The Zumbro Watershed Partnership (ZWP) is a citizen-driven, non-profit organization whose mission is to promote land practices that protect and slow the flow of water into the Zumbro River and its tributaries. To personally connect citizens with their river resource, ZWP has proposed plans for public sites where citizens can learn to play an active role in reducing flooding and pollution.
Three sites in the Zumbro River watershed have been identified as pilots to test methods and serve as models for selecting and establishing additional learning sites. The University of Minnesota Center for Changing Landscapes, via funding and facilitation through the UMN Southeast Regional Partnership and Extension, is seeking public input to design educational and recreational site enhancements at the three pilot sites.
A site selection matrix has been developed by the partners that includes criteria in the areas of environmental impact, educational and recreational opportunities, community support, and ease of implementation. As part of the review, an ecological ranking tool that was developed by the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources with funds from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) will be used. The tool helps to prioritize tracts for conservation practices by identifying risks for soil erosion and characteristics of high habitat quality.