St. Paul The number one priority for many conservation-minded
groups and legislators became reality late last week when a bonding
bill passed which included $51.4 million for the Conservation
Reserve Enhancement Program.
The state now is eligible for a federal match of about $100
million for the program, which pays farmers along the Minnesota
River basin to take “marginal” cropland out of production.
“We’re thrilled to see the final passage of the bonding bill and
thank the Legislature and the governor for their commitment to the
program,” Ron Harnack, executive director of the Minnesota Board of
Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) said in a news release. “This is
the single most important initiative we have to clean up the
Minnesota River and reclaim our heritage.”
CREP comes following a session many in the outdoor arena
characterized as “average,” as a number of natural resource
initiatives, including a bill aimed at toughening laws for blatant
game and fish violators, and another to dedicate a portion of the
state sales tax to natural resources, failed.
As of mid-June, more than 42,000 acres of land were already
enrolled in CREP, according to BWSR. An additional 24,000 acres are
awaiting approval from local Soil and Water Conservation District
The bonding bill which included CREP funding passed as the state
Legislature’s special session drew to a close last Saturday. The
House approved the bill 115-17, while it passed unanimously in the
Harnack credited legislators Elaine Harder (R) and Henry Kalis
(DFL), representatives from Jackson and Walters, respectively,
along with senators Dennis Frederickson, R-New Ulm and John
Hottinger, DFL-Mankato, for carrying CREP legislation.
“This is indeed a historic accomplishment,” said Judy Erickson,
CREP Coalition coordinator.
There were a number of bills relating to natural resources that
passed this session. There were even more that did not. Here are
some of those that made it, and others whose time did not come.