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Outdoor projects total $86.9 million

Published (2/18/2011)
By Sue Hegarty
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The House Legacy Funding Division has begun compiling which projects could receive appropriations from the Clean Water, Land & Legacy dedicated tax receipts.

Approved by constitutional amendment in 2008, the annual tax revenue is distributed through four funds: the Outdoor Heritage Fund, Clean Water Fund, Parks and Trails Fund and an Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Twenty-seven projects totaling $86.9 million are being recommended for funding by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, which oversees the Outdoor Heritage Fund. The division got their first chance to weigh in on the recommended projects Feb. 16 as HF471 was explained by Bill Becker, LSOHC executive director. Rep. Denny McNamara (R-Hastings), who chairs the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee, sponsors the bill. Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria), sponsors its companion SF158, which awaits action in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

Overall, the money would contribute to protecting more than 55,000 acres of land, restoring 850 acres and enhancing more than 40,000 acres, encompassing 75 of the state’s 87 counties. Priority was given to projects that included protection, restoration or enhancement of prairies ($34.6 million); followed by forests ($17.9 million); wildlife habitat ($15.2 million); and wetlands ($12.5 million). The Outdoor Heritage projects would create an estimated 36 full-time equivalent jobs and hundreds of secondary jobs as a result of the spending.

Further testimony is scheduled for Feb. 22. The division also plans to hear recommendations for the other three funds and intends to roll those projects into HF471 before sending it to the environment committee, according to Division Chairman Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City).

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