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Forest Service announces 13 percent cut in entry permits to Boundary Waters for 2022

Plus: proof-of-vaccine mandate applies to only one-third of St. Paul restaurants; longtime state Rep. Carlos Mariani won’t seek re-election; rent control debate taking shape on Minneapolis Council; and more.

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a 1.1 million square-mile region with 1,600 lakes.
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is 1.1 million acres with 1,600 lakes.

Says the Star Tribune’s Tony Kennedy: “Some 23,000 fewer people will be allowed to enter the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) this year under a 13% reduction in the availability of entry permits, the U.S. Forest Service announced Thursday. The quota reduction — the first sizable change in access to the BWCA since 2011 — is intended to remedy complaints about crowding and resource damage that took off in 2020 and continued last year. The surge in visitation has coincided with the overall boom in outdoor recreation related to the coronavirus pandemic. The Forest Service first signaled its intent to cut entry quotas about a month ago.”

For Bring Me The News, Joe Nelson writes, “The National Weather Service continues to refine its snowfall forecast for Friday’s winter storm, and it has now unveiled city-specific forecasts for numerous locations that will be impacted by the storm. … While southwest Minnesota remains under the gun for the most snow, amounts could vary greatly across the Twin Cities.”

In the Pioneer Press, Mara H. Gottfried writes: “St. Paul’s mandate requiring patrons of bars and restaurants to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test is not as far-reaching as Minneapolis’it applies to all bars, but only about one-third of restaurants, city officials said Thursday. The difference between St. Paul’s and Minneapolis’ rules comes down to licensing. Restaurants in St. Paul are licensed by the Minnesota Department of Health, while in Minneapolis they’re licensed by the city. St. Paul can only enforce rules for businesses it has licensing power over, said Suzanne Donovan, Department of Safety and Inspections spokeswoman, on Thursday,”

For the Duluth News Tribune, Alex Derosier reports, “As a surge of COVID-19 infections strains school staffing and sends students home sick, Minnesota school districts returning to distance learning appear to be among the minority for now. Rochester, Minneapolis and several Twin Cities-area school districts on Wednesday, Jan. 12, announced plans to return to online learning.… After seeing negative impacts on learning and student mental health during sustained periods of distance learning over the pandemic, going back online is a move school leaders in Greater Minnesota are still reluctant to take.”

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Also from the Pioneer Press: “A longtime Minnesota state legislator from St. Paul will not seek reelection in 2022, as the number of lawmakers who plan to step aside continues to grow. DFL Rep. Carlos Mariani was first elected in 1990 by the voters of District 65B, which includes downtown, as well as the West Side and West Seventh neighborhoods. Now serving his 16th term in the Legislature, Mariani chairs the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee.”

At the Star Tribune, Faiza Mahamud reports: “The debate over rent control started to take shape at the Minneapolis City Council this week, with five council members expressing support for a 3% cap on rent hikes, one council member raising the idea of a second referendum and the council gearing up to form a rent control work group. Council Members Elliott Payne, Robin Wonsley Worlobah, Jason Chavez, Aisha Chughtai and Jeremiah Ellison, said they want to create a hard cap on rents similar to St. Paul’s, though they would allow for inflation. Meanwhile, Council Member Andrew Johnson wants to see the council draft a policy that can be on the ballot this fall.”

At KMSP-TV, Nick Longworth says, “The fate of a warehouse once purchased by the state for possible COVID-related morgue storage has been determined. Pending approval from the Saint Paul Port Authority Board of Directors, Soldier Trucking will purchase the building located at 1415 L’Orient Street in St. Paul from the St. Paul Port Authority, and with it bring more than 100 jobs. Soldier Trucking is a veteran-owned transportation company that focuses on logistical hauling of items such as bread, auto parts and fine-mile services for companies such as Alpha Bakery, Baldinger Bakery, Chick-fil-A, Costco and Amazon.”

For KSTP-TV, Callan Gray reports: “A COVID-19 testing company with several locations in the Twin Cities has now suspended operations for a week after the Better Business Bureau dropped the company’s rating to and ‘F’ due to growing complaints. The BBB Minnesota-North Dakota office joined an investigation into the Center for COVID Control on Monday. According to BBB Chicago spokesperson Thomas Johnson, ‘BBB is actively looking into an influx of multiple complaints that have been coming in regarding this ‘F-rated’ business. The company has been unresponsive to the BBB inquiring about the complaints.’ Customers have reported not getting test results, getting inaccurate test results, paying money for expedited results but not receiving them and a lack of response from the company when inquiring about results, according to Johnson.”

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