Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund: A Process to Define Outcomes & Impacts

Completed August 2017

The Outdoor Heritage Fund is one of four funds that was created by the passage of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008. Thirty-three percent of sales tax revenue from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy amendment is distributed to the Outdoor Heritage Fund to “restore, protect, and enhance wetlands, prairies, forest and habitat for fish, game, and wildlife.”

Outdoor Heritage Fund monies are a significant, long-term investment in the future of Minnesota with approximately $80 million available for appropriation by the legislature annually. Since 2010, the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council has been consistently measuring several key outputs such as dollars spent, acres acquired, and acres restored. While these are important metrics, Minnesotans are highly interested in understanding, in a more comprehensive way, how these important funds are making a difference in our state.


Environmental Initiative was engaged by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council to convene stakeholders to identify and recommend appropriate outcome metrics to enable measurement, reporting on, and communication of the outcomes resulting from the expenditure of the Outdoor Heritage Fund.


Frequently Asked Questions

Who is involved in developing recommended outcome measures for the Outdoor Heritage Fund and how were they selected?

The recommendations will be developed by a Work Group consisting of 14 individuals. The participants were invited to bring a balance of perspectives from across the range of Outdoor Heritage Fund stakeholder interests, as well as differing expertise provided by both academics and practitioners.

Work Group participants include:

  • Bruce Albright, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District
  • Marilyn Bernhardson, Redwood County Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Gary Botzek, Minnesota Conservation Federation
  • Tom Cooper, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Don Hickman, The Initiative Foundation
  • Steve Hobbs, The Conservation Fund
  • Tabor Hoek, Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources
  • Andy Holdsworth, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
  • Mike Kilgore, University of Minnesota
  • Peggy Ladner, The Nature Conservancy
  • John Lenczewski, Trout Unlimited
  • Eran Sandquist, Pheasants Forever
  • Grant Wilson, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
  • Dave Zumeta, Retired (formerly Minnesota Forest Resources Council)

What has the Work Group been tasked with?

The Work Group will develop recommended outcome metrics for the Outdoor Heritage Fund that support the demonstration of public benefit and accountability for the use of public money. The Work Group will use a consensus process to collaboratively define recommended outcome metrics for approval by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. Building on prior planning efforts, these metrics will be used to tell the story of the aggregate impact and accomplishments of the Outdoor Heritage Fund.

How will existing scientific data be utilized in the process to determine recommendations?

The process will include consulting with numerous experts in various fields, including ecology and land, water, and wildlife management to gather information on:

  • Data that currently exists within Minnesota that can be used to characterize the amount and condition of wetland, prairie, and forest habitat
  • Applicable methods, models or tools that currently exist to estimate the impact of changes in habitat on wildlife populations
  • Additional information that available models may be able to produce related to impact on specific ecosystem services and functions
  • Social and economic impacts that could be measured as secondary benefits based on the selected metrics and associated data
  • The strengths and weaknesses of different models and methods based on criteria developed by the Work Group

Who will be tasked with measuring and reporting on the identified outcomes?

The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council will be responsible for measuring and reporting on the outcomes that they officially adopt, based on the recommendations of the Work Group. Individual fund recipients and applicants will not be asked to measure or report on these outcomes at this time.

How are you defining “outputs” versus “outcomes?”

The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council defines outputs and outcomes as follows:

  • Output: What is produced. Specific products resulting from activities. Outputs can be described as the volume of work achieved, e.g., acres acquired, shore land protected, acres enhanced.
  • Outcome: What results. Benefits to wildlife, natural resources, and people resulting, directly or indirectly, from outputs.

When will the recommendations of the Work Group be available?

The recommendations of the Work Group will be presented to the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council at the Council’s June 29 meeting.