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Monday, July 22nd, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Monday, July 22nd, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Is carp deterrent coming to Minnesota waters of the Mississippi? More funding might just be available

The LSOHC is having a meeting on Tuesday, March 26, to discuss an additional $12 million entering the Outdoor Heritage Fund following the February state budget forecast. One of the biggest discussion points will be on the opportunity to fund a carp deterrent at Lock and Dam 5 on the Mississippi River in southeastern Minnesota. (Photo courtesy of Minnesota DNR)

St. Paul — The 2024 Minnesota legislative session is about a month old and, so far, there’s been no hearings or discussions regarding a bill relating to a carp deterrent at Lock and Dam 5 on the Mississippi River, even though it was a hot topic leading into the session.

But later this month, there’s a potential way to get the design and construction of the deterrent funded this session.

It’s not coming from the bonding bill, but potentially from the Legacy funding as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. The council learned it has an additional $12 million after the February state budget forecast came out, so the LSOHC is having a meeting on Tuesday, March 26, to decide where that $12 million should go.

On the March 26 agenda, there’s an item that describes discussion on “additional funding recommendations – Mississippi River invasive carp deterrents and management.”

This item has provided a hopeful sign to advocacy groups that are supporting a deterrent at Lock and Dam 5.

“It appears there is some support on the council to get the deterrent done,” said Whitney Clark, executive director of Friends of the Mississippi River.

RELATED COVERAGE FROM OUTDOOR NEWS:

Minnesota DNR releases updated Invasive Carp Action Plan

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Clark added the $12 million would be enough to design and install the deterrent, but he’s taking the process step by step.

He also said there’s been conversations about a federal agency taking the money and being in charge of creating this deterrent. Agencies like U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey could be the lead for this project rather than requiring the DNR to own its operation.

Nothing has been finalized and more information will come March 26, but supporters call it a sign in the right direction.

Clark said there’s still discussion happening about using bonding dollars to fund the deterrent, but budget targets haven’t been set. Discussions between advocacy groups and Minnesota legislators continue.

Tribal bills

The House environment committee heard House File 3651, authored by Rep. Alicia Kozlowski, DFL-Duluth, and House File 3783, also authored by Kozlowski, on Tuesday, March 12. The Senate Environment, Climate, and Legacy Committee heard Senate File 3693, authored by Sen. Grant Hauschild, DFL-Hermantown, and Senate File 3557, authored by Sen. Mary Kunesh, DFL-New Brighton, on Thursday, March 14.

HF 3651 and SF 3693 relate to Chippewa bands and 1854 Treaty agreements. Originally, the bill included language about Chippewa bands establishing an independent open hunting season if the DNR commissioner didn’t establish a big-game season.

That language has now been removed from the bill via an amendment that was passed in both the House and Senate this past week. Bob Meier, DNR assistant commissioner, said that language isn’t “ready for prime time.”

“So, they passed a bill last year that said (the DNR) needed to update the 1854 Treaty agreement with (the tribes),” Meier said. “In discussions, we had talked about a concept to deal with the issue of the state not having a moose season and somehow that got put into the bill inadvertently.”

Now, the biggest change to the bill is the Chippewa bands seeking annual payments instead of one-time payments. The payments for 2024 and 2025 would be $3 million each year, according to the bill language.

“With the 1854 Treaty area, we rely on that area for our hunting and fishing and gathering rights,” said Cathy Chavers, chair of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. “It was 6 million acres when it first started and now we’re down to about 20% usage of that area, but the base payment … has not been increased at all since its inception in the 1980s.”

HF 3783 and SF 3557 relate to tax-forfeited land that includes land within boundaries of Indian reservations required to be offered up to the affected bands before being offered for sale to other parties.

There was agreement as well as opposition from those who testified at the committee meeting. Robert Deschampe, chair of Grand Portage Band and April McCormick, secretary/treasurer of Grand Portage band, spoke in favor of the bill.

David Geray, Mahnomen County commissioner, and Richard Vareberg, Becker County commissioner, were a couple of people who spoke against the bill along with a handful of others. The two of them were concerned that land being purchased by the tribe will go tax exempt.

This means the properties purchased won’t be placed on tax rolls and would therefore increase the property tax burden for others to maintain infrastructure in the various counties and cities. Another point made was this new bill language wouldn’t allow previous owners from purchasing property they lost through the tax-forfeiture process.

Both bills were laid over for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill in both the House and Senate.

Native rough fish bill

Native rough fish have received a lot of attention this session because the DNR completed its native rough fish report last December. There are two bills in both the House and Senate that involve native rough fish.

One is within the DNR game and fish bill and the other is a standalone native rough fish bill that has similar language.

House File 4015, authored by Rep. Sydney Jordan, DFL-Minneapolis, and Senate File 4898, authored by Sen. John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, are the standalone native rough fish bills. The bills basically add “native” in front of “rough fish” or it separates “native rough fish” from “game fish.”

Brad Gausman, executive director for the Minnesota Conservation Federation, said he’s excited to see the native rough fish language coming through the Legislature and have bipartisan support. He believes that this bill could help other states pass something similar in the future and protect native rough fish.

“It would be kind of nation-leading recognition of these types of fish for what the legislation does,” Gausman said. “First of its kind has been thrown around in our coalition from people that look broader than Minnesota at the health of these fish.”

SF 4898 was passed by the Senate environment committee March 18 and was referred to the State and Local Government Committee. HF 4015 was heard in the House environment committee. The bill has bipartisan support, thus allowing for a quicker process through the committees.

DNR game and fish bill

House File 4420, authored by Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, and Senate File 4142, authored by Sen. Foung Hawj, DFL-St. Paul, are the DNR game and fish bills. There are a few key concepts to the bill and some include the native rough fish language, elk management, and taxidermy regulations.

The elk management language was brought up in a Senate environment committee a couple weeks ago and received some opposition from Sen. Steve Green, R-Fosston. He was concerned that the DNR can increase elk herd populations more freely with the changes to the bill.

The native rough fish portion is similar language to the bill outlined earlier in this story. The taxidermy portion includes new waste disposal regulations for licensed taxidermists as well as additional rules for importing Cervidae carcasses.

SF 4142 was passed by a Senate environment committee March 11 and was referred to the State and Local Government Committee. HF 4420 is waiting for a hearing at the House environment committee.

Other bills

• House File 4939 (Mike Wiener, R-Long Prairie)/Senate File 4916 (Sen. Nathan Wesenberg, R-Little Falls): The bill would require an open season for moose during any year that there’s an open season for elk.

• No House File/Senate File 5009 (Wesenberg): This bill would modify last year’s session requirements on cervidae fencing requirements. It would remove language that requires fencing to prevent physical contact between the farmed cervidae and free-roaming cervidae. It would also allow owners to fix fences from escaped animals within 45 days and not 14 days.

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