Minnesota DNR awards US$1.83M in grants to conservation groups to improve state habitat; remaining funds will be awarded in second round of applications

ST. PAUL, Minnesota , November 14, 2011 (press release) – Twenty grants totaling $1.83 million have been awarded to conservation groups to improve state habitat.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages the Conservation Legacy Partners (CPL) program to provide competitive grants from $5,000 to $400,000 to local, regional, state, and national nonprofit organizations, including government entities. The grants are for work to enhance, restore, or protect the forests, wetlands, prairies, and habitat for fish, game, or wildlife in Minnesota.

The grants are made possible by Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment dollars.

“Every year, Minnesotans envision new projects that can make our lands healthier and our waters cleaner for fish and wildlife habitat,” said Ed Boggess, director of DNR’s Fish & Wildlife Division. “The CPL program is funded by appropriations from the Outdoor Heritage Fund and enables people to convert these dreams into realities.”

Among this year’s recipients are the National Wild Turkey Federation, which received $48,000 to restore and enhance 100 acres of oak savanna on state wildlife management areas (WMAs); the Fergus Falls Fish and Game Club, which received $17,000 to restore native grasses to 178 acres of current cropland on new Waterfowl Production Areas; and MN Pheasants-Blue Earth Chapter, which received $10,000 to remove encroaching woody vegetation on 110 acres of prairie on the Maple River WMA.

Boggess encouraged nonprofit organizations to take advantage of this unique program. “Funds are available,” he said. “The application process is easier than ever. It’s a great way to leave a conservation legacy in your local community.” Remaining funds will be awarded in a second round of applications that will be announced soon.

Since the CPL program began, more than 100 grants totaling $9.7 million have been awarded. The DNR’s CPL program is an outgrowth of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, which recommended its creation to the state legislature. The program is now in its fourth funding cycle.

Grant funds are provided annually from the Outdoor Heritage Fund. This fund receives a portion of the income generated by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Constitutional Amendment sales tax. Minnesota voters approved the amendment, which instituted a statewide sales tax of three-eighths of 1 percent for a period of 25 years, in 2008.

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