NOTE: If a project has been completed the Final Report has been posted under the project descriptions here. For projects still underway, contact us to obtain the most up-to-date work programs (project updates are required twice each year).
The following documents are short abstracts for projects funded during the 2006 Legislative Session. The final date of completion for these projects is listed at the end of the abstract. When available, we have provided links to a projects web site. The sites linked to this page are not created, maintained, or endorsed by the LCMR/LCCMR office or the Minnesota Legislature.
When available, we have provided links to web sites related to the project. The sites linked to this page are not created, maintained, or endorsed by the LCCMR office or the Minnesota Legislature.
John Velin, Director
Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR)
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd.
Room 65 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155
(a) $550,000 in fiscal year 2007 is appropriated from the environment and natural resources trust fund to the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources for administration, as provided in Minnesota Statutes, section 116P.09, subdivision 5.
(b) The fiscal year 2006 administrative budget under Laws 2005, First Special Session chapter 1, article 2, section 11, subdivision 3, is for the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources or its successor commission, as provided in Minnesota Statutes, section 15.039, subdivision 6.
(c) Administrative expenses saved through the elimination of the citizens advisory committee may be used for administration of the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources or its successor commission.
For administration as provided in Minnesota Statutes, section 116P.09, subdivision 5.
209 - 2nd Street NW
Aitkin, MN 56431
$145,000 in fiscal year 2006 and $145,000 in fiscal year 2007 are appropriated to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Aitkin County for a six-year revolving loan fund to improve public and private land ownership patterns, increase management efficiency, and protect critical habitat in Aitkin, Cass, and Crow Wing Counties. By June 30, 2011, Aitkin County shall repay the $290,000 to the commissioner of finance for deposit in the environment and natural resources trust fund.
In 2006, an inter-county revolving loan fund was established for the benefit of Aitkin, Cass and Crow Wing Counties. The objective of this fund was to improve public and private land-ownership patterns, which will increase public management efficiency, protect critical habitat, and reduce public service expenditures to isolated parcels; without reducing the local tax base.
Under this program, the Counties purchased privately owned parcels that met certain project criteria. Tax forfeited land, of substantially equal value and better suited to private ownership, was sold to replenish the fund; resulting in the public/private land ownership base remaining stable.
A total of 174.6 acres of land plus a lot were purchased solving many easement issues and consolidating public ownership so that public service expenditures to these parcels would not exist.
During this process, land values dropped because of the recession which made it harder to recoup the funds from land sales. Parcels were put up for sale, but did not sell because of the economy. Purchases of recreational property was no longer a priority, when homes were being lost and people weren't sure about the future of their jobs.
Another item that caused some problems, was that as funds from the account were used, sometimes larger parcels were unable to be purchased as there was not enough in the account for purchase. Exchanges were not as favorably looked at as when a county parcel was exchanged, people thought that everyone should have the opportunity to purchase the parcel, not just the person doing the exchange.
Overall, the process was a good process. It gave counties the opportunity to cure problem parcels with a ready cash fund. No access properties, wetland properties that should not be developed, and recreational opportunities were all developed with a 'no cash out of the general fund' opportunity.
500 Lafayette Rd
St. Paul, MN 55155
$370,000 in fiscal year 2006 and $270,000 in fiscal year 2007 are appropriated to the commissioner of natural resources for fee title acquisition and easements on high-priority, sensitive riparian lands that provide high value for watershed protection.
Through leverage created by this funding, this project resulted in a grand total of approximately 149 acres and 2.13 miles of lake and stream shoreline being acquired in fee title. Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund dollars directly acquired 52.2 acres of the total, including 0.85 miles of lake and stream shoreline. Outside funds ($527,980) and other state monies ($2,025,220) leveraged with Trust Fund dollars totaled $2,553,200. These contributions helped acquire the remaining acres of the grand total including 79.4 acres and 1.05 miles using other state dollars, and 17.4 acres and 0.23 miles from outside funds.
This project complemented parcel acquisitions funded in the past with capital bonding, Trout Stamp, and Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund dollars. The acquisition of aquatic management areas adjacent to lakes and streams ensures the protection of critical riparian habitat areas within sensitive watersheds and headwater areas, as well as angler and management access. Acquisition under this project occurred in the following Counties: Bottle Lake in Hubbard, Rum River (Chuck Davis) in Mille Lacs, Dead Lake in Otter Tail, and Maple Lake in Douglas.
DNR - Division of Forestry
500 Lafayette Rd
St. Paul, MN 55155
$250,000 in fiscal year 2006 and $250,000 in fiscal year 2007 is to the commissioner of natural resources to acquire easements as described under Minnesota Statutes, chapter 84C, on private lands. The conservation easements must guarantee public access, including hunting and fishing.
