Minnesota. The name says it all: the land of sky blue waters. The place where prairies, forests, rivers, lakes, and valleys create a stunning tapestry on the land. A place where legend has a foothold in Paul Bunyan and Babe, the Blue Ox. Where we describe the geography in an almost mythical manner: the North Woods, Lake Superior, the Mighty Mississippi, Red River Valley, Buffalo Ridge. This is our state.
Some four million of us live here on eighty-seven thousand square miles of forests and farms, cities and towns, parklands and lakes.
We love the Great Outdoors. We ski, we hike, we canoe, and we enjoy nature. The loons and the lady’s slippers, the white pines and the red maples, the northern pike and white-tailed deer give us a sense of place.
Yet the lands that we love may vanish. Minnesota is the fastest growing state from the northern plains to the eastern seaboard. Our population will increase by almost one million (that’s 25 percent) in the next two decades. We’ve already lost 2.2 million acres of forest in the last twenty years. Loon populations have declined, wetlands have been lost, and water quality of the lakes has decreased. Poorly planned developments have led to costly storm-water flooding. An estimated 80 percent of the state’s septic systems are failing, which results in ground-water contamination. What is the future we want to leave our children’s children? The articles in this category are the beginning of this discussion. What is important to us and how can we keep the landscapes we love?