ST. PAUL, MINN. – For the seventh year, the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC) members have submitted their project rankings. Each year the Outdoor Heritage Fund gets hundreds of environmental project proposals; this year 46 projects are requesting funds. The project requests this year total $211 million. The job of the Council is to help rank these projects to determine which should receive a hearing. Sen. Tom Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids) is proud to sit on the council and is happy to report that two of the projects are located within his district.
“Both Lake Bemidji and Cass County requested funds from the LSOHC to make improvements to their respective areas. As a life-long resident of the Northwoods, I have seen the benefits of taking the time and money to preserve the forests and waterways that make our region beautiful,” said Sen. Saxhaug.
The Lake Bemidji project involves restoring and enhancing the lake’s south shore to its original state. After a century of industrial use, thousands of cubic yards of woody debris needs to be removed from the bottom of the lake. In its place, native vegetation will be planted to help restore the aquatic habitat. Sen. Saxhaug says this project has many benefits in addition to enhancing the lake; it will also greatly increase the fishing quality of the lake and make it more of a tourism destination.
The Cass County project seeking LSOHC dollars is to consolidate forest land and to help prevent fragmentation with the long-term goal of preserving our forest’s wildlife, habitat and jobs in the wood products industry. Many parts of Central Minnesota, particularly Cass County, have seen a large population growth. This growth means there has been significant loss of forest lands and lakeshore. By purchasing this land, Cass County aims to consolidate an area that has traditionally been open to public hunting and fishing. This project will also help protect shallow water aquifers, wildlife habitat, and rare, threatened and endangered species that rely on forest habitat.
Over the next few months the LSOHC will tabulate the scores of all members and will finalize its recommendations. For more information on the LSOHC and the projects requesting funds visit: http://www.legacy.leg.mn/funds/outdoor-heritage-fund