To acquire easements as described under Minnesota Statutes, chapter 84C (Conservation Easements), on private lands. The conservation easements must guarantee public access, including hunting and fishing.
Steven M. Colman
Large Lakes Observatory, UMD
2205 E. 5th Street
Duluth, MN 55812
$133,000 in fiscal year 2006 and $134,000 in fiscal year 2007 are appropriated to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota for the Large Lakes Observatory for research on Lake Superior waters. $28,000 in fiscal year 2007 from the Great Lakes protection account under Minnesota Statutes, section 116Q.02, is appropriated to the Board of Regents for the same purpose. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2009, at which time the project must be completed and final products delivered, unless an earlier date is specified in the work program.
There is a surprising lack of study and understanding of the ecosystems of the Great Lakes and their properties, especially in the deepwater basins. We know more about many marine systems than we know about the Great Lakes. With current concerns about the environmental health of the Great Lakes, studies supported through this project aimed to contribute to alleviating some of the unknowns. A series of studies were conducted that research the condition, functioning, and processes of Lake Superior, its sediments, and its ecosystem including:
In all of these studies, we took a holistic, "physics to fish" approach, examining the interactions between physical and biological processes.
We conducted a total of 24 field projects, with project funds going primarily to the cost of using of our research ship for an aggregate of 53 days at sea. Project funds leveraged other funding as most of these studies were small pilot projects, extensions to projects funded from other sources, and projects to collect preliminary data often required for proposals to the national science agencies. The projects have a common theme of understanding the dynamics of Lake Superior, its sediments, and its ecosystem. Through these studies, we hope to provide Minnesotans, from lay citizens to environmental managers, a better understanding of how Lake Superior works and how it might change in response to climate change and human activity.
We have now collected a wealth of environmental data for Lake Superior. A significant part of those data have already been used for larger research proposals to the National Science Foundation and other agencies, some of which have already been successful in bringing new federal funding into the state. Plans are for the results of studies supported through this project to be published in peer-reviewed journals where they will be available to Minnesota managers and regulators. With other funding, we are in the process of developing a system called the Global Great Lakes Data and Modeling Center, which will allow incorporation and assimilation of existing data, new data like those collected in this project, and ongoing real-time observational data. The Data and Modeling Center will allow numerical models to be run and compared in real time using the different data sets and make all data readily available though an internet interface.
UMD - Natural Resources Research Institute
5013 Miller Trunk Hwy.
Duluth, MN 55811
$125,000 in fiscal year 2006 and $125,000 in fiscal year 2007 are appropriated to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota for the Natural Resources Institute to quantify climate, hydrologic, and ecological variability and trends and identify indicators of future climate. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2009, at which time the project must be completed and final products delivered, unless an earlier date is specified in the work program.
This project examined historic climate records and developed a database on key climatic measures and their variability. We also analyzed hydrologic (e.g., streamflow, lake levels, water quantity and quality) and ecological response data (e.g., fish species distributions, walleye spawning phenology). We found that the following trends are evident:
Several tools for downloading and visualizing results have been developed. Additional analyses are ongoing.
Results of these analyses have been presented in various venues, including:
Project results have been eagerly awaited by numerous agencies and committees working on statewide strategies for assessing adaptation to climate change. Dr. David Thornton invited Lucinda Johnson to present this project's findings to a newly convened committee to address adaptation strategies across state agencies. Results will also be used to inform a newly funded project to quantify impacts of climate change and land use change on cisco habitat (i.e., coldwater lake) in the glacial lakes region of the Midwestern US. In addition, several scientific publications are planned based on results of these analyses.
Hennepin County - Environmental Services
417 North 5th Street, #200
Minneapolis, MN 55401
$125,000 in fiscal year 2006 and $125,000 in fiscal year 2007 are appropriated to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Hennepin County to develop geographic information system tools for prioritizing natural areas for protection and restoration and to update and complete land cover classification mapping.
Much of the land cover within the five Twin Cities metropolitan county partners on this project (Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Scott, and Washington) has been converted from historic native plant communities to human-disturbed systems. However, remnant natural plant communities persist and their protection remains critical, while significant opportunities also exist for the restoration of other cover types in these landscapes. Restoration within these areas will increase the extent and connectivity of remnant natural areas, provide ecological benefits such as improved wildlife habitat and reduced soil erosion, and present many opportunities for landowners and other citizens to engage in improving the natural resource base in their own communities. Large-scale restoration will be more possible with landscape-scale planning that provides methods for identifying and prioritizing opportunities based on the best available information.
