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Despite different goals, CRWD backs Vision 2020

The Cedar River Watershed District may be hopping on the Vision 2020 bandwagon.

Since Vision 2020 — a grass roots community betterment project looking for 10 ideas to implement by 2020 — announced its top 30 ideas, CRWD officials noticed that some of the projects align with their goal: clean water.

Items on the list include cleaning the two lakes in Austin, improving recreation on the Cedar River and improving flood mitigation.

Though it’s not the CRWD’s responsibility to create recreational opportunities on area waters, CRWD employees are supportive of such initiatives.

“It’s not part of our primary goals, but we can definitely play a role,” said Justin Hanson, resource specialist with CRWD. “We’re absolutely supportive of having recreational use in and around the Cedar.”

Vision 2020 could enhance the quality of local waters because it may push the community to get involved.

“Having the community support and maybe having community-based initiatives, those are all things that are just going to strengthen future projects,” Hanson said.

He added that it’s hard to start large-scale initiatives on rivers and lakes.

“The one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t get hardly anything done by yourself,” Hanson said.

For example, Hanson and CRWD’s Tim Ruzek pushed for a state water trail designation on a portion of the Cedar River. Last year, that became a reality. With that designation, the Department of Natural Resources can eventually install access sites and create a webpage with maps of the area and current river conditions — something CRWD may not have been able to fund.

“That’s a good example of a program that isn’t sponsored by the Cedar River, but we’ve been able to be involved and be a local contact,” Hanson said.

Working with Vision 2020 could mean similar outcomes. Yet Hanson, CRWD staff and the CRWD Board haven’t discussed how they would assist any potential projects. CRWD staff plan to make the board aware of a potential partnership with Vision 2020 at Wednesday’s 7 p.m. meeting at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center.

Even if clean water and recreation initiatives don’t make Vision 2020’s top 10 ideas, Hanson said just being considered could mean more clean water awareness.

“Maybe even the stuff that doesn’t make the list will still get better recognition,” he said.