Legislators want DNR to reopen Mille Lacs to walleye fishing

Wikimedia Commons/Todd Murray
Large walleye statue at Mille Lacs in Garrison, Minnesota

When in doubt, or under pressure, do nothing. Kyle Potter of the AP reports, “Minnesota lawmakers pumped the brakes Wednesday on Gov. Mark Dayton’s call for a special session to aid Mille Lacs Lake businesses hurting from the early closure of walleye fishing season, instead suggesting a different solution: Re-open the lake to walleye fishing.”

In the Strib, Patrick Coolican says, “Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, and Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, repeatedly told Commissioner Tom Landwehr of the Department of Natural Resources that the quickest relief for resort owners in the area would be to re-open walleye season. They encouraged Landwehr to begin negotiating with eight bands, with whom the state has an agreement about the walleye quota stemming from a 1837 treaty and 1999 U.S. Supreme Court case. … Any move by the state to blow through the quota would likely be viewed dimly by tribal communities.”

Like D.C. is some kind Eden in August. Chelsea Harvey of The Washington Post says, “As you enter Redwood City, Calif., you may notice a sign with a curious slogan printed on it: ‘Climate best by government test.’ Having the best climate is a bold boast, and the sign got climate scientist Ken Caldeira of Stanford University’s Carnegie Institute of Science thinking about how he might test the town’s claim to fame. His research, published this week in the journal Scientific Reports, indicates which city may actually have the nicest climate — and which city could take the title in the next 100 years if humans fail to curb carbon emissions and mitigate climate change. Researchers found that, as of now, Minneapolis is the least comfortable city temperature-wise, meaning it has the highest number of combined heating and cooling degree days. Residents of San Diego are more lucky — that city is the most comfortable.”

If they attack his Paris pied-a-terre or his Monte Carlo penthouse they’ll have gone too far. The KSTP-TV story says, “Police in southwest Florida say vandals spray painted the words ‘lion killer’ on the garage door of the vacation home owned by a Minnesota dentist who has been identified as the hunter who killed Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe. Marco Island police Capt. David Baer says the vandals also left at least seven pickled pigs’ feet on the driveway of Walter Palmer’s $1.1 million home. Baer says police have opened an investigation.” And who killed the pigs?

How miserable is Minnesota’s economy? So bad, according to a story by Ricardo Lopez of the Strib, that, “Standard & Poor’s boosted Minnesota’s debt rating outlook to ‘positive’ Wednesday, immediately ahead of the state’s sale of $1 billion in general obligation bonds. The improved rating from ‘stable’ is the result of the ‘state’s payment of its deferred liabilities and improved structural balance alignment,’ Standard & Poor’s said, according to a statement by the Minnesota Management and Budget Office.”

The PiPress story, by David Montgomery, says, “Years after a 2011 government shutdown and budget shifts and gimmicks caused Minnesota to lose its top credit rating, it’s very slowly starting to earn back investors’ trust. Should Minnesota return to a triple-A bond rating, the state could save millions of dollars in lower interest payments over the 20-year lifespan of a bond. Some other units of government that don’t have their own credit ratings also benefit when the state improves its rating.” Not that we didn’t all love a good gimmick, you understand.

Five minutes you won’t be able to gamble in Minnesota. Says the AP: “Minnesota Lottery officials are working to suspend contracts with vendors in order to end online, gas pump and ATM games by the end of the month. Lottery officials plan to stop selling lottery tickets at gas pumps and ATMs by Aug. 29 and online by Aug. 31. Those dates come about a month before the deadline set by the Legislature to end the games … .”

He’s completely reformed. KPRC-TV in Houston says, “Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had his probation stemming from a child abuse case in Montgomery County terminated by a judge. KPRC 2 has learned that a judge signed an order to terminate Peterson’s deferred adjudication because the judge and Peterson’s probation officer believe Peterson has fulfilled all the terms of his probation.”

