Starting July 1, nearly 80 million lottery dollars will help fund 85 new projects that protect Minnesota’s natural environment.

Projects that focus on foundational natural resources and data include studying the restoration of habitats for the rusty-patched bumble bee, mapping migratory bird stopover sites in Minnesota, gathering information on the ecology of fish in the Minnesota River, and monitoring 93,000 acres of protected old growth forests to ensure their continued protection.

Projects addressing water resources include reducing salt pollution in three Alexandria-area lakes, preventing the spread of Didymo or “rock snot”, an invasive algae that has invaded North Shore streams, and removing contaminants from stormwater runoff.

Environmental education projects will include a statewide television series designed to inspire Minnesotans to connect with the outdoors and to protect our valuable natural resources, creation of a college-to-work pathway for underrepresented students interested in pursuing careers in natural resources, and multi-day experiential-learning trips to the Boundary Waters Wilderness for over 10,000 Minnesota youth.

Climate change and renewable energy will be addressed by projects that include planting and taking inventory of trees to build more resilient communities statewide, the use of lichens as low-cost indicators of air quality across Minnesota, and the production of iron using microwave hydrogen plasma to reduce the use of fossil fuels and CO2 emissions in traditional iron production.

Projects designed to protect or restore land, water, and habitat include raising tree seedlings to promote widespread reforestation in Minnesota to improve carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat and watershed resilience, and testing methods to expand mattress and furniture recycling efforts to reduce demand for new landfills.

And finally, land acquisition for habitat and recreation across the state will help conserve river corridors, expand recreational opportunities on Minnesota State Trails and at state parks, and restore and enhance Scientific and Natural Areas (SNAs).

A portion of every dollar spent on lottery games goes to the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF). These projects were among 174 proposals requesting a total of approximately $164 million submitted to the Legislative‐Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). After a competitive, multi‐stage evaluation, 85 projects were included in proposed legislation and received either complete or partial funding for specific proposal elements.

All proposals must meet the constitutional aim to protect, conserve, preserve and enhance Minnesota’s air, water, land, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources, especially those that may be substantially impaired or destroyed in any area of the state. Proposals that address prevention strategies for protecting natural resources that include citizen and community involvement in scientific efforts, or that implement or identify clear strategies for implementing research results are strongly encouraged. Click here to view all this year’s projects funded by lottery dollars.

Watch for more information on some of these projects. Every time you play the lottery you benefit Minnesota’s natural environment.