The occurrences of contaminants including antibiotics, other pharmaceuticals, and personal care products in the environment have gained increasing attention in recent years because of their potential health and ecological impacts. However, serious gaps remain in our understanding of these contaminants and the significance of the threats they may pose, such as to drinking water. Through this appropriation scientists at the University of St.
Endocrine-disrupting contaminants such as environmental estrogens have been found and studied in large lakes and streams and shown to exist at concentrations that have adverse effects on wildlife. However, very little is known about the sources and effects of environmental estrogens in small, shallow lakes. Preliminary data suggests that these compounds are present in shallow lakes and have an effect on the survival and reproduction of wildlife. Researchers at the University of St.
Minnesota supports over 14 million acres of cropland in grain production. Almost 600,000 tons of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers are needed annually to maintain productivity on this land, which requires the equivalent of 3,000,000 barrels of oil and costs farmers over $400 million dollars per year. This amount of fossil fuel use results in a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions, while the absence of fossil energy resources in the state means that these synthetic nitrogen fertilizers must be imported into Minnesota from other states and overseas.
Overall Project Outcome and Results
The Avon Hills Initiative is a group of local citizens interested in preserving the rural nature of the 50,000 acre Avon Hills 15 miles west of St. Cloud. The group helped steer this project made possible with Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund support. Saint John's provided the staff and fiscal support. This project had three goals:
The Avon Hills area is a unique 65,000-acre glacial moraine landscape located in Stearns County just west of St. Cloud. It has been identified as having statewide ecological significance and includes the highest concentration of native plant communities in the county – including oak and maple-basswood forests, tamarack and mixed-hardwood swamps, and wet meadows – and several rare plants and animal species, including American ginseng, cerulean warbler, red-shouldered hawk, and Blanding’s turtle. This appropriation is being used by the St. John’s Arboretum at St.