$150,000 in the first year is to the commissioner of natural resources for a technical evaluation panel to conduct up to fifteen restoration and enhancement evaluations under Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.056, subdivision 10.
This program annually evaluates a sample of up to twenty Outdoor Heritage Fund habitat restoration and enhancement projects, provides a report on the evaluations in accordance with state law and delivers communications on project outcomes and lessons learned in restoration practice.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) are jointly responsible for convening a Restoration Evaluation Panel (Panel) of technical experts to annually evaluate a sample of habitat restoration projects completed with Outdoor Heritage funding, as provided in M.S. 97A.056, Subd. 10. Primary goals of the restoration evaluations program are to provide on the ground accountability for the use of Legacy funds and to improve future habitat restorations in the State. Per statute, the Panel will evaluate the selected habitat restoration projects relative to the law, current science, and the stated goals and standards in the restoration plan. The program coordinator will identify projects to be evaluated, coordinate field assessments and provide a report to the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC) and the legislature determining if the restorations are meeting planned goals, any problems with the implementation of restorations, and, if necessary, recommendations on improving restorations. Restoration evaluation reports are available: http://www.leg.state.mn.us/edocs/edocs.aspx?oclcnumber=823766285The anticipated long-term outcomes of this program are the increased success of habitat restorations and an increased awareness among practitioners and decision-makers of common challenges associated with habitat restorations and recommended management options to improve future restorations. Outputs from this program for Fiscal Year 2017 include case studies of specific practices, project outcomes and lessons learned in the field from restoration practice. This request supports a portion of the inter-agency Legacy Fund Restoration Evaluations Program, which provides for the evaluation of habitat restoration projects completed with funds from the Parks and Trails Fund (M.S. 85.53 Subd. 5), Outdoor Heritage Fund (M.S.97A.056 Subd.10), and Clean Water Fund (M.S. 114D.50 Subd. 6) as required by state law. Up to twenty initial Outdoor Heritage Fund project evaluations will be reported on in the Fiscal Year 2018 report, an additional three to five follow up evaluations of previously assessed sites will also be reported. Follow up assessments will provide valuable insight in tracking progress and estimating trajectory towards planned goals.