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Engaging Local Leaders to Improve Land Use and Water Resources

Photo by Chris J. Benson.

Problem: Land use decisions at the local level greatly influence the potential pollution of water resources. Elected and appointed officials often lack an understanding about how land use plans, practices, and policies impact the community’s water resources.

Solution: Minnesota Sea Grant coordinates, designs, and leads NEMO (Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials) programming for local leaders in cooperation with the University of Minnesota Extension. Northland NEMO (www.northlandnemo.org) uses approaches such as workshops-on-the-water and tools such as the Watershed Game. A train-the-trainer approach is used to increase capacity of the work and reach more geographic regions by training local and state water resource professionals and educators.

Because of Northland NEMO, hundreds of local leaders participated in programs spanning more than 25 watersheds across Minnesota. NEMO programming has helped communities along the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway make progress toward a 25 percent reduction in phosphorus pollution through better land use practices. Along the St. Croix River, 89 percent of NEMO workshop participants reported that their knowledge and skills improved. Over 40 percent identified changes in their decisions and took action by implementing practices in their community. Four communities are now working with Sea Grant and Extension to revise their land use ordinances. Northland NEMO has built capacity across eight states and trained over 75 facilitators through the Watershed Game.

The NEMO Program has increased the knowledge of local elected leaders that have consequently implemented new plans, practices, and policies to meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act in their communities.

By Sea Grant Staff
July 2012

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