The Lessard Outdoor Heritage Council, named after longtime State Sen. Bob Lessard of International Falls, Minn., is charged with recommending appropriations to restore, protect and enhance wetlands, prairies, forests and habitat for game, fish and wildlife. It has been predicted that the fund will reach approximately $80 million in fiscal year 2010 and $91 million in 2011.
Governor Pawlenty, the Senate subcommittee on committees, and Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher appointed a total of 12 members to the Lessard Outdoor Heritage Council. The council will recommend to the Minnesota Legislature where to appropriate money from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, created when Minnesota voters on Nov. 4 approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. That amendment increased the state sales tax by three-eighths of 1 percent, approximately one-third of which is dedicated to the Outdoor Heritage Fund.
By law, the council will hold its first meeting December 1. It will advise the Legislature on how Outdoor Heritage Fund money should be spent on everything from wetland, prairie and forest restoration to fish, game and wildlife habitat. Local, regional, state and national organizations may apply for matching grants in an effort to encourage local conservation projects. The council will submit its recommendations to the Legislature by April 1, 2009.