Over a period of years, significant public funding has been invested in land cover mapping as part of a natural resource inventory to help determine regional priorities for wildlife habitat protection and restoration using the Minnesota Land Cover Classification System (MLCSS). The purpose of this project was to create a GIS-based model following MLCSS that the five participating counties could use as a tool for identifying opportunities for ecological restoration at a landscape-scale in their urbanized landscapes.
This project completed identified land cover mapping for the five partner counties and used it along with other data - e.g. soils, slope, and aspect - to develop prioritization criteria to identify and rank potential restoration sites. The Restoration Prioritization and Prediction Model (RePP) was the resulting computer model developed to identify these sites. After the initial categorization of approximately 1.5 million acres, the model was run on approximately 837,000 acres defined as having restoration potential.
Land cover data and an electronic version of the RePP including appendices are available by reviewing the "Restoration Prioritization and Prediction Model" located at the following Minnesota Department of Natural Resources .ftp site: ftp://ftp.dnr.state.mn.us/pub/gisftp/barichar/restoration_model/Workshop%20Materials/
Additional background data is available at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Data Deli: http://deli.dnr.state.mn.us/
Increasingly, land cover data is referenced and used as a tool for planners and government officials. Cities and other local forms of government can benefit from the model and understanding how it can be used in planning efforts. A training session with the staff of county partners was conducted. A presentation of the model was made to a partnership of local nonprofit organizations and other entities that promotes protection of open space in the Twin Cities region. Further dissemination will occur through the Data Deli, through project partners familiar with the model, and through planners that find the publicly available model.
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd.
65 - State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155
$150,000 in fiscal year 2006 and $150,000 in fiscal year 2007 is to the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources, or its successor commission, to issue a request for a proposal to develop a statewide comprehensive plan for conservation and preservation.
The Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund funded a unique partnership among the University of Minnesota and the consulting firms of Bonestroo and CR Planning to evaluate the state's natural resources, identify key issues affecting those resources, and make recommendations for improving and protecting them. More than 125 experts, including University scientists and public and private natural resource planners and professionals, participated in the 18-month effort.
The team addressed Minnesota's Constitutionally identified natural resources of air, water, land, wildlife, fish, and outdoor recreation in two distinct phases. In the first phase of the project, the project team assessed the past and present condition of each of these six natural resources. They identified and described (where possible) the drivers of change immediately impacting them, and identified key issues that could be addressed to protect and conserve them in an integrated fashion. This information was published as the Preliminary Plan. In the second phase of the project, the team addressed the key issues in depth, developing recommendations that would positively impact as many natural resources as possible while taking into account demographic change, public health, economic sustainability, and climate change. These recommendations then were synthesized into a framework with five strategic areas. Recommendations were identified as being either policy and action recommendations (those that could be put into effect directly by the legislature) or recommendations that add to our knowledge infrastructure (research needs, data gathering and monitoring needs, or educational activities). This framework and its recommendations were published as the Final Plan.
The Minnesota Statewide Conservation and Preservation Plan (SCPP) lays out a deliberate strategy for fostering the conditions in Minnesota we as citizens most cherish. The strategy aims to balance long-term plans for conserving and protecting our priceless natural resources with those for ensuring a healthy public and healthy economy, and it does so in a unified, integrated fashion that employs an interdisciplinary approach with multiple perspectives and expertise.
To learn more and access an electronic version of both the Preliminary Plan and the Final Plan, please visit https://www.lccmr.mn.gov/documents/scpp/statewide_plan.htm.
During the development of the Final Plan, project team members made nearly 50 presentations reaching more than 2,000 people. Three public outreach forums were held around the state during May and June to present and gather comments on a set of draft recommendations. The discussion following the presentations and at the outreach forums influenced the final recommendations in this report. A fourth public outreach forum was held after the release of the Final Plan to gather additional feedback. A summary of these efforts is included in the appendices of the Final Plan.
Now that the Final Plan has been completed, team members continue to give presentations on the plan to organizations around the state and provide guidance to both public and private decision-makers on how to make use of the plan recommendations within their own efforts.
In addition to being available on the web (https://www.lccmr.mn.gov/documents/scpp/statewide_plan.htm), hard copies of the plan have also been distributed to several libraries around the state.
Phillips Community Energy Cooperative (PCEC)
2801 - 21st Ave. South, #110
Minneapolis, MN 55407
$250,000 in fiscal year 2006 and $250,000 in fiscal year 2007 are appropriated to the commissioner of commerce for an agreement with Phillips Community Energy Cooperative to assist in the distribution system equipment and construction costs for a biomass district energy system. This appropriation is contingent on all appropriate permits being obtained and a signed commitment of financing for the biomass electrical generating facility being in place.
