Walz signs an omnibus environmental bill | News, Sports, Jobs
ST. PAUL – Governor Tim Walz promulgated on June 29 the Omnibus bill on finance and environmental and natural resources policy.
The final bill with a start date of July 1, 2021, includes the establishment of a new program to provide landowners with financial support to retain water in the landscape.
The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) will receive $ 1 million in fiscal 2021 and 2022 to fund the development and demonstration of a new water storage program starting with the Minnesota River watershed .
There is also money in the bill for chronic wasting disease, aquatic invasive species, emerald ash borer, and synthetic substances toxic to AFP (per- and polyfluoroalkyl).
“Extensive studies and science in the Minnesota River Basin over the past 30 years have brought us to this point in time,” said Minnesota River Congress coordinator and Minnesota Clean River Coalition executive director Scott Sparlin of New Ulm.
“Many landowners who have spent their lives in the basin intuitively knew that holding water temporarily and permanently to stabilize flows would create a better system on all fronts” Sparlin said. “This is a victory for everyone and it is an important first step towards creating a comprehensive program that will ultimately need national help.”
The creation of the program started at the grassroots and was the culmination of more than 25 basin-wide meetings held over three years starting in late 2016.
Meetings with Representative Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska; and former representative Jeff Brand, D-St. Peter, led the introduction in the previous legislative session, and then the COVID-19 pandemic brought it to a halt.
The legislation was picked up this session by a number of lawmakers, including Senator Nick Frentz, D-Mankato.
Supporting partners included the Minnesota River team from the Izaak Walton League Upper Mississippi River Initiative. and attendees at the Minnesota River Congress.
The $ 1.66 billion bill includes $ 367.08 million in General Fund expenditures. General fund increases include:
• $ 25.77 million for the Department of Natural Resources (MNR), including an operating adjustment of $ 3.98 million, $ 2.5 million for accelerated tree planting to capture carbon and an increase funding for state parks of $ 2 million;
• $ 5.04 million for BWSR, including $ 2 million for water quality and storage practices to mitigate the impacts of climate change and $ 1.4 million for septic tank replacement grants;
• $ 3.23 million for the Pollution Control Agency, including nearly $ 2 million in grants for local government water infrastructure;
• $ 1.27 million to Explore Minnesota Tourism, including $ 1 million for community event grants.
The bill would not increase the cost of park licenses, hunting or fishing fees, or registration fees on boats, kayaks, canoes or paddleboards.
The funding includes salary increases and additional payments for conservation officers.
Under the bill, the MNR and the Animal Health Council would have simultaneous authority to regulate farmed white-tailed deer, under certain sections of the act regarding farmed deer, and the MNR could inspect white-tailed deer.
Farmed deer have been a major source of chronic wasting disease, which is always fatal and can survive for years in the environment. The agreement bans the importation of all deer carcasses, not just those harvested by hunters.
Fritz Busch can be emailed to [email protected]