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Fish and wildlife receiving big funding boost from CPL grants

Fish and wildlife habitat in Minnesota will receive a major shot in the arm with $3,740,000 in Conservation Partners Legacy grants that have been awarded to fund 35 conservation projects around the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Funding comes from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, created when Minnesota voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.

A total of 127 applications totaling $16.5 million were received during the first round of the CPL grant program for projects designed to restore, enhance or protect fish, game and wildlife habitat. The program is an initiative of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.

"The volume of applications we received and the energy around these efforts has been impressive," said DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten. "The scope of the projects we selected and the great partners we'll be working with are as diverse as the state itself. These grant awards really kick off a new era of conservation work in Minnesota."

Twenty-seven of the 35 projects funded are under $125,000, accounting for 49 percent of the total awarded funds, according to Leslie Tannahill, DNR grant program coordinator.

Tannahill called the task of selecting the grant recipients "a difficult but gratifying challenge. The high number of applications we received was a real testament to the deep appreciation Minnesota citizens have for our state's natural resources."

Local, state and federal non-profit organizations, along with governmental entities, were eligible to apply for grants ranging from $5,000 to $400,000.

"The success of the program is very important to the Council and to the hunters and anglers of Minnesota," LSOHC executive director Bill Becker said. "This grant process provides a way for local hunters and anglers to participate in significant conservation projects around the state."

The top funded projects ($350,000) are the Manston Slough Restoration which was submitted for a grant by the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District; and Lester Lake, which was submitted by The Trust for Public Land and the Kokekona Lake Foundation. Restoration and enhancement projects account for 24 of the 35 projects. The remaining 11 are acquisition projects which will receive the biggest chunk of the funding ($1,860,300).