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GLIN==> News Release - Duluthians Value Open Space



                              MN SEA GRANT
                              NEWS RELEASE

3/5/02
Contact:  Marie Zhuikov, (218) 726-7677

                      Duluthians Value Open Space

The City of Duluth, MN, has a relatively large amount of open space
compared to many other cities.  Roughly 10,000 acres or a quarter of
its area is publicly-owned, undeveloped land.  A recent survey
conducted by the University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program for the City
of Duluth, shows that residents want to keep it that way.

"I thought more people might say, 'We need additional development,' but
we found very few responses supporting building,"  said Glenn Kreag,
Minnesota Sea Grant tourism and recreation extension educator.  "In
fact, residents thought recreational areas and the preservation of
natural open spaces were more important government functions than
economic development.  A majority were even willing to consider
financing the protection of open space through bonding."

Kreag directed the scientifically-rigorous project to find out how
Duluthians perceive open space.  The 8-page, 20-question mail survey
was conducted by the Minnesota Center for Survey Research at the
University of Minnesota.

The survey was requested by the Natural Resources Inventory Committee,
a subcommittee of Duluth's Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) to help
with efforts to develop a comprehensive plan for the City.  The return
of 399 completed surveys generated a 42% response rate.  Results have a
possible margin of error of +5%.

Open space was broken into two categories in the survey: natural and
developed.  Natural open space included places where native vegetation
grows without significant alteration; developed open space included
places where the land or vegetation is controlled.  With almost
unilateral and unanimous support, residents from across Duluth
indicated that they value and want to preserve both types of open
space.  

"The results of this survey give direction to the kind of open space
that is important here," said Kreag.  "It's not just ball-parks and
tot-lots.  It's also woods and creeks and the natural spaces that
people identify with." 

Selected results: 
- 96% of  survey respondents agreed that views overlooking Lake
Superior and the St. Louis River are important parts of the character
of Duluth and must be protected and managed;
- 85% of respondents favored an open space system linked with wildlife
corridors and paths; 
- 61% felt that Duluth has a reasonable amount of natural open space
but 
- 32% thought it needs more; and 
- 84% felt that converting some natural open space to developed land
would damage the City's image, character, and appeal.  

Echoing the sentiments of many other respondents, one resident
succinctly wrote, "Cities with more concrete than chlorophyll bother
me."

"Our immediate challenge is to interpret the information that's been
generated," said Kyle Deming of the City's Department of Planning and
Development and an ex-officio member of the EAC.  "We have the survey,
which indicates the community's impressions about Duluth's open space,
and geographic information systems maps of different types of open
space.  Now we need to tie it all together.  Duluth residents clearly
indicated that they believe open space is important, even ranking it
more highly with respect to government funding than social services and
transit.  The survey results will be an important tool in our
comprehensive planning efforts."

The survey was funded by a grant from the Northeast Minnesota
Sustainable Development Partnership.  To order a free copy of the
results, "Duluth Values Open Space," contact Minnesota Sea Grant at
(218) 726-6191, or by e-mail at seagr@d.umn.edu.  This publication may
also be ordered online at www.seagrant.umn.edu/pubs/ordering.html.

Minnesota Sea Grant is part of a university-based network of 30 Sea
Grant College Programs spanning coastal states throughout the United
States and Puerto Rico.  Its research and education projects help
maintain and enhance the environment and economies along Lake Superior
and Minnesota's inland waters.

                                --30--




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