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May 01, 2019


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Tom Casey, Chair, Friends of MN Scientific and Natural Areas

Thank you, Bluestem Prairie, for reporting on the National Loon Center or "Loondoggle", as we call it.

To his credit, Rep. Hansen filed a floor amendment (approved by voice vote) to the ENRTF bill that deletes “boat docks, fishing docks, and native landscaping” and adds “native habitat restoration,” However, this is only a modest step in the right direction. The National Loon Center language remains unacceptable because:

1. Rep. Hansen’s amendment adds only soft language regarding the building, “The building must be environmentally and energy efficient. An effort must be made to build the center so that it is eligible to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification or the Green Building Initiative Green Globes certification for environmental design." (Emphasis added.) In other words, neither certification is required. Instead, only “an effort must be made …”

2. Moreover, loons don’t need another building to assist their survival. This is especially true where the building plan includes offices for the Chamber of Commerce and Army Corps of Engineers.

3. The ENRTF bill still contains problematic language in lines 21.21 – 21.25: “Net income generated … as a result of trust fund contributions may be reinvested in the center’s long-term conservation efforts …” (Emphasis added.) Of course, “may” needs to be changed to “shall.”

4. I’m concerned that continued ENRTF funding of the building will enable other funds to be diverted to constructing the boat docks and fishing docks. The end result is the same; no money will assist loons.

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    Sorensen, editor and proprietor of Bluestem Prairie, serves clients in the business and nonprofit sectors. While progressive in outlook, she does not caucus with any political party.


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