An agreement has been reached on a comprehensive environment and natural resources budget that makes significant investments in Minnesota’s environment over the next two years emphasizing tackling Minnesota’s critical environment priorities with efforts to address both Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) and Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The legislation also expands access and continues funding for state parks while increasing efforts to engage Minnesotans and encourage them to take part in the state’s great outdoors.
“We all want Minnesota’s environment to be clean and accessible for generations to come and this budget agreement accomplishes that by addressing Minnesotans’ shared priorities while living within its means and without forcing unreasonable burdens on our residents and businesses,” said Senator Ingebrigtsen (R- Alexandria) Chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resource Finance Committee.
Specifically, the bill increases funding to combat the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species with additional investments in a new AIS detection system that will allow Minnesota to make better enforcement choices. It also addresses CWD, providing resources for surveillance, research, and preventive measures to protect Minnesota’s deer populations. Additionally, the bill provides opportunities for low-interest loans to communities to improve their wastewater infrastructure as well as a new initiative that could allow the state to generate energy from dormant landfill facilities.
Furthermore, there is continued funding to preserve and protect Minnesota’s state parks and trails. The legislation also offers Minnesota residents free admission to state parks on three additional days.
“Access is a key priority of this bill,” said Senator Ingebrigtsen. “We want to celebrate Minnesota’s rich and diverse environment so we made it a priority to preserve our parks and trails and increase free days so that as many Minnesotans can get outside as possible.”
Additional provisions bring the environment and outdoors a little closer to the classroom, allowing schools to teach gun safety and provide hunting and angling training through schools’ physical education programs. There is also increased funding to support the growth of Minnesota’s high school fishing league. “These provisions allow us to teach Minnesota’s kids about the importance of hunting and fishing in our state, getting them engaged and involved early on,” concluded Senator Ingebrigtsen. “In these environments, kids will have the opportunity to have fun and learn to be good stewards of our lands while promoting active lifestyles and increasing participation in our state’s heritage.”