The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced $13.3 million in funding proposals in response to the significant effects of this summer’s drought on two of the state’s critical natural resources: water and trees. 

The DNR proposes $3 million in funding for municipal, tribal, and other community water suppliers to implement proactive water conservation measures related to the built infrastructure, including finding and repairing leaks in pipes, meters, hydrants, and treatment plants, and installing water-efficient equipment. 

These proven strategies can help individual cities across the state to conserve millions of gallons of water a year. The proposal also includes $300,000 for an individual and small community well interference fund.

Additionally, the drought has stressed well-established shade trees in communities and caused an extremely high mortality rate for tree seedlings planted in 2021. The DNR proposes $5.5 million in funding to re-plant public and private forest lands where seedlings were irrevocably damaged by the drought and $4.5 million in community shade tree grants. Combined, this funding will be essential to support tree health, carbon storage, habitat, water quality and other benefits of forests and shade trees. 

“This year’s drought was challenging on many natural resources fronts. While the DNR took necessary steps to mitigate the drought’s impacts, in accordance with the Statewide Drought Plan, more needs to be done,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “This proposal includes high-impact resiliency measures in order to conserve water and preserve our precious tree cover. This funding proposal will help protect the resources we all value and depend on for our quality of life in Minnesota.” 

The entire state entered the drought warning phase in mid-July of 2021. With this designation, the Minnesota DNR took a number of measures laid out in the Statewide Drought Plan, including convening the State Drought Task Force, a panel of state, federal, regional and local experts with water-related responsibilities.

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