Growing Stronger Every Year: 2017 Annual Review

By: Mackenzie Consoer

Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance (LPLA) has gone back to its roots with a focus on local restoration, community education, and grassroots organizing. The Minnesota River Basin might contribute 90% of the sediment filling Lake Pepin, but downstream stakeholders are the guardians of this natural treasure. LPLA is here to amplify the local voice and advocate for a healthier Lake Pepin for years to come. Over the last year, LPLA has continued to advocate for upstream mitigation and downstream restoration, two activities that need to occur simultaneously. Check out what our growing organization has achieved with your support this year!

Local Restoration

For three years, the LPLA and MN Audubon have worked behind the scenes to spearhead a restoration project at the head of Lake Pepin. This year, restoration planning started taking flight!

 Stakeholder workshop - discussing concept ideas

Stakeholder workshop - discussing concept ideas

The first public meeting was in Red Wing, MN on July 11th, 2017 to introduce conceptual plans and the preliminary feasibility study. Over 75 people attended the first public hearing and so far there is no direct opposition. The WI DNR is the state sponsor and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the federal sponsor responsible for implementation. LPLA maintains local leadership, responsible for community outreach and project fundraising.

For more information, read the Q & A Interview with LPLA Executive Director, Rylee Main.

Next Year Preview: In 2018, the Corps of Engineers will be modeling alternative scenarios for restoration in Upper Lake Pepin with input from agency and non-profit stakeholders and the public. Fundraising will continue in order to reach our goal of $3.5 million dollars to support the non-federal portion of the project, while leveraging over $6.5 million dollars in federal funds. 

Education

Over the last year, LPLA has leveraged numerous partnerships to provide education through research and storytelling. The “Disappearing Legacy of Lake Pepin” is a web application that combines storytelling and scientific data so users can explore the relationship between the erosive Minnesota River Basin and the sedimentation in Lake Pepin. Users can click through the web application like a book or simply explore the interactive maps. LPLA plans to use it for presentation throughout the coming year.

Story Map.png

LPLA also revamped its website, funded research to prioritize the most erosive bluffs in Blue Earth and Le Sueur watersheds, and created a conservation blog through a college internship. Meanwhile, LPLA continues to release monthly newsletters with professional and community perspectives on Lake Pepin. Another big thank you to David Meixner, Leon Morrison, Judy Krohn, Bruce Ause, Wendy Dart, and Frank and Cathy Dosdall for volunteering their time for member profiles and sharing their valuable experience with the rest of us.

Next Year Preview: LPLA is making an effort to connect with area schools and families. We hope to develop curriculum about Lake Pepin sedimentation and eutrophication that can be used in the class room. Stay tuned!

Outreach

LPLA is a grassroots organization that depends on community support to be successful. In the past, much of the LPLA’s effort has been focused on the Minnesota River Basin by working with government, academic, and nonprofit partners. With growing capacity and the initiation of the restoration project, LPLA has been able to have a stronger presence in local communities.

Executive Director, Rylee Main, has continued giving local and regional presentations. Main was also selected to join the Governors Clean Water Council for the State of Minnesota and chosen to represent Southeast Minnesota at the Governor’s 25 by 25 Town Hall Meeting, where she was able to connect with Governor Dayton directly about LPLA goal and concerns.

Over the summer, LPLA launched its first community outreach campaign with Pepie, the lake monster, to increase local visibility and awareness. Pepie visited local businesses and attended community events, including the Lake City Farmer’s Market, Lake City Waterski Days Parade, Stockholm Art Stroll, Stockholm Art Fair, and the National Eagle Center’s Bald Eagle Days. Pepie even rode the 32-mile Tour de Pepin and kayaked the Le Sueur River to document sources of erosion. Pepie has gone into hibernation for the winter, but will have a few exclusive appearances next summer.

IMG_4421.JPG

LPLA is also leveraging more online technology to engage with communities. The “Citizen Watch Initiative” is a web application that facilitates community monitoring of Lake Pepin by encouraging visitors to share stories and photos directly to an interactive map. The application was adapted to the fall outreach campaign, focused on uniting our shared love for Lake Pepin. You can use the application online, now called “Our Lake Pepin”, and post your photos of your experience on and around the water!

LPLA member benefits have also improved. Depending on the membership level, members now receive a window decal, membership card, tickets to the National Eagle Center, LPLA t-shirt or hat, and an opportunity to participate in an ongoing scavenger hunt for more prizes.

Next Year Preview: 1) LPLA is putting together a Council of Champions, a partnership with numerous local stakeholders to share and disseminate information. It is an exciting new development that we will continue to share with our community. 2) A volunteer program is also under development with opportunities for citizen monitoring, event staffing, and community organizing. Sign-up here for more information! 3) LPLA will continue compiling community stories about Lake Pepin water conditions, activities, and history. Sharing your personal experience makes the issue easier to resonate with upstream communities and politicians we depend on for mitigation!

Organizational Changes

Originating from neighbors in Wacouta Bay, LPLA has always strived to represent all Lake Pepin communities and ecological concerns. As such, we are excited to broaden our representation with two local leaders from Wisconsin: Alan Nugent from Stockholm and Maryanne Wise from Maiden Rock joined the LPLA board over the summer. Read their bios here

The rest of the Board of Directors remains consistent with Scott Jones (President), Suzanne Blue (Vice President), Marilyn Albrecht (Secretary), Arlin Albrect (Treasurer), Anne Jones, and Abra Hovgaard. Rylee Main continues to make waves as the as the Executive Director and will be joined by LPLA's second full-time staff person, Mackenzie Consoer starting in 2018. 

By the Numbers

Total Members: 231

New Members: 97

Total Sponsors: 31

New Sponsors: 21

Facebook Followers: 1,061

New Followers: 418

Next Year Preview:  2018 is our last year for matching contributions from the Katherine B. Anderson Fund. All new memberships and membership increases will be matched 1:1!