This is the fourth and final interview in a series of articles
profiling the candidates for Minnesota governor. All candidate
profiles, including the four major parties Republican, Democrat,
Green, and Independence are being posted at www.outdoornews.com
between now and the Nov. 5 election.
ODN: Would a Gov. Pentel appoint a new DNR commissioner?
Describe that person’s characteristics. What do you think that
person needs to bring to that job?
Pentel: I would appoint a new DNR commissioner. I don’t believe
the current DNR commissioner is into protecting habitat. There are
a number of indicators that show the problems. One is continuing to
allow peat bogs to be extracted in the state; we have a Canadian
company now extracting peat moss for energy. That’s critical
habitat. Another thing is the ATV issue. It took a great struggle
to get the DNR commissioner to change course on how we use our
state land in that regard.
I’m also going to be looking at a specific land ethic that’s
based on how we preserve and conserve and restore critical habitat
in Minnesota. I’m also going to have him clearly define the
different areas of the state that we’re going to use for motorized
and non-motorized activities, and also for game and nongame
ODN: Are you on board with some sort of sales tax dedication for
conservation funding, ala 3/16s?
Pentel: I think based on what I’m learning, that is
inappropriate. There might be some original intent, but it can be
skewed. If we look at the one area that really has given me
guidance on this, it’s the dedicated funding around the gas tax
that was dedicated just to roads and highways a number of decades
ago. It’s created a transportation trap in a way around one
technology, the automobile. That obviously creates havoc and
dismemberment, building more and more roads. It dismembers critical
habitat. It puts us in a position of high cost; we pay a lot for
the existing transportation system. So in my opinion it wasn’t
Once you’ve made these dedicated funds, they can be perverted or
they can be misguided long-term.
ODN: Because you don’t have the legislative oversight?
Pentel: Right, I mean, the ability to adjust, to adapt is just
no longer available to you. That said, there is no other candidate
more committed to protecting critical habitat in the state of
ODN: How would you fund that, Ken? That’s what 3/16 is trying to
Pentel: Exactly. What I would do is one, just set a budget that
would be committed to those goals. The other thing is where we’re
going to be creating new revenue streams things like how our water
is used, how fresh is our water, and if people are using it for
industry or commercial use we’re going to put a fee on it so we
increase the value of water in the state and it will no longer be
polluted the way it’s been polluted. It just won’t be easy to do
that anymore. The other thing is to support land conservation tax
credits, things of that sort, the RIM program. I want to continue
any effort to take care of habitat.
There are a number of revenue areas that we’re going to be
looking at. The top 10 percent incomes are being taxed at about 8.5
percent. The bottom 10 percent are being taxed based on income at
12.5 percent so we’re going to make the people who have made the
most money in the past 15 years in this state and this country are
the people in the top few percent, and they’re going to see a
commitment to reinvest in areas that have been neglected.
We’re going to have revenue; that’s not the question. And I will
be listening to the groups that are involved in it whether it’s the
Fish and Wildlife Alliance, Trout Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited. I’ll
be working with all these folks because we have a common
ODN: Some people fear deer feeding is a way to transmit this
CWD. Should we ban deer feeding?
Pentel: Yes, I support banning deer feeding. Wisconsin has done
it; they’ve made that move. I’m also really interested in possibly
ending game (elk and deer) farms in general.
Pentel: Yes, as well as confinement facilities in farm animals.
I just think the concentration of animals like that enhances the
risk, and I’m not going to play roulette anymore with this
resource. I want no one to ever question if their venison is
healthy or not. We should not put ourselves in that position.
ODN: How do you feel about invoking the presidential order
clause of the 1837 Treaty to try and solve the treaty management
issue on Mille Lacs?
Pentel: I spent some time up on Mille Lacs and had some very
intense conversations with the tribe and the resorters and said,
“Look we’re going to have to have a sit-down.” I want to pull
together the parties involved and let’s work on building a
consensus here because I really don’t want it to turn into a
continued hot spot.
I just want to have everyone working from the common information
and go from there. I was hearing statistics from resort owners and
I was hearing statistics from the tribe. We’re coming from
different places here; let’s get some common numbers here to work
from and then resolve this situation. I want to resolve the high
stress points in Minnesota. No, I’m not going to lobby the
president; but, yes, I’m going to respect the conditions that are
created up there between the resort owners and the tribe.
ODN: There’s talk of legislation that would give COs ability to
inspect game bags and livewells without probable cause. Would you
Pentel: I agree with that legislation. We have a lot of pressure
on our resource base right now. Conservation officers are on the
front line. They have to be given latitude to make sure the
resource is being used properly. Make sure people who are fishing
or hunting are acting within the rule of the law. We want to make
sure our resources remain sustainable.
We’re not asking people to open personal belongings when we
enter a fish house; we just want to know what fish you’ve got.