Thursday, May 2, 2013

Don't molest natural resources

photo of American hazel
© harrington
Nuts! Hazelnuts, that is. Wild River State Park has American hazel shrubs  growing as understory in a "fenceline" of oak trees dividing the two areas of prairie we visited. If I had seen a hazelnut previously, I didn't recognize it as such. The rough bark is, I believe, one of the characteristics of this plant. Another, of course, would be the nuts themselves when visible on the plant/shrub/bush. As I understand it, it's legal and permissible to harvest nuts and berries, but not to pick flowers in state parks in My Minnesota. The all too dry regulatory language is on the revisor's web site under administrative rules. Now, here's where I may start to get a little snarky. I understand and support the prohibition of destruction of state property, especially property managed on behalf of all Minnesotans by the Department of Natural Resources. Unfortunately, this would be the same DNR that's been permitting groundwater withdrawals to the point of unsustainability (withdrawals exceed recharge, so groundwater levels drop). Ron Madore has an article on MinnPost that's written with more journalistic objectivity than I could easily manage if I were writing about the same topic, which, in fact, I did several weeks ago. [You can use the search box and enter "groundwater" for additional postings.] And, since they're in session and, theoretically, could do something about the abysmal and deteriorating condition of our groundwater, let's remember that state agencies are supposed to operate within a framework set by our legislature who, when they're not busy pandering to well-heeled constituents, are only too willing to raise taxes on the middle class. How about raising user fees on groundwater to the point where we might see some conservation? How about requiring new construction to use fixture's approved by EPA's WaterSense program? How about requiring water utilities to implement retrofit programs for existing homes with rebate programs for WaterSense labeled fixtures? If there's anything to these rumors of some sort of warming trend, maybe we commonsensical Minnesotans should try a little to get ahead of it by doing a better job of adapting and conserving the resources we have. Thanks for coming and listening. Come again when you can. Rants, raves and reflections served here daily.