ST. PAUL – Sen. Steve Dille, R-Dassel, and Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, both have been appointed to a task force that will explore ways to preserve open spaces in Minnesota.
The task force was established by a bill Dille authored: the President Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bill to Preserve Agricultural, Forest, Wildlife and Open Space Land. Task force members will consult with groups such as the Farm Bureau and Farmer’s Union, the commissioners of agriculture and natural resources, and the executive director of the Board of Soil and Water Resources.
Dille said the rapid conversion of farmland to commercial and residential development is a key issue for the task force to examine. He cited a statistic indicating Minnesota has lost 2.3 million acres of farmland – one-fifteenth of the state’s total farmland – in the last 14 years alone.
“This rate of loss is disturbing,” Dille said. “Farmland is a valuable commodity in Minnesota and we must preserve it for generations to come.”
Dille and Urdahl also worked together to preserve an undeveloped area south of Litchfield by driving legislation to create the Greenleaf State Recreation Area. They are the lone minority party members on the task force comprised of four legislators and three representatives of state agencies.
“I look forward to investigating ways we can handle an expanding population without losing our valuable open spaces in Minnesota,” Urdahl said. “It’s important we take a hard look at this now to help us plan for the future.”
The task force will report its findings and recommendations for proposed legislation no later than Jan. 30, 2009.
Dean Urdahl represents District 18B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. The district includes most of Meeker County and a portion of Wright County. This is Urdahl’s third term in the legislature after being elected in 2002, 2004 and 2006.