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National Trout Center angles for State Bond Funding

Thu, Mar 28th, 2013
Posted in Preston The Great Outdoors

Minnesota legislators recently heard a proposal request for $4.5 million in state bond funding to establish a permanent home for the National Trout Center organization located in Preston. The non-profit center is currently operating in a temporary space.

Trout Center Chairman, George Spangler, presented the proposal during a House Capital Investment Committee hearing at the State Capital last week. Spangler requested dollars to design, equip, and construct the hands-on experiential learning center along the south branch of the Root River in southeast Minnesota.

Plans for the proposed center include a 10,000 square foot building with exhibit space, a multi-purpose conference room, and classrooms designed to educate the public about the regional ecology, geology, and climate that exists along more than 450 miles of trout streams in the four state driftless area. The center could also include the only cold-water living stream exhibit in the nation.

Lawmakers were each given a paper trout containing trout related statistics:

•Trout fishing generates $1.1 Billion in annual economic benefit to local communities in the driftless region.

•There are over 155,000 Trout Stamp holders in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

•For every dollar spent on stream restoration, $24.50 is returned annually to the regional economy.

•There are over 530 miles of public access easements on Minnesota trout streams.

•Non-resident anglers contribute 47 percent of direct expenditures to the trout fishery.

Spangler believes an expanded center would quickly become a regional and statewide asset, as well as, an economic engine for southeast Minnesota.

Bill sponsor, Republican Rep. Greg Davids, said the area is known nationally for its pristine trout streams and currently draws visitors from near and far. He went on to say that this is not a local trout center, or a state trout center, but rather a national trout center.

A companion bill, sponsored by Senator Jeremy Miller awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

Committee Chairwoman, Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, said she’s planning to unveil an $800 million borrowing package when lawmakers return from their spring recess in early April. She said the trout bill could be included.

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