WALKER -- The Cass County Board voted last week to participate in the Governor's Clean Water Initiative North Central Minnesota Lakes Pilot Project.
The board named Deputy Environmental Services Director John Sumption to represent the county on this project.
John Linc Stine of the Minnesota DNR waters division said the project is planned to include Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Hubbard and Itasca counties to focus on the central lakes area.
Other water quality pilot projects are planned to address flood damage reduction along the Red River, metropolitan area drinking water protection and Root River watershed impaired waters in southeastern Minnesota.
Project goals here include offering public workshops to increase understanding of lake and watershed management, updating DNR shoreland management rules and encouraging conservation easements, healthy lakes and rivers grants and regional joint powers wastewater planning.
Technical advisers for the program in addition to the DNR will include the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, Office of Environmental Assistance and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Cities, townships, soil and water conservation districts and watershed districts will be asked to participate along with lake associations, lake user groups, Minnesota Resort Association, Initiative Foundation, Trust for Public Land, 1,000 Friends of Minnesota and Minnesota On-site Sewage Treatment Contractors Association.
Input also will be sought from local chambers of commerce, real estate agents and associations, Brainerd Lakes Area Conservation Collaborative, coalitions of lake associations and Tri-County Leech Lake Partnership.
The University of Minnesota Extension Service, Central Lakes College and University of Minnesota Natural Resources Research Institute will be involved.
Two workshops for county, city and township officials are planned for 2004 and 2005. Two for housing industry professions (builders, developers, Realtors) will be offered in 2004. Twelve best management practices for lake protection workshops will be offered to the public in 2004 and 2005.
As a part of revising state shoreland management rules, revision topics possible are allowing the option of multiple shoreland lake classifications for a single body of water, clarifying planned unit development standards, addressing non-riparian landowners' lake access concerns, improving water quality standards, providing alternate local administration approaches and providing a modified governance system for lake issues in the project area.
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