Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Quick start for grants program

DNR receives legacy grant proposals for five times more funding
than is available

St. Paul – The DNR received more than $16.6 million worth of
applications from local sporting clubs and other groups for grants
from the Conservation Partners Legacy program.

It’s the first funding cycle for the program, which allows local
groups and organizations to tap into some of the habitat money
generated by the constitutional amendment that voters approved last
November.

The application deadline was Nov. 3, which gave applicants about
eight weeks to apply. The DNR received 129 applications; a total of
$3.74 million is available for projects.

DNR officials didn’t know what to expect, but say they’re
pleased with the application turnout.

“I would say, based on the number of applications we got and the
fact there are quite a few different groups and organizations that
applied, the word got out and people got the online application
system to work,” said Leslie Tannahill, the DNR grants specialist
who oversees the program. “So that’s all good.”

The maximum grant that will be disbursed is $400,000 (a 10
percent match of non-state funds is required for all grants).

Half of the money – $1.87 million – will be used to fund
applications for up to $125,000. The other half will be for grants
between $125,001 and $400,000. As much as $500,000 will be for
applications between $5,000 and $10,000.

While applications are accepted year-round, the agency will
award as much of the money that’s available as it can, depending on
the quality of the projects for which groups and organizations
applied to have funded.

“If the projects are good, we will give it all out,” Tannahill
said. “I would be happy to get everything out the door this year.”
Garry Leaf, executive director of Sportsmen for Change, attended 40
or more meetings around the state to explain the concept of the
grant program to local rod and gun clubs and other groups. He said
local DNR offices have undertaken a large amount of outreach to
such groups in hopes of getting them involved.

“When we were out promoting to have a council and the grant
program, every group we talked to was really excited about this
feature – that their local work in fund-raising could amount to
something significant locally,” Leaf said. “I think there’s going
to be a lot of little success stories in there.”

Most of the applications came in within a couple of days of the
deadline; the earliest came in about a week before it, Tannahill
said.

The goal is to award the first round of grants before Dec.
15.

To accomplish that, technical committees will go through and
rank the proposals based on a number of criteria, including the
amount of land that would be restored, enhanced, or protected; the
degree of collaboration; and whether the project provides multiple
benefits. DNR division directors and Denise Anderson, the agency’s
chief financial officer, then will look at the proposals and make
final recommendations.

The DNR commissioner will make the final decision on the
projects that get funding, and the amount of funds they
receive.

“Every effort will be made to evenly distribute the selected
grants by geographic location, activity, and funding level with an
objective of granting 50 (percent) of the funds to projects above
and below $125,000,” according to the DNR’s accomplishment plan for
the grants program.

DNR application

The DNR applied to the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council for
funds and to manage the grants program again in fiscal year 2011.
The council will meet over the course of the next couple months to
finalize its second round of funding.

The grants program likely will reduce the number of proposals
the L-SOHC has to sift through, and allow it to focus on those that
are larger or longer term, said Bill Becker, the council’s
executive director.

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