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Dec 28, 2021

Press release: MCEA will defend Limbo Creek and all public waters at MN Supreme Court

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MCEA will defend ruling that protects Renville County’s last free-flowing stream and public waters across state

Press Release: 12/28/21
Contact: Aaron Klemz, aklemz@mncenter.org, 763-788-0282

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA -- On Tuesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court announced it will review a ruling by the Minnesota Court of Appeals that provided critical environmental protections for Renville County’s last free-flowing stream. The ruling also confirmed that waters across the state enjoy public water status if they meet the statutory definition rather than inclusion on an incomplete map and list created in the 1980s.

Jay Eidsness, a staff attorney for Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) involved in the case, issued the following statement about the announcement: 

“Public waters are protected because they are public resources, shared by all Minnesotans. The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that a proposal to drain wetlands and ditch a stretch of Limbo Creek must first undergo environmental review because Limbo Creek meets the definition of a “public water” in Minnesota law,” Eidsness said. “We look forward to defending this well-reasoned decision on behalf of all public waters before Minnesota’s high court.”

The Court of Appeals precedential opinion – released in October – ensures hundreds of miles of rivers and streams that meet the statutory definition of “public waters” but are not listed on Minnesota’s Public Waters Inventory (PWI) are protected. Limbo Creek meets this definition but was omitted from the PWI when it was compiled decades ago. The Court of Appeals’ ruling makes clear that waters meeting the statutory definition are protected, even if they are not listed on the PWI.

The Court of Appeals decision can be read here. The order from the Supreme Court today did not set a time for oral arguments in the case.   

Attorneys at MCEA also represent Protecting Public Waters – a group of local citizens concerned with protecting public watercourses – farmers, adjacent landowners, and local conservation groups.