Darby Nelson: Reflections
Voters delivered a great gift to future Minnesotans when they passed the Legacy Amendment dedicating new money for conservation, clean water, parks and trails and cultural heritage/arts.
It has been an honor to have served on the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council these first two critical years. In my previous 67 columns in this space, I have tried to help people follow how the council arrived at its recommendations for how Outdoor Heritage Funds would be best spent. I hope it has been helpful.
As we began our work on December 1, 2008, we understood the importance of keeping the faith with the voters who had spoken so clearly. Our obligation was to “get the process right.” Toward that end we committed ourselves to
- Total transparency
- Establishing strong accountability standards
- Base our decisions on sound science
- Maximize the conservation outcomes for every dollar spent from the Outdoor Heritage Fund.
That many people have told me how pleased they are with our process (even those we did not fund) suggests for the most part we met our standards. Give Chair Mike Kilgore and Executive Director Bill Becker credit for outstanding leadership.
For those of us who care deeply about Minnesota’s great outdoors, the Outdoor Habitat Fund has been a godsend. Will it continue to be used as voters intended? Might some attempt to use some of the money to supplanting historical funding? Will they….? Our ongoing task is to be ever vigilant.
On a personal note.
My two year term on the council is ending. I leave to work on another important environment/conservation issue: our lakes. We say we love our lakes yet we not only allow but participate in their deterioration. I have spent a number of years using my aquatic ecology background in a journey to many lakes trying to better understand that paradox. The result has been my book, For Love of Lakes. The book is currently in press at Michigan State University Press as I write. It is to be released this fall.
For Love of Lakes has been very well received by reviewers. In fact the editor in chief at the MSU Press calls it the “Sand County Almanac of lakes.”
I look forward to sharing what I have learned through talks and power-point presentations to any group interested in lakes.