From: Dave Palmquist
Historically, most environmental problems occurred because we didnít understand what the results of our land use would be.
For 39 years, I worked as a Naturalist at Whitewater State Park in northwestern Winona County. During that time, I learned about the land use history of the Whitewater River Watershed and Valley. In a short century, starting in 1850, the valley went from wilderness, to an area with three towns and over one hundred farms, and back to wilderness. The erosion and flooding that led to the abandonment of the towns and farms, were caused by land use practices whose impacts on this blufflands landscape were previously not understood. In 1938, the town of Beaver flooded 28 times. Because of the devastation in the valley, Winona, Olmsted and Wabasha County Commissioners voted to establish the Whitewater Wildlife Management Area, currently the most used state wildlife land in southern Minnesota.
Today, we have a much better understanding of land use practices that minimize erosion and flooding. In fact, there are many farmers who have implemented practices that help their fields actually gain soil and keep the rain that falls on their farm. We have learned from past mistakes which land use practices are sustainable and which are not. Today, in most cases where there are land use problems, itís not because we didnít know the possible results of our actions. Rather we have chosen to implement the practices for our personal short term benefit.
Those of us who have voiced our concerns regarding the proposed land use ordinance changes, are not a vocal minority, but rather part of the majority of county residents who care about the environmental health of Winona County now and in the future. We care about the common good now, as well as the common good for our children and grandchildren.
We of this majority need to let our voices be heard now. Please contact the County Board members; Wayne Valentine, 507-454-2762, Marcia Ward, 507-643-6389, Greg Olson, 507-474-6270, Jim Pomeroy, 507-452-2267 and Steve Jacob, 507-534-2554. Let them know you do not want more structures on the bluffs, including those overlooking the Whitewater Valley. Let them know that you do not want feedlots to be allowed closer to neighbors. Let them know you do not want the environmental protections of the recently approved County Land Use Ordinance weakened to those of 1970. Please attend the Winona County Board meeting Tuesday, November 5, at 7 p.m. in the Winona County Board Room in the Government Center, 177 Main Street, in Winona.