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New grant program could trigger conservation projects

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With more than $3.7 million in funds available, a new grant program in Minnesota could trigger hundreds of conservation projects throughout the state, according to Leslie Tannahill, grant program manager for the Minnesota DNR.

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"This new matching grant program has tremendous potential to kick-start numerous projects that have been languishing due to challenging economic conditions," Tannahill said. "We're convinced it is going to be extremely popular."

Dubbed the Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) Grant Program, it is funded as a direct result of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Constitutional Amendment passed by Minnesota voters during the November 2008 election. The amendment increased the sales tax by three-eighths of one percent; 33 percent of the increase is to be used to fund fish and wildlife habitat projects.

Government entities and non-profit organizations at the local, state and federal level are eligible to apply. A 10 percent match in non-state funds or in-kind services is required. The minimum award is $5,000 with the maximum capped at $400,000. A total of $3,760,000 is available.

Tannahill said projects must restore, protect or enhance prairies, wetlands, forests, or habitat for fish or wildlife in Minnesota. The CPL grant program was recommended to the Legislature by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, a 12-member body of 10 citizens and two legislators charged with recommending which project proposals should be funded from the estimated $90 million expected to be raised the first year.

"We are already hearing from groups that are anxious to apply," Tannahill noted. "We know there are numerous organizations and government entities out there that have identified important, on-the-ground projects that they've been itching to tackle. Now they have the opportunity they've been waiting for."

Details of the program can be found on the Request for Proposal document now posted on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us/ grants/habitat/lessard-sams.h

tml. Applications must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Nov. 3.

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