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Tell Obama about Minnesota's great outdoors

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opinion Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
(218) 333-9819 customer support
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

At the end of a perfect day of fishing on one of Minnesota's lakes, watching the full moon rise, I was again reminded of what a rich natural heritage we have in our state.

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In particular our lakes and rivers are the envy of the country and we Minnesotans have a history of stepping up to protect the water that is so dear to us. Our countless local efforts have recently been boosted by a statewide conservation amendment that is now steering more than $100 million annually into protecting and cleaning up Minnesota's lakes, rivers and streams. We know that clean water is our life blood. It's our economy, our leisure, our way of life.

Now the Obama administration has a plan to help ours and other statewide conservation efforts. It's called America's Great Outdoors and its first goal is to collect input from around the country on what our priorities are. While our priorities in Minnesota need additional resources we also have some great success stories to share with the rest of the country.

In Minnesota we have effective efforts to get people out fishing on our lakes and rivers: Take a Kid Fishing, Fishing Has No Boundaries and Let's Go Fishing are just a few examples. Citizen-led efforts like River Watch and Star Lakes have engaged thousands of Minnesotans in the effort to monitor and clean up our waters.

We have so much work to do to not only protect our lakes and rivers but to get our children out enjoying the places where many of us spent so much of our youth. They will be healthier and will become the ones who will be the protectors of Minnesota's natural clean water heritage when you and I are no longer here to do it.

Please take a minute to share your experiences, priorities and ideas with the Obama administration. Tell them what spending time on our lakes and rivers means to you. What are your success stories? What hopes and plans do you and your community have to further protect those lakes and rivers that mean so much to you? How can we get more of our children to be out enjoying Minnesota's natural heritage?

One idea is to create a national Blue Highways initiative. Historically Minnesotans have used our waterways to travel in, drink from and fish in. This national initiative would provide federal assistance to the efforts already underway here in Minnesota, making our work and dollars go further. It would also connect our efforts with those upstream and downstream from Minnesota.

Share your ideas and stories on the Great Outdoors website: www.doi.gov/americasgreatoutdoors

Frank Moe, a former state legislator from Bemidji, is a Conservation Minnesota Voter Fund Board member.

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Pioneer staff reports
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