Success Stories from the Red River Basin

IJC staff
May 28, 2014
Success Stories from the Red River Basin

Not to brag, but the Red River Basin Commission has a book full of success stories.

It’s a brochure, actually, but it runs for 42 pages, and it’s not the first one we’ve issued.

The Red River Basin Commission, also known as the RRBC, works across the political boundaries of Manitoba in Canada and Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota in the United States to create a shared vision for action on land and water issues.

The RRBC has developed a Natural Resource Framework Plan to promote a holistic approach to water and land management based on the recognition that everyone within the basin is connected.

To build a unified voice around the Plan, the RRBC board also created a “Resolution of Support.” To date, more than 170 local units of government have signed it, committing “to work together across boundaries in a spirit of cooperation and friendship to achieve common goals for land and water management.”

The Warren-Alvarado-Oslo River Watch Team kayaking on the Thief River. Credit: Wayne Goeken/International Water Institute.The Warren-Alvarado-Oslo River Watch Team kayaking on the Thief River. Credit: Wayne Goeken/International Water Institute.

We need to remember that we are all in this together --- all part of the problem and all part of the solutions that are needed. A collaborative, basin-wide and sub-basin approach to natural resource management will help us to find common ground and work cooperatively toward beneficial solutions, which is the best insurance we have to protect our natural resources for the next generation.

The Red River Basin Commission is independent from the IJC’s International Red River Board, although the two collaborate, and two members of the RRBC serve as community representatives on the IJC’s Board.

The RRBC will celebrate its 32nd Annual Red River Basin Land and Water International Summit Conference in January 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The goal of the conference is to acknowledge, celebrate and create awareness of how much progress is being made each year in the Red River basin and reaffirm that we are overcoming our challenges by working together. 

How does one organization keep track of every single success story?

We can’t possibly do it alone. Every year, we contact our network of basin citizens and local units of government and ask them to tell their stories. These stories are captured and laid out in a success stories booklet distributed at our annual conference. We also select several of the success stories to present during a lightning talk session at the conference. Lightning talk sessions give a glimpse of all the great things happening in the basin in 10, five-minute presentations. 

We appreciate all levels of action implemented every day in the Red River basin. The Success Stories Initiative highlights stories that are not as well-publicized as larger high-profile projects. In the last few years, some of these unique projects include:

The Town of Emerson Lagoon Park:  The Town of Emerson in Manitoba has created an inviting lagoon park that encourages people to stop and view the site and leave with an appreciation that wastewater treatment can be achieved effectively in close proximity to neighboring residential properties. As a community on the Red River, the Town of Emerson has done its part to improve water quality downstream.

Trees being planted in Lagoon Park. Credit: Emerson, Manitoba.Trees being planted in Lagoon Park. Credit: Emerson, Manitoba.

Manston Slough Restoration:  The Manston Slough Restoration project was based on a cooperative understanding among the Buffalo Red River Watershed District, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and two federal agencies.  This undertaking is significant as the land that was used for detaining water is owned by the state, and all levels of basin-wide participation were needed to complete this project.

River Explorers:  The River Explorers Program, coordinated by the International Water Institute, provides equipment, training, and coordination services to allow participants to make connections to their local rivers through paddling excursions. The project’s primary purpose is to involve youth in fun and relevant exploration of their local watersheds, resulting in enhanced understanding of watershed conditions. Students develop skills related to water recreation and the use of technology for communicating, organization, and critical thinking. Natural resource managers benefit by receiving geo-referenced documentation of watershed conditions and discussing with students options and opportunities for improved watershed management.

As you can see, many projects and programs are happening in the Red River basin. It’s important to celebrate the small and large projects. Putting them together into one package shows the impact we can all have if we work together and learn from each other.

IJC staff