Supporting Minnesota's public lands

Many animals, such as the loggerhead shrike (aka the rare "butcher bird" of FMR-restored prairies) above, depend on Minnesota's public lands and funding for habitat. (Photo by USFWS Midwest.)

Minnesota's public lands would not exist without public support. This legislative session, Minnesota lawmakers have an opportunity to invest in protecting and restoring more special places — including Scientific and Natural Areas and Aquatic Management Areas — ensuring they are around for future generations.

Friends of the Mississippi River is proud to be a part of this effort.

Many of our protection and habitat restoration sites benefit from state funding, and some of our favorite volunteer sites are Scientific and Natural Areas that FMR helped to protect in partnership with the state, such as the Hastings Sand Coulee and Pine Bend Bluffs SNAs. 

We are proud to work in partnership with the many organizations in this effort (see the letter and list of signers below), and we deeply appreciate the support of our habitat restoration volunteers, as well as the ongoing legislative activism of FMR's River Guardians on behalf of the metro-area Mississippi River and its watershed. 

Letter of support 

March 18, 2024

Members of the Minnesota Legislature:

We write to you, as dedicated members of Minnesota’s conservation community, to express our support of the package of funding recommendations for the Outdoor Heritage Fund forwarded to you by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC).

This nation-leading Outdoor Heritage Fund was created when Minnesotans overwhelmingly voted in 2008 in favor of the Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment. With that vote, Minnesotans called for acceleration of conservation in Minnesota and full transparency of spending decisions and outcomes. The structure and process followed by the LSOHC has met and continues to meet those expectations.

This year’s funding package was unanimously approved by the LSOHC before being submitted to the legislature. It contains 50 high priority conservation projects across the state, in addition to more projects that will be funded through the Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program. The selected projects have been thoroughly vetted by the LSOHC through its competitive, public process, which received over $373 million in requests and resulted in recommendations to you that total $180.711 million.

In considering full approval of the recommended package in the bill, we encourage you to reflect on the following:

  1. LSOHC members are citizens and legislators chosen for their expertise in conservation from a statewide perspective. The LSOHC is well-qualified to select projects that are urgent and most likely to return positive results from taxpayer investment.
  2. The LSOHC’s competitive grant application process is thorough, fair and transparent. It demands that proposals are well-designed, high-priority, science-based projects that address conservation goals enumerated by LSOHC and state plans.
  3. The LSOHC adheres to a rigorous review process each year to determine its final recommendations for the Legislature. It prioritizes projects based upon several criteria, including urgency, reasonableness and ability of the proposer to achieve the outcomes.
  4. The conservation projects recommended by the LSOHC are urgent and ready to implement.
  5. LSOHC and the Minnesota DNR developed the Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program, which sub-grants funding to smaller, community-level conservation projects. This popular Outdoor Heritage Fund program funds projects up to $500,000.

The LSOHC package presented to you is worthy of your support. We are available as a resource to you and thank you for your support of conservation in Minnesota.

Respectfully submitted by the following organizations,
Audobon Minnesota
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
Conservation Minnesota
Ducks Unlimited
Fox Lake Conservation League
Friends of the Mississippi River
Friends of Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas
Great River Greening
The Conservation Fund
Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
Minnesota Conservation Federation
Minnesota Deer Hunters Association
Minnesota Environmental Partnership
Minnesota Land Trust
Minnesota Sharp-Tailed Grouse Society
Minnesota Trout Unlimited
Minnesota Valley Trust
National Wild Turkey Federation
The Nature Conservancy
Pheasants Forever
Ruffed Grouse Society / American Woodcock Society
Trust for Public Land

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The Outdoor Heritage Fund created by the Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment “may be spent only to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands, prairies, forests, and habitat for fish, game, and wildlife.” Minnesota Constitution, Art. XI, Sec. 15

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Upcoming Events

Saturday, June 15, 2024 - 5:00pm to 8:00pm
Hidden Falls Regional Park
Tuesday, June 25, 2024 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Nicollet Island, Minneapolis
Wednesday, August 14, 2024 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Pine Bend Bluffs Scientific & Natural Area, Inver Grove Heights