The National Cemetery Administration of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will be awarding a $5.9 million grant to Minnesota in this fiscal year to establish a State Veterans Cemetery in Redwood County.

After Larry Herke, the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, recently accepted the grant offer, that began a yearlong process to design and plan the cemetery, with the final award of grant dollars coming at the start of the federal fiscal year 2022, which begins Oct. 1, 2021. The first step is for the state Department of Veterans Affairs to work with county officials to confirm state ownership of the property.

The state currently has one national veterans cemetery, Fort Snelling National Cemetery, plus three state veterans cemeteries: in Duluth, Little Falls and Preston. A fourth state veterans cemetery, the Leech Lake Tribal Veterans Cemetery, is under construction in Cass Lake. The proposed cemetery in Redwood County would be the fifth state veterans cemetery, and would serve more than 22,000 veterans, their spouses and eligible family members.

“It’s taken over 10 years of relentless advocacy by many people and groups to get to this point,” said U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson.

Reid Forgrave

HERON lake

DNR proposes plan to mend water quality

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will be taking public comment on an updated management plan for Jackson County’s Heron Lake until Nov. 12.

The plan includes changes to improve degraded water quality for the nearly 8,000-acre shallow lake, which thousands of waterfowl use during spring and fall migrations.

The plan identifies new triggers for specific actions such as periodic drawdowns. Those triggers are tied to water quality benchmarks, as well as aquatic plant and rough fish abundance. Water level drawdowns act as a natural reset to a lake by mimicking drought conditions, which allows aquatic plant growth and reduces populations of rough fish like common carp and bullheads that hurt water quality.

Instead of in-person public meetings, the Department of Natural Resources will use an online public input survey.

A copy of the plan and link to the survey can be found on the department’s shallow lakes program web page at www.dnr.state.mn.us/wildlife/shallowlakes/program-work.html. Comments may also be sent to Maggie Gross, a shallow lakes specialist with the Department of Natural Resources, at 507-832-6016 or margaret.gross@state.mn.us

Reid Forgrave