Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

DNR announces F&W management shakeup

ATV language removed from environment bill

Mourning dove language still alive in both House and Senate

St. Paul  An environment and natural resources bill passed the
House 81-50 last Wednesday after a provision involving changes to
all-terrain vehicle rules was removed.

The ATV provision had been the most controversial portion of the
legislation and is likely to be debated in the future as a separate
bill. Several media outlets have recently done stories and
editorials critical of the House proposal.

“It’s yet to be debated, but it’s interesting that they didn’t
want to tackle it today because it’s such a contentious issue,”
said Matt Norton, policy analyst for the Minnesota Center for
Environmental Advocacy.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dennis Ozment, said simply “these are
the controversial policy issues” before asking that the provision
be removed.

Gary Botzek, of the Minnesota Conservation Federation, said that
group would continue to oppose changes in the ATV law regarding
wetlands. He said the group would consider “reasonable” changes to
ATV rules, “but not wetlands; that’s sacred ground.”

In the meantime, the House passed the underlying environment
bill that would cut $1.8 million from various agencies and programs
for fiscal year 2005.

Among the proposed reductions is $281,000 from the Minnesota
Pollution Control Agency, $179,000 from the Zoological Board and
$127,000 from the Board of Water and Soil Resources.

Only a handful of initiatives would get new funding, including
$70,000 to create a Clean Water Council to coordinate impaired
waters activities in Minnesota.

Democrats, however, said that’s not enough, much more needs to
be done to clean up the state’s waters.

“Minnesota is now the land of 10,000 polluted waters,” said Rep.
Jean Wagenius, DFL-Minneapolis. “This bill makes sure we stay on
that course.”

Republicans say it’s the best they can do in a year when they’re
trying to rid the state of another budget deficit, this time $160
million.

“A vote no on this bill means you do not want to make any
progress in Minnesota,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dennis
Ozment, R-Rosemount.

He scolded Democrats for saying his legislation was bad without
offering alternatives or saying how they would pay for additional
water monitoring.

Other bill provisions

in the bill would:

Require the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources to
continue studying park issues, including operation and maintenance
funding.

Appropriate $50,000 to the Department of Natural Resources to
study snowmobile use and funding.

Prohibit the DNR from issuing more turtle sellers licenses in
the future than the number issued this year. Experts believe turtle
populations recently have been dropping in the state, and it takes
years to rebuild a turtle population if adults are removed.

The Senate’s environmental bill contains different provisions,
meaning the two will need to be reconciled in a joint House-Senate
conference committee.

Mourning doves

Botzek said bills regarding dove hunting are progressing in both
the House and Senate.

He said recent actions in both Wisconsin and Michigan might aid
sportsmen in their quest to bring mourning dove hunting to the
state.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of the
legality of dove hunting, and the Michigan Senate recently joined
the House in passing a dove hunting bill.

“The people who read Outdoor News are aware of the happenings in
other state, and they’re letting legislators know (in Minnesota),”
Botzek said. “It’s going to be close, but it’s got a good
chance.”

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