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Bill would use Legacy funds for 15 metro wildlife and conservation projects

Two freshman legislators, one Republican and one DFLer, propose $6.4 million for 15 metro conservation, habitat and wildlife projects.

A bill introduced in the Legislature would direct $6.4 million in Legacy Amendment funds to 15 metro area wildlife and conservation projects.

Two freshmen, state Reps. Mike Freiberg (DFL-Golden Valley) and Anna Wills (R-Apple Valley) introduced the bill Monday, and say they have 33 bi-partisan co-sponsors from all seven metro counties.

They say their bill, HF 1119, won’t take funding away from other state-wide wildlife, habitat and conservation projects, because there is $10 million left unspent in the Outdoor Heritage account for next year.

Said Freiberg in a statement:

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These 15 projects will help protect, restore and enhance publicly owned land in the metropolitan area for habitat. These lands are our most precious assets. They have been set aside permanently for wildlife – and, to a limited degree, humans. Nature is in our soul and we must protect it.

Wills said:

These Legacy dollars have been set aside by the voters. The funds will be spent. It is only right that the needs and resources of the metro area are addressed. We are not seeking to take funds away from other projects.

The 15 projects, according to the bill as introduced, are:

  • $500,000 is for Dakota County to convert existing agricultural land and low-quality woods and grassland in Whitetail Woods Regional Park to prairie and oak savanna centered around an existing wetland, resulting in substantial habitat improvements for waterfowl and other wildlife.
  • 60,000 is for Dakota County to protect and enhance Miesville Ravine Park Reserve through earth shaping, slope stabilization, and perhaps piping of one severe gully erosion situation and other eroding sites that are presently contributing sediment to Trout Brook, impairing water quality and the brook trout population.
  • $500,000 is for the City of St. Paul to remove 18,000 tons of contaminated materials and preserve sensitive access to natural amenities and nature-based recreation in Lilydale Regional Park. Funding would help to improve access to Pickerel Lake, while enhancing habitat and improving water quality.
  • $915,000 is for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to protect, restore and enhance shorelines; reduce invasive upland species; and repair erosion and unpaved walking paths at Sweeney and Twin Lakes and to enhance the Wirth Lake wetland complex; reduce invasive upland species; correct erosion problems; close unauthorized trails; and repair unpaved walking paths in Theodore Wirth Regional Park.
  • $468,000 is for Ramsey County to restore 72 acres in Battle Creek Regional Park along the bluff of the Mississippi River, including restoration and enhancement of prairie, savanna, oak woods, and shrub swamp seeps to improve waterfowl and upland game bird feeding and nesting habitats.
  • $210,000 is for the Three Rivers Park District to restore the water quality and game fish habitat in Lake Independence in Barker Park Reserve by reducing phosphorus loading from Spurzem and Half Moon Lakes through treatment with aluminum sulfate.
  • $400,000 is for the Three Rivers Park District to enhance and restore the quality of Cleary Lake and restore the fishery by controlling curly-leaf pondweed, reducing phosphorus runoff from the watershed, and controlling internal phosphorus cycling with aluminum sulfate.
  • $200,000 is for Carver County to restore and enhance Lake Minnewashta Regional Park by converting 37 acres of existing turf or old fields to native prairie and oak savanna. These areas are identified in the park master plan as medium to high potential sites for restoration.
  • $270,000 is for Anoka County to restore and enhance 120 acres of prairie and woodland habitat within the 273-acre Mississippi West Regional Park. Outcomes will include increased habitat for game and nongame species and benefits to migratory waterfowl on the Mississippi flyway.
  • $200,000 is for Anoka County to restore 45 acres of prairie and oak 
    savanna and remove invasive species from 40 acres of riparian forest land at Rum River Central Regional Park. The restoration will benefit the adjacent 550-acre Cedar Creek Conservation Area, which is open to hunting and was funded through a recent appropriation from the outdoor heritage fund.
  • $338,000 is for Scott County to restore and enhance 150 acres within the 1,150-acre conservation-focused Doyle-Kennefick Regional Park. The project site is part of an 850-acre mosaic of natural lands including Minnesota County Biological Survey forest and some of the highest quality wetlands in Scott County. The park master plan identifies this natural complex to be conserved for habitat and biological diversity with very light recreational development.
  • $37,000 is for Scott County to restore and enhance Cedar Lake Farm Regional Park by partnering with the Cedar Lake Improvement District and Scott Watershed Management Organization for four years of treatment to control the curly-leaf pondweed infestation dominating Cedar Lake. The goal is to restore 700 acres of shallow lake, improve fishing opportunities, and increase native aquatic plant habitat.
  • $1,523,000 is for Scott County to restore and enhance 302 acres of contiguous forest, wetlands, and lakeshore in Spring Lake Regional Park by improving habitat for interior forest birds, waterfowl, and amphibians. Adjacent to Upper Prior, Spring, and Artic Lakes, this site is part of a larger permanent habitat network.
  • $425,000 is for Washington County to restore and enhance Lake Elmo Park Reserve by creating 168 acres of interconnected tallgrass prairie through the restoration of 12 wetland basins that are scattered throughout an existing tallgrass prairie complex. These diverse landscapes provide critical habitat for native ground-nesting birds.
  • $350,000 is for Washington County to restore and enhance rare and unique forest communities identified by the Department of Natural Resources in Lake Elmo Park Reserve and St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park. These forests provide exceptional habitat for native and migrating bird species and represent some of the best opportunities for avian habitat improvement in Washington County.