LPLA Research Study Prioritizes Ravines and Bluffs for Stabilization Projects within the Minnesota River Basin

LPLA obtained funding from the McKnight Foundation to support research designed to develop a methodology for identifying and prioritizing critically erosive ravine and bluff sites within the Blue Earth (BERB) and Le Sueur River Basins (LSRB). The research was conducted by graduate student Anna Tran, under the supervision of Professor Shannnon Fisher of Minnesota State University Mankato, former Director of the MSU Water Resources Center.

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A No-till Farmer who Keeps his Healthy Soil: Leon Morrison - Member Profile

Leon Morrison is a member of LPLA and the 2014 Conservation Farmer of the Year recipient in Pierce County. Today, he takes great measures to see that his topsoil stays put and does not eventually end up in Lake Pepin through practicing No-Till farming.

“We need to keep the soil up here, on the hills,” he said.  The topsoil has the most organic matter. When the organic matter in the top soil is lost, says Morrison, it exposes the soil with extremely poor infiltration which erodes easily. “You don’t need topsoil in Lake Pepin.”

 “We gotta get more incentives for no-till farming,” he said. 

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Show Me the Money: Can Lake Pepin and Our Waterways be Saved with New Markets for Perennials?

Fifty citizens of the Lake Pepin area came to Stockholm, Wisconsin to learn more about Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance, the current conditions of the lake and possible solutions at the WideSpot Performing Arts Center in September. Some of these Wisconsin residents have seen results from their advocacy efforts in earlier years which helped bring about tighter regulation on point source pollution (phosphorous) from wastewater treatment plants and infrastructure upstream in Minnesota. They have had a big, positive impact.  However, the lake remains impaired because we have not been successful at addressing our non-point source of pollutants.

Resdents came to learn more from a Senior Scientist at the St. Croix Watershed Research Station, Shawn Schottler.  Schottler evaluates land management strategies to inform agencies, legislators, non-profits and producer groups in Minnesota based on research on the impaired conditions of our waters. 

Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance invited him to hear how things are looking for Lake Pepin. 

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An Artist's Voice:  David Meixner - Member Profile

 

"I only became a photographer because I am here,” said Meixner.  As the artist describes daily life in the river’s ecosystem, one appreciates how it is teeming with fish, fauna and flora, all impacted by the shallow and turbid waters. 

There's the species who spawn in the backwaters but need deeper water to overwinter - crappies, large-mouth bass and bluegills. There's the morning's visitors: a white-tailed deer, and a snapping turtle scoping out a spot in his sanctuary to lay her eggs - and the nearby call of two pileated woodpeckers. 

“We’re going to lose it all, if we don’t address the sediment and erosion issues on this lake, ” said Meixner.

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The Friendship Tour 2010

“Really, what we do as farmers is harvest the sun,” said Bruce Tiffany, who raises corn and soybeans near Redwood Falls in southwestern Minnesota.

The Mississippi River also “harvests the sun.” Unfortunately, excessive suspended sediment, mostly from the Minnesota River, keeps the river so cloudy that little sunlight reaches the river bed to stimulate growth of wild celery, sago pondweed, star grass and other desirable species of “submerged aquatic vegetation.”

So, at a vital, fundamental level, we residents of the Lake Pepin area share a common interest with Minnesota River basin farmers in optimizing the harvesting of the sun.

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Historical Perspectives

“I look back at what the Mississippi is to me, and it’s the giver of life. Everything is a circle — a circle of life. That river’s been around here for thousands of years, and people have been using it for thousands of years. And people will continue to use it for the next thousands of years. As long as we keep that circle, don’t try to sever all the spines that go to it, because the Mississippi is just one part of that web.”– Jim Jones, Jr., Bemidji, MN

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