Local voices will be heard in St. Paul on Monday.
A rally in support of the game and fish license fee increase proposal before the Legislature is scheduled at 10:30 a.m. Monday at the state Capitol Rotunda in St. Paul. Fishing icon Al Lindner of Lindner’s Angling Edge in Baxter will be the guest host and Baxter’s Greg Kvale of Anglers for Habitat is a rally organizer.
Lindner will be joined by Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, who authored the bill, and Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, who chairs the House environment committee, who are scheduled guests.
According to the DNR, the bill was dealt a blow Tuesday when an attempt to amend the fee bill language into the Senate game and fish policy bill failed on a floor vote. At that point, Ingebrigtsen — as author — tabled the bill. The DNR expects the bill to be revisited in the Senate early this coming week.
Under the amendment, a resident individual fishing license would go from $17 to $22, a small game license from $19 to $22 and a deer hunting license from $26 to $30. Nonresident hunting and fishing licenses also would go up. License fees haven’t been raised since 2001.
The increases would bring in about $11 million for the DNR’s Game and Fish Fund, which the DNR said would go into the red next year without the increases, forcing cutbacks by the agency. Among other things, the fund pays for fish stocking and enforcement and management of wildlife areas.
According to an email from the DNR, “The primary bill that is now in play is HF 2171, in both the House and Senate. This is the House game and fish policy bill that was passed and sent to the Senate; the Senate has now amended HF2171 to include the Senate game and fish policy language in the Senate version of HF2171. The Senate version of HF2171 is where they attempted to amend in the fees before the bill was tabled. The other fee bills (as introduced) were SF2490 and HF2951.”
For more information on Monday’s rally, call Anglers for Habitat at (612) 756-3474.
A proposal to move the Minnesota fishing opener up a week — from May 12 to May 5 — as well as a proposed wolf hunting season and tighter restrictions on body-gripping traps also are part of the large game and fish bill and also are in jeopardy after the bill stumbled Tuesday.
A decision on funding for the Mississippi River Northwoods Habitat Complex project near Brainerd also is expected from lawmakers in the coming days.
In late September, the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council voted to recommend more than $14 million for the purchase of 1,988 acres just north of the Brainerd airport from the Potlatch Corporation so as to get the land into public ownership and protect it from development. The property features more than two miles of pristine, undeveloped shoreline along the Mississippi River and numerous natural resources and related opportunities.
The House Legacy bill calls for only $7 million in funding; the Senate version funds the entire $14 million.