DNR awards $7.5 million in habitat grants to conservation groups

Conservation grants awarded by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will help restore, enhance and protect habitat throughout the state. 

This latest round of 73 conservation grants is funded by the agency’s Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) grant program. Now in its ninth year, the program has awarded over $50 million to nonprofit organizations and government entities for conservation projects.

The DNR recently received $9.9 million in grant requests from 86 applicants during round one of the application cycle. The DNR has funded $7.5 million of these requests.

“Projects include habitat improvements that benefit deer, turkey, pheasants and a wide variety of species,” said Jessica Lee, DNR conservation grants coordinator. “Oak savanna, wetlands and pollinator habitat are restored through this grant program, to give a few examples.”

Conservation groups and others interested in applying in the future are encouraged to plan in the coming months so they can apply when funds are again available.

The DNR’s CPL program provides grants ranging from $5,000 to $400,000 to conservation nonprofit organizations and government to help fund projects to restore, enhance or protect fish and wildlife habitat in Minnesota.

The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council recommended the grant program, which was approved by the Minnesota Legislature and has been in place since 2009. Funding has been provided annually from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, which is part of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment and funded by a voter-approved statewide sales tax of three-eighths of 1 percent.

Round one of the proposals for fiscal year 2017 included the traditional grant cycle, the metro grant cycle and the expedited grant cycle. The expedited cycle for standard types of projects is currently open for another funding round, with the maximum grant award being $50,000. Applications are due online by 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19.

More information on the program’s grant cycles, and a complete list of the most recent grant applications and past awarded projects are on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cpl.