The DNR communications team works with agency experts to develop the weekly questions and provide the answers. This feature addresses current DNR issues, interesting topics, or the most frequently asked questions from around Minnesota.
Q: How does the money invested in the Environmental & Natural Resources Trust Fund benefit Minnesota's natural resources?
A: The Trust Fund provides money for a wide variety of projects such as the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) program, which protects critical fish and wildlife habitat and related recreational opportunities. Money allocated for RIM projects matches private funding raised by private citizens and groups to acquire land for wildlife management areas and aquatic management areas, and other units of the state’s outdoor recreation system (e.g. state parks, state scientific and natural areas, state forests), to restore wetlands and native prairies, and to preserve habitat for rare plant and animal species.
Trust Fund dollars enable researchers to identify more effective natural resource protection and management strategies, and collect data that helps develop natural resource policy. Money from the fund is also used for public education, and to increase awareness and understanding of natural resources. Forty percent of the net proceeds from the Minnesota State Lottery are deposited into the Trust Fund. The money allocated from this account may only be used to fund projects of long-term benefit to Minnesota's environment and natural resources. It must supplement, not replace, traditional sources of funding.
- Kim Hennings, DNR wildlife land acquisition coordinator
Q: The water level of Lake Superior was really low a couple of summers ago. Has it returned to normal?
A: Lake Superior’s water level is still relatively low. The long-term (1918 – 2010) mean annual water surface elevation is 601.7 feet above mean sea level. For November, the long-term mean level is slightly higher at 601.9. The current water surface elevation is roughly 600.9 (as of Nov. 15), which is one foot below average. This is nearly identical to where we were at in November of last year when the mean monthly elevation was 600.85.
Putting Lake Superior’s current water level in historical perspective, the highest recorded water level was 603.4 in October, 1985 and the lowest recorded was in March and April of 1925 when it was 599.5. The lake is currently one-half foot higher than the lowest recorded November elevation (600.4 in 1925).
--Cliff Bentley, DNR area hydrologist, Two Harbors
Q: The DNR chose several new designs for critical habitat license plates a couple of years ago. How have sales been going? And what is the money used for?
A: As of October 2011, there are 110,939 critical habitat license plates on Minnesota vehicles. The plates were first on the market in 2003. That year, 35,370 plates were sold. New license plate designs were introduced 2009. They have been beneficial for sales of all of the plates, particularly the loon design, which has been the most popular design.
Money from the sale of critical habitat license plates goes into the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) fund, which is used to buy and manage important natural habitats for game and nongame species. These lands are public lands, used for hunting, fishing hiking and wildlife watching.
-Lori Naumann, DNR information officer, Nongame Wildlife Program