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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Walz signs $79 million environmental resources bill

David Colburn
Posted 4/19/24

(Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the print edition to correct a reporting error. The information about Gov. Tim Walz and controversy over the bill’s development was …

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Walz signs $79 million environmental resources bill


(Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the print edition to correct a reporting error. The information about Gov. Tim Walz and controversy over the bill’s development was mistakenly taken from a 2022 press release that the reporter wrongfully believed to be a release about this year’s bill. The LCCM made its recommendations for the recently signed law in December 2023 without issue. The funding amounts were accurate as reported. The Timberjay regrets the error)

REGIONAL- Gov. Tim Walz reaffirmed Minnesota’s commitment to conservation and natural resources on Monday by signing the $79.6 million environmental and natural resource trust fund (ENRTF) allocation bill for 80 projects focused on protecting the state’s air, water, land, fish, wildlife, and other outdoor resources.
The bill provides funding in fiscal year 2025 for projects in eight major categories, including:
& Foundational natural resource data and information – $14,993,000.
& Water resources – $6,924,000.
&Environmental education – $11,262,000.
&Aquatic and terrestrial invasive species – $8,304,000.
&Air quality, climate change, and renewable energy – $4,833,000.
&Methods to protect or restore land, water, and habitat – $10,910,000.
&Land acquisition, habitat, and recreation – $20,322,000.
&Administration, emerging issues, and contract agreement reimbursement – $2,096,000.

Selected projects
Research initiatives of particular interest to North Country residents include:

• A $453,000 modeling study of how water quality of Minnesota’s lakes will change in the next century under various future land use and climate change scenarios.

• $379,00 to study lake visitor perceptions of water quality to aid in lake management.

• $996,000 for the Voyageurs Wolf Project to continue its study of summertime wolf predation in the Voyageurs ecosystem.

• $1.236 million for continued production of county geologic atlases for surface water and groundwater management.

• $499,000 to develop a tool for flood and drought modeling that provides estimates of the effects of land use and climate change on floods and droughts.

Among the broad-based array of education projects being funded, two are targeted specifically at North Country treasures. The Voyageurs Conservancy will receive $994,000 to connect Minnesotans to Voyageurs National Park through standards-aligned K-12 education, career-building fellowships, and enhanced programming that engages diverse audiences in the park’s conservation. “The Boundary Waters is Our Backyard” is a $500,000 initiative through the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness to connect students from northeastern Minnesota to the Boundary Waters through grade-wide day trips and overnight wilderness experiences.
A $415,000 project will evaluate the impacts of increasing tree diversity within northern Minnesota aspen forests to develop best management practices for mixed woodlands.
Around $3 million has been devoted to projects dealing with PFAS, a group of synthetic chemicals used in many consumer products since the 1950s that are found in water, air, fish, and soil and pose harmful health effects in humans and animals. $1.4 million of the total will be devoted to creating a full-scale pilot project to destroy PFAS in water treatment systems.