A Saturday night amendment to the state’s game and fish bill means the DNR has to put special walleye regulations in place on Fish Lake, north of Duluth.
The amendment apparently came at the request of state Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, DFL-Fridley, who is chair of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, and who, according to the Duluth News Tribune, owns a cabin on Fish Lake.
The paper said Chaudhary disclosed that to members of the House-Senate conference committee who worked out the bill’s final language, he said. He did not consider his actions a conflict of interest.
The paper also said local Department of Natural Resources fisheries officials didn’t know the Legislature was considering the Fish Lake measure: “This was pretty much a surprise to us,” said Deserae Hendrickson, DNR area fisheries supervisor. “We were not informed that anyone was proposing that.”
Said the paper:
Chaudhary, in a phone interview on Monday, said he didn’t feel comfortable in getting involved with legislation on the matter because he had a cabin on the lake. He said he suggested that local residents get in touch with their legislators.
But [Rep. David] Dill, in a telephone interview Monday, said he had not heard about the matter until Chaudhary approached him during the final days of the Legislature.
“He (Chaudhary) came to me when I was on the House floor presenting the (Game and Fish) bill,” Dill said. “He came to my desk and gave me the amendment and a letter from Dennis Fink, and I put it on my bill … I did it as a courtesy to him.”
The DNR might not be excited about the plan, but it will comply with the legislation.
“As a department, we’re not real excited about having management legislated,” Hendrickson told the paper. “What this does is bypass the public input process. That’s a concern. There’s a reason why we have that process. We’re trying to balance the benefits to all anglers, not just a few.”