Happy Earth Day 2019, friends! Earth Day is a day filled with celebration around the world each year on April 22 to support environmental protection.

Here at the Minnesota Lottery though, every day is Earth Day. Why? Because a portion of every dollar spent on Lottery tickets goes directly towards programs that support Minnesota’s environment. Since 1990, the Lottery is proud to have raised more than $1.2 billion to protect, restore and enhance our natural resources — and with every ticket sold, that number continues to grow every day.

This year, Earth Day’s theme is protecting our species, so we rounded up 9 Minnesota species that have been protected through the Lottery-funded Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF):

Moose

Minnesota’s moose population in northeast Minnesota are dying at much higher rates that anywhere else in North America. With the help of the ENRTF, the DNR was able document key mortality factors to improve our understanding of one of Minnesota’s most prized wildlife species.

Orchids

The ENRTF is supporting conservation research at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum to help preserve and protect 15 of Minnesota’s rare orchid species that are endangered or at risk of extinction, including Minnesota’s state flower — the Showy Lady Slipper.  

Common Loon

An ENRTF-funded scientific study spearheaded by the DNR documented the connection between Minnesota’s loon population and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico and could lead to a multi-million-dollar restitution for loon conservation in Minnesota.

Bison

Minnesota’s first bison herd for conservation purposes was successfully reintroduced at Minneopa State Park thanks to the ENRTF. Road improvements, wetland restoration and interpretive exhibits were some of the improvements made to the park.

Butterflies

The ENRTF has provided the primary funding for the Minnesota Zoo’s Prairie Butterfly Conservation Program since 2014. The Minnesota Zoo is working with the DNR to help save Minnesota prairie butterflies that are at risk of extinction.

Native mussels

Native mussels help cleanse the water they live in and are critically important to the health of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. The DNR is working to restore our native mussel population back into our waterways after being destroyed by pollution and harvesting.

Elk

The University of Minnesota is evaluating the potential to bring back the state’s traditional wildlife heritage by restoring Elk to northeastern Minnesota for both ecological and economic benefits for the region.

Wolves

The International Wolf Center in Ely is using a ENRTF grant to design, construct, and install new interactive educational exhibits to help Minnesotans understand coexistence with the state's wolf populations and to help with their ongoing wolf-management efforts.

Native Bees

Bees play a vital role in the pollination of agricultural crops and in supporting natural ecosystems, including Minnesota’s prairies. The DNR’s Minnesota Biological Survey used ENRTF grants to study Minnesota’s native bee population and to develop a statewide species list.

These projects are just a few examples of your Lottery dollars at work through the ENRTF. Visit the Lottery’s Playing Our Part page to learn more about where the money goes.