River Guardians made an impact in 2020

by Ellie Rogers

Because of COVID-19, we weren't able to hold our usual in-person events, like our day of action at the capitol. Still, 1,667 River Guardians rallied with us to respond to 33 calls to action across multiple special legislative sessions in 2020.

Thank you, River Guardians! In a year full of challenges, you rose to those the river faced.

River Guardians' successes in 2020

In 2020 you advocated for the river on issues ranging from the Upper Harbor Terminal development in North Minneapolis to bonding for clean water infrastructure. You supported criminal justice reforms, went above and beyond in writing personal letters to your legislators, and kept taking action as we went through (so many!) special legislative sessions at the capitol.

Your actions made significant impacts on the river. Here are just a few of the successes we're celebrating:

  • You held polluters accountable. A full house of about 150 community members at the February Minnesota Pollution Control Agency meeting on the toxic riverfront waste site at Ford Area C showed the MPCA, the city, and Ford that residents care about a clean future at Area C.

Many people at a meeting
Standing room only at the Ford Area C meeting.

  • You fixed the pipes. The passage of a historic bonding bill in October by the Minnesota Legislature allocates more than $302 million to fund much-needed investments in drinking water infrastructure like the upgrade and repair of outdated pipes, wells, water treatment plants and other systems. Your advocacy secures drinking water, safeguards communities from flooding, and protects lakes and rivers from pollution.
  • You protected migrating birds. The city of Minneapolis added special bird protections to their critical area ordinance, including an entire section on light pollution and more along the crucial Mississippi River flyway.

We toasted our victories and discussed the work to come at virtual happy hours in June and December. We're so grateful for your enthusiasm for these online events, and we're looking forward to meeting in person again soon!

Looking ahead to 2021

Minnesota's legislative session began in early January. Read more about the dynamics at play this year and FMR's priorities on our legislative blog. We'll be vigilant against environmental rollbacks as we proactively support the Forever Green Partnership and Initiative for clean-water crops, sustainable funding for Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and a safeguarded Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.

This January, River Guardians have already had a chance to weigh in on the Upper Harbor Terminal project in North Minneapolis and Minneapolis' Parks for All plan. Many more opportunities to shape river access, development and connection will arise in 2021, like guiding the fate of Upper Saint Anthony Falls' Lock in Minneapolis and advocating for several cities' new riverfront development ordinances. Stay up to date on our River Corridor blog.

Another exciting opportunity for River Guardians this year will be supporting a new federal initiative to restore the entire Mississippi River. That legislation will likely be introduced in February.

Become a River Guardian

Not a River Guardian yet? Sign up now to join us in advocating for the river. We'll send updates and email action alerts when threats or opportunities for the river arise, plus invitations to educational happy hours and other events.

Questions? Contact River Guardians Program Coordinator Sophie Downey at sdowney@fmr.org.

More from the water and legislative updates blog and the river corridor and development blog