Contact: Celi Haga
St. Paul, Minn. – The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) works, in partnership with local governments and private landowners, year-round to make a difference for Minnesota’s natural resources. Through Clean Water Fund grants, conservation easement programs, disaster relief, and more, BWSR helps local conservation staff get projects on the ground that are cleaning up and protecting our waters and our soil.
“Minnesotans enjoy an abundance of natural resources. Our local conservation delivery system works on a daily basis to make sure those resources can be enjoyed for generations to come,” BWSR Executive Director John Jaschke said. “These partnerships have put hundreds of conservation practices in the ground over the past year to keep our state moving towards its soil and water quality goals.”
Improving Water Quality through Strategic Local Investments
Minnesota is known for our plentiful water resources, and improving and protecting our rivers, lakes, streams and groundwater is a state priority thanks to the Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment. BWSR awarded $14 million through 94 competitive grants in January 2015, dollars that fund on-the-ground conservation projects implemented locally. These projects provide multiple benefits for water quality and wildlife habitat and are estimated to provide a reduction of over 25,000 tons of sediment and 21,500 pounds of phosphorus per year from entering Minnesota waters.
Permanently Protecting Critical Lands
The Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve Program is a critical component of the state’s goals to protect and improve water quality and protect and enhance wildlife habitat through permanent easements that remain in private ownership. In 2015, BWSR acquired more than 180 easements protecting over 11,000 acres through the program. That’s thousands of acres of permanent protection, home to native plants, pollinators, pheasants, and other wildlife.
Increasing Local Capacity for Conservation
Minnesota’s soil and water conservation districts are the front lines of our state’s natural resources work. These districts will receive $22 million over the biennium from the Clean Water Fund to boost their local capacity, accelerating their work to protect, restore, and enhance Minnesota’s natural resources.
Rapid Response to Natural Disasters
BWSR’s Disaster Relief Assistance Program went into high gear after the summer flooding of 2014. In early 2015, BWSR allocated $2.5 million to 17 Minnesota counties to repair existing conservation practices damaged in the floods. This past summer, an additional $5.6 million was allocated to 26 counties, funding almost 200 conservation practices that will stabilize gullies and eroding croplands.
Training Today’s Conservation Leaders
A record-setting 420 local government conservation professionals took part in October’s BWSR Academy, an annual event that provides practical, hands-on training sessions and professional development that directly applies to their work.
Developing the Conservation Leaders of Tomorrow
BWSR is looking to the future through the Apprentice Academy, produced in partnership with the Minnesota Conservation Corps and funded by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. Thirty interns and recent graduates were paired with experienced natural resources professionals in 30 soil and water conservation districts to gain knowledge, insight, technical skills, and understanding of both the practical and policy work done by Minnesota’s local conservation agencies.
The state agency that oversees soil and water conservation, BWSR believes in wise use of the state resources, a cooperative approach, and planning and implementation that is driven at the local level. For more information about BWSR and its programs, please visit www.bwsr.state.mn.us.