Mille Lacs should return to Minnesota authority from Coast Guard | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

Mille Lacs should return to Minnesota authority from Coast Guard

Posted: May 16, 2012 - 8:47pm

Eighth District Rep. Chip Cravaack wants the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to be the agency that oversees the licensing of guides on Mille Lacs Lake. He has introduced the Mille Lacs Lake Freedom to Fish Act in an effort to return the lake to state control.

At present, the United States Coast Guard has authority over certain activities on Mille Lacs Lake. “Currently, the U.S. Coast Guard is forcing all fishing guides, mostly college students, to spend time and money to obtain a federal boating license to bring fishermen out on Mille Lacs Lake. This license and associated costs put fishing guides on the hook for over $2,000,” Cravaack said in a statement made on the state’s fishing opener.

“The bottom line is the cost the federal government is imposing on obtaining the TWIC license for maritime workers and the six-pack certification for captains,” said George Nitti, owner of Nitti’s Hunters Point Resort. Less control from the federal government on Mille Lacs Lake is a good thing. Although I have a masters license, at my age I’m doubtful I could obtain the licensing due to the cost of the coursework,” Nitti stated.

(The Coast Guard regulation of guides does not apply to smaller guide operations that take fewer than six fishermen out at one time, according to Mille Lacs guide Tony Roach.)

“In March 2010, the U.S. Coast Guard ruled that Mille Lacs Lake was a federally navigable body of water, based on historical interstate commerce,” he stated.

That seems to be an extreme overstatement of fact. This is a matter of state’s rights. It’s a matter of overreaching by the federal government to control an inland waterway like Mille Lacs. Further, the DNR already patrols Mille Lacs and the duplication of services is a waste of taxpayer dollars in this already tight economy.

—Keith Hansen