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3,091 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The $50M Bonding bill for CREP was passed, this allows $200M in Fed $ which = $250M for MN conservation. :thumbsup:

The Bill for Wildlife Management Areas funding was passed at $12M

But there are 4 others that need our attention. The first 3 especially are crucial to make a long term impact in Mn wildlife lands and waters.

What bill is known as, file #, chief author, bills status.

MN Clean water Legacy Act
SF 762, Fredricksen ... n=0&y=2005
HF 826 Ozment ... n=0&y=2005

LCMR Reform (Conservation Heritage foundation).
SF 1809 Chaudhary ... n=0&y=2005
HF 1467 Hackbarth ... n=0&y=2005

Dedicated funds for Conservation and Envirnment
SF 1721 Saxhaug ... n=0&y=2005
HF 1909 Hackbarth ... n=0&y=2005

Drainage buffers.
SF 876 Hottinger ... n=0&y=2005
HF 1019 Hanson ... &y=2005ere are the titles, etc. and the link is the bills status.

Please write your local Rep and Senator and CC to Speaker Sviggum and Majority Leader Dean Johnson so they know we are applying the pressure to get this done. Remember to say in the subject line--"I live in your district" so the Rep or Sen will for sure read it as then they know it is from their district. Include your full name, adress, tel # and email addy too. Be polite and to the point.

Lets git r done!!! :hammering:

3,091 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
A wildlife boost

More public hunting lands. More wildlife habitat. And more park lands.

Those are just some of the natural resources that will get a financial boost following passage last week of a $945 million state bonding bill by the Legislature. Gov. Tim Pawlenty is expected to sign the bill Monday.

About $110 million will go to the environment or natural resource projects.

Some highlights:

• The state's wildlife management area system will get a $10 million infusion that will add about 7,000 acres of public land, the single largest boost in both dollars and acres to the state wildlife management area (WMA) system since it was launched in the 1950s to preserve wetlands.

• The bill also includes $23 million for Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), which eventually will set aside 120,000 acres of farmland in the northwest, southwest and southeast regions. The total cost will be about $250 million, including $50 million from the state and $200 million from the federal government. Under the program, landowners will be paid to take their farmland out of production and enroll it in conservation easements. Terms of those easements remain controversial: Of the 120,000 acres, 29,000 will be permanent easements and 91,000 will be in 45-year easements, meaning those lands might again be farmed 45 years from now.

• $4 million was allocated for state park and forest acquisition.

3,091 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I heard the Dedicated funding has been tabled. :thumbsdown:

And possibly the LCMR reform too :t

Dennis Anderson: 'Wait 'til next year' is getting tiresome
Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune
April 15, 2005 ANDY0415

Walk through Minnesota's state Capitol, 100 years old, and you'll readily encounter big ideas, big egos and big money. You'll also find lobbyists for teachers, beer distributors, farmers, the poor, the rich, even bait dealers. But not so easily will you bump into someone who cares about wildlife and wild places -- the truly voiceless of our time.

At the Capitol on Monday, a Senate committee chaired by Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, deep-sixed a bill that would give Minnesotans a chance to vote in 2006 whether they want to sufficiently fund stewardship of the state's woods, waters and fields.

To Marty and his pals, including the bill's sponsor, Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, tabling the measure a week after the DFL's Senate boss, Sen. Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, told 5,000 people on the Capitol mall the bill would pass this session earned little more than a shrug.

"I'll make it a priority next year," Marty said, convincing no one.

Like many of his legislative colleagues, Marty at this time of year concerns himself not with the steelhead that pool at the mouths of the Stewart and Knife rivers along the North Shore, the wood ducks that tumble into the flooded eddies of the Whitewater River in the southeast, the mallards that court atop the Florida sloughs in Kandiyohi County, or the lesser scaup that rest briefly in the northwest en route to their Canadian breeding grounds.

That the wood ducks can't find acorns because so many oaks have been cut, that Lake Superior's steelhead represent only a remnant of their once proud population, that hen mallards search in vain for the protein they need to develop eggs, and that some of the bluebills will bear no young because they no longer can find freshwater shrimp while migrating through Minnesota, might interest the heretofore faceless constituencies these critters can find among the populace.

