(h) $84,000 the first year and $84,000 the second year are for a technical evaluation panel to conduct up to ten restoration evaluations under Minnesota Statutes, section 114D.50, subdivision 6.
Complete five restoration project evaluations and present them in the FY-12 restoration evaluation reports.
State law (M.L. 2011, First Special Session, Ch. 6) directs restoration evaluations to be conducted on habitat restoration projects completed with funds from the Clean Water Fund (M.S. 114.D.50 Subd. 6). The Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) is responsible for convening a Restoration Evaluation Panel containing at least five technical experts who will evaluate a sample of up to 10 habitat restoration projects annually. The Panel will evaluate the restorations relative to the law, current science, stated goals and standards in the restoration plans, and applicable guidelines. Annual reports will be provided to the legislature and governing councils on the findings of the Panel, determining whether restorations are meeting planned goals, identifying problems with implementation of restorations and, if necessary, providing recommendations on improving restorations. The law provides for the use of up to one-tenth of one percent of forecasted receipts from the fund to support this work.
Passage of the Legacy Amendment reinforces the state’s continuing efforts to conserve the diversity of lands, waters, and fish and wildlife that provide the foundation for Minnesota’s high quality of life and also brings strong expectations for a greater level of transparency and accountability in the use of these public funds. The restoration evaluation program intends to increase accountability and transparency in the use of Legacy Funds by formalizing and elevating the process of assessing project performance and reporting findings to stakeholders. Site assessment teams will use project appropriate assessment measures to ensure established science based best practices are being applied on the ground in selected Legacy Fund restoration projects. This level of assessment goes beyond standard reporting requirements and exceeds operational capacity of most programs. This program also increases the communication of specific project outcomes and lessons learned from restoration implementation. Reports will focus on improving future restorations by providing feedback to practitioners regarding challenging situations and viable solutions. Creation of this continuous learning environment provides an important tool for improving restoration practice throughout the state.