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Boat tour hopes to build bridge to arts community

A boat tour of Lake Pepin is scheduled for Friday with the hopes of garnering support from the area’s artists to help with raising awareness of the lake’s sediment problems. (photo by Dennis Newton)

A boat tour, hosted by the Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance, looks to engage the local artist community to help create awareness of sediment filling Lake Pepin.

Rylee Main, executive director of the Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance, said the tour will focus on how sediment reaches Lake Pepin and interacts with the complex local ecosystems of vegetation, fish, mussels and floodplain forests.

“We have been looking for more ways to display the sediment issue filling in Lake Pepin because it is all happening under the surface of the lake. You don’t necessarily see what is happening under the big expanse of water,” Main said. “There is such a strong artist community in the Lake Pepin area, we are looking at how we can engage the artists more directly to try and visualize what is happening beneath the water.”

The organization recently received a grant through the University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Partnership to create a promotional video that will animate the sediment issue.

The boat tour, taking place Friday, June 17, will fixate on the waters at the head of Lake Pepin.

“There will be a few different perspectives on the river, with the tie-in piece being sediment and its effect,” Main said.

Assisting Main with the event will be Mike Davis, a river ecologist and mussel consultant for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Davis will speak about his work to re-populate mussel communities in the Mississippi River and Lake Pepin.

Tim Schlagenhaft, Upper Mississippi River program manager for Audubon Minnesota, will talk about Audubon’s work restoring the Mississippi River’s floodplain forests. Audubon’s outreach coordinator, Katie Burns, will be identifying important species of birds.

Main will discuss the sources of sediment impairing Lake Pepin and what can be done to protect the resource in the future.

“We want to build stronger relationships with the arts community,” Main said. “Our goal is to find artists that really value the lake and want to see how they can make a difference telling their story about the water through their art.”

The Red Wing Arts Association has been a growing partner with the Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance, Main said, and included a Lake Pepin location on the 2016 Plein Air Art Festival, June 20-25.

A September fundraiser is planned with the Red Wing Arts Association, with an open call to artists interested in participating and donating a piece to support the cause of the Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance.

“We hope this event will begin a discussion of other ways to involve artists in the community,” Main said.

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