By Joseph Satrom
Ducks Unlimited played a key role in what many conservation-minded people in Minnesota refer to as an Election Day miracle. On November 4, more than a month into the worst economic downturn in decades, 56 percent of Minnesota voters chose to constitutionally mandate 3/8 of 1 percent in new sales and use taxes to support habitat conservation, clean water, arts, parks, and trails. This 25-year constitutional amendment will raise about $250 million annually, including more than $80 million for wildlife habitat restoration, protection, and enhancement.
With this vote, Minnesota joined Missouri and Arkansas among the small group of states that have elected to allocate a portion of state tax revenues for wildlife conservation. This “dedicated funding” allows these states to acquire more land for wildlife management and public recreation, deliver long-term habitat conservation plans for waterfowl and other wildlife, and provide better public hunting and fishing opportunities for sportsmen.
The Minnesota constitutional funding proposal has a long history in a state where activism on behalf of natural resources, hunting, fishing, and trapping is a rich tradition. Minnesotans pride themselves on the pristine image of the Land of 10,000 Lakes. But many conservation-minded Minnesotans began to realize residents and visitors were loving the state’s precious natural resources to death. Led by sportsmen and the outdoor press, Minnesotans began to call for their elected officials to make a greater investment in conserving the state’s lakes, wetlands, rivers, streams, and other wildlife habitats.