Lake of the Woods in Minnesota is known for its great fishing. Anglers look forward to Bostic Bay and Zippel Bay with hopes of catching northern pike and walleye. Many groups will come back with dozens of northerns in their boat. However, the two bays can be difficult to navigate due to sediment blocking the waterways. Repeated dredging to remove the sediment has damaged the water quality. Of course, when anglers can’t get to the fish, they won’t come to the lake, and that hurts the local tourism economy. 
 
The Lake of the Woods Soil and Water Conservation District is installing ditches to reduce gully erosion from the ditch bank and reduce sediment in the waterways. The project was funded by the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment.
 
Now citizen groups can also receive Legacy Amendment grants to improve water quality, including lake associations and non-profit groups.  More than $3 million in competitive grants is available for the new "Citizen and Community Participation Program." The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) makes water improvement grants to cities, counties, soil and water conservation districts, watershed districts, and watershed management organizations, which can issue sub-grants to citizen-led groups. 
 
The BWSR website: http://maps.bwsr.state.mn.us/lgufinder/ has summaries of previously funded projects to protect and restore water quality, which may spur ideas for new projects. Those are available atwww.bwsr.state.mn.us/cleanwaterfund/stories/. For more detailed information about these Legacy Amendment grants and BWSR proposals on the BWSR home page: www.bwsr.state.mn.us

The Legacy Amendment has given anglers, lake home owners, and conservationists an opportunity to voice our support for increased state funding to benefit the environment, but it will be an opportunity lost without the cry for specific initiatives. The key is letting cities, counties, watershed districts, and local government units know where the needs are.
 
The 25-year Legacy Amendment is already through several funding cycles in the planning process, but, without calling attention to where Legacy funds could help our waterways, some of us might find ourselves saying, "Why didn’t we act sooner?”   

  

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