NextStep e-newsletter, August 27, 2013, Issue 315

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 In this issue

Greetings NextStep e-newsletter subscribers!

A message from Paul Moss:

As staff person for the NextStep web site since 2000, and in recent years for the e-newsletter, I've been greatly honored to participate in this work to advance sustainability in Minnesota. It’s been amazing to learn about the wide variety of sustainability activities initiated in our state, and to see sustainability become more broadly utilized as a framework during that time. I hope that NextStep has helped this process to occur, if even in a small way.

 Over the past months, my work at the MPCA has become focused on the emerging area of climate adaptation – steps that can be taken to help prepare for impacts associated with climate change. And so NextStep – both the web site and e-newsletter – has now transitioned into the capable hands of Erin Barnes-Driscoll, a fellow MPCA staff member who will work to continue this effort.


Welcome to the August issue of the NextStep e-newsletter. 

Thanks again for your ongoing support and interest in NextStep and sustainability, and for taking so many steps to help create a more sustainable future in our state!

We also are continuing to post and update resources on the NextStep web site in an ongoing manner, and welcome your suggestions and inquiries.

To contact us, please send messages to (instead of replying to this message).

Thanks for your interest!

 -- Erin Barnes-Driscoll, NextStep e-newsletter editor

Eco Experience at 2013 Minnesota State Fair

The following is adapted from the website above and a July 18th MPCA press release.

With the Great Minnesota Get-together (State Fair) actively in progress, the 8th annual Eco Experience—a joint project of the MPCA and the Minnesota State Fair—is in full swing as well.  This year’s Eco Experience, which takes place on the State Fairgrounds and occurs during the 12 days of the Fair (August 22 - Labor Day), offers a number of new displays, demonstrations, and  opportunities to learn about timely environmental topics.

A few highlights of the 2013 Eco Experience include:

Gen Y Eco Home. Students from the University of Minnesota’s College of Design have created an environmentally-friendly home that specifically addresses a number of the design preferences of Generation Y, also known as Echo Boomers. The home incorporates sustainable materials, flexible spaces, and renewable energyThe Gen Y Eco Home design is displayed in exhibit form at the Eco Experience.

Lakes, streams, and drinking water. A new 15-foot aerial map of St. Paul guides visitors’ exploration of a watershed. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Department of Health, Blue Thumb - Planting for Clean Water, and Hamline University's Center for Global Environmental Education bring a full suite of exhibits to teach adults and kids about this precious resource.

Landscaping. Agriculture, water conservation and protection, and community-building come together in the design of our lawns and landscapes. Field Outdoor Spaces, Inc. has installed an intimate space filled with local food, trees, chickens, and space to gather with friends.

Home Energy Exhibit. The Minnesota Department of Commerce has created the Home Energy exhibit to showcase 11 new displays on energy efficiency and renewable energy.  The exhibit also includes green building products from Natural Built Home, ReUSE Minnesota’s "Room with a 'Re'Purpose", which showcases design concepts and interior furnishings that exemplify the concepts of reuse and repair, and water-conserving tips and strategies for both inside and outside the home. Free low-flow faucet aerators and toilet leak detection tablets are available at the Water Conservation exhibit area.

Healthy, local food. Visitors are able to sample dishes made from Minnesota ingredients and learn about ways to use whole foods from our state. Renewing the Countryside brings cooking demonstrations, local farms, and local distributors here for visitors to meet.

Recycling. Every year Minnesotans buy more than 2 billion aluminum beverage cans. An astounding 60 percent of those cans are tossed in the garbage; that’s 3.6 million cans thrown away every day. A visually stunning aluminum can exhibit helps teach visitors why recycling is important and how it helps create local jobs.

Manufacturing. The era of single-use and toxic materials is on the way out. The U of M Center for Sustainable Polymers explains how green chemistry and engineering are reducing toxicity and waste in manufacturing.

