Wildlife posts go unfunded

Gross overlimits, LCMR reform still in the mix

St. Paul A request by the DNR Division of Wildlife to fund three
new positions for forest planning was turned down by the House
Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee.

Division of Wildlife Director Tim Bremicker requested $160,000
in 2002 and $180,000 in 2003 from the lottery-in-lieu Heritage
Account to pay for three Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
specialists, two to be stationed in the northern part of the state
and the other in the southeast.

The specialists would assist in the DNR’s subsection planning
process, an integrated effort between the divisions of Forestry,
Wildlife, and Ecological Services to identify forest stands for
harvest during the next seven years and establish “desired future
conditions” for the forest in 50 years.

“We need more wildlife expertise with GIS capability in the
planning process,” says Bremicker. “We consider this essential to
meeting our objectives for forest wildlife and hunting
opportunities in the forest, particularly for deer and grouse.”

However, legislators on the committee didn’t agree. Dave Chura,
staffer for Rep. Mark Holsten, R-Stillwater, said committee members
were concerned that the proposed positions are permanent and the
DNR would again ask to fund them from the Heritage Account in the
following biennium. This conflicts with the committee’s attempt to
spend the Heritage money on new projects. There were also questions
about where cuts would have to be made in the existing Heritage
Account budget to fund the GIS request.

“I don’t think the committee is dead set against funding this,
but they don’t want to take money away from other projects,” Chura
said.

Discussion of the GIS wildlife positions is likely to occur
again in conference committee. Bremicker said funding is available
from the Senate.

LCMR reform back in

Rep. Dennis Ozment, R-Rosemount, received House passage of
language that will restructure the Legislative Commission on
Natural Resources citizens committee, allowing it to make
recommendations about annual spending from the Environmental Trust
Fund directly to the Legislature. Proponents of the bill say the
change would allow more money to be spent on habitat.

Gross overlimits

Rep. Bill Haas, R-Champlin, reported Tuesday that his gross
overlimits bill had passed the House Ways and Means Committee this
week and was slated for a vote on the floor as early as
Thursday.

The language would levy harsher fines and penalties on people
responsible for serious fish and game violations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *