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Gov. Dayton reports ‘productive talks’ on Mille Lacs fishing dilemma

The governor is considering a special session of the Legislature to provide financial relief to resorts and businesses affected by a closing of the walleye season.

Gov. Mark Dayton met Wednesday with parties involved in the Mille Lacs walleye fishing dilemma and then reported “productive talks” in his quest for a special session of the Legislature to address the issue.

The governor says he’s planning a town hall meeting Friday as he and legislative leaders consider actions to provide some relief to resorts and other businesses on the lake, which was once a premier destination for walleye fishing.

But the DNR plans to close the season soon in an effort to improve the long-term prospects for the species. And that would be a further big hit for the tourism industry in the area, which is already down because of fishing restrictions.

Some possible options for the state include low interest loans and property tax relief, Dayton said today

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House Speaker Kurt Daudt said in a statement that he’s in:

The threat of a shorter walleye season on Mille Lacs is very concerning. I suggested to the governor yesterday that we put together a working group of commissioners, committee chairs and policy experts to meet in the next few days. Together we will examine the problem and determine the best solution.

And two Republican state Senators from the area urged the governor and leaders to seek a long-term solution to the fishing problem.

State Sens. David Brown and Carrie Ruud said in a letter:

We agree that we need to take action, but our only approach should not be temporary, short-term fixes. We need a permanent solution.

The first step toward a permanent solution should be creating, as soon as possible, a working group of commissioners, committee chairs, impacted legislators, tribal leaders, and environment and outdoor experts to study the problem.

With so many of our constituents depending on a healthy, thriving lake for their livelihoods, we would like to be a part of that working group.