Urban trees. Climate change impacts in Minnesota are prominent. What can we do?  One reaction is to plant or care for urban trees. They can help us slow and adapt to climate change.  Learn why, what, and how at the Eco Experience.

Movies and presentations. The Sustainability Stage features experts, leaders in sustainability, and youth presenting on their solutions and ideas.

 For more information on the Eco Experience, see the website above.

DNR renovates popular fish exhibit at State Fair

The following is adapted from an August 21, 2013, MN DNR press release.

One of the Minnesota State Fair’s perennial favorites has gotten a major facelift that should make it even more popular with visitors.

The indoor fish exhibit at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) building has been completely redone. Five new fish aquariums will illustrate the habitat and fish found in different Minnesota waters: a southeastern trout stream, the St. Croix River, and lakes typical of central, southern and northern Minnesota. Nine new terrariums featuring live snakes and amphibians in climate controlled cells also were added.

“By focusing on fish communities and their habitat, we hope people will gain a better understanding of how good angling depends on healthy ecosystems,” said DNR East Metro Fisheries Manager TJ DeBates. The DNR’s east metro fisheries crew stocks and manages the State Fair fish exhibit.

The tanks that previously offered fair visitors a close-up look at native fish were nearly 30 years old and in poor condition. The new tanks are lower to the ground, making them more accessible to viewers of all sizes and abilities. They also have new heaters and pumps to maintain healthier conditions for their aquatic inhabitants.

An estimated 800,000 people visit the DNR’s State Fair exhibit, which also features an outdoor fish pond that is slated for renovation. Nearly 2 million Minnesotans fish, making it one of the state’s most popular pastimes.

For more information, visit

Support for Pollinators

Honey bees, which were originally brought to North America from Europe in the 1600’s (and which have been adversely impacted by colony collapse disorder, a mysterious malady causing the loss of large numbers of them), are considered a non-native species. The universe of pollinators also includes a variety of native creatures, including butterflies, hummingbirds, bumble bees and other wild bees, moths, bats, and more. All of them are vital contributors to healthy ecosystems (both natural and agricultural), and a number are facing population declines not unlike that of honey bees.

There are a number of things that individuals, families, farmers, businesses, local governments, and communities can do to help support honey bees and native pollinators.  They include the following:

  • Provide habitat for nesting. Different pollinators have different nesting needs. Monarch butterflies, for example, need milkweed for laying eggs, while many wild bees need ground spots for nesting.

  • Minimize outdoor chemical use.  Pesticides and herbicides can be toxic to pollinators or the plants that they depend on to thrive. Where feasible, use them sparingly or avoid them altogether.

 Additional information on pollinators and how to support them can be found at:

Preparing Minnesota for Climate Change: A Conference on Climate Adaptation

The following is adapted from the website above.

Minnesota’s first “Conference on Climate Adaptation”, designed for Local Officials, Planners, Engineers and Natural Resource practitioners, is scheduled to take place on November 7th at the Science Museum of Minnesota.  Participants will learn about other communities' early successes in developing adaptation strategies in areas such as transportation infrastructure, natural resources, human health, and agriculture. The morning and noon speakers will set the stage, and the afternoon will features breakout sessions describing successful case studies.

When: Thursday, November 7, 2013 9:00 am - 5:30 pm, followed by reception

Location: Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul

Fee: $60 - includes lunch, breaks, and parking. Afternoon reception features appetizers and a cash bar.

Registration is limited, so individuals are encouraged to register early.

For more information or to register, visit the website above.

Sustainable Communities HotReport

The following is adapted from the websites above.

The  Sustainable Communities HotReport is a new web-based tool that gives community leaders and residents a quick and easy way to determine how well their communities are performing on a variety of sustainability indicators, including transportation, housing, economic development, income, and equity. Produced by the U.S. Census Bureau and the HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities, the tool can help communities measure their own performance and compare themselves to communities of a similar type.

Information comes from a variety of sources including the American Community Survey, Census 1990, 2000 and 2010, the Department of Labor's Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages and State Occupational Projections, and the Census Bureau's Local Employment Dynamics (LED). Data are maintained and updated by the collecting agency.

