four photos of natural areas

BWSR’s mission is to improve and protect Minnesota's water and soil resources by working in partnership with local organizations and private landowners. Core functions include implementing the state's soil and water conservation policy, comprehensive local water management, and the Wetland Conservation Act as it relates to the 41.7 million acres of private land in Minnesota. 

BWSR's mission is implemented through the following core functions

  • To function as the state soil conservation agency. (M.S. 103B.101)
  • To direct private land soil and water conservation programs through the action of SWCDs, counties, cities, townships, watershed districts, and water management organizations. (M.S. 103C, 103D, 103F)
  • To link water resource planning with comprehensive land use planning. (M.S. 103B)
  • To provide resolution of water policy conflicts and issues. (M.S. 103A.211, 103A.305, 103A.315, 103A.311)
  • To implement the comprehensive local water management acts. (M.S. 103B.201, 103B.255, 103B.301)
  • To provide the forum (through the board) for local issues, priorities, and opportunities to be incorporated into state public policy. (M.S. 103B.101)
  • To administer for the Wetland Conservation Act. (M.S. 103G)
  • To coordinate state and federal resources to realize local priorities.

BWSR Legislative Summary 2023

Before adjourning on May 22, 2023, the legislature passed bills containing a number of BWSR-related budget and policy provisions.

This 2023 Legislative Summary (pdf) provides a comprehensive overview of 2023 legislation impacting BWSR’s work – including the work of our external partners statewide.

Soil and Water Conservation District Aid

The Board of Water and Soil Resources certified Soil and Water Conservation District Aid amounts to the Commissioner of Revenue on Thursday, June 1, 2023.

This recently-enacted aid begins with payments this year. The payable-year 2023 $15 million in aid has been calculated and apportioned to each jurisdiction based on three factors that are outlined in statute:

  1. 80% of the appropriation is split evenly between all soil and water conservation districts
  2. 10% is apportioned based on a soil and water conservation district’s share of nonpublic lands
  3. 10% is based on each soil and water conservation district’s share of adjusted state population

This spreadsheet shows the amount calculated for each district.

Investment in Soil Health Programming

During the 2023 Legislative session, BWSR received $21 million from the state’s general fund and $12 million from the Clean Water Fund to support soil health programming. In November 2023, BWSR received an additional $25 million through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program for soil health initiatives.

The Minnesota Office for Soil Health (MOSH) identifies a set of principles for soil health: 

  • Keep the soil covered

  • Minimize disturbance

  • Keep living roots in the ground

  • Diversify rotations

  • Integrate livestock when/where feasible

The purpose of this programing is to create additional local points of contact to work with landowners on increasing adoption of soil health practices and systems that advance the principles of soil health. 

 

  1. Trusted Local Expertise.  Among the common themes that emerged in stakeholder discussions for the state soil health action framework are the challenges of building expertise in soil health practices and meeting demands for that expertise, across both the public and private sectors. This grant program is designed to direct state resources toward staffing that can help meet these needs at the local level. 
  2. Expand public-private partnerships across multiple sectors and activities. Public agencies, NGOs, and private companies share many goals for improving soil health across the agricultural sector. In addition to supporting new staff positions, partnerships can expand and enhance collaboration in the areas of research and market and supply chain development.

  3. Support and increase mentorship and peer-to-peer learning  through positions and people who can facilitate connections and farmer-driven learning opportunities. 

The table below provides information about how BWSR is using this funding to invest in soil health programming and accelerate implementation of soil health practices on Minnesota’s landscape. 

ProgramStatusFunds AvailablePurpose
Soil Health supplemental staffing grantsRFP closed on February 8, 2024. Applications will be scored and ranked by an interagency team, with awards expected in winter/spring of 2024.Approximately $17 MillionTo provide funding for additional trusted local expertise and capacity to provide assistance to landowners on soil health practices.
Alliance to Advance Climate Smart AgricultureRFP posted in December of 2023

Incentive payments of $100 per acre or animal unit. 

$8M USDA Climate Smart funding for practices. 

$2M state funding for additional practices. 

To support landowner adoption of specified climate-smart practices.
Soil Health Delivery GrantsFunds to be allocated in winter/spring 2024Approximately $7 millionTo support local delivery of soil health related financial assistance, education, outreach and technical assistance to land owners
Soil Health Practices Funds to be allocated in spring/summer 2024

Up to $25 Million in federal funding pending final agreement execution.

$5 million in state funding for technical assistance to implement practices

Financial Assistance for soil health practices and systems for landowner adoption of soil health principals. 

 

Information developed for the 2023 legislative session

2024-2025 Governor's CWF Budget

FY24-25 Governor's CWF budget fact sheet (pdf)

Clean Water Council Funding recommendations

FY24-25 Clean Water fund and Policy Recommendations Report (pdf)

2023 Capital Investment Priorities

Local Government Roads Wetland Replacement Program (pdf)

Minnesota CREP Capital Investment (pdf)

2023 Legislative Priorities

BWSR Update Provisions (pdf)

BWSR Provisions Summary (pdf)

Climate Initiatives

Soil Health Practices

Establishes a voluntary and locally‐driven Soil Health Practices Program to set practices on sensitive lands to slow water and nutrient movement. Mitigates climate change impacts through carbon sequestration. ($27.16M)

Building Healthy Soil fact sheet (pdf)

Accelerated Water Storage

Acquire, design, and construct projects to control water volume and rate to adapt to changing climate and weather patterns. ($17M)

Water Storage and Treatment fact sheet (pdf)

Habitat Enhancement Landscape Programs

Encourage individual actions that increase carbon storage and establish landscapes to conserve and enhance biodiversity. ($9M)

Habitat Friendly Utilities Program fact sheet (pdf)

HELP Pilot Program fact Sheet (pdf)

Lawns to Legumes Program fact Sheet (pdf)

Private Grasslands and Working Lands Easements

Restore privately‐owned grasslands and working lands to sequester and store carbon in grasslands, wetlands, and other landscapes with
high conservation value. ($22M)

Grasslands, Working Lands fact sheet (pdf)

Peatland Restoration Easements

Protect existing peatlands and other wetlands, and restore drained, farmed, or pastured peatlands and wetlands to increase carbon
storage. ($15M)

Private Lands Peatland Restoration fact sheet (pdf)

RIM Easement Enhancements for Climate Mitigation and Resiliency

Inspect aging easement infrastructure and make repairs and improvements to practices on existing conservation easements so they will be
more resilient to climate change. ($7.1M)

RIM Easement Program Enhancements fact sheet (pdf)

Strengthening Partnerships

Permanent Funding for Agency Tribal Liaison

This action aligns with recent laws enacted that codify government‐to‐government relations and consultation between Minnesota state agencies and Tribal Nations. ($265K)

Clarify Ability to Work With Tribal Governments

Clarification will extend more opportunities for collaboration to partners outside of BWSR’s traditional clientele of local governments.

Natural Resource Block Grant Funding Restoration

These grants are available to Minnesota Counties to implement programs designed to protect and improve water resources via conservation practices such as shoreland restoration and wetland mitigation and enhancement. ($2.5M)

Support Soil and Water Conservation District Aid

Support Department of Revenue’s Proposal to provide direct and specific funding to the state’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

 

 

Contact

Andrea Fish
Assistant Director for Strategy & Operations
John Jaschke
Executive Director
Michael Nelson
Legislative Coordinator