Where Your Dues Go:
MINNESOTA LAKES AND RIVERS
2015 Legislative Outcomes It was a dynamic legislative session that pushed many Omnibus Bills up to the final moments of the Constitutional deadline for the end of session. Bills were passed by both the House and Senate in the late hours as the deadline for adjournment loomed. Legislators had no time to debate or consider, let alone read these bills before the House and Senate bodies were required to pass them and send them on to Governor Dayton.
In the end a handful of bills passed in these final moments were vetoed by Governor Dayton, including the Environment Bill, which contained language to address Aquatic Invasive Species.
The tax bills in the House and Senate contained language changing the State General Tax on cabins and commercial/industrial property and school funding, and language that removed the sales tax for non-profits doing AIS management on lakes. No conference Committee report was completed and a final tax bill was not sent to Governor Dayton. Legislative leaders had agreed not to pursue a tax bill in the regular session. This was a lost opportunity.
This includes the $10 Million in County AIS Prevention Aid – there were no changes to this law and the Dept. of Revenue will continue to send these funds to the counties.
In May/June, Gov. Dayton, Speaker Daudt, and Senate Majority Leader Bakk met to address Gov. Dayton’s concerns and craft a compromise to address them in order to prevent a shutdown of some areas of gov’t, like the State Parks, the MPCA and other governmental functions funded by the vetoed budget bills.
With these compromises in hand, the Legislature met in a special session on June 12th and passed the legislation, which was signed by the governor on June 13th.
County AIS Prevention Aid Unchanged
Bills were introduced that would have repealed the County AIS Prevention Aid put in place by the Legislature last year. Neither had strong support and were vigorously opposed by the electorate.
MLR members, Lake Associations and County Coalition of Lake Associations (COLAs) flooded the Legislature with nearly 2,500 emails shortly after they were introduced. The MLR Facebook page had over 4,000 hits in three days on this issue. Public reaction to these repeal bills was immediate and overwhelming.
The bills to repeal this critical tool in fighting AIS within the Counties were dropped and neither came to a vote in their committees. The vigilance, hard work and passion of so many people who care about Minnesota’s lakes and rivers was evidence of the good work that is starting as a result of this funding mechanism.
Schools in Crow Wing County, led by their task force, have educated 700 Jr. High school students in a two day, hands on course on AIS and best management practices which includes a day of activities in the gym and a day on the water working with AIS out in the field. There are plans to expand the program.
AIS infested boats in counties across the state have been stopped before launching by inspectors funded with this appropriation. These lakes remain zebra mussel free as a result.
Dozens of Counties that had no AIS program in the past are now developing programs and getting them up and running.
Counties adjacent to Itasca State park, concerned that the MN DNR lacked budget for inspection/decontamination at the headwaters to the Mississippi River pooled funding and ensured that the waters in this iconic State Park, and the waters downstream are protected.
Regional meetings of Counties, facilitated by DNR planners, have been held across the state at which Counties and private sector partners are building greater communication, consistency and competence in AIS work.
The Pacific Northwest Economic Region has invited Jeff Forester, Executive Director of MLR, to speak at their Annual Meeting in July to present this program and its impacts.
There will be no disruption to the County AIS Prevention Aid Program. County Governmental Units and their Lake Association partners will continue to build out programs and best management practices that are protecting our lakes and lowering the risk of AIS spread within MN.
The engagement, passion and activism of tens of thousands of Minnesotans is protecting our lakes for current and future generations.
EAST OTTER TAIL SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT www.eotswcd.org
SWCD staff work primarily in a one-on-one basis with landowners aiming to connect landowners with the technical and financial resources they need to put conservation practices on the land. Other conservation partners include local businesses, schools, cities, townships, lake associations, and state and federal agencies. Otter Tail County has two SWCDs that work jointly on many efforts, please contact your local office for assistance.
801 Jenny Ave. S.W. Suite #2
Perham, MN 56573
(218) 346-4260 ext. 111
District Technician/Asst Shoreline Specialist
(218) 346 – 4260 ext. 121
Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) are local units of government that help direct and manage natural resource programs. SWCD’s originated out of the Dust Bowl days of the 1930’s as local resources for the promotion and advancement of best management practices that protect and enhance our soil and water resources. SWCD’s are governed by a board of locally elected supervisors that develop policy, plans, and budgets for the district, empower and work with staff, and represent the district at meetings and other events.
COALITION OF LAKE ASSOCIATIONS www.ottertailcountycola.org
Who are our members?
Our membership is made up of 48 lake associations in Otter Tail County. Associations vary in their structure. Some associations are formed for single lakes. Others are formed to include two or more lakes, for example, Leaf Lakes Association includes East, Middle, and West Leaf Lakes. A third entity is the “Lake Improvement District” (LID) which is a special assessment district permitted by the County to tax its property owners to generate its funding. When you add the number of lakes these associations represent, they account for over 60 of the more than 1000 lakes in the County. But looking at it differently, the water area of these, the biggest lakes in the County, account for about 70% of the lake surface water area in the County. Also, individuals who share a common interest in the health of our lakes may be COLA members.
How do we carry out our purpose?
Our purpose is to facilitate cooperation among member associations, and to assist in fostering wise use of our lakes and rivers areas thru our monthly membership meetings, education programs, & other activities.
Monthly membership meetings that feature presenters providing information on timely topics of concern to our members.
Lake quality monitoring program with RMB Environmental Labs for analysis of water samples submitted by members to a volunteer for transport to the lab and batch billing of COLA by the lab with fees paid to COLA by the participating associations.
At least two members of lake associations serve on the County Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Task Force established by the County in 2012.
Interaction of our Liaison Committee with County Government entities at their regular meetings and
Interaction with elected government officials who attend COLA meetings.
Distribution of materials and presentations on AIS to school classes within the County.
Spring workshop featuring control of water runoff with plantings, buffer zones, and catching water runoff.
What are our goals?
C – Clean lakes, rivers and streams, and prevent spread of aquatic invasive species.
O – Ordinances that help protect and correct the water quality in our lakes, rivers and streams.
L – Lakes with excellent water quality to provide a strong economic base for the county and state as well as quality enjoyment for the many lake users.
A – Associations that educate and inform their members, their elected officials, and the general public regarding the necessity of environmental concerns and policies that protect our lakes, rivers, and streams.
The Lake Lida Property Owners Association (LLPOA) has been an enormous force in the protecting and enhancing the quality of the lake, the fishery, and the landmass surrounding the lake. To give you an idea of the importance of membership and some of the dues that support the Association, the following is offered as just some of the things that have been accomplished.
+ Water Quality monitoring has been maintained by LLPOA volunteers each summer with samples taken monthly from May to September. Sample testing has been paid for by LLPOA with samples taken to a testing lab for analysis.
+ The Association developed the official Lake Lida Management Plan. It will be reviewed and updated, starting in April of 2013.
+ Supported the funding for a professional consultant who meets with the land owners and discusses the “best” changes for the property. Also works closely with the Soil Conservation Service of Otter Tail County.
+ The Association has written Grants for shoreline work and for boat monitors at the landing on the big lake and on the south lake. (2012)
+ The outlet channel was cleaned, to keep the flow going out. This will help keep Zebra Mussels out. (A permit was received from the DNR)
+ The inlet will be studied in early 2013.
+ A new Directory will be ready for members in 2013.
+ Working with Lida Township to monitor water quality.
+ Applied for Star Lake Classification.
+ We had a battery pickup this spring.
+ the web site continues to be developed.
+ Member of COLA-volunteers attend monthly meetings to receive information.