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Public input sought on "One Watershed, One Plan"

Ron Schara and Raven (Submitted photo)

Representatives from Cass County, Cass Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), Hubbard County, and Hubbard SWCD have partnered to begin the development of the Leech Lake River One Watershed One Plan.

"This plan will serve as a comprehensive implementation plan for the recently completed Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies (WRAPS) plan. The plan will focus on determining the best ways to protect our surface water (lakes, streams, and wetlands) and groundwater," said John Ringle, Cass County Environmental Services Director.

A public, kick-off meeting is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 15 at the Walker Community Center from 5-7 p.m. A beans and brats, picnic-style dinner will be followed by keynote speaker Ron Schara, a long-time advocate for the Minnesota outdoors, who will address the importance of communities and local governments working together to protect our waters.

This meeting and dinner is open to the public and will review key watershed data and information, discuss values and issues identified by stakeholders, and provide additional opportunities for public feedback.

Why is watershed planning important?

The Leech Lake River watershed is unique in both its pristine nature as well as the potential level of development which can diminish water quality.

"The watershed has 854,659 forested acres, 277 river miles, and over 750 lakes. The lakes and rivers remain largely unimpaired but face potential for development," observes Julie Kingsley, Hubbard Soil and Water Conservation District manager.

Major threats to the watershed include the loss of shoreline and aquatic habitat, population growth of up to 60 percent by 2030, increased pollution, and loss of biodiversity due to the expansion of invasive species. Sixty-one priority lakes were identified for protection, along with the Necktie River, Bungashing Creek, and the Kabekona River.

Public input is very important on issues around the natural environment; quality of life for landowners and visitors; watershed leadership; climate and risks for water quality and quantity; and financial resources for managing issues.

An online survey will soon be available for input from the public who are not able to attend the Sept. 15 meeting.

More information about this project and the public meeting is available from John Ringle, Cass County Environmental Services Dept., at 218-547-7256 or john.ringlewww.co.cass.mn.us/LLR1W1P.

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