Outdoors spending plans taking shape

An influx of dedicated state tax revenue leads outdoors enthusiasts to believe a logjam of Minnesota natural resources projects will begin to free up this year.

State lawmakers are completing work on two outdoors spending packages that would pump tens of millions of dollars into conservation projects around the state.

Both are paid for outside the traditional state budgeting process and are protected by the Minnesota Constitution. Environmental research is the focus of one pot of money, wildlife habitat restoration and water cleanup projects the emphasis of the other.

Together, the programs are expected to spend roughly $165 million over the next year. Projects range from soil surveys in northeastern Minnesota to invasive earthworm detection around the state and from the restoration of western Minnesota prairies to the reduction of lake and river pollution.

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