Party platforms: Repealing Legacy Amendment, no net gain of public lands, and wolves
Midterm elections are in less than six weeks, so Minnesota citizens likely have politicians knocking at their doors right now. Sometimes it’s fun, or nauseating, to peruse party platforms to see in black-and-white where the GOP and DFL officially stand on issues.
Platforms are a bit of a wish list. In simple terms, they portray how the nation (or state) would look if there was no balance of power or branches of government to keep each other in check. So when reading a party platform, take their positions with a grain of salt because many of bullet points will never happen.
That said, as political pundits have reminded us repeatedly this year, when someone tells you who they are, believe them. And there are a few bullet points under the category of natural resources in these documents worth highlighting.
Let’s start with the Republicans. Under Section 8 “Enjoy and Protect our Natural Resources” of the state GOP platform, several items tripped my conservationist trigger. The most egregious was this:
- Repeal of the “Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.
That hits close to home for Outdoor News readers. State outdoors writers and every environmental and conservation organization in Minnesota supported the decade-long effort to constitutionally dedicate a slice of state sales tax to improve natural resources. It eventually passed on Nov. 4, 2008, with the support of a lot of Republicans, and by all measures, it’s been a success. Outdoor News and other media regularly share stories of on-the-ground work involving nonprofits and the DNR using the dollars for sound conservation efforts.
Even if you privately despise public lands and never saw a state wildlife management area that you didn’t think would look better with ditch tiling, soybeans, or a housing development, calling for the repeal of the popular amendment seems politically stupid.
The amendment asked people to tax themselves yet passed – in the middle of a recession – with a solid 56% of the vote. Given that the non-votes in constitutional amendments count as no’s, overall support probably was a couple points higher.
The only way to repeal this would be to place it on the ballot again, which means getting it through the Legislature first. Even if the GOP captures both houses of the legislative branch this fall, I doubt a majority of mainstream Republicans would vote to put it on the ballot. And if they did, could they swing enough voters to repeal it? So why expend political capital on this?
There are other items under Section 8 that irk me, including several restricting public lands. There’s the old reliable “no net gain” of public lands by the DNR, feds, or conservation nonprofits; demanding that all conservation easements have a sunset (taxpayers financing CREP for private landowners should have a say in that); and prohibiting the DNR or Soil and Water Conservation Districts from purchasing land using bonding. That last one hasn’t happened since the Legacy Amendment started financing acquisitions, but it’s still a shot across the bow at public lands.
In the spirit of bipartisan critiquing (this scribe would note he’s already criticized Gov. Tim Walz for skipping the proposed Game Fair debate), the DFL platform has some irritating content, too. On guns of course there’s the usual on background checks and red flag laws in the party’s 2022 “Action Agenda.” It also contained this item: Under “Natural Resources and the Environment,” the final sentence says, “Opposes wolf hunting/trapping including the use of snares, support grant programs to fund farmers’ use of nonlethal prevention methods, fair streamlined reimbursement for livestock losses, and increase public education efforts as to how wolves live.”
There is no reason this state can’t have limited hunting and trapping of wolves. The three seasons that Minnesota hosted a decade ago were a model for how to handle sport harvest of these animals, and when sound science says the population can handle some harvest, there’s no reason not to have seasons again.
Handle what I’ve outlined here however you want. But when a candidate shows up at my door this door-knocking season, I’ll be calling them out and demanding that the parties scrutinize and remove these problems. They may ignore me, but if enough of us sound off, they just might pay attention.