alter the future of sedimentation in the lake, the group has created a contest to inspire upstream collaboration.

C.U.R.E., or "Clean Up The River Environment," is a group whose name is similar to my blog, but which is an independent, non-profit group serving the Minnesota River and southwest Minnesota. Their offices are in Montevideo, Minnesota, but because the importance of their work flows downstream, their efforts serve us all. The reason I point-out that they are not a part of is that I would encourage you to vote for their project in the Lake Pepin contest. C.U.R.E. is among three finalists that are still in the running.

To see details of their efforts, click here:

To vote, click here:

Care for your waters... with the convenience of a point-and-click for C.U.R.E.!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Today, I'm not taking drinking water for granted

Over the past few weeks, Julie and I have been doing a bit of homework… preparing for a trip we’re taking to the Dominican Republic. We’ve never been there, so everything is a lesson. We’ve learned about Hepatitis A and B vaccinations (ouch) and updating tetanus shots in advance of our trip, and taking regiment of pills to prevent against malaria.

Also, we’re learning about the hazards of drinking water in tropical locations. Americans are not accustomed to the less treated waters that are considered potable by foreign standards; people who live in those countries have built-up a resistance to the bacteria and micro-organisms that exist in their water supplies… we have not.

That doesn’t just mean, “Don’t drink the water.” It means you cannot brush your teeth from the tap, you cannot put just any ice cubes in your drink, you cannot consume salad greens, fruits or vegetables that have been rinsed in tap water…

It means you can't take one drop of water for granted. Because that could be the drop that is tainted. It's not scary, so much... as it is an important lesson.

As a matter of coincidence, I came across a story in the opinion section of the New York Times that spoke of the challenges of obtaining water in third world countries. It offers a solution, too, in the form of a Swedish company that has created a system to make otherwise dangerous water supplies safer to consume… as well as a means to fund and profit from providing those systems to people who cannot afford to pay. (Click here to read the story.)

I loved this idea. It gives me a degree of success to shoot for in my personal projects.


© 2010 Mike Anderson, St. Michael, MN. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A great story about Lake Pepin

Lake Pepin is the largest lake on the upper Mississippi River, and it's in danger of vanishing due to the sediment that is literally filling it in.

Greg Vandegrift from KARE 11 television did a great story on the issue for a recent KARE 11 Extra feature. To read the text version of the story, click here. To see the video, just launch below.


Friday, October 29, 2010

I'll try to make this my last rant about the Deepwater Horizon spill...

And then I will try get back to focusing on conservation issues related to more actionable issues of more local nature. But this set of notes is a reminder of just how complex this situation has been for everyone, and that it is far from over.

Should people not directly impacted by the oil be compensated for oil spill? This story from the New York Times explains why Florida businesses are seeking compensation for the drop in tourism caused by the Deepwater Horizon spill. I don’t have enough knowledge to offer an opinion on this. But it’s another example of how complex this clean-up process has been and will be. Click here to see the story.

Researchers find more missing oil. A recent story from USA Today explains that two different research teams have discovered oil on the floor and in the sediment not far from the site of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill of 2010. For details, click here. Again, evidence that the solution will never be as easy as avoiding the problem in the first place.

And here is an early indication that prevention was entirely possible. Another New York Times story this week suggests that the recipe for the concrete used in the well, initially, was flawed. Of course, this will be discussed and denied over the coming months, including probably the usual congressional hearings which expose much but solve little. Click here to see that story.

© 2010 Mike D. Anderson. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Looking back at the gaff in the Gulf

It’s been a half-year since the Deepwater Horizon exploded, with tragic loss of life and immense consequences for the residents of the Gulf of Mexico and its coastlines, both human and wildlife. This story from today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune took a look back at the incident, and considers the ongoing environmental impact. Click here to see the story.

Less than six months later, the ban on deep water drilling is lifted. The White House has put new restrictions and rules in place, but there is no longer a moratorium on deep water exploration or drilling; see this story from the New York Times (last week) for details. I cannot fully understand why the practice is safer now than when things flew utterly out of control six months ago (they must be some darn good new rules), but I hope they know what they’re doing. Click here to see the NY Times story.

New tools to help contain future disasters. Another story—this one from the Associated Press via the San Francisco Examiner—explains that industry experts have developed a new method of containing similar deep water oil spills in the future. Actually, rather than a “new” method, perhaps I should refer to it as simply, “a method.” After all, there was no “Plan B” when the BP well started spilling. But instead of sounding too cynical, I’ll just say I’m glad they’re (finally) thinking about this sort of thing. Click here to read the SF Examiner story.

© 2010 Mike D. Anderson. All rights reserved.