ODN: Tell me about your outdoor background.
Pawlenty: I was born and raised in Minnesota and come from a
family of five. Many members of my immediate and extended family
are strong sportsmen. I haven’t hunted or fished lately as much as
I would like because of my other duties.
ODN: Do you own a hunting or fishing license?
Pawlenty: I buy a fishing license annually. But I think the last
time I bought a hunting license was three or four years ago. Time
is an issue. I have two young kids and several jobs.
ODN: You were an author on 3/16s. As governor, would you
encourage your DNR commissioner to support it?
Pawlenty: Absolutely. Yes. I have been a strong leader on 3/16s.
I’m the second author on the House bill. Not just this year but
last year when Sen. Bob Lessard and Rep. Mark Holsten were pushing
it. I have worked closely with them in developing the bill and have
been a leader on the issue not just six months before the election
but two years ago. I would encourage the DNR commissioner and my
administration to support it.
ODN: Would you only take from existing taxes or would you
consider adding it to the sales tax that already exists?
Pawlenty: I would be in favor dedicating a portion of the
current sales tax. This economy is going to turn around in the next
six months to a year. And while 3/16s is not cheap, it’s not that
expensive. As we’ve discussed before, when environment,
conservation, and habitat get pitted against schools, nursery
homes, and all the other stuff we have to do, sometimes hunting and
fishing interests get pushed down the list, and we need to make
sure that is preserved in a strong way.
ODN: You have said you would appoint a new DNR commissioner.
Describe that person’s skills and traits.
Pawlenty: I want someone who has a strong hunting and angling
background as DNR commissioner. Also, it must be someone with great
people skills who’s an advocate for outdoor recreational
The DNR does a lot of things, but we should emphasize
opportunities for hunting and fishing in Minnesota. I want someone
who understands that and is committed to that. They need good
management skills, good people skills, and good leadership
They also need to be good at changing an organization. I’m going
to ask the DNR to change like I will of a lot of state agencies,
but this one in particular. I want the next commissioner to be a
ODN: How do you want DNR to change?
Pawlenty: First of all to refocus. It has meandered in terms of
its focus and I want to tighten it up a bit. A strong area of focus
needs to be in outdoor recreation hunting and fishing. We also need
a DNR commissioner who is interested in getting money into the
field in developing habitat and conservation, and less money on
building up the bureaucracy.
ODN: Regarding Lake Mille Lacs, the president has the right to
repeal the 1837 Treaty rights. Would you be willing to bring that
fact to his attention?
Pawlenty: I am not familiar with the particular authority that
you are talking about. It has been alleged that the President has
the authority to cancel the treaty.
ODN: It’s not alleged. The very end of the treaty clearly says
that rights exist at the pleasure of the President.
Pawlenty: I would have to look at that more closely to
understand the legalities of that. But I think it’s a red herring.
I don’t think President Bush will rescind that. I don’t think that
is reality, and we need to focus on reality. I don’t want to speak
for President Bush, but I have a hunch that wouldn’t be something
he would do.
So that means we need to focus on things we can do and that
means managing Mille Lacs in a way that is appropriate from a
conservation, habitat, and outdoor recreational perspective and not
just hide behind treaty management. One of the things DNR does is
duck behind treaty management, and I think that DNR needs to be
more bold in the management of the lake and stand up for the
interests of hunting and fishing sportsmen and women. I have spent
some time with Dick Sternberg, and I think he knows what he is
talking about in terms of harvest management. He thinks the lake
can sustain up to 500,000 to 550,000 pounds a year and we are not
even close to that.
The DNR needs to be more bold and aggressive and start
advocating the management in ways that provide more angling
opportunities. The slot limit, I think, may be too restrictive. We
have way too many big fish in the lake eating smaller fish and
that’s causing complications on the lake. The hooking mortality is
off the charts. If the DNR has more flexibility and I think they do
we should use that in managing the lake.