But these problems trade too little in the Legislature's currency of intrigue, subterfuge and deal-making to matter very much to many who serve at the Capitol in St. Paul.

So, next year.


Even school kids know Minnesota legislators have little credibility as custodians of the state's manifold natural wonders. Lawmakers have considered themselves over the years less as keepers of the state's resources for future generations than as brokers doing the immediate bidding of extractors, profiteers and their many apologists.

Cut, ditched, plowed and now paved, the state has been offered up piecemeal, evidence of which gathers each year as polluted streams, algae-covered lakes, deformed frogs, vanished muskrats, chemical-laced groundwater and, yes, too few ducks.

So when Marty, et al, failed to consider seriously on Monday a bill that would place on the 2006 ballot a constitutional amendment to dedicate funds to natural resources conservation, even the politically naive knew a deal had been cut.

Perhaps Johnson, the Senate majority leader, was testing the resolve of the proposed amendment's many supporters. Perhaps he wanted to hold a card in reserve, unsure how future negotiations might play out with House Republicans. Perhaps he worried that, absent a reconfigured amendment proposal, the cash-strapped state might not be able to fund a companion plan that would clean up the state's polluted waters.

Or perhaps Johnson was just foolin' when he said he wanted the bill passed this session.

If so, he, Marty and Saxhaug might be surprised to find that supporters of the dedicated-fund idea have forgotten not at all this spring about the long-unserved needs of the state's steelhead, wood ducks, mallards and bluebills and other critters. Prepared now to throw political hard balls, these conservationists have been busy building and combining data bases, sortable by legislative districts, to leverage, for the first time in Minnesota, interests common to hunters and hikers, bird shooters and bird watchers.

Teddy Roosevelt often noted that conservation is the rightful province of politicians. And nothing Roosevelt ever said suggested such work could occur, or should wait until, next year.

Roosevelt, circa 1916:

"Defenders of the short-sighted men who in their greed and selfishness will, if permitted, rob our country of half its charm by their reckless extermination of all useful and beautiful wild things sometimes seek to champion them by saying 'the game belongs to the people.'

"So it does; and not merely to the people now alive, but to the unborn people. The 'greatest good for the greatest number' applies to the number within the womb of time, compared to which those now alive form but an insignificant fraction.

"Our duty to the whole, including the unborn generations, bids us restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations."

Dennis Anderson is at

[email protected]


3,091 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
DNR budget trims proposed

State park maintenance and hours could be reduced, designation of ATV trails in state forests could be cut and conservation officer openings could go unfilled under a legislative proposal to trim $9.3 million in general funds from the Department of Natural Resources two-year budget.

The cuts proposed in a House bill last week are in addition to $6.2 million in cuts to the DNR proposed earlier by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Combined, the cuts would total $15.5 million for the biennium, or $7.75 million yearly.

Some DNR programs "may be downsized, mothballed or completely eliminated," said DNR Deputy Commissioner Mark Holsten.

"There will be major reductions that will have a real impact," he said. "The public will definitely see them."

The Senate budget proposal differs from the House and the issue could end up being hashed out in a conference committee. While it's uncertain how severe the final cuts will be, some cuts appear inevitable. The bleak budget situation continues a long-term trend of paring general fund dollars to natural resources, conservation groups say.

"It's not good; it's a downward spiral in investments in natural resources and the environment," said Gary Botzek of the Minnesota Conservation Federation.

The share of the general fund budget going to conservation programs under Pawlenty's 2006-07 proposal is at the lowest level in 30 years, according to the Minnesota League of Conservation Voters. About 1.15 percent of all general funds will go to environment and natural resources, the group says.

The House's proposed $9.3 million in cuts would further reduce that figure.

3,091 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
A model for state to emulate
Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune
April 22, 2005 ANDY0422

At the April 2 Ducks, Wetlands and Clean Water Rally in St. Paul, Gov. Tim Pawlenty reiterated his support for a movement in Minnesota toward a "Missouri model" of conservation -- an idea that has been floated here for years without much encouragement by the Legislature.

