Special Session Action Alert: Support conservation & our environmental agencies

While we're focused on our clean water priorities this special session, we're also in solidarity with individuals and organizations fighting Line 3, a massive threat to water, the Mississippi River and Indigenous treaty rights and ways of life in our state. Please take a moment to visit Honor the Earth to learn more or find out how you can act on Line 3. 

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The Minnesota Legislature is coming back for a special session! We're asking River Guardians to weigh in on three priority environmental bills to make sure lawmakers get this right. (To see our other action alerts, check out the water blog.)

Next up: The Omnibus Environment Bill

Please write to your legislators and urge them to support strong conservation funding and policy, and appropriation of the voter-approved Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund during the upcoming special session.

There are three key issues at stake:

1. SUPPORT: Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF). The Environment Bill includes funding for the 2020 and 2021 Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF) bills. The ENRTF is a voter-approved, constitutionally dedicated funding program supported by state lottery proceeds (and has no effect on the state's overall budget). This includes:

- 2020 ENRTF bill (Article 3): More than $60 million in trust fund money is still available for projects already vetted and recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources – but never passed last session. This includes funding for FMR's urban pollinator habitat projects at three metro sites: River Heights Park (Inver Grove Heights), Mississippi River Gorge Regional Park (Minneapolis) and Ole Olson Park (Minneapolis).

- 2021 ENRTF bill (Article 4): We also need to pass this year's ENRTF funding package, which includes support for FMR's restoration project at Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary in St. Paul, as well as Applewood Park and Carver Preserve in Maplewood.

2. SUPPORT: Funding for our environmental agencies. The Environment Bill provides essential general fund support for our state agencies, including state parks and other environmental programs that are more important than ever.

Unfortunately, some lawmakers have recently suggested that they are willing to shut down state parks and our environmental agencies over an unrelated debate on clean cars rulemaking. That is not the right direction for Minnesota. Our environmental agencies deserve full funding, especially when we have a large state budget surplus.

3. OPPOSE: Rollbacks to the Public Waters Inventory. Public waters including those listed on the Public Waters Inventory (PWI), belong to all of us. These waters are cherished by Minnesotans because they provide drinking water, recreation, wildlife habitat and flood mitigation.

Decisions regarding listings on the PWI affect lives far beyond local jurisdictional boundaries. That's why current law provides the opportunity for all interested Minnesotans to participate equally in PWI decisions made by the Department of Natural Resources.

This year, proposed language from the Senate (SF 0959, Article 2, Sec. 85) regarding the Public Waters Inventory would allow different local entities to block any additions to the list without consulting the rest of the state. This is bad policy that doesn't belong in the final version of the bill.

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