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Minnesota House passes bonding bill with big bucks for outdoors

Northland projects include Spirit Mountain, Giants Ridge and Lake Vermilion State Park.

Spirit Mountain
Spirit Mountian in Duluth would get $12 million for facilities upgrades under the bonding and construction bills that passed in the Minnesota House earlier this week, one of many local projects funded in the bills. The bills must now clear the Senate.
Clint Austin / 2019 file / Duluth News Tribune

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota House this week passed its version of a construction/bonding package: two bills totaling a whopping $1.9 billion to fund projects across the state, including $66 million for Department of Natural Resources construction projects and $10.7 million for the Reinvest in Minnesota habitat program.

The bills, which include using some of the state's budget surplus and also issuing bonds and borrowing money, also include $13 million for new facilities at Spirit Mountain in Duluth; $12.2 million for a new snowmaking system at Giants Ridge in Biwabik; $11 million for a visitor’s center at Lake Vermilion State Park; and $10 million to help residents replace lead water lines in their houses, including in Duluth.

State grants and loans should help to ease the city's financial burden.

The DNR projects funded included renovating the state’s Badoura tree nursery near Akeley and its Waterville fish hatchery. The bills also include $6.3 million to upgrade the state’s wildfire fighting capacities at the Chisholm-Hibbing Airport.

The bills passed the DFL-controlled House by an impressive 91-43 margin, garnering many Republican votes, but will still need to be reconciled with Gov. Tim Walz’s construction plan and whatever version the Senate passes. A compromise version should emerge before the session ends in May.

Some other local projects in the House bill include:


  • $8.9 million to build a system to pump water out of the Canisteo mine pit to avoid flooding;
  • $8.3 million for Lake Superior College in Duluth;
  • $7.4 million for the new Hermantown Ice Arena;
  • $3.6 million for Vermilion Community College in Ely;
  • $3 million to reconstruct the Nett Lake dam in Koochiching County;
  • $4 million for additional construction of the Gitchi Gami Bike Trail along the North Shore;
  • $3.5 million for the construction of safe harbor docking on Rainy Lake and at Ranier;
  • $1.3 million for Crane Lake Water and Sanitary District.
“We just want them to know that that bill is going to be dead on arrival because we believe that we need to see some tax cuts tied to that,” Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson told reporters Monday.

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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