To assist in the distribution system equipment and construction costs for a biomass district energy system. This appropriation is contingent on all appropriate permits being obtained and a signed commitment of financing for the biomass electrical generating facility being in place.
Virginia Public Utility
PO Box 1048, 618 Second Street South
Virginia, MN 55792
$200,000 in fiscal year 2006 and $200,000 in fiscal year 2007 are appropriated to the commissioner of commerce for an agreement with Virginia Public Utility to lease land and plant approximately 1,000 acres of trees to support a proposed conversion to a biomass power plant.
The project resulted in 1,368 acres of hybrid poplar plantations being planted as a closed loop renewable biomass fuel source for the Laurentian Energy Authority's (LEA) Biomass Project. 35 MWh of electricity will be produced and sold to Xcel Energy to meet a state mandate for renewable energy. The Trust Fund appropriation was used to purchase trees (slips/whips developed by the University of MN, Duluth NRRI - hybrid poplar NM-6), tree planting, and for plantation land leasing on this 1,368 acres. LEA funded all technical assistance, crop care maintenance, and farming. Two separate plantations in Aitkin and Koochiching Counties totaling 1,368 acres were partially funded by the Trust Fund grant and partially funded and LEA.
The Trust Fund grant was also being used as a 50% non-federal match to the latest federal earmark/appropriation request. All of the Trust Fund funding was used directly to establish the initial and important plantings of the closed loop biomass crop. The success of the project depends upon growing a large portion of the fuel supply over the long term and successfully applying the work of the U of M's Natural Resource Research Institute (NRRI) and others on short rotation woody crops to real world production of fuel to large scale commercial projects.
The project assists the State of Minnesota's goal of 25% renewable fuels by 2025. Further it builds on the Federal Government's push to create one billion tons annually of renewable biomass fuels. The research and implementation is being accomplished under the U of M NRRI's direction with assistance from the USDA, Forest Service and is being done under the U.S. Department of Energy guidance and review.
LEA will assemble all data, costs, slips, care, and maintenance records for the 1,368 acres of plantation and this data will be available on paper from the Laurentian Energy Authority. All data, which has been under the auspices of the U of M NRRI with assistance from the USDA Forest Service, will be shared and turned over to them for determining ongoing and the long-term results. The U.S. Department of Energy is providing guidance and review.
Science Museum of Minnesota
120 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102
$75,000 in fiscal year 2006 and $75,000 in fiscal year 2007 are appropriated to the Science Museum of Minnesota to create groundwater exhibits and a statewide traveling groundwater classroom program. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2009, at which time the project must be completed and final products delivered, unless an earlier date is specified in the work program.
Ground water is a resource in great and growing demand in Minnesota. Yet many citizens are unaware of the links between land use and ground water and the interconnections between ground water and surface water. The Science Museum of Minnesota, with the help of many partners, created outdoor ground water exhibits for visitors to the Museum and a ground water classroom program for delivery to schools throughout Minnesota.
The creation of the Ground Water Plaza in the Science Museum of Minnesota's outdoor science park, the Big Back Yard, significantly leveraged resources provided by LCMR. The Minnesota Ground Water Association provided $20,463 to drill the artesian well that provides the water for the ground water exhibits. A gift of $10,000 from the Toro Giving Program and in-kind donations from numerous entities also helped make the Ground Water Plaza possible.
Since its opening in August 2007, the Ground Water Plaza has become one of the key educational attractions in the Big Back Yard. About 40,000 people visit the park each summer season. The Big Back Yard and the Ground Water Plaza have become so popular as a destination for field trips that the Museum now sets aside two full weeks each September for exclusive use of the park by schools.
The Ground Water Classroom Program began visiting schools throughout Minnesota in spring 2008. The program reached a total of 50 schools and 7,324 students through spring 2009. Although the LCMR project, Enhancing Civic Understanding of Ground Water has concluded, the ground water classroom program will continue to be offered to schools. It is now included under the Water Residency heading on Science Museum of Minnesota's residency program website - http://www.smm.org/schools/atyourschool/residencies/.
The Science Museum and the American Museum of Natural History in partnership produced an internationally traveling exhibit about water that opened in New York City in November 2007. Two Ground Water Plaza outdoor exhibit components were modified for indoor use and replicated for inclusion in the 7,000 square-foot water exhibition. The National Ground Water Association provided $54,000 to cover the cost of building these two ground water components. Two copies of the Water exhibition with its ground water components were produced - one to tour North American venues and the second for overseas venues. To date, 712,000 people have seen the Water exhibition with its ground water components and several million more will as the show continues to tour for several more years.