Editorial: How do we take care of the environment?

Published 10:30 pm Sunday, October 29, 2017

Albert Lea and the surrounding areas have many natural resources to be proud of, but is the community making the strides necessary to take care of these resources?

According to the Blandin Foundation, one of the nine dimensions of a healthy community is environmental stewardship. In a healthy community, residents support the environmental quality and management of natural resources that best provide for a sustainable future.

“All segments of the community recognize the need for environmental quality and are willing to assist in and/or support the responsible management of the environment,” the foundation states. “The community is aware that it must decide carefully between competing long- and short-term uses of its natural resources.”

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In some ways, we believe Albert Lea is on the right track to showing strong support of our environment and our natural resources. An example is the passage of the half-percent local option sales tax — first in November 2005 by more than 80 percent of voters and a second time last November when 72 percent of voters chose to extend the tax. That tax provides funding for water quality projects — most notable coming up is the dredging of Fountain Lake.

In addition to paying out of our pocketbooks, what are other ways we as a community are being good stewards of our environment?

A great advocate is the Lakes Foundation of Albert Lea, which aided in the passage of the sales tax last year and that each year organizes a lake cleanup project for volunteers.

While it is sad to see some of the items that end up in our lakes, we are grateful for these passionate community members who take time out of their schedules to clean up these lakes, not only for us in the community, but for the vegetation and fish in the lakes as well.

We also applaud the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce’s Green Committee, which promotes ways businesses can be good environmental stewards.

There are some good networks in place; now we need to focus on how residents as individuals can make environmentally friendly choices.