Pawlenty's proposal, and that of others, is to mimic a program in Missouri in which a percentage of the sales tax permanently funds that state's Department of Conservation, which is widely considered to be the best in the nation. Additionally, as envisioned by Minnesota supporters of the Missouri program, a small Minnesota citizens commission would oversee the DNR, rather than the governor, as currently is the case here.

In an attempt to explain how the Missouri system works, in 2001 I published interviews with Ed Stegner of Pilot Grove, Mo., and Joel Vance of Russellville, Mo., who were instrumental in establishing that state's conservation program in the 1970s, and Anita Gorman, of Kansas City, Mo., one of the conservation commission's four members. Edited portions of those interviews are republished below in an attempt to clear up the considerable confusion that still exists at the Minnesota Capitol about how and why Missouri's conservation system works so well.

Q: How difficult was it in Missouri to dedicate one-eighth of 1 percent of the state sales tax to conservation?

A: (Stegner) The first thing we had to decide was whether to try to establish it by constitutional amendment or in statute. We decided if we did it by statute, the legislature could repeal it at anytime. The only sure way to do it was by constitutional amendment.

(Vance) It's important to reiterate that in Missouri, people can get proposals like this on the statewide ballot through initiative. In Minnesota you can't do that; you have to go through the legislature. In any event, the Missouri plan was voted on in 1976 and went into effect in '77.

Q: Did the plan grow out of frustration with conservation as it was being practiced in Missouri prior to 1976?

A: (Vance) People were generally pleased. They just realized that to do more, and do it better, there needed to be more money.

(Stegner) An important role was played by a special commission that issued a report saying what the key conservation issues were in the state. After the report was presented, a statewide committee was formed. That committee said we needed more money, but didn't say where the funds should come from. Eventually, we ended up with the one-eighth of 1 percent idea.

Q: Because the Missouri Legislature can't withhold the sale-tax money from the Department of Conservation, and because the department is run/guided by a four-member citizens commission -- not the Legislature and not the governor -- are politics minimized in conservation in Missouri?

A: (Vance) They are. The commission in particular has been very effective. Even commissioners who might not have had great conservation track records prior to their appointments do a good job.

Q: Why four commissioners?

A: (Vance) Four has worked great. I'm a great believer in economy of government. The commission doesn't have a staff; just a secretary at the Department of Conservation.

Q: The Missouri proposal had broad appeal beyond hunters and anglers. How important is that to selling the idea?

A: (Vance) Very important. We sold the program on two principles: Save something for future generations, which appealed to everyone, and save something for yourself.

Q: Do you think conservation as a practice, and natural resources in general, are improving in Missouri, staying the same or losing ground?

A: (Gorman) Without a doubt, improving. Wildlife in general are in better shape than ever. There are a few exceptions, of course. But overall, I'd say, you bet they're better.

Q: Discuss how the commission handles conservation conflicts, such as wetland drainage, wildlife management, and so forth.

A: (Gorman) First of all, because the department is well-funded, we can hire the best. And we do: Our staff has no peer. So when they come to us with a proposal, or information, we know it has been well-researched and considered. Consequently, it is rare for us to take exception. But we do, occasionally.

Q: The dedicated portion of the sales tax that funds the Missouri Department of Conservation is important, obviously, to the department. How important is it to conservation as a whole as practiced in Missouri?

A: (Gorman) It's critical. And it absolutely divorces you from politics. If you are continually going to the legislature to ask for money, you're in trouble.

Q: Most states, including Missouri, have citizens commissions to help guide natural resource management. Minnesota does not. Are such commissions necessary, in your opinion?

A: (Gorman) I can't overstate their importance. You can't, for example, expect state employees to be politically active in the types of issues we face. Yet when necessary, our commission can be and is -- and I mean in a positive sense, to benefit conservation. Sometimes, for example, there are issues in which the governor's help is vital. The department staff can't go to him and ask. You've got to have people who are able to do that. And we do.

Dennis Anderson is at [email protected]
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