November 2016 CPL Grant Award

Minnesota DNR Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) Grant Program – Award for Pine River Fish Passage Project

We are happy to report that we have something new to celebrate this Thanksgiving!

Late last week we were notified that the Conservation Partners Legacy Grant application titled “Pine River Fish Passage” has been selected by DNR Fisheries for funding in 2017!  This announcement actually came earlier than the previously published date of November 23rd.

The grantee is the Crow Wing County Soil and Water Conservation District who authored and submitted the CPL application on behalf of a partnership also including the Big Pine Lake Association, DNR Fisheries and Crow Wing County.  Beth Hippert, SWCD Technician, will continue to lead this project with involvement and support from the other partners as need.

The full amount requested in the application, $399,935, has been awarded in reimbursable grant funds.  As communicated in our Annual Meeting, Fall Newsletter and a previous Breaking News email, a CPL Grant application must be accompanied by the commitment of a minimum of 10% non-state matching funds.  The BPLA Board and Subordinate Services District (SSD) Board have unanimously agreed to commit required matching funds from the accumulated balance in the SSD account in 2017.  At this time, we do not anticipate needing any additional contributions from lake property owners to fund this project.

There are three critical next steps before this project can move into the implementation phase:

1.    No reimbursable expenses can occur before a Grant Contract has been properly executed. Beth Hippert has the lead on this.

2.    SWCD has graciously offered to handle the contractor bidding process, as well as, the construction management responsibilities for Crow Wing County, owners of our current rock dam.  Those agreements are currently being negotiated.

3.    The approval of the Crow Wing County Board of Commissioners will be sought in an upcoming BOC meeting, hopefully before year end.

Please understand that the exciting project we have been working on and telling you about for many months is not yet a “done deal”, however, the critical milestone of securing grant funding for the lion’s share of the project cost has been reached.  We owe a large debt of gratitude to Beth Hippert and Bill Westerberg of the Soil and Water Conservation District, as well as, Owen Baird and Jeff Tillma of DNR Fisheries for their enthusiastic sponsorship and dedicated efforts in getting us this far.  There is simply no way our BPLA Board could have accomplished what they have over the past 12 months.

Of course, once all of the approvals, contracts and agreements are in place, there will be lots of important work to be done to modify our current rock dam into the new arched riffle design that will provide both a more durable water control structure and an excellent year-around fish passage.  Our objective is to complete the project as early in 2017 as conditions and funding will allow.