First and foremost, CURE dedicates resources to assure the health and sustainability of the Minnesota River Basin. Staff and members work together to wisely develop strategies that engage partners and decision-makers to take action to protect and restore water quality, biological integrity, and natural beauty. Though this effort starts in our own backyard, we sometimes find ourselves working to craft and pass both state and federal land and water policy.
The Minnesota River, a mere trickle of its glacial predecessor, collects the water from almost 17,000 square miles (10 million acres) of land that sweeps across southwest and southcentral Minnesota. By the time this water makes it to the Mississippi River just upstream of St. Paul, it is laden with soil particles (TSS, or total suspended solids, in geek-speak), nitrates and phosphorus, and fecal coliform bacteria. Often the dissolved oxygen level in the river is too low to support healthy aquatic life. Floods plague us in the spring, and algal blooms plague us in the summer.
These problems are the symptoms of a drastically changed landscape that has interrupted the water cycle. We have replaced a prairie ecosystem with an agricultural ecosystem that relies on two predominant annual crops–corn and soybeans. To return clean water to the Minnesota River and its tributaries, we will need to systemically, thoughtfully, and respectfully address this landscape-level change. This is a job for all of us, and we look forward to working with you!