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Douglas County conservation leader meets with local legislators

Paul Barsness of Brandon, supervisor of the Douglas Soil and Water Conservation District, attended a legislative briefing and meetings at the State Capitol February 23-24 in St. Paul.

Paul Barsness of Brandon, supervisor of the Douglas Soil and Water Conservation District, attended a legislative briefing and meetings at the State Capitol February 23-24 in St. Paul.

He joined a group of other officials from the state's Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) who met in St. Paul to gather support for conservation districts' programs and issues.

"It is important for us to get the conservation message out to our elected officials in St. Paul," said Barsness.

The 2009 Legislative Session will be a difficult one, as the state faces a large budget deficit, currently projected at $4.8 billion over the next two years and expected to grow.

"This year is a general fund year, which means legislators will address issues like district program funding and new funding for the Lessard Outdoor Heritage Council," Barsness said. "With budget concerns being what they are at the state level, we have to work hard to make sure recognition of SWCD technical abilities and their work with private landowners doesn't fall by the way-side."

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During the visit to St. Paul, Barsness met with local legislators, Representative Torrey Westrom and Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen.

The event was sponsored by the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs).

SWCDs fill the crucial niche of providing land and water conservation services to owners of private lands. Minnesota has 91 Soil and Water Conservation Districts. For more information on the Douglas Soil and Water Conservation District, call (320) 763-3191, extension 3.

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