 To access the tool, visit

Open Houses Scheduled for St. Paul Streetcar Feasibility Study

The following is adapted from the website above.

The City of Saint Paul’s Planning & Economic Development Department has been leading a study to evaluate the feasibility of developing streetcar services in the city. This technical, data-driven study is the first step in determining how best to integrate streetcars into the city’s transit system and where they have the potential to catalyze development and business activity.

The first phase of the study screened corridors throughout the city to determine potential lines to study further in the second phase. Phase two further analyzed these potential lines, and put them through a rigorous evaluation focusing on economic development potential, transit demand, compatible land-uses, operations, systems integration, and capital and operational costs. Seven lines were identified as having potential for streetcar service.

Two open houses on the second phase of the Streetcar Feasibility Study will be held on Wednesday, August 28 at the Rondo Community Outreach Library located at 461 N. Dale Street. The first open house will be from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and the second will be held from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m.

 For more information,  visit

Forest Fast Breaks Highlight Forest Ecology, Sustainable Management Practices and Related Benefits

The following is adapted from the website above., an environmental education website geared towards teachers, students, forestry professionals, and those with a general interest in protecting, managing, and enhancing the natural environment, has announced the release of its newest resource - Forest Fast Breaks.

Forest Fast Breaks are concise, engaging animated shorts that simplify complex forestry topics. The videos highlight forest ecology, sustainable forest management practices, and the environmental benefits of utilizing wood in consumer products and as a building material. Ten videos cover topics including carbon capture, clearcutting, forest fire, green building, forest management, photosynthesis, reforestation, sustainability, water and wood products.

 For more information, visit the website above.

Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program

Source: WaterFront Bulletin, August 2013, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

The Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) is accepting applications for its Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) grant program. This program funds conservation projects that restore, enhance, or protect forests, wetlands, prairies, or habitat for fish, game, and wildlife in Minnesota.

Grant requests may range from $5,000 to $400,000, with a maximum total project cost of $575,000. Nonprofit organizations and government entities are eligible to apply, and a 10-percent match of non-state funds is required. Funded by the Outdoor Heritage Fund, this program expects to have $3.49 million for Fiscal Year 2014 grants.

The application system for both the Traditional Over 25,000/Under 25,000 cycle and the Expedited Conservation Projects (ECP) cycle opened Aug. 1, 2013:

  • New this year is the dedication of $500,000 to projects located within the seven-county metro area or within a city of 50,000 people or greater. Apply through the O25K/U25K cycle for these funds. The traditional application cycle closes Sept. 16.
  • For the ECP grant cycle, $1 million is available. This program funds projects up to $50,000 on public lands or waters open to all seasons of hunting and fishing. The ECP application cycle is open continuously through May 14, 2014, or until all funds are awarded. Apply by Sept. 11 for the first round of ECP funding.

The Request for Proposal and Program Manual is now posted for both the Traditional Cycle and ECP. For more information, send an email to

Source Water Protection Competitive Grants

The following is adapted from the website above.

The Minnesota Department of Health announces the availability of funding to support source water protection competitive grants for community and nontransient noncommunity public water suppliers. Source water protection activities that are funded under this grant program must focus on managing or eliminating one or more potential sources of contamination that the Minnesota Department of Health has determined presents a risk to the public water supplier. Community public water suppliers serve at least 25 year-round residents or have at least 15 service connections that are used by year-round residents (e.g., a municipality, rural water supply system, subdivision, or mobile home park). Nontransient noncommunity public water suppliers serve at least 25 of the same persons over six months per year (e.g., school, factory, industrial park, or office building).

The total amount of funding that is available under this notice is $75,000. The minimum amount for any grant is $500, and the maximum amount is $10,000. An equal cost-share is required.

For more information, visit the website above.

2014 Call for Preproposals NCR-SARE Research and Education Grant Program

The following is adapted from the website above.

