Funding: Legacy sets pace

After five years, projects paid for from the Outdoor Heritage Fund (OHF) are helping to change the state’s landscape in ways unimaginable before passage of the Legacy Amendment, a panel of natural resource professionals said Friday.

“We’ve had money for large projects we’ve never had before,’’ said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, noting that a single northern Minnesota easement paid for largely by the OHF protected 188,000 acres of forest land.

Landwehr said a cross section of conservation groups has been engaged to get habitat projects “done on the ground.’’

The OHF is one of three money pots created by the Legacy Act, along with one that addresses clean water, parks and trails and one that funds the arts. About $300 million annually flows into the funds from the fractional sales tax increase voters approved.

Bill Penning of the Board of Water and Soil Resources said his agency received $71 million in Outdoor Heritage funds since 2009 for the state’s Re-Invest in Minnesota (RIM) easement program.

The money helped leverage another $84 million in matching funds to protect and enhance 23,183 acres of habitat.