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Tribune editorial: Let's use Legacy fund for invasive fight

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opinion Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

Minnesota is facing a growing threat of invasive species, which is a major threat to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

As Tribune has said before, the threat of invasive species to Minnesota waters -- lakes, rivers and streams -- is serious. This threat includes zebra mussels, Asian carp, spiny water fleas and Eurasian water milfoil.

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Once any invasive species gets a foothold in a body of water, the battle is already lost.

To this point, Minnesotans fighting invasive species have faced a major hurdle -- not enough funding.

Recently, Gov. Dayton announced a $4 million-a-year plan to fight the invasive species threat. The Legislature is currently considering an aquatic invasive species bill.

Kandiyohi County recently started its invasive species efforts by approving several proposals -- from producing educational materials to funding a $3,000 grant to hire a lobbyist on the invasive species issue.

These are all good first steps. However, do these steps go far enough and quickly enough to really address the invasive species threat?

The time has come for Minnesota to get off its posterior and really address the threat. What is needed most is adequate funding to create the necessary programs, educate citizens and enforce the appropriate laws.

Water quality was and is one of the primary functions of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment approved by voters in 2008.

Known as the Legacy fund, this 25-year program targets funding as follows:

- 33 percent to a clean water fund

- 33 percent to an outdoor heritage fund

- 4.25 percent to a parks and trails fund

- 19.75 percent to an arts and cultural heritage fund

The time has come for the challenge of invasive species to be considered a critical clean water issue.

The Legislature and the Legacy fund should consider utilizing the Legacy funding for battling aquatic invasive species.

If Minnesota does not act soon and significantly to fund a fight against invasive species, it will be too late.

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