County seeks state grants for conservation projects

Contributing Writer

State grant dollars for two conservation projects are being sought by Anoka County.

The county’s Parks and Community Services Committee at its February meeting authorized staff to submit a funding request to the Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.

According to Jeff Perry, county parks planning and resources manager, the council makes annual recommendations to the Minnesota Legislature for appropriations from the outdoor heritage fund.

The fund was one of four created when the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment, which increased the state sales tax by three-eighths of 1 percent over the next 25 years, was passed by voters in 2008. It receives one-third of the annual revenues from the sales tax increase.

Applications are anticipated to be open April 1 through May 26 for grants for the 2019 state fiscal year (July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019) and an estimated $100 million is expected to be available, Perry said.

The council is seeking habitat program or project proposals that are of primary benefits to fish, game and wildlife; protect and advance the public interest; are grounded in science and reflect “best practices” for natural resources management; take into account existing conservation delivery systems; and encourage efficient and effective conservation solutions, according to Perry.

Perry presented the committee with a list of possible projects for funding, but the committee action was to focus on two in the submission: replacing the failing dam and fish barrier at Lake George and riverbank stabilization on the Rum River, he said.

The existing dam and fish barrier in County Ditch 19 near Lake George is 50 years old and the steel sheet pilings that comprise the dam, which are 30 to 40 feet wide, are starting to shift and fail, Perry said.

“They are showing their age,” he said.

In the event the dam fails, the water level on Lake George is likely to be “diminished,” Perry said.

A previous grant request to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources was denied, he said.

The project has an estimated cost of $475,000, Perry said.

The Rum River riverbank stabilization, where there is erosion in several locations, would take place on public lands in the county along the river, according to Perry.

This includes the three county parks on the river – Rum River South in Anoka, Rum River Central in Ramsey, Andover and Oak Grove, and Rum River North in St. Francis – as well as on county roads adjacent to the river, Perry said.

A cost estimate has not yet been prepared, he said.