Local conservation leaders advocated for a new state funding initiative for Soil and Water Conservation Districts at a recent legislative briefing and meetings at the State Capitol March 9-10 in St. Paul.
Keith Nygaard, Randy Pederson, Randy Mitteness, D. Gary Reents, and Holly Kovarik, from Pope Soil and Water Conservation District, joined a group of other officials from the state’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) to gather support for conservation district funding from the state. SWCDs are seeking $22 million per year in local government SWCD Aid through the Department of Revenue. The funding would get SWCDs statewide closer to fulling critical conservation needs and increasing the pace of progress toward clean water and healthy soil goals.
“SWCDs are a primary source of conservation information, support, and program management for landowners and other local units of government,” said D. Gary Reents of Glenwood. The SWCD Aid proposal being considered by legislators this session is absolutely critical to the future of conservation districts in the state, noted Reents. The legislation has received bipartisan support and is also included in Governor Tim Walz’s supplemental budget. “We have to work hard to make sure the state’s commitment to sharing in the funding needs of SWCDs doesn’t fall by the way-side. Soil and Water Conservation Districts play an integral role in enhancing Minnesotan’s quality of life through conservation on private lands, which yields environmental, wildlife and aesthetic benefits to the public,” Reents said.
Last week, D. Gary Reents, Randy Mitteness, Keith Nygaard, Randy Pederson, and Holly Kovarik met with local legislators Representative Paul Anderson, Senator Torrey Westrom, and Representative Jeff Backer.
The event was sponsored by the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
SWCDs fill the crucial niche of providing land and water conservation services to owners of private lands. For more information on the Pope Soil and Water Conservation District, please call 320-634-5327 or visit www.popeswcd.org.