The Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance Committee approved $155.361 million in spending from the Outdoor Heritage Fund as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC).
The Outdoor Heritage Fund is one of the four funds established by the “Legacy” amendment to the state’s constitution, which was approved by voters in 2007 and raised the state’s sales tax by three-eighths of a percent and dedicated the receipts to projects that protect and enhance the arts, cultural heritage, and environment and natural resources of the state. The Outdoor Heritage Fund receives 33% of those receipts and the money may be spent only “to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands, prairies, forests, and habitat for fish, game and wildlife.”
Funding from the Outdoor Heritage Fund is recommended to the Legislature each year by the LSOHC; a 12-member council made up of four legislators and eight citizens tasked with making annual recommendations to the Legislature on how to spend Outdoor Heritage Fund money. While legislators have the ability to alter these recommendations, this has been rare in the Minnesota Senate, and this annual bill typically has not been controversial.
The bill funds dozens of projects around the state that will produce outdoor habitat restoration, enhancement, and protection, as follows:
- $34.17 million for prairie projects
- $12.93 million for forest projects
- $26.12 million for wetland projects
- $81.53 million for other habitat projects
- $623,000 for administration costs
The bill was approved without opposition and will be heard next in the Senate Finance Committee.