Rep. John Ward, DFL-Baxter, Rep. Joe Radinovich, DFL–Crosby, and the House Legacy Committee on Wednesday toured locations in the Brainerd lakes area.
The stops included a visit to Franklin Arts Center in Brainerd. The arts center was a junior high that now serves as artist lofts, studios, and a sales, gallery, and teaching space. This is an Arts and Cultural Heritage Project.
“This is an incredible use of an old building for a new, creative purpose,” said Rep. Ward. “We have many talented artists in our area and projects like this one encourage great new art and culture in our region. As a former teacher at Franklin when it was a junior high, it does my heart good to see a former educational facility being reused for a great community purpose.”
The committee stopped at Cross Lake, Pine River, Mississippi Northwoods Habitat Complex, and the Franklin Arts Center. The House Legacy Committee — along with the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Legacy — appropriates funding from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, Clean Water Fund, Parks and Trails Fund, and the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
Cross Lake was recently found to be infested with Zebra Mussels. Tom Watson, president of the Whitefish area property owners association, with 3,500 members, talked to the committee about the economic and cultural importance of the lakes in that area.
“Aquatic invasive species like Zebra Mussels are a huge problem in the Midwest and threaten our beautiful waterways and tourism industry,” Rep. Radinovich said. “We have passed strong legislation in the past, but we need to do more. This is a problem that certainly won’t go away on its own.”
At the Pine River stop, committee members were shown the load monitoring network, a state of the art river gauge set-up with telemetry and discuss the equipment uses, data importance, and load calculation aspects. This project is from the Clean Water Fund.
The Mississippi Northwoods Habitat Complex is 2,000 acres of undeveloped land just outside of Brainerd, with 2.7 miles of the Mississippi River shoreline. Crow Wing county manages it and several organizations worked together to preserve this pristine piece of habitat. Rep. Ward worked to secure bipartisan Outdoor Heritage funding for the project.
“This was a great achievement and now this land can be used for a variety of recreational uses and conservation for generations of Minnesotans to come,” said Rep. Ward. “We are fortunate enough to have one of the greatest states in the nation for outdoor fun and leisure, and the Mississippi Northwoods Habitat Complex is adding to that in our beautiful region.”