• 10 Aug 2010 /  News No Comments

    In the past two cycles of funding recommendations, Minnesota Trout Unlimited has been very fortunate to receive substantial grants from Minnesota’s Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Fund. This funding gives us the ability to carry out our mission of sustaining, improving, and restoring Minnesota’s coldwater resources.

    We (MNTU and its chapters) have already completed numerous projects using Outdoor Heritage funds, and have many others in process. Visit our L-SOHC Projects page for details. This work is, and has been, a tremendous benefit to Minnesota’s resources, and we are already seeing the results of our labor. Our trout stream improvement and restoration projects not only improve in-stream habitat for trout, invertebrate, and other wildlife (both in-stream and out), but we are reconnecting streams and rivers to their flood plains to improve overall function of the watershed and water quality. While this funding has been a tremendous benefit to MNTU and Minnesotans alike, it hasn’t come without a few questions and raised eyebrows.

    Through the first round of Outdoor Heritage Funding, MNTU was granted over $2 million for coldwater fish habitat restoration and enhancement. There was a tremendous amount of blood, sweat, and tears poured into the process of putting together a solid application and figuring out the logistics of handling a grant of this size. After we were granted this funding for Minnesota’s resources, some people have commented that this is a “windfall” for MNTU or that a big pot of money was deposited in our coffers. Fortunately for Minnesota’s resources, this is not the case. This grant money does not allows us to redirect or subjectively use funds for whatever random project or event we choose. Neither MNTU,  any of its volunteers, nor Executive Director, have received a check, salary, stipend, or handout from Outdoor Heritage Funds. There isn’t a “big pot of money” for us to have that option. All the money we’ve received through the L-SOHC funding process goes directly into the work we promised to do when applying for the funds.

    When applying for the Outdoor Heritage Fund grant, we (MNTU) assembled a very specific, statewide plan. We put together cost estimates for specific stream projects, which in many cases applied to a specific length of stream. Once we made it through the application process and were informed we were awarded the funds, we put together a “Work Accomplishment Plan.” This Work Accomplishment Plan was then submitted for approval to the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. Upon approval, we signed a contract with the State of Minnesota, which is handled through the Commissioner of Natural Resources. All funding paid out through our grant is done so on a reimbursement basis, going directly to the cost of materials, machinery, and contracted labor, with the State of Minnesota writing the check. Just like the Minnesota DNR has to pay for a habitat crew and heavy machinery, the bulk of our costs go to paying contractors who are responsible for operating costly heavy machinery and are working, on-stream, at least 5 days/week. There are also costs associated with project planning, permitting, and proper administration of our $2 million grant.

    Our grant is supervised and payments are approved by the Minnesota DNR. No funds ever transfer through Minnesota Trout Unlimited or are available for anything other than what is specifically laid out in our Work Accomplishment Plan. This is why MNTU cannot simply pay for volunteer events or fund fly fishing camps through the “big pot of money.”

    Minnesota Trout Unlimited still depends on volunteers to continue in our mission, from local chapters to the state, especially with our expanded, statewide conservation efforts. We need help on stream projects, from seeding and mulching to building fences and lunker structures, or just helping cook lunch for volunteers. We’re always looking for dedicated volunteers to take on and take ownership of leadership positions in Trout Unlimited chapters and on the State Council. If you’re able to help, please contact us. Be part of a strong, dedicated mission to improve Minnesota’s environmental resources.

    -Randy Brock
    Minnesota Trout Unlimited

    Posted by MNTU @ 5:34 pm

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.