With roughly 27,000 acres, the Whitewater Management Area is the 8th largest in the state, providing wildlife recreation for all to enjoy.
And with an outdated management plan, the public got the chance on Tuesday to learn about some updates to help preserve the beauty, while providing feedback to those behind the plans.
The Department of Natural Resources has a mission to conserve and manage the state's natural resources and provide outdoor recreation.
And with a growing population, warming climate, invasive species proliferation, and new state laws enacted, it only makes sense to change the current management plan with the changing times.
"There have been a lot of changes that have occurred in the last 40 years,” said Don Nelson, the Whitewater Area Wildlife Manager.
Though there have been many changes in the land in the last 40 years, the management plan has not been updated at all!
Nelson said the last time the management plan was updated for the area was in 1977.
"When I first started using it, it was all hunting. And now it's a multiple-use area,” said Wayne Bartz, who enjoys trout fishing and photography in the area.
You can now tack on hiking, bird-watching, and picking mushrooms and berries to it's repertoire.
And, given the growth and changes in the environment, the WMA is updating it's management plan.
Area frequenters learned more of those updates and voiced concerns at a meeting at St. Charles City Hall on Tuesday.
"Probably my main concern is that I'm seeing a lot of new species come in, like sand hill cranes or trumpeter swans, that were never there before. And I just want to make sure they keep on coming, because it's good,” said Bartz.
Dan Jones has lived in the area nearly 20 years and expressed that the use of pesticides should be prohibited.
"Farmers are all doing it, and there's nothing we can do about them, but we can stop doing it on government land. It's leeching into our aquaphors. And it's poisoning our water," explained Jones.
Nelson also added that a recent survey pointed a huge area of burden.
"One of the issues we have heard from people is that we're seeing a lot more litter. That seems to bother people, a lot, on the unit,” said Nelson.
Though changes are inevitable when it comes to keeping the land protected, there is one thing that will remain static about the WMA.
"It's a jewel in the state of Minnesota. I've been around a lot and Whitewater is one of my favorite places in the entire country, actually. I just like it and it's a great place to be,” said Bartz.
Don Nelson said the plan updates first started coming to fruition in July of last year, and the hope is that all of the updates will be made and the new management will be complete in the next couple of months!
The DNR needs feedback from the public to make sure they are dealing with the issues that matter the most to people, so, to provide feedback, go to the following link and click on the "Notices and Links" tab: