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LARA announces new fund to protect natural heritage

The Crow Wing County Lakes and Rivers Alliance announces the establishment of a new tool to help fund environmental stewardship projects in Crow Wing County— the creation of an endowed fund with the Little Falls-based Initiative Foundation.

The initial gift that established the fund came from the assets of the Crow Wing Environment Protection Association, a nonprofit organization that dissolved this past winter but sought to leave a legacy to the community through their initial gift of nearly $57,000.

“These three organizations have rich histories of doing meaningful work in Crow Wing County. This is a great opportunity for those of us who care about natural resources,” said Ann Beaver, a former CWEPA board member and a current LARA board member. “It's a chance for people to make tax-deductible donations to a fund, and the benefits will happen right here in Crow Wing County — right here in our own backyard.”

Phil Hunsicker, LARA's president, said the fund will yield around 5 percent annual dividend, which will be awarded to lake associations and other applicants to support qualified projects. Based on the current balance of the fund, about $3,000 will be available to support grants this first year. As the fund grows, more grant money will become available in following years.

Don Hickman, senior program manager at the Initiative Foundation, said the Initiative Foundation is a strong supporter of donor-advised endowments as a way for communities to create sustainable support for the projects they value. 

“We are excited to be part of this effort, and we hope it can be a model for other counties,” Hickman said in a news release. “In fact, we are willing to match up to $10,000 in new contributions to the CWEPA Fund to help it continue to grow.”

For more information about the CWEPA Fund, contact Phil Hunsicker at 824-5095, or by email to