Legacy Funding—The Package Deal

by Nels Paulsen,
Policy Director

In the end of January, Conservation Minnesota joined with more than 20 environmental organizations to encourage the passage of HF340 and support the recommendations of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC). The Council is responsible for providing funding recommendations to the legislature from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, one of four funds created by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. We support their structure, process, and work, and believe the package presented by LSOHC in HF340 is worthy of their support.

January 20, 2018

Chair Rick Hansen and Members
Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Finance Division

Dear Chair Hansen and Division Members:

We write today, as dedicated members of Minnesota’s conservation community, to express our support for HF340, the package of recommendations for the Outdoor Heritage Fund forwarded to you by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC).

This year, we celebrate 10 years of the Outdoor Heritage Fund at work. This nation-leading program was created when Minnesotans overwhelmingly voted in 2008 in favor of the Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment. With that vote, Minnesotans called for acceleration of conservation in Minnesota and full transparency of spending decisions and outcomes. The structure and process followed by the LSOHC has met those expectations.

The package prepared for you by the LSOHC in HF340 contains 40 high priority conservation projects across the state. These projects have been thoroughly vetted by the LSOHC through its competitive, public process, which received $264.4 million in requests and resulted in recommendations to you totaling $127.5 million.

In considering full approval of the package, we encourage you to reflect on the following:

  1. LSOHC members are citizens and legislators chosen for their expertise in conservation from a statewide perspective. The LSOHC is well-qualified to select projects that are urgent and most likely to return positive results from taxpayer investment.
  2. The LSOHC’s competitive grant application process is thorough, fair and transparent. It demands that proposals are well-designed, high-priority, science-based projects that address conservation goals enumerated by LSOHC and state plans.
  3. The LSOHC adheres to a rigorous review process each year to determine its final recommendations for the Legislature. It prioritizes projects based upon several criteria, including urgency, reasonableness and ability of the proposer to achieve the outcomes.
  4. The conservation projects recommended by the LSOHC are urgent and shovel-ready.
  5. LSOHC and the Minnesota DNR developed the Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program, which sub-grants funding to smaller, community-level conservation projects. This popular Outdoor Heritage Fund program funds projects up to $400,000.

The LSOHC package as presented in HF340 is worthy of your support. We are available as a resource to you and thank you for your support of conservation in Minnesota.

Respectfully submitted by the following organizations:

The Outdoor Heritage Fund created by the Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment “may be spent only to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands, prairies, forests, and habitat for fish, game, and wildlife.”

MinnesotaConstitution, Art. XI, Sec. 15