Every year right around now, falling leaves and the final lawn mowing of the year send a tidal wave of organic materials into the storm sewer system. While it may seem as natural as the changing of the seasons, it is a growing threat for our lakes and rivers.
In this election year, there is lots of talk about immigration. But, did you know that Minnesota’s trees AND birds are currently jumping the border and heading to Canada at an alarming rate? I don’t mean on the back of lumber trucks and in the possession of Canuck hunters. I mean physically leaving Minnesota for a new life in Canada.
Having just visited the Minnesota State Fair with my 2 and 5 year olds. I know it can be a greasy blur of deep fried items on sticks, rides for the kids and visits to animal barns. But between my helpings of chocolate covered bacon, I found a lesser known corner of the Great Minnesota Get Together that deserves your attention.
The DNR has announced the latest round of Conservation Partners Legacy grants. This grant program is designed to help local conservation groups around the state fund small to medium size projects that restore, enhance or protect Minnesota’s prairies, forests and wetlands. It’s a great way to make sure the Legacy Amendment can deliver conservation benefits to all areas of the state.
Here are a few highlights from the DNR for those who may be interested in applying:
“In response to requests for an easier application process and quicker review for routine habitat projects, the program now also includes new Expedited Conservation Project grants,” said Ed Boggess, director of Department of Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife Division. “Proposals for these grants, which are for smaller and more standardized types of projects, will be accepted throughout the year and will provide project dollars more quickly.”
Local, state and national non-profit organizations and governmental entities that want to complete conservation work that benefits habitat for fish, game and wildlife on public or permanently protected lands are eligible for funds. Three levels of project funding from the $4.6 million program are available this year:
Projects requesting $25,001 - $400,000 in grant funds use the standard online application. Deadline for these requests is September 26, 2012.
• Projects requesting $5,000 - $25,000 in grant funds use a simplified online application. Deadline for these requests is September 26, 2012.
• Projects submitted as Expedited Conservation Projects (ECP) may request $5,000-$50,000 for commonly accepted restoration and enhancement activities . These requests will be accepted and awarded continuously through May 15, 2013.
• All projects, regardless of category or amount requested, require a 10 percent match.
The application system will open Wednesday, Aug. 15, and close Wednesday, Sept. 26. Expedited Conservation Projects grants will be accepted continuously until May 15, 2013. Information about this year’s grant requirements is available online, and the official Request for Proposals will be posted on or before Aug. 15 on the CPL website. See the respective grant cycle web pages for specific information.
Not everyone can look at a knotted, gnarled utility pole and see an artistic canvas, but that is exactly what the Spicer Beautification Committee did, and it has resulted in a new citywide art installation that is drawing visitors from near and far.
Over the past few weeks, a number of local artists provided sketches of how they proposed to decorate a pole were they given the chance, and from that pool, fourteen were selected by a panel of local art teachers to proceed with the project. Calling the display Poles Gone Wild, the designs range from scenic depictions of local life to more modernist images to possibly even a pole with some abstract nudity in it.
“One of them has nudes in it,” said Sandy Salisbury from the Beautification Committee, “but I haven’t figured it out yet.”
The inspiration for the new community art project came while several members of the beautification committee were on vacation in Florida. The City of Pine Island had artistically designed utility poles, and it got the members thinking.
Soon Xcel Energy had given the project its blessing, and funding was lined up from the city, the local commercial club, Valspar paint and from the SW MN Arts and Humanities Council which dedicated legacy dollars to help fund the project.
The poles currently occupy two general areas in town and are all within a mile of each other. And for those making their first visit to town, many local merchants have maps available to make it even easier to find the fourteen poles.
There is still one pole that would be suitable for painting that has yet to be designed.
“I guess if some famous artist came here, and asked, we’d let them paint it,” Salisbury said.
The poles are a prominent part of the upcoming Legacy Destination Weekend which is happening in and around Willmar on the weekend of August 17-19. The Legacy weekends are a co-production of Conservation Minnesota, The Minnesota Citizens For The Arts and Explore Minnesota to draw attention to all of the great work that is being done throughout the state with funds from the Legacy Amendment which voters passed in 2008.