Group questions Legacy Fund spending

St. Paul, Minn. — An environmental group says some money from the outdoor Legacy amendment has been spent inefficiently.

The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy audited more than 100 projects paid for with Legacy money -- all of which were supervised by the Board of Water and Soil Resources.

It found cases in which projects addressed problems that hadn't been clearly defined, or didn't follow an existing cleanup plan. Most of the cleanup plans lacked detailed steps to meet state water quality standards.

The organization's Michael Schmidt says the study was designed to make sure legacy money is used for the purposes promised to voters.

"We think people expect results from the funding they're paying for through the amendment," he said. "If we want results we need to be sure we use money as well as we can, so at end of the 25 years that the amendment provides the funding, we have cleaner water."

Schmidt says part of the problem is many of the state's lakes and rivers haven't even been studied yet.

"I think once we have all the waters in the state assessed, it might be easier to target some of the money because we'd have so much more information," said Schmidt.

The report recommends more detail in cleanup plans, and clearer benchmarks to measure progress.

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