Minnesota River Valley Master Plan released to public

Plan’s release comes after public input and two years of planning

A development plan that will guide future conservation efforts and the creation of recreational opportunities on either side of the Minnesota River between Upper Sioux Agency and Fort Ridgely state parks in southern Minnesota is available for a 30-day public comment period. 

The Minnesota River Valley Master Plan is a collaborative effort between Redwood and Renville counties and the Department of Natural Resources.

The purpose of the plan is to:

  • Develop an outdoor recreation destination that would promote regional economic growth, development, and tourism while respecting private lands and the agricultural heritage of the area.
  • Promote the conservation of the natural and cultural resources of the Minnesota River Valley area in Redwood and Renville counties.
  • Provide for the shared use, enjoyment, and understanding of resources through a broad selection of outdoor recreational opportunities and recreational travel routes that connect units of the outdoor recreation system in the river valley.
  • Assess impacts to the natural and cultural resources, interpretive services, recreational opportunities, and administrative activities in the area. Recommendations on the possible unit designation of the area under the Outdoor Recreation Act.

The plan can be found on the DNR website or on the master plan page.

Comments can be sent to Comment@MNRiverValleyMasterPlan.org through June 8. Printed copies are available for loan at the Renville County Environmental Office in Olivia, the Redwood County Environmental Office in Redwood Falls, the Redwood Falls Public Library and the Lower Sioux Environmental office in Morton.

A public open house will also be held June 8 to receive written comments. It will be in Redwood Falls, in the Redwood Falls Public Library community room from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The Minnesota Legislature in 2014 directed the DNR to develop a master plan. Civic leaders from Redwood County and Renville County and the counties’ consultant, Great Outdoors Consultants, agreed to collaborate with the DNR to examine how to better leverage and protect the natural and cultural assets in the Minnesota River Valley.

Those assets include public lands like state and county parks, wildlife management areas, remnant native prairies and floodplain forests, glacial geology features, many rare species, a rich agricultural heritage and a high density of historic sites.

“A big thank you to the hundreds of citizens, landowners, and business owners that provided input to the master plan,” said DNR southern region director Dennis Frederickson. “The feedback they gave at public workshops and through the comment periods helped shape this document. We appreciate how people have invested time and energy in promoting and protecting assets that are near their communities.”

The plan goals and actions work towards providing a balance between recreation and conservation opportunities. This includes possible new trails that link city parks, county parks, state parks, and campgrounds to communities and recreational attractions like museums and historical sites. Strategically increasing conservation lands on the landscape will help maintain the character and quality of the area.

“This is an exciting milestone for the project,” said Redwood County environmental director Scott Wold. “I look forward to working with the community as we move from this initial planning stage and begin implementing the master plan recommendations.”

Once final county and state approval is given to the master plan, the next step is to begin implementing identified strategies. A first step is for the project partners to convene an advisory board consisting of local organizations, individuals and agencies. Secondly, special designations can be sought to add importance and raise awareness for the project. Communities will need to secure project funding through a combination of state and local funds, and private contributions.

Funding for this plan project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources through a grant to Renville and Redwood counties.

Survey results, project maps, photos and other project information are available at the DNR’s project website as well as on the master plan page.