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Jason Adkins, Forum Communications Co., Published January 11 2010

Becker County projects receive grants

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – Two Becker County projects are beneficiaries of the state’s Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council’s awarding of $3.75 million worth of grants statewide for the conservation partners legacy program.

The council approved applications from the Pelican River Watershed District for acquiring land for the Rice Lake Wetland Restoration project and another from the Minnesota Waterfowl Association for a land purchase in the northwest part of the county.

The grants are part of the state sales tax increase that will provide $7 billion over 25 years for wildlife, water restoration, parks and arts funding that was passed by voters as the Clean Water, Land and Legacy constitutional amendment in November 2008.

Local sources must provide 10 percent of project funding.

The $125,000 awarded to the Rice Lake Wetland Restoration project will go to purchase 49 acres of land near an industrial park. The Pelican River Watershed District applied for $251,000 in funding.

The Rice Lake Project, when completed, will help reduce phosphorus levels in Detroit Lake. An additional benefit is helping preserve wildlife habitat.

The land acquisition is part of a 400-acre project.

The second project, the Helliksen Prairie Waterfowl Production Area acquisition, will go toward purchasing a 156-acre piece of property owned by Becker County. The Council awarded $75,000 – the amount requested on the application – for the land purchase.

That project received the second-highest score by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in its ranking of grant applications.

“It’s something that a lot of folks were invested in seeing the land stay in conservation status,” said Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District Manager Scott Kahan.

Minnesota Waterfowl Association Executive Director Brad Nylin said the project makes sense for a lot of reasons. One of those is that the federal Fish and Wildlife Service has done restoration work on the land already.

Jason Adkins is a reporter for the Detroit Lakes Tribune, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.