State funding to support brook trout habitat along North Shore rivers
Joe Friedrichs
Outdoor News

State funding to support brook trout habitat along North Shore rivers

The 2022 legislative session did not yield many of the results Cook County residents were hoping for, including tax breaks, school funding and support for potential housing projects. However, there is some outdoor news worth noting.

Prior to the session’s conclusion May 23, state legislators approved a bill through the Legacy Amendment to fund more than 40 “high-priority conservation projects” using sales tax dollars from across the state.

One such project is near Lake Superior and the WTIP listening area. The project involves a series of culvert replacements in the Manitou and Baptism river watersheds, according to Jamison Wendel, the stream habitat supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife Division.

Legacy funding in the amount of $852,000 will be given toward the project. Funding for the project will be available beginning July 1 this summer through June 30, 2027.

Funding is made available through the Outdoor Heritage Fund, one of four funds created by the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment, Wendel told WTIP. The Outdoor Heritage Fund receives one-third of the money raised by the statewide sales tax from the amendment.

“Money through this appropriation will be used to design and replace culverts identified as high priorities to restore fish passage in the Baptism and Manitou River watersheds,” Wendel said.

Dean Paron is the Finland area fisheries supervisor for the DNR in Lake County. He told WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs that replacing the culverts will allow brook trout to access cold water habitat needed to sustain a robust population.

Furthermore, appropriately sized culverts also are less likely to catastrophically fail during high flow events, Paron said. Flooding remains an issue for many areas in northern Minnesota, though water levels are starting to drop in June for many North Shore rivers and streams.

Learn more in the audio below.