Looking after our natural resources

Rep. Leon Lillie
District 43B

As one of the members of Minnesota’s Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, I have the opportunity to make funding recommendations to the legislature for special environment and natural resource projects that benefit our entire state.

It’s an honor to be one of five members from the House of Representatives selected by Speaker Paul Thissen to serve on this commission, along with five Senators, five citizens appointed by the governor, one citizen appointed by the Senate, and one citizen appointed by the House.

We recently completed our competitive process for selecting environmental projects that we will recommend to the legislature in 2014. In total, we selected 72 projects costing $28.9 million, which is paid for by the Minnesota Lottery-generated Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.

The recommendations include a number of measures to address water issues, invasive species, climate change, energy, and habitat issues.

In the past, we’ve delivered funding for organizations like Great River Greening, a volunteer-based non-profit that is making a difference in our own back yard. For example, Great River Greening has led the charge on land and water restoration at Fish Creek. They’ve deployed 200 volunteers in the past month to help with these efforts. That kind of hard work is a big reason why we’re recommending additional funding to help with the restoration of Fish Creek.

Another of our recommendations is to acquire 3,500 square feet of shoreline on the St. Croix River to make sure current Minnesotans and future generations will be able to enjoy the beauty of the region for years to come. We also support critical research by the University of Minnesota to understand how insecticides are killing off the bee population, which is vital to the success of Minnesota’s agriculture industries. In addition, we would create a permanent “Bee Discovery Center” at the University’s Landscape Arboretum to help educate Minnesotans about how these insects benefit our state. Even more pressing, we would like to see more funding to prevent the spread of Asian carp, which poses a major threat to our ecosystem and economy.

The Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund is intended to provide a long-term, stable source of funding for innovative and long term activities that protect and enhance Minnesota’s environment and natural resources for the benefit of current citizens and future generations.

If you have any questions about LCCMR or the projects we plan to recommend to the legislature next year, please contact me. You can reach me by phone at (651) 296-1188, by email at rep.leon.lillie@house.mn, or by postal mail at 371 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.

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