The highlight of the week was the grand opening of the Crow Wing County Milford Mine Memorial Park. We had perfect weather and a great turnout. Many decedents of the 41 miners that lost their lives in the mine disaster were able to attend. The Cuyuna Iron Range Heritage Network provided beverages and treats for the event.
The park provides a wonderful walking tour of the mine site, including details of the rich and sometimes tragic details of the Cuyuna Iron Range’s early history. Locations of the main and auxiliary mine shaft, as well as foundations of mine related buildings remain preserved. Pictures of the miner’s houses are also displayed along the walking path that was once the main street of the tiny Milford community.
Growing up while mining was still active on the Cuyuna, I heard many stories about the Milford Mine. The park provides a perspective of what really happened on that fateful day in February of 1924 when all but 7 of the men on the day shift in the Milford lost their lives. A big thank you to Crow Wing County and area residents that have brought this project to a successful conclusion.
This week, I was also in St. Paul attending a Senate Environmental and Natural Resources Finance Committee Hearing. The Senate committee took testimony on a wide variety of subjects.
A special thanks to Tina Chapman and Karen McQuoid, who provided insight into the lack of transparency by the DNR on a recent decision on walleye harvest quotas on Mille Lacs Lake. The DNR and Great Lakes Indian Fisheries and Wildlife Commission negotiated and reached an agreement on future walleye harvest quota’s in secret this past winter.
The March 31, 2017 agreement decreases the amount of walleyes that will be available to Minnesota sportsmen and women from the traditional 70/30 split to a 50/50 split for harvestable walleyes over the first 64,000 pounds harvested going forward through at least to 2020.
In the interest of helping the lake recover the community has accepted many tough management decisions. In the past there was at least a perception that the governor’s appointed Mille Lac’s Lake Fishery Advisory Group had some input.
It is clear the DNR made this decision without informed input from the citizen’s advisory group.
Going forward it would be in everyone’s best interest that there be more transparency and that informed input be allowed when these kind of decisions are under consideration.
On a more pleasant note, the 2017 Toyota Bassmaster Tournament is currently underway on Mille Lacs Lake this weekend. This huge national event continues to demonstrate that the “Big Lake” has world class recreational opportunities, despite the current rough spot with the walleye fishery.