The North Central Region SARE (NCR-SARE) Research and Education Grant Program is a competitive grant program for researchers and educators involved in projects that explore and promote environmentally sound, profitable, and socially responsible food and/or fiber systems.

The 2014 NCR-SARE Research and Education Grant Program Call for Preproposals is now available online.

NCR-SARE’s Research and Education (R&E) program supports sustainable agriculture innovators with competitive research and education grants. Individual grants range from $10,000 to $200,000. NCR-SARE expects to fund about seven to ten projects in the twelve-state North Central Region.

This year, NCR-SARE will be accepting online submissions for the Research and Education Grant Program using their online submission system. More information about the online submission system can be found in the call for preproposals. The deadline for Research and Education Program preproposals is October 24, 2013.

The timeline for the Research and Educations grants will be:

August - Call for Preproposals

Late October - Preproposals Due

Late February - Preproposal Status Notification

April - Full Proposals Due

Late July - Funding Decisions

Fall - Funds Available to Recipient

NCR-SARE administers each of its grant programs with specific priorities, audiences, and timelines. The focus for each of the NCR-SARE grant programs is on research and education. Funding considerations are made based on how well the applicant articulates the nature of the research and education components of their sustainable agriculture grant proposals.

NCR-SARE’s Administrative Council (AC) members decide which projects will receive SARE funds. The AC includes a diverse mix of agricultural stakeholders in the region. Council members hail from regional farms and ranches, the Cooperative Extension Service, universities, and nonprofit organizations. In addition, regional representatives of the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and NCR agribusinesses, state agencies, and foundations sit at the table to distribute grant money.

For more information, visit the website above.


See for these and other jobs and internships!

Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District: Resource Conservationist (deadline September 13)

Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District: Communications Specialist (deadline September 13)

Freshwater Society: Executive Director (deadline September 4)

Hennepin County Environmental Services: Recycling Specialist (deadline September 4)

Great River Greening: Seven Mile Creek Watershed Coordinator (open until filled)


See for details on these and other events!

* 8/29 Show Me the Money: 10 Simple Sustainability Steps, by Alliance for Sustainability President Terry Gips

* 8/30 Eating Sustainably: Living Longer, Healthier and Cheaper while Protecting the Earth, by Annalee Wolf and Terry Gips

* 9/12 2013 Clean Water Summit

* 9/13 Central CERT Event: Heating Alternatives and How to Integrate Them into Your System

* 9/14 Hennepin County Fix-It Clinic

* 9/14 RE-fest

* 9/17 Oak Savanna Interpretive Tour with Friends of the Mississippi River

* 9/19 Native Prairie Planting with Friends of the Mississippi River

* 9/23 Setting Goals That Matter: A Sustainability Toolkit

* 9/26 Explore Wetland Ecology at Cottage Grove Ravine Park

* 9/28 National Public Lands Day at Bruce Vento Sanctuary and Indian Mounds Park

About the NextStep e-newsletter and MnSCN

This email newsletter is sent today to 3548 sustainability professionals and others interested in building sustainable communities, most of whom live in Minnesota. It was prepared by staff in the Sustainable Development Unit of the Resource Management and Assistance Division at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

We hope that you find this information useful; please send us an e-mail at if you need help using the resources presented here. (We will not receive replies sent to this e-mail message.)  You are encouraged to enter events and jobs directly onto the NextStep web site.

The NextStep web site has an on-line directory of those who would like to post their contact information, sustainability interests and expertise and then subscribe to the newsletter. To add yourself to the directory, visit

We welcome your participation there as part of the Minnesota Sustainable Communities Network (MnSCN). The goal of MnSCN and NextStep is to encourage networking, information exchange, and better access to assistance. This network consists of an even mix of over 3,000 individuals, many of whom are affiliated with local governments, non-profit organizations, businesses, and educational institutions in Minnesota (and bordering areas) who are interested in moving toward sustainability.

For further information and questions about MnSCN, see

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