LCCMR members briefed on conservation plan

Members of the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources were briefed on a sweeping new plan to protect and restore the state's environment and natural habitat.

The Statewide Conservation and Preservation Plan, comprising 18 months of joint public-private research by some 125 environmental experts, lays out a comprehensive framework for addressing Minnesota's current and future environmental challenges.

"The single most important aspect of this plan, I believe, is its comprehensive nature," said Deborah Swackhamer, interim director of the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment, which produced the plan.

Included in the document are more than 60 recommendations designed to help guide the state in addressing issues like shifting population demographics, changing land use practices and the impact of climate change on our natural resources. Some of the plan's recommendations include:
• sharing environmental data and aligning the planning cycles of state, regional and local entities, both public and private;
• planning cities and developments in ways that minimize the necessity of transportation;
• utilizing native perennial crops rather than corn as feedstock for biofuels;
• expanding restoration of shallow lakes and wetlands; and
• increasing development of renewable energy through incentive programs.

Swackhamer said the plan is intended to be a "living document" that can be amended and altered as conditions change over time. Although it was commissioned specifically to serve as a reference for the commission, LCCMR Director Susan Thornton said the hope is that others will make use of the plan too.

"It's my understanding that some of the state agencies are possibly looking at using the statewide plan as a framework as they go about developing their budgets," Thornton said.

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