Farm Progress

2015: Busy year for BWSR

Agency offers reviews of programs, projects that impact Minnesota's natural resources

January 4, 2016

2 Min Read

Officials with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources recently reviewed events of 2015 and issued a press release on the agency's partnerships with local governments and private landowners on projects involving Minnesota's natural resources.

Through Clean Water Fund grants, conservation easement programs, disaster relief, and more, BWSR helped numerous local conservation staff get projects on the ground that help clean up and protect state waters and soil.

"These partnerships have put hundreds of conservation practices in the ground [in 2015] to keep our state moving towards its soil and water quality goals," said John Jaschke, BWSR executive director.

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Projects highlighted by the agency include:

-Local projects funded by the Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment. BWSR awarded $14 million through 94 competitive grants in January 2015. 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, said BWSR.

-The Reinvest in Minnesota Reserve Program which protects and enhances 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.

-Minnesota's soil and water conservation districts' efforts. SWCDs 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.

-BWSR's Disaster Relief Assistance Program. The agency says this 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. Last summer, an additional $5.6 million was allocated to 26 counties, funding almost 200 conservation practices that will stabilize gullies and eroding croplands.

-Conservation leader training. 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.

-Development of future conservation Leaders. 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 natural resources professionals in 30 SWCDs to gain skills and understanding of both the practical and policy work done by Minnesota's local conservation agencies.

For more information about BWSR and its programs, please visit www.bwsr.state.mn.us.

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