Western Lake Superior NEMO Project – Community Program
Lake Superior Basin,
University of Minnesota
Basin Program Funds:
Development pressures within the Western Lake Superior watershed have been increasing rapidly over the past decade, particularly within coastal communities and townships. Communities accustomed to welcoming any and all development to improve their tax bases are suddenly experiencing the pressures and potential impacts to fragile ecosystems and community aesthetics that come with unplanned development. Nonpoint source control guidance and training currently available to these communities either is above their financial reach or is inappropriate for the relatively low density, nonagricultural setting of this region. There is a need to develop new tools and/or modify existing tools to meet the needs of western Lake Superior communities, and to train these communities in the use of those tools.
Lake Superior basin communities, strapped for resources and facing potential development pressures, are struggling to be proactive and take on the authority to provide comprehensive local land-use and storm water planning and implementation. In fact, many Lake Superior basin communities are now in the process of developing comprehensive plans, but they are finding it to be a formidable task to achieve a balance between preserving the unique natural resources that characterize this region while ensuring a sustainable economic base, particularly when there is strong and active development pressure. At the same time, Smart Growth legislation in Wisconsin, Community Based Planning in Minnesota, and federally mandated TMDLs (total maximum daily loads) are encouraging citizen involvement in the planning process. Communities, recognizing this challenge, are actively seeking guidance and training in land-use planning technologies. These local communities should be provided with ongoing education programs about their local areas so they can make informed decisions that will improve or protect water quality, control soil erosion, and implement sediment control measures.
The Western Lake Superior Basin Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) Program is seeking funds to work with communities in the basin to develop a localized NEMO education package. This education package will then be used to inform local decisionmakers on commissions, councils, and boards within the Lake Superior basin about their watersheds, land-use decisions, nonpoint source pollution and its impacts on water quality. The first pilot project in Minnesota, funded by a small initial grant received from the Coastal Management Program, is underway in Duluth Township, a rural community of 2,000 residents. Duluth Township is using the information and guidance they have received from this successful pilot effort to rewrite their land-use plan and update their zoning ordinance. The community has learned to think about their area as a series of subwatersheds or natural systems, interrelated to the land uses within them, and to plan proactively based on this understanding.
This project will: identify a community in the basin area to partner with on this project; develop and analyze the community’s land-use data and illustrate the assessment in GIS maps; deliver the NEMO presentation materials to the community and its local officials; and train local educators on the use of NEMO materials. The educators will continue to update the NEMO information as more information becomes available. By working closely with a specific community to integrate local and regional issues into NEMO presentation materials and tools, we anticipate that the community will have these tools available to help them take a proactive approach in making land-use decisions that affect water quality in their area.
The community selected for this project was the Fond du Lac Reservation, located on the boarder between Carlton and St. Louis counties. The project team met with members of the tribal government several times to discuss issues and prioritize areas of focus. The reservation has 4,231 tribally owned acres and 17,154 allotted acres where land control is mixed among the City of Cloquet, the tribal government, and the two counties of Carlton and St. Louis. All local communities involved were invited to the presentations. The areas of concerns were narrowed down to three areas: the Simeon Creek watershed, the Otter Creek watershed, and the lake area around and including Big Lake.
Educational materials, including a fact sheet and large-format presentation board, were developed. Local educators within the reservation community were identified who can serve the tribal government by updating the NEMO information and continuing the education efforts within the community as needed. Additional presentations to other audiences in the community area are planed to enhance awareness of the relationship between land-use and water quality, with the hope of supporting tribal action when making land-use decisions in the area.
Contact: Ms. Cindy Hagley, 218-726-8713