Did you hit the Powerball last weekend? No? Sadly, neither did I. It turns out, however, when people choose to play the Minnesota Lottery, there is always one winner: our environment! A portion of the money returned to the state goes directly into the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund where it gets distributed to government agencies, nonprofits, schools and private corporations.
So how much money actually goes to our outdoors? Of the money that goes back to the state, 40% goes into the trust. For each dollar spent on a ticket, that comes to about seven cents. Okay, it seems a small number, but apparently Minnesotans really like their Powerball tickets and scratch-offs. From 2010 receipts, nearly $55 million went to projects around the state. Since the fund's birth in 1990, more than $300 million has been invested in Minnesota's environment!
So how might a hiker benefit? For 2010, besides some of the wider benefits like prairie restoration and improved water quality, several million dollars went to projects that could directly affect an outdoor enthusiast. Here are a few examples:
- The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge received money to add 200 acres to their holdings.
- $1.75 million will go to the Scientific and Natural Areas program for restoration and land acquisition.
- Another $1.75 million will go to several state parks for land acquisitions.
All of these places offer many hiking and other outdoor opportunities. For the full list of 2010 projects (plus previous years) go here. Take a peek through and see how many of your favorite places or programs have been helped by this fund.