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LCCMR recommends expanding rock outcrop protection

OLIVIA -- A recommendation to continue and expand the program to protect rock outcrops in the Upper Minnesota River Valley will be considered by the state Legislature when it convenes for the 2009 session.

The Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources has recommended that $1.5 million in funding be awarded for the effort.

If approved by the Legislature, the funds would allow for the acquisition of permanent easements of rock outcrops from willing landowners in Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Redwood, Renville and Yellow Medicine counties.

It is among 33 projects being forwarded by the LCCMR for $26.1 million in available funding. The commission had considered 146 proposals representing over $105.3 million in requests.

The Renville and Redwood County Soil and Water Conservation Districts previously were awarded $552,000 to acquire easements to protect 212 acres of rock outcrop in the two counties.

The successful program led to the recent proposal to expand the program to include the five counties. The original request was for $2.8 million in grant funds and would have allowed for the acquisition of 1,000 acres.

The LCCMR is comprised of both citizen members and legislators, and makes recommendations on the use of the Environmental and Natural Resources trust fund. The Legislature has traditionally adopted the recommendations without changes.