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Monday, April 22, 2024
HomeNewsEnvironmental Budget Bill Passes: Awarding $29.4 Million to Projects in Northeastern Minnesota...

Environmental Budget Bill Passes: Awarding $29.4 Million to Projects in Northeastern Minnesota Including Silver Bay Multi-Modal Facility

Nine projects in Northeastern Minnesota will receive funding with the Senate pass­ing the recent Environment, Climate, and Energy Budget Bill. “The funding I secured in the Environment budget will support out­door recreation across the Northland from the Silver Bay Trailhead Center, the Crane Lake boat landing, and to the Redhead Mountain bike trail. It will also allocate $2 million to­ward a St. Louis County waste campus to address PFAS (micro plastic) contamina­tion into Lake Superior,” comments Senator Grant Hauschild.

$29.4 million dollars was secured to disperse between the region’s projects and goals. Nearly 2 million from Legislative Cit­izen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) will help to build the Multi-model Trailhead Center in Silver Bay. The LCCMR makes recommendations for the use of the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund, which is a fund appropriated by law for the public with the purpose of protection, conservation, preservation, and enhancement of the state’s air, water, land, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources.

Silver Bay will be using the funds to build the new Multi-Modal Trailhead Facility which will be located where the old Rec Cen­ter building is by the tennis courts and the are­na. This area will be completely reconstruct­ed including everything from lighted parking, access for motorized and non-motorized trail use, bathroom facilities, showers, picnic ar­eas, playgrounds, and the center itself which will have an upstairs area that can be used for hosting meetings. It will have a lighted parking lot, but “will comply with dark skies and certain environmental standard consider­ations necessary to receive the funding,” says Lana Fralich, Silver Bay City Administrator. “We want to be good stewards of the environ­ment as a city.”

This 2 million, as well as another $400,000 grant awarded, was the final gap in funding the city needed to move forward with the project. The city is unsure of when exactly they will be breaking ground on the project as they are still working with the preliminary engineering requirements for noise analysis and cultural resources that getting federal funding requires. The city is hoping to get some bids this fall and that the project will be underway in the year 2024. Now that they are getting closer to the build out, you may start to see some demolition in the area of the existing buildings this fall.

“We are the connecting point of two scenic byways, both the North Shore Scenic byway and the Superior National scenic byway, so to try and avoid the congestion that happens when folks are trying to load and unload their ATVs and gear, we are trying to provide that safe space for people wanting to access our recreational trails.” There will be a ground­breaking ceremony when the building begins that will be open to the public.

Some of the other initiatives that will re­ceive funding from this bill are:

  • $15 Million for a high voltage direct cur­rent line with Minnesota Power
  • $6 Million for the 1854 Treaty Area Agree­ment. This will be paid to the tribe in rec­ognition of their management of the lands. The use of these funds is determined by Tribal leaders and Council.
  • $2 Million grant to St. Louis County to keep PFAS (micro plastics/forever chemicals) pollution out of Lake Superior. The current WLSSD waste site in Duluth does not have a mechanism for capturing PFAS so we are currently putting PFAS into Lake Superior. “This is not unique to St Louis county. This is happening everywhere… This 2 million dollars was a very small startup to St Louis county to explore opportunities for a new waste site that would address PFAS. There are models that do exist in the country on how to address this issue, we have begun exploring these models on how to do it bet­ter here. We need to do what we can and I hope this is just the start,” says Hauschild.
  • $1.97 Million LCCMR grant to the City of Silver Bay for construction of the Silver Bay Trailhead as well as the $400,000 grant to the city of Silver Bay for the Trailhead construction.
  • $1.9 Million for the construction of the Crane Lake Voyageurs National Park Visitor Center and Campground and for improvements and maintenance of the state-operated boat ramp at Crane Lake.
  • $1.45 Million from the DNR’s ATV Dedi­cated Account for ATV Trail Development of the voyager country and prospector loop.
  • $500,000 for the Redhead Mountain Bike Park located in Chisholm Minnesota.
  • $200,000 LCCMR grant for Grand Mara­is Mountain Bike Trail. This funding will help to sustain the existing mountain bike trail with needed maintenance and potential modifications for adaptive cycling.

$700,000 was also secured from ongoing Lottery in Lieu funding dedicated to Greater Minnesota parks and trails.

With the US Coast Guard taking leave from the area, a recent tax bill helped Grand Por­tage receive money to supplement emergen­cy watercraft and employees to help protect and keep folks safe that are in need on the shore in case of emergency. There was also funding secured to hire an emergency man­agement position.

The Environmental Budget Bill passed on a vote of 35-32, with all DFL Senators and one Republican voting yes and 32 Republi­cans voting no. “This shows how critical a one seat majority is in the senate. I think we accomplished an incredible amount for our environment and a lot of other goals that we have despite only having one vote… it’s pret­ty remarkable,” says Senator Hauschild. The bill has gone to Governor Waltz for his sig­nature.

Senator Hauschild also authored and passed a bill to rename the St. Louis Coun­ty Environmental Trust Fund. The fund is now named after former State Representative Mary Murphy, “The Mary Murphy Environ­mental Trust Fund.” Murphy is the longest serving female representative in Minnesota history. “I thought given her long time ser­vice to our region and to St Louis County that naming the environment fund within the county was a nice testament to her service. I am grateful for her decades of service to our state and to the Northland in particular,” comments Hauschild. Mary has served since 1977 and is now 83 years of age.

Katee Rose
Katee Rose
Katee Rose grew up on the Great Lakes in upstate New York. She left home on a bicycle and embarked on a cross country trip to California following her graduation from college. This trip was the beginning of many more that eventually landed her in countries across Europe, Canada, Mexico and Central America. Learning the cultures, cuisines, history and traditions from the communities she’s spent time in around the world. Katee is passionate about community and social justice movements. As well as engaging with many forms of art and music. For the past 5 years she has called the North Shore home and has been enjoying homesteading a small slice of land in the Northwoods. She is involved in many community efforts around local food, building capacity for a more sustainable future and supporting the elders in the area.
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