But will it get here before next winter’s human flu vaccine? Tom Cherveny of the Grand Forks Herald says, “Congressman Collin Peterson is expecting an announcement this week, perhaps as early as today, that a trial vaccine is as effective against avian influenza in turkeys as earlier tests have shown it to be for chickens. If the vaccine proves to be nearly 100 percent effective, producers in the hard hit states of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and South Dakota may be authorized to use it on a limited basis as early as this fall … .”

This might be one of those indicators for people/companies who have too much money. The AP says, “After easily securing a second term as Minnesota governor, Democrat Mark Dayton landed sizable checks toward his early-January inauguration, including some from corporations whose leaders favored the GOP nominee in the race. Donations to his inaugural committee — many of which were several times the contribution limit for candidates before elections — totaled $195,000, according to a report recently filed with the Internal Revenue Service. An analysis by The Associated Press shows that nine donors gave at least $10,000, and about 85 percent of the contributions came in after the inaugural events.”

Also out of state government, WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler says, “A top state Republican leader is calling for Minnesota House hearings into the actions of the Democratic state auditor. This is after a WCCO investigation discovered county auditors who accuse State Auditor Rebecca Otto of pressuring them into long-term audit contracts with her office, even though a new state law allows them to hire private audit firms starting next year. The letter directs 59 Minnesota counties to sign a three-year contract with the state auditor. County auditors say they are perplexed by the letter, which they say came without warning, and has a deadline of Aug. 21, 2015 to sign.”

I know you’re as shocked as I am. Beatrice Dupuy of the Strib says, “Minneapolis inspectors plan to do spot checks of Uber and Lyft after new data showed that drivers for the online ride-hailing companies are more likely to reject customers on the North Side. City business license manager Grant Wilson said city officials will pose as ‘secret shoppers’ to test Uber and Lyft in underserved areas of the city. Wilson made the decision after reviewing new information revealing that drivers for these ride-hailing services tend to prefer high-traffic and high-profit areas, like downtown, and are less likely to venture to north Minneapolis.” 

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Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/06/2015 - 08:18 am.

    Re-open the lake to walleye fishing

    The Ojibwa have as much as admitted that their gill netting is the cause of the problem by promising to quit the practice in 2016. If anyone believes the “climate change” excuse I’ve got a bridge to sell you. If it was the cause, why do we have plenty of walleye in the other lakes?

    Get our great protectors of the environment to start their gill netting ban early and permit angling as the only means of fishing. That would do more to solve the economic meltdown than anything else the government could do.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 08/06/2015 - 10:17 am.

      Hmm

      I don’t suppose those angler introduced invasives have anything to do with it right? So silly, instead of looking in the mirror, anglers (most of whom haven’t the barest knowledge of lake biology) pass the buck to the nearest easy target. Mille Lacs is dead as a walleye factory, it’s never coming back, no matter what actions are taken, climate change and zebra mussels have seen to that. What should be done is to prop up the economy as the resorts transition to a bass and musky sport fishery. If they were smart they’d have done this years ago, but traditions and attitudes are hard to change.

      • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 08/06/2015 - 11:38 am.

        There are no doubt multiple sources of the problem, but…

        …I doubt switching to the promotion of other species would help much.

        People like to fish for walleye because for one thing, it’s relatively easy – park your boat in the right place, drop your hook and line with a leech. You’ve got a good shot at pulling up a walleye. That’s why they have (or in the past, HAVE had) those excursion boats loaded down with “fishermen”, who use the boat’s equipment, who drop bait provided by the boat, in the location the boat drives them to – they’ll even bait your hook for you !!

        But muskie and bass are another matter entirely, much more difficult and crafty prey, and not amenable to mass fishing by groups as described above in the case of walleye. Have you seen a muskie lure ?? Yikes, they are HUGE !! I wouldn’t want to be in a boat where a bunch of amateurs are swinging those things around.

        I realize there are people who are accomplished fishermen and have no need of these resort-supplied excursion affairs, and they can take care of themselves and their fishing just fine. I realize some of these folks are customers of the resorts, especially if they’ve come a long way to fish Mille Lacs. But I think a lot of the fishermen are people from Minnesota who make it a day trip, and are minimalist customers of resorts or hotels in the area.

