One part knowledge. Two parts awareness. A dash of concern to round out the flavor. Mix vigorously for a guide to the future of the Hiawatha Valley.

Not your typical recipe, but one that members of the Hiawatha Valley Partnership hope people won't mind stewing over.

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The group is serving up a public guide filled with maps and other pertinent information relating to the unique landscape between Red Wing and Wabasha.

The $14 packet will be unveiled at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Frontenac Town Hall. A DVD, atlas with 17 maps and narratives, and an area ordinance matrix are included. There will also be presentation: Choices for the Future of the Hiawatha Valley.

"We need to ask if we have what it takes to protect the goose laying the golden egg," said Tine Thevenin, an HVP member who will speak Tuesday. "When we all have pride in the beauty and uniqueness of this valley, we can go to corporate America and say, 'please keep in mind our history.'"

HVP is a group of citizens concerned about the future of the Hiawatha Valley. The volunteers -- who say they are not anti-development -- have been working for the past year on putting together user-friendly information that's easily accessible not just for citizens, but government officials as well.

The information is meant to educate people about various issues facing the valley and includes thoughts on why the land should be preserved -- or at least be built upon in an environmentally friendly manner.

Goodhue County Planning and Zoning Administrator Mike Wozniak applauded the group's effort. He said the information echoes the county's sentiments on the Hiawatha Valley.

"It's a struggle to find the right balance. How much development is OK?" Wozniak said. "If there is too much growth and change occurs, the characteristics that make the area special can be lost."

What makes the Hiawatha Valley unique?

Bluffs, the Mississippi River, carst limestone, an abundance of wildlife and high-quality trout streams.

With climbing populations in the Twin Cities, its surrounding suburbs and Rochester, Wozniak and Thevenin agree that planning for the future of the valley is key.

Wozniak said growth isn't "rampant" in the valley, but the issue is there, just below the surface.


helping out?

Developers are often seen as the enemy when it comes to keeping environmentally sensitive land free of houses.

But a house-free area, say members of the HVP, is not what they're trying to do. Houses are not necessarily the enemy and neither are developers.

People who don't educate themselves on the landscape and the history of the area are the problem.

"Developers are invited to do their thing but to try and fit in with the environment and the character they're building in," said HVP member Sam Poppleton, a retired urban planner and real estate developer.

Poppleton said "good" developers -- those who aren't looking for a "quick buck" -- research as much as possible before they build.

The HVP brochure, Poppleton noted, makes some of the research a bit easier.

"Developers like the best information they can get," he said. "The better developers want to build something they can be proud of."

Thevenin said getting the HVP info into the hands of as many people as possible is the ultimate goal of the group; they just don't have the manpower and resources to do much else.

Deciding the future of the Hiawatha Valley, Thevenin said, is up to concerned citizens and government officials.

"We need the people of this area to take it to the next level," Thevenin said. "This needs to be carried on."

To purchase the HVP information, call Thevenin at (651) 345-4755. A Web site should also be up and running sometime this month.

Jen Cullen can be reached at or 388-2914, ext. 120.