It has been a busy week, with several trips to St. Paul. Monday afternoon a citizen’s delegation from the Mille Lacs Lake area met with the chairs of the House and Senate Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee, Assistant DNR Commissioners and Mille Lacs Lake area state legislators.
The discussion centered around the direct connection between the economic and social health of the community and health of the walleye fishery on Mille Lacs Lake. Topics included the current fishery management structure, the downward trend in property market values around the lake, drop in school district enrollments and the toll the economic impact is having on the overall health and social fabric of the community.
As we have learned, there is nothing easy about resolving the economic issues caused by the current status of the fishery. This discussion highlighted the fact that the health of our community is directly tied to the health and wise management of the lake. This dialogue will continue and sets the stage for possible legislative action in 2018.
Tuesday the Aggregate Task Force met to discuss a draft report to the Legislature. While the DNR has detailed knowledge of our water, forest and metallic and non-metallic mineral resources, knowledge of our aggregate natural resources is somewhat limited.
The report will outline the need to complete mapping the gravel, sand and cut stone natural resources across Minnesota. Currently, only 27 of the 87 counties in Minnesota have been mapped. Without an accurate knowledge of these resources, land use decisions can have serious long term negative consequences to the cost of both public and private sector construction costs.
Thursday included a work session on a strategic plan for the Office of the School Trust Lands. The office was created to better focus management of the 2.5 million acres of land and 3.5 million acres of mineral rights that make up school trust lands. Those lands exist for the purpose of generating revenue for our K-12 public education system. Frankly, Minnesota has not done the best possible job in carrying out that state constitutional mandate. This effort will help correct that.
Please be cautious if venturing out on the ice. The recent tragic loss of life in our area is a stark reminder of how unforgiving winter ice can be.