Anderson: DNR's conservation wisdom needs marketing

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 5, 2013 - 6:54 PM

The agency provides valuable science, but it must improve at motivating grass-roots support for large-scale conservation solutions.

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westernmnJan. 5, 1310:49 PM

What will marketing do in the current situation with super high grain prices, cash rents, and land prices? It is a waste of time to try to gain conservation acres right now. An 80 nearby recently sold for $1 million! Most of Minnesota's public and private conservation / habitat lands (WMAs, WPAs, AMAs, RIM, CREP, WRP, CRP) have been neglected for decades, many are in very poor condition. Now is a good time to be investing in restoration work on existing acres.

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Willy53Jan. 6, 13 6:50 AM

I like the idea that concerned groups (phsnts frvr, Dks Unlmtd, Nature Conserv) all work with local watershed districts and the DNR to concieve of science backed and stakeholder approved projects. There still are problems there. In Stillwater the Brown's Creek Diversion simply transferred the urban runoff that made lower Brown's Creek unsuitable for Trout reproduction into McKusick Lake, and turned that largest and most used lake in Stillwater into a stressed holding pond. Conservationists in this instance could not overcome the trout bias of Ducks Unlimited and the limited power of and inadequate participation of the Brown's Creek Watershed and the McKusick Lake WMO. Citizen's warned of the problems with shoving runnoff from parking lots on the SE side into Mckusick and wondered why we were trading the most visible and used body of water for a trout stream that is litterally never used. I know, I walk that stream frequently and have never seen a fisherman on its banks. The point I'm trying to make,Dennis, is that conservation (unless it is tied to increasing specific game fish and wildlife) is really ignored. The Brown's Creek debacle (11 million bucks) and consequent impact on Lake McKusic and ongoing coverup by the City is a tragedy that could have been avoided. Is there any way to balance the overwhelming fish and game (as opposed to conservation and preservation) bias that dominates our DNR and policy decisions today? I write as an avid fisherman and user of our natural resources and wild places.

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jackpinesavJan. 6, 13 8:59 AM

Dennis is right on, bulls eye correct, that bottom up involvement is needed to face the huge challenges to outdoor recreation, and the billion dollar economic impact it has on local communities. Folks need to come together, listen a lot, and help develop long-range goals to keep Minnesota an outdoor mecca. Or we can model our national leadership and waste time throwing gernades. Anderson, Schara and other outdoor enthusiasts can lead by being involved in the discussion.

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facts4youJan. 6, 13 9:31 AM

Its not about local coordination or handholding or other kumbaya (spelling?) stuff. Its about money, and when ruining the environment is more profitable than saving it you will have problems.

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puckster55picsJan. 6, 13 9:13 PM

All Minnesotan's are & Should be considered Stakeholders & NOT just groups dedicate to hunting & fishing! Native American's should be involved in these meetings, anyone & everyone including Howling For Wolves members-EVERYONE should have a seat at the table! The state's wildlife is NOT the exclusive property of hunters but all those who visit Mn wilderness areas. As for Mr. Anderson's idea of needing Better Marketing, the word he should have used was Propaganda!

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eastrangeJan. 6, 13 9:46 PM

People who enjoy employment (an actual job) in industries such as mining which has been a staple of the economy for many years should be there as well. Embedding Agenda 21 groups in government is just a downward spiral for all in the end. We all lose.

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sohkohJan. 6, 13 9:49 PM

Marketing (education and outreach) is vitally important to conservation programs so that first people become aware of the issues, so they can learn to care, and maybe take action. The complete marketing campaign of most DNR, SWCD, and NRCS offices: Put brochures and posters in an office hardly anybody knows about in a haphazard fashion. Avoid using free local media like newspaper articles and t.v./radio interviews. The internet and social media is a fad. Websites should be made in house by people who have no website or design experience. Do education and outreach, but only if you like to, not because you should or because it's important. Did I mention brochures? Lots and lots of brochures. On a more positive note, there are some good conservation offices out there--lots of Watershed Districts are doing a great job with marketing, maybe because they're newer organizations and generally have younger, more progressive employees and managers--but most SWCDs, DNR, and NRCS staff are completely out of touch with effective marketing and education tools and nobody is telling or requiring them to do a better job. Especially when nobody knows about their marketing incompetence (thanks for raising awareness of this issue Dennis).

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tmbrcruiserJan. 7, 13 9:29 AM

Good article and excellent comments. That's the root of it; resource management is one part politics and the politics come first. Science is the vehicle, politics is the stearing wheel. Whether it's mining vs wilderness or CRP vs ethanol, the public needs to decide what they want. As our population grows, the stakes get higher. Society needs food and jobs, wild places are more limited. Call it marketing if you want but as the demands get greater and the divide gets deeper, finding consensus gets tougher.

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lakeelmo99Jan. 9, 13 8:45 AM

Dennis as a marketer for 3M and an outdoorsman I feel compelled to comment. Residents already know the DNR's primary job is to maximize business and tax revenue from our natural resources with all natural resource decisions based on that premise. Convincing residents otherwise will only lead to a further disconnect between their "marketing message" and this reality. BTW at 3M executive leadership, most of whom are engineers, believe engineers are smart enough to tackle anything including marketing which is why many of 3M's amazing innovations die on the vine.

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jd55604Jan. 11, 13 2:50 PM

The problem isn't a lack of slick marketing campaigns. The problem is that the DNR is a bloated bureaucracy that doesn't typically offer the people of MN goods or services that they want or are willing to pay for. Why would the DNR resort to private sector style marketing tactics when they can just use their monopoly on force to extract tax dollars from the people and force them by gunpoint to do things they would not normally do on their own?

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