Thursday, February 25, 2010

BEST PRACTICES: Ask for 'em!

In this age of anger, citizens and consumers are demanding answers to their urgent questions. Japanese automobiles are lurching out of control and getting recalled. Somebody tells you that a proposed new Medicare “Death Panel” could put you or Grandpa away if you get very sick - and are too old. Makes your blood boil!

What’s going on here is a reaction to our prolonged deep recession, with two endless wars, and widespread uncertainty about the future. Money is tight. Storefronts have emptied, and every week foreclosure notices fill the newspapers where want ads used to be. The question for our times, I submit, is this "the best you can do?" In a number of industries, leading professional and executive bodies have developed the concept of “Best Management Practices” to insure that standards are high and are maintained, in order to insure excellent outcomes. Such examples can be found in manufacturing, mining, and forestry.


In Aitkin County we adopted Alternative Shoreland Standards into our Shoreland Management Ordinance back in the Fall of 2008. We selected those options from the North Central Lakes Project that included five partnering counties, that contain 21% of Minnesota’s lakes. Another product from this recent project was a set of ten shoreland Best Management Practices (BMPs) to address the cumulative effects on our lakes of population growth, population density and land use change.

Here are the Top Ten BMPs, to inspire us, as we contemplate “Ice Out” in just a few more weeks:

1. Preserve or create a natural shoreline.
2. Relax. Reduce your lawn. Keep your trees.
3. Learn what you can and cannot do, on or to the lake and lakeshore.
4. Minimize rooftops and driveways.
5. Maintain your septic system.
6. Keep native aquatic plants.
7. Manage your pet and livestock waste.
8. Be considerate of other lake users.
9. Encourage and support land conservation.
10. Show up. Speak up. Serve or write a check to support local efforts.

For more information about how to follow through with these BMPs, you can talk to your lake association leaders, if you are a lakeshore dweller, or else call the Aitkin County Water Planning Task Force at 218-927-6565.

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