Outdoors group finalizes recommendations for Legacy-funded projectsby Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The advisory group charged with recommending how to invest Legacy Amendment money for the outdoors has come up with their list for next year's Legislature to consider.
In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Council recommended 30 projects totaling more than $97 million. Projects include restoration of prairie land, wetlands, and forests.
Projects were approved on a preliminary basis in September. The committee Tuesday approved language for legislation that includes codifying reporting requirements that previously had not been written into law.
So far, the most controversial project is a 2,000 acre parcel to be purchased and turned over to Crow Wing County to add to its forest system.
Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, a member of the panel, expressed concerns about the price and about whether the county would manage the forest as well as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources would.
Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, said even at $7,000 an acre, the land purchase is a good deal.
"That land gets set aside, the state, the DNR doesn't have to manage it, we won't have [payment-in-lieu-of-taxes] obligation, and we'll have hunting and fishing opportunities on a very beautiful pristine 2.5 miles on the Mississippi River," Ingebrigtsen said. "I think it's a win-win for everybody."
Other projects recommended include:
• $3 million for the DNR to help control Asian carp.
• $4.6 million for The Nature Conservancy to acquire native prairie and savanna and restore and enhance grasslands and savanna.
• $4.3 million for the DNR to accelerate restoration and enhancement on wildlife management areas, scientific and natural areas, and land under native prairie bank easements.
• $960,000 for the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association to restore and enhance public forest lands for moose habitat.
• $3.7 million for several groups to buy land or conservation easements on three rivers in the metro area.
Details about each project are available on the council's website. Legislators will take up the package in the spring.