ST. PAUL Minn., November 5, 2008 - In a historic vote a decade in the making, Minnesota voters approved a constitutional amendment to provide new funding for wetlands and waterfowl. The amendment will remain in effect for 25 years starting July 1, 2009 and will annually generate approximately $91 million for clean water, $91 million for fish and wildlife habitat, $37 million for parks and trails and $54 million for arts.
“Brighter days are ahead for Minnesota’s wetlands and waterfowling traditions” said Don Young, Ducks Unlimited executive vice president. “Waterfowl hunters and other sportsmen and women deserve a lot of credit for making their voices heard and supporting this unique opportunity to preserve Minnesota’s rich outdoor heritage.”
Ducks Unlimited worked closely with many other organizations and supporters to build public support for the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment after the legislature approved the measure last February. At least two other states have amended their respective constitutions to provide funding for habitat conservation including Missouri in 1976 and Arkansas in 1996. A coalition of groups, including Ducks Unlimited, is also working with Iowa legislature to promote similar legislation that may give voters a similar opportunity to amend their constitution in 2010.
One of the next major steps will be the appointment of eight citizens and four legislators to the Lessard Outdoor Heritage Council. The council will make annual recommendations to the legislature on allocating the $91 million from the Outdoor Heritage Fund. According to Ryan Heiniger, director of conservation programs, “It will be critically important for the council to be comprised of individuals who have experience and expertise in conservation delivery. The adherence to sound-science and strategic planning will also be essential to ensure this money is invested wisely during the next 25 years.”
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with more than 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.
For more information on DU’s programs in Minnesota, www.ducks.org/livinglakes.
Media contact: Becky Jones Mahlum, 701-355-3507 firstname.lastname@example.org
Conservation contact: Ryan Heiniger, 952-469-0956 email@example.com