ST. PAUL — Rep. John Ward’s bill to stop the spread of invasive species was incorporated into the larger Environment Omnibus Policy bill that the Minnesota House passed Thursday.
Ward said he voted for the omnibus bill even though he had reservations that it was not restrictive enough in terms of protecting Minnesota’s waters.
“I’m not ... a tree hugger,” he said. “I certanly am and always have been someone who knows we need to take care of environment and resources.”
Ward unsuccessfully tried to set his bill apart from any controversial aspects of the omnibus environment bill or pass it alone.
Ward’s suggestion to name the walking and biking bridge over Excelsior Road in Baxter the Terry McGaughey Memorial Bridge was incorporated into the author’s amendment.
“The aquatic invasive species portion of this bill has received broad bipartisan support, and I’m pleased it passed today,” Ward said. “By preventing the spread of these invasive species we can protect our lakes, streams, and rivers, and preserve our natural resources for our future generations.”
The language incorporated from Ward’s bill would authorize the DNR to conduct more thorough watercraft inspections and enforcement, enforce penalties for violations, and require training and permitting for lake service providers. It would also streamline the process of obtaining permits for large-scale control of invasive aquatic plants.
“Protecting our natural resources also means protecting our tourism industry, “ Ward said.