The University of Minnesota Extension Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership (Northwest RSDP) contributes to a vibrant future for Northwest Minnesota. We support projects in agriculture and food systems, resilient communities, clean energy and natural resources and partner with residents and organizations to support their ideas to improve the sustainability of their communities.
The Northwest RSDP serves Kittson, Roseau, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake, Clearwater, Beltrami, Polk, Norman, Mahnomen, Clay and Wilkin counties as well as these sovereign Native nations: Red Lake Nation and White Earth Nation. Ottertail and Becker counties are also included in food systems projects. Water-related projects include the area that drains to the Red River of the North.
The region’s natural history shows up in a diverse landscape shaped by ice and water and representing all four major biomes in Minnesota. Its cultural history traces the stories of indigenous people, voyageurs and fur traders, immigrants from northern Europe, and later from all parts of the world. The Red River of the North and its tributaries drain just over one fifth of Minnesota. The landscape includes remnants of native boreal forest, aspen parkland and maple, basswood forests, and tall grass prairie. The Red River Valley has a strong agricultural identity and brings to mind images of deep, rich soils and agricultural productivity.
The region is home to 215,000 people. Median age in the region is 41 compared to 37 in Minnesota. Agricultural production, manufacturing and healthcare are important economic sectors. Minnesota Compass tracks and analyzes trends that affect regional quality of life.
Asset and network mapping in Moorhead
The Moorhead Asset/Network Mapping Project occurred over a three month period during the summer of 2021. In cooperation with RSDP and the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA), the Moorhead Asset/Network Mapping Project was able to provide the Moorhead Community Resilience Task Force with a better picture of the organizations, resources, and networks in the community through the creation of asset maps and a network connections map.
Middle River Veterans Outdoors-solar battery storage
On November 1st, 2021 a Solar plus battery storage project powered up for the first time in Middle River. The idea was conceived by Middle River Veterans Outdoors (MRVO), a non-profit organization that provides outdoor hunting and fishing experiences for Disabled Veterans. Solar power is used to charge wheelchairs that have been equipped with tracks in place of wheels. This allows Disabled Veterans to experience outdoor activities that were not possible for them otherwise. Additional solar power is stored in a lithium ion battery mounted on the wall which is used primarily for lighting the building and the American flag outside. MRVO Treasurer Wayne Kilen spearheaded the project.
Design for Community Regeneration
Design for Community Regeneration (D4CR) is off and running in the community of Warren. The process seeks to dream, discover, envision, and implement regenerative projects and policies related to the use of public land. Geodesign is at the heart of the process which allows team members to experience their ideas through "playing" a game-like process. Four "point of view" teams have been created from community members representing: existing residents and businesses; organizations; institutions and newcomers; and government and investors.
The framework orientation meeting took place in March and was the kick-off for most community members. Although planning with local stakeholders has been taking place over the past few months. The process is being led by the University of Minnesota Design Center and includes partners from the Institute on the Environment, NW Regional Development Commission and RSDP.
Meet new RSDP staff member
Zachary Paige joins the NW RSDP staff after serving on the board and the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems work group. He owns and operates a certified organic vegetable seed company and has worked alongside the White Earth Community for 10 years to support food sovereignty projects. He also serves on the Sustainable Farming Association Board of Minnesota.
Meet new RSDP board members
Harouna Maiga teaches Ag production classes at the University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC) and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the NW RSDP Board. Harouna has also served as the Ag and Natural Resources Department Head at UMC and currently serves as Becker County Extension agent.
Harouna stated “ I am very interested in Ag and Food Systems and how they connect with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”
Brent Mason is the Area Hydrologist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Brent has worked as a Hydrologist for the USGS and also has a background in agriculture. His experience includes water quality sampling and drilling monitoring wells, and working with local partners on restoration and protection projects.
“I live, work, and grew up in the NW Region of Minnesota. I have a deep connection with communities in the region and am always looking for opportunities to help educate and work with citizens on sustainable projects that protect and preserve natural resources within our region.”