Help the Mississippi

New laws will evaluate and add additional zones to the property around the Mississippi.

Rules and provisions regulating the environmental aspects of the Mississippi River may soon get an update. Bills are currently moving through the Minnesota Legislature aimed to give an update to the outdated Mississippi River Critical Area Program, which has been the protocol governing the land around the 72 mile city stretch of the Mississippi for the past three decades. The proposed measures, which would probably add to the existing four zone system, has the backing of environmental groups such as Friends of the Mississippi, a group that tries to keep the river clean. Politicians should agree that action cannot wait on updating laws that protect such a relic as the Mississippi River. Opponents are quick to point out the potential flaws of such a law. Some, such as the city of St. Paul, contend that the measures currently in place work just fine. Others believe that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would be granted too much power in such a move. But what the critics fail to realize is that the new proposed bills will only order a review of existing laws while overhauling the zoning system. The proposed bill gives the DNR control over the approval process of additional districts, which are greatly needed due to the outdated system that is currently in place. An example of this is provided in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Holman Field in St. Paul, which is an Airport, is actually zoned under the âÄúrural open spaceâÄù category, even though it is not anywhere close to the definition of âÄúrural open spaceâÄù. This is due to the fact that only four zones are available, which ultimately do not cover many types of todayâÄôs commercial and residential purposes. The addition of more zoning types could greatly benefit the surrounding area as it would provide a more defined process. This makes the addition of additional zoning standards a must for any new bill. To address the legitimate concerns that the DNR could come out with too much power, the department should take as much of the publicâÄôs concerns as possible when crafting the new types of zones. One must not forget that the ultimate goal must be to help strengthen the laws that protect the great Mississippi, and not create an unnecessary public revolt.