Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sustainable St. Croix Valley?
Sustainable St. Croix Valley!

Yesterday we included a Stop Frac Sands request in our posting. This morning's email brought some good news forwarded From Mayor Mike Buchite (of Taylors Falls):
"Just received a letter today from Superior Silica Sands addressed to North Branch and copied to myself. It reads 'Superior Silica Sands has decided to discontinue any additional effort towards developing a trans-loading facility in the ESSBY park in North Branch'

Watch KARE11 news - tonight at 10!

You can watch the story on KARE11 news tonight at 10pm or online sometime later tonight."
On the one hand, I'm really pleased by this turn of events. On the other, I wonder where else Superior Silica Sands may be looking for property to develop a trans-loading facility. This kind of proposal makes me wonder about the prospect for a sustainable future for the St. Croix River and its valley. The valley has been logged over at least once and some forested areas have been converted to farms despite being on less than prime agricultural soils. Too much of the river valley's history has been one of exploitation of natural resources. Maybe now is the time to think about a future local economy for the valley that's sustainable and addresses the arts and historical resources we have plus themes identified by sustainable communities online:

St. Croix River at Franconia
St. Croix River at Franconia           © harrington

  • Agriculture and Food Systems
    Community efforts can preserve agricultural land, encourage sustainable agricultural practices, support local food producers, and facilitate the production and distribution of locally produced food through farmer's markets and cooperative food buying programs. This section presents examples of whole systems approaches to sustainable agriculture.
  • Fisheries
    Aquatic wildlife play a major role in sustaining healthy marine and freshwater ecosystems. It is therefore important that communities associated with fisheries and aquatic ecosystems responsibly manage these resources. Community participation can provide support for sound management practices and remedial programs, as well as for persons and industries engaged in commercial and recreational fishing.
  • Forestry and Wood Products
    Trees are important for both urban and rural ecosystems. Mature trees maintain desirable microclimates and shelter wildlife. Trees also have economic value as a raw material used in producing paper, buildings, furniture, and other wood products. Examples of communities balancing these environmental and economic considerations are in this section.
  • Manufacturing and Industry
    Economically healthy businesses and industries with minimal environmental impact on communities should be encouraged. Communities should work to attract and support such industries and to reduce or eliminate negative impacts from existing industries. New approaches are explored in this section.
  • Small Business
    Small businesses are sources of employment and providers and consumers of goods and services that sustain the local economy. Their operation should support the local ecology, minimize energy use and waste, and utilize recycled products and materials. Examples are in this section.
  • Technology
    Technological advances in business, health, education, and the environment provide new opportunities for communities. More information products are available, and some may have environmental implications. Communities must be current and guide their economies accordingly. This section provides examples.
  • Economics and Finance
    Residents from all segments of the community can play a role in the future of their local economy. Working together, business and government leaders, local non-profit organizations, and citizen groups can analyze needs and resources and guide the economy. Local financial institutions can invest in sustainable community initiatives. Examples of innovative approaches are in this section.
  • Urban/Rural Economic Ties
    It is in the interest of urban and rural residents to work together in mutually supportive ways. In this section are examples of cooperative efforts in land preservation, sustainable agriculture, growth management, appropriate development of rural resources, improved trading and tourism, and development of low-impact regional planning and transportation systems.     

St. Croix River at Wild River State Park
St. Croix River at Wild River State Park         © harrington

We'll be returning to this theme from time to time as we consider the USDAC's IMAGINING the St. Croix River Valley's future in 2034 and how we can get there, plus the Heritage Initiative and how that can support a sustainable Valley future.

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