We are often asked, “What does the lottery actually fund?” The short answer: Minnesota’s environment. The longish answer (that takes less than two minutes): That’s what we’re here to tell you!

Forty percent of lottery net proceeds go to the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF). The remaining 60 percent of net proceeds go toward Minnesota’s General Fund.

The ENRTF’s mission is to “provide a long-term, consistent, and stable source of funding for innovative activities directed at protecting and enhancing Minnesota's environment and natural resources for the benefit of current citizens and future generations.”

The Minnesota Legislature recently approved $137 million to fund 165 projects around the state. Here are just a few of the innovative projects that lottery proceeds help make possible:

Monitoring Emerging Viruses in Minnesota’s Urban Water

Does COVID-19 pose a risk to drinking water? The College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota is working to develop new detection methods, including a rapid test, to provide quantitative risk assessment models that will help the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Health quantify future risks that coronaviruses may have on urban water.

Upper St. Anthony Falls Enhancements

An appropriation to the Friends of the Falls, in partnership with the city of Minneapolis, will help design and install green infrastructure, add public access, and improve habitat restorations on the riverfront of Upper St. Anthony Falls. The enhancements will connect the public to the river and trails and will help to preserve this historic and culturally significant site.

Mesabi Trail Expansion

The St. Louis & Lake Counties Regional Railroad Authority is using an appropriation to acquire, engineer and construct a segment of the Mesabi Trail. This segment will connect to the North American Bear Center, the planned Ely Visitors Center, and the International Wolf Center. The ENRTF has been an important source of funding for the Mesabi Trail since 1993—expanding and developing it into one of the longest paved trails in the United States.

Crane Lake Voyageurs National Park Campground and Visitor Center

Crane Lake Township is using an ENRTF appropriation to plan and construct a new visitor center and campground at Voyageurs National Park near Crane Lake.

Reintroducing Bison to Spring Lake Park Reserve

Dakota County is working with the Minnesota Bison Conservation Herd to prepare for the reintroduction of America plans bison to the prairie at Spring Lake Park Reserve along the Mississippi River near Hastings. ENRTF dollars will help design and create the infrastructure needed to keep the bison, safe, healthy and contained to the 130-acre site.

Above the Falls Regional Park Acquisition

The waterfronts along the Mississippi River in North and Northeast Minneapolis are the only non-public lands along the river. The Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board is changing that with help from an ENRTF grant. The grant will enable the Park Board to acquire approximately 3.25 acres of industrial land to create public access and habitat connectivity along the east and west banks of the river as part of Above the Falls Regional Park.

Since 1991, the ENRTF has provided approximately $700 million to more than 1,700 projects around the state, collectively impacting each of Minnesota’s 87 counties. For a complete list ENRTF projects, visit the LCCMR website

Interested in learning more about how lottery dollars improve the lives of Minnesotans? Visit our Playing Our Part page for more information.