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 08/06/2015 - 01:47 pm.

          All that is 100% correct

          Which is why they need to adapt their model. Excursion boats are probably a thing of the past, but promoting the lake as THE destination for trophy bass and muskies is not. Management to that effect would be necessary of course, but the days are probably gone where a drive up crowd from the Cities can be relied on to fill the coffers. If die hards aren’t the target now, they need to be. Also, it’s not as if walleye are going to disappear from the lake entirely, it’s just that they will be on a level with most lakes, and won’t be able to be counted on to drive the entire lake economy.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 08/06/2015 - 11:12 am.

      Where’s the bridge

      and how much do you want? I’m smelling a deal here.

      • Submitted by Matt Haas on 08/06/2015 - 11:40 am.

        I dont know what you mean

        But the economic effect of this issue could be considered a natural disaster, whatever the cause. We routinely reimburse communities for things like floods and tornadoes, I don’t see why something similar is out of the question here. The area depends on the lake for its economy, giving them time to retool for a new reality doesn’t strike me as unreasonable.

  2. Submitted by kelly barnhill on 08/06/2015 - 09:31 am.

    gill netting is not the heart of the problem

    With respect, Mr. Tester, it’s not over-fishing that has gotten us into this mess (though that has for sure happened in other lakes – see Red Lake). The problem lies with the the Walleye themselves who have decided to start eating their young. And the young fish aren’t able to make it to full adulthood, aren’t able to breed, and the numbers keep going down. This has been happening, by the way, since the 80’s and we’re only just addressing it now. The theory is that this mass-cannibalization is partially due to the decline of perch and ciscoes, but no one is really sure. Here’s a good article that lays out the core of the problem: http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_28577921/dayton-return-mille-lacs-after-dark-day-walleye

    It’s not gill-netting that’s the problem: the walleye have just gone nuts. And if we don’t figure out why and try to reverse this behavior, they will eat themselves out of Mil Lacs.

    Now, I do agree with you that if we stopped gill netting – and everything, all fishing – and all interested parties sat down, the tribes and the DNR and angler organizations, and shared information and knowledge and came together on a cohesive plan, it would be far more effective than having different rules for different groups. But sometimes that’s not possible. The DNR has a responsibility to effect protection and change within the limits of their jurisdiction, and I support those efforts.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 08/06/2015 - 11:49 am.

      I think

      Many forces are to blame.
      A massive disruption at the bottom of the food chain in the form of a billion filter feeding mollusks, not to mention disruption at the zooplankton level in the form of spiny water fleas. Water clarity effects from said billion mollusks on what is a very shallow lake for it’s size affecting plant growth and providing more cover for prey species. Walleye’s generally narrow prey selection as opposed to more generalist competitors like smallmouths and muskies.
      None of which are caused by netting, none of which has a clear cut, easy solution. But then, it’s much easier to yell at some people you don’t like anyway, and pretend punishing said folks will make everything OK again.

  3. Submitted by Dan Berg on 08/06/2015 - 01:15 pm.

    Invasives and compensation

    It amazes me that we in Minnesota pretend to worry about the health of our waters and yet refuse to be inconvenienced at all in order to protect them. The fretting over closing of Mille Lacs is childish. The resort owners have made their livelihood for decades based on the use of a shared natural resource. This activity has destroyed the basis of that income both by over-fishing and the introduction of invasive species. They deserve no compensation as it is a result of conscious human activity from which they benefited, not a natural disaster. Like all businesses they need to adapt to new conditions or cease to exist.

    With invasive we should basically not allow boats to be be used in both affected and clean waters, period. The state should provide a boat license that is keyed to being used on waters with, muscles, milfoil, both or clean. In order to change your license you would need to bring the boat to a certified station for cleaning. The irrational reverence for hunting and fishing there seems to be in this state isn’t worth the destruction of our ecosystem.

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