Senators give Minnesota protected areas a boost

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The United States Senate has moved its Fiscal Year 2008 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill out of committee and Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Norm Coleman are heralding their success in securing additional funding for several protected areas throughout Minnesota.

Notable in the FY 2008 Interior Appropriations is $750,000 for the Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge as part of the bill. The funds are dedicated to purchasing land in Western Minnesota and Northwest Iowa with a goal of preserving 25% of native prairie land. The area is a native home to four species of plants and seven species of animals listed as endangered or threatened, among them the Powesheik Skipperling and the Piping Plover.

Additionally, both Senators worked to secure $1,250,000 to acquire and maintain the 43-acre Long Island in Burntside Lake near Ely, and $1,750,000 for the Koochiching Forest Legacy Project to preserve the 38,300-acre forest under management of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Sen. Klobuchar recalled her youth and hearkened to the future. “I remember packing up our family car as a young girl and heading up north for one of my dad and my regular camping trips – usually close to his childhood home of Ely.” said Klobuchar. “We need to protect this natural land, water and habitat so that our kids and their kids can experience it just as we once did.

Playing “Yin” to Klobuchars “Yang” (with an extra long-hard “A”), Sen. Coleman’s sentiments were as warm as a Lake Superior swim

“Minnesota’s forests are among the state’s greatest treasures and both the Koochiching Forest Legacy Project and Superior National Forest are deserving recipients of this necessary funding,” said Coleman. “Similarly, families throughout Minnesota cherish times spent on the lakes of Minnesota and Burntside Lake is no exception. Conserving this beloved destination is important to the people of Minnesota and I applaud the Senate Appropriations Committee for protecting this important project.”

According to a Coleman press release, the Koochiching project “will protect vast wildlife habitat and ensure public access for recreation while maintaining the practice of sustainable forestry that supports the local economy.”

Junior Sen. Klobuchar also secured $300,000 for the City of Minneapolis to update its sewer overflow system, while Minnesota’s senior senator was more active in appropriations. Coleman took credit for securing $300,000 for the City of New Auburn’s drinking water plant, $300,000 for the Ripley Gardens Save America’s Treasures Project, $11,000,000 for the National Rural Water Association small water system technical assistance program, and $3,500,000 for the Rural Community Assistance Partnership to fund rural and small water system technical assistance.

On Monday, the Office of Management and Budget issued a Statement of Administration Policy which suggested that if the House version “were presented to the President, he would veto the bill. ” The OMB harshly criticized the amount of spending in the bill, which exceeded the Administration’s request by $2 billion. The Senate version exceeds the administrations request by $1.2 billion, though no Statement of Administration Policy has been released.