Buffer, easements find session funds

St. Paul — As did other state agencies, the Board of Water and Soil Resources emerged from the legislative session with a larger General Fund budget than it’s seen in recent years. The increase amounts to 1 percent, though the agency also receives funds from a variety of other sources, including both the Outdoor Heritage and Clean Water funds.

“By and large, we had a good outcome for clean water and conservation,” said John Jaschke, executive director of BWSR.

Conservation easements will remain a priority going forward.

The Legislature appropriated $13 million to BWSR from the Clean Water Fund for riparian buffers; $3.52 million from the Outdoor Heritage Fund for the same program; and another $13.4 million from the Outdoor Heritage Fund for the Reinvest in Minnesota/Wetlands Reserve Program partnership.

The latter program, which leverages $1.6 in federal funds for every state dollar invested, has been a priority of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council since its inception. The riparian buffers program is newer. It uses money from the Clean Water Fund to “purchase and restore permanent conservation easements on riparian buffers adjacent to lakes, rivers, streams, and tributaries,” according to BWSR.

BWSR can obtain 100-foot buffers with the Clean Water Fund dollars. The riparian buffers dollars from the Outdoor Heritage Fund can be used to add another 100-foot buffer, which allows for predator protection and travel corridors, Jaschke said.

A bonding bill that failed on the House floor also included $12 million for RIM.

Among the other BWSR-related highlights of the session:

  • Funding for the One Watershed One Plan initiative, which works toward moving water management away from geopolitical boundaries. “This initiative will allow us to assist local governments with the transition to a watershed-based planning approach and work in a concerted fashion with our partner agencies to build and implement the next generation of local water management plans,” according to BWSR.
  • $12 million from the Clean Water Fund, which BWSR will use as part of an effort to improve water quality in select watersheds in a relatively short period of time – say, a decade. “It’s been really important to have the knowledge, the data, and the targeting information, but now we also need to be able to show citizens that we are cleaning up the water,” Jaschke said.
  • $3.4 million “for ensuring compliance with drainage and soil erosion laws, including enforcement,” and updating the Minnesota Public Drainage Manual, according to BWSR.
Categories: Social Media

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *