$26 million in environmental projects to start in Julyby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Research covering sustainable biofuels, bee colony collapse disorder and a new microbe discovered in the Soudan mine are among the projects receiving money from this year's Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.
The fund, which is made up of proceeds from the Minnesota Lottery, is distributing $26.1 million to dozens of projects across the state. Besides environmental research, the projects include land acquisition, habitat restoration and education.
The Legislature added a state park improvement plan to the overall list recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, and Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed the package -- minus a $143,000 study on energy independence that he said was too vague.
Funding for the projects will be available July 1, said Mike Banker, a commission spokesman.
Some projects Minnesotans might see happening this summer include habitat restoration, and remodeling environmental learning centers to use renewable energy, such as solar panels, and become more energy efficient. The learning centers will then become places where schoolchildren can learn about sustainable energy practices, Banker said.
The Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund receives 7 cents of every $1 spent on the Minnesota Lottery. That money is then invested. Money from the fund is distributed each year.
Below are some other examples of the projects being funded this year. The full list of projects can be found here
-- A geological atlas program used as a tool to protect groundwater
-- An effort by the Department of Natural Resources to continue updating a wetlands inventory
-- A DNR effort to restore native prairies statewide
-- Acquisition of land for state parks and trails
-- Protection of the granite rock outcrop ecosystem in central and southwestern Minnesota
-- An education program aimed at helping children appreciate the outdoors through digital photography
-- Research money to study a microbe found in the Soudan mine that could have applications in bioenergy or pharmaceuticals
-- Research money for bee colony collapse disorder
-- Research money for finding a sustainable way to produce biofuels