RiverTalk issues and concerns

Mississippi Wild and Scenic River Management

Management Plan Revision Process: An Overview of Issue and Concern Statements

In late January and early February of 1998, four open house RiverTalk meetings were held in the cities of Elk River, Monticello, Clearwater, and St. Cloud. We received over 230 written comments from citizens attending these meetings. Personal interviews were also conducted by DNR staff with local officials and selected community leaders. Download the document containing all verbatim responses pertaining to the stretch of river from the St. Cloud dam to Anoka [PDF/69KB].

The following statements regarding Mississippi Wild and Scenic River Management have been generalized from the document and personal interviews. These statements will continue to be expanded upon and refined as the management plan revision process moves forward through 1998 and 1999.

1. River Corridor Protection and Management - Competing Views: Private Property Owners (PPO's) vs. River Users (RU's)

Recreational Use Perspective - Many PPO's don't feel they owe river users an unspoiled river bank, scenic views, or river access; if they want it they should pay for it. RU's feel the river belongs to all; river banks should be left in a natural condition; access should be free and easy; aesthetics play a large role in quality of the river recreational experience.

Riparian Land Development Perspective - Some PPO's feel that since they've been improving and paying taxes on the land, they should be allowed to sell, develop and/or otherwise profit from their investment without undue government regulation and interference. RU's and a select few PPO's feel rules and regulations are there for everyone's protection; too much development has already occurred and current development activity is getting out of hand.

2. Stewardship

Many attendees called for closer attention to be paid to: littering, trespassing, aesthetics, vegetation cutting, developing a general respect for the river and a sense of community.

3. Personal Watercraft

One of the most contentious issues. Most comments were negative. Concerns were primarily noise, wildlife harassment, disruption of other river users and safety. Numerous suggestions to severely regulate, if not outlaw use.

4. Water Quality

Numerous comments noted concern about threats to water quality and increasing pollution of the river and tributaries. A few attendees noticed water quality improvements and suggested increased vigilance to maintain and improve current conditions.

5. Wild and Scenic River Rules and Regulations - Competing Views: Change vs. Don't Change

Comments fell into three distinct categories:

Boundary location and application of rules - Numerous comments from local officials noted that the location of the Wild and Scenic boundary is too arbitrary and needs to be revised based on new criteria. Some riparian landowners and interested citizens feel that everything is working well and objectives are being met -- don't change a thing.

Commercial/Industrial uses within riverway - Nearly all comments related to making provisions for permitting commercial/industrial use within riverway; a few select comments from landowners who were "targeted" as future commercial districts recommended no change.

Development Incentives and lot size - Many felt current lot dimensions encourage sprawl and wasteful use of resources, particularly in growing urban areas; more flexibility in increasing density allowances in exchange for riverfront dedication for public use was requested. A few said don't change a thing; others said it's too late to make any changes now that the damage has been done.

6. Fisheries

Nearly all comments related to the smallmouth bass fishery, its current management, and possible threats to the resource.

7. Bridge Crossings

While not an issue with much of the general public, this is a major issue with local politicians and officials, particularly in the St. Cloud area. Comments from general public focused on curtailing bridge construction or, if truly necessary, to build only in existing corridors.

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