Director, Center for Community and Regional Research
Interim Dean, College of Liberal Arts
Welcome to CCRR!
It’s been a year since I took the role of Director of the Center for Community and Regional Research at UMD, and I can certainly say it’s been a very enjoyable experience. The Center is actively supporting several excellent research projects that will have a direct impact on the community, and I am looking forward to seeing the reports come in at the end of the year. In 2009, the center is sponsoring the following research:
1. Relative impacts of shallow vs. deep groundwater inputs on eutrophication of Roosevelt Lake: a model for central Minnesota Lakes (Howard Mooers and Jason Aronson, Department of Geology, UMD)
Project Abstract: For at least 25 years Roosevelt Lake located in Cass and Crow Wing Counties, Minnesota, has suffered from hypolimnion hypoxia during the late summer. The hypoxia has led to “summer kill” of cold-water fish species such as lake trout. The cause of depleted oxygen levels in the hypolimnion is excessive loading of particulate organic matter caused by eutrophication. Generally, lake eutrophication is linked to excessive nutrient loading from activities in the lake watershed such as shoreline modification by roads and residential activities, shoreline disturbance by boat traffic, and direct input of nutrients from septic systems. However, there are natural processes that can lead to increased nutrient cycling in lakes. Because of its depth, Roosevelt Lake receives groundwater inputs from deep confined aquifers. The water in these deep aquifers is anoxic and highly reducing and therefore high in dissolved iron and sulfate that is derived from Cretaceous and Early Tertiary bedrock. Both dissolved iron and sulfate are critical in the cycling of phosphorus that is the primary nutrient controlling eutrophication. In addition, preliminary assessment of groundwater inputs to the lake suggests that the flux of anoxic groundwater may be very large; a factor that contributes to hypoxia.
Whether the eutrophication is a natural process or caused by anthropogenic activities is critical. Anthropogenic sources of nutrients can be identified and mitigated whereas natural issues associated with input of anoxic iron-and-sulfate-rich groundwater cannot be addressed. If Roosevelt Lake has a natural tendency toward hypoxia then careful management of the lake and its watershed is critical.
2. The Impact of a Proposed Presumptive Joint Custody Minnesota State Statute on Rural Battered Women Melanie Shepard, Department of Social Work, UMD)
Project Abstract: The Minnesota Legislature has mandated a study group to consider the impact that a proposed presumptive joint physical custody state statute would have on families and children. If a presumptive joint custody statute were adopted, custody decisions would start from the legal conclusion that joint custody is in the best interest of the child. Many experts in the field of domestic violence have serious reservations about joint custody arrangements when domestic violence is present in the family. Advocates for Family Peace, a domestic violence agency in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, is concerned about the impact this would have on rural battered women and their children, who typically have fewer legal and social service resources to draw from.
The proposed study will explore the impact of different custody arrangements upon the safety and well being of rural battered women and their children in Itasca County. Women who are using domestic violence services at Advocates for Family Peace during a six-month period will be surveyed. The study will examine the type of custody and visitation arrangements they currently have, the difficulties they may have encountered, and the legal and social services being used. Battered women’s perceptions of what type of custody and visitation arrangement would be most beneficial will also be explored. The results will be used to improve the services the agency provides to battered women and to advocate for effective state policies. The study will also provide an opportunity for rural battered women and their children to have a voice in the policy debate.
3. Economic and Political Feasibility of Wind Generation in Silver Bay (Dr. Mike Mageau, Director of the Environmental Studies Program, UMD)
Project Abstract: For this project, Dr. Mageau, two undergraduate students from UMD’s Environmental Studies Program, and key officials (Mayor, City Councilors, Economic Development and City Administrator) from the City of Silver Bay will work together to determine the technical, political and economic feasibility of electrifying Silver Bay’s new eco-industrial park with locally owned wind power. Specifically, the project is designed to determine the best potential sites for wind development in the Silver Bay area, the best overall project structure and strategy for delivering the electricity to market, the wind resource at chosen development sites and the economic feasibility of various potential wind development projects. A successful project of this kind will provide a sustainable economic development opportunity for Silver Bay, as well as the reliable and guaranteed cost electricity critical for attracting new businesses to their eco-industrial park. This project is co-sponsored by the MPCA and the IRR.
4. Trail plan proposal for the continuation of the Western Waterfront Trail from Riverside to Morgan Park (Adam Pine, Samantha Follis and Stacey Stark, Department of Geography, UMD)
Project Abstract: In the late 1970's, a proposal was made to develop the Western Waterfront Trail (WWFT) from the Duluth Zoo to Fond du Lac in a corridor roughly parallel to the old Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad tracks. These tracks are owned by the City of Duluth and are leased to the Lake Superior and Mississippi excursion train for tourism purposes. These two segments of the WWFT trail were constructed. The first was between the Duluth Zoo and Riverside and the second portion of the trail was constructed between the Duluth and 63rd Avenue West in 1988. Along the corridor moving to the south, the next logical extension is between Riverside and Morgan Park. What is needed now is to study exact alternative routes within the corridor location to determine the best trail option in terms of meeting ADA standards, views, impacts on the environment, access to the river and water front, as well as other natural areas and logical connections with adjacent neighborhoods.
In addition, CCRR is actively cooperating with several other UMD entities, such as the Center for Sustainable Community Development, the Office of Civic Engagement, and the Office of Sustainability. This year, we are actively working on developing more student internship opportunities that are research-based, and will continue efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Research Opportunity (SDROP), based in the College of Liberal Arts. This new program will be similar to the successful UROPs at UMD, which partner students with a faculty member on collaborative research projects. SDROP, in contrast, will bring together students with community organizations that have a distinct need for research. Look for more on this new program shortly.