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Fighting Asian carp

Published (3/23/2012)
By Bob Geiger
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Minnesota prairies, forests, water and arts and cultural heritage projects got good news March 21, while Asian carp received a shot across the bow.

Projects benefitting state lands and waters could receive $107.6 million if funding by the House Legacy Funding Division is approved.

Sponsored by Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City), HF2430 is expected to be heard March 22 by the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee. There is no Senate companion.

The Outdoor Heritage Fund received the most funding — just over

$99.9 million — compared to $6 million for the Clean Water Fund and $1.7 million for the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Included in the proposal is a $12.2 million bipartisan effort that combines $5.5 million from the Outdoor Heritage Fund with other Legacy Amendment funds to research aquatic invasive species, fund Asian carp barriers and provide grants for aquatic habitat restoration.

The plan calls for some funds to be diverted from the Mississippi River Northwoods Habitat Complex Protection project to help pay for the aquatic invasive species efforts. Paying for the invasive species projects is “absolutely critical because we don’t have any other funds available and we have to start on this,” said Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Nelson Township).

Torkelson worked with Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL-Mpls) on a plan to combat such aquatic invasive species as Asian carp and zebra mussels from overrunning the state’s rivers and lakes.

Quick action is important, said Rep. Denny McNamara (R-Hastings) because planning barriers at lock and dams and other efforts takes at least six months.

“The reality is these deterrents will not protect us this season. It will have to wait until next season,” said McNamara, who characterized the proposed aquatic invasive species effort as “aggressive.”

The proposed effort includes a $2.2 million appropriation from the Legacy Amendment’s Clean Water Fund to the University of Minnesota to fund three assistant professors to research environmental DNA, zebra mussels and fish ecology, one fish care technician and five graduate students and equipment through June 30, 2018.

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