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Minnesota Legislature

Parks and trails use modified

Published (5/1/2009)
By Sue Hegarty
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The House Finance Committee approved the House omnibus environment policy bill April 28 after deleting a section that would have renamed the Northshore Trail.

HF1237, sponsored by Rep. Kent Eken (DFL-Twin Valley), includes new regulations regarding state parks, operating watercraft and all-terrain vehicles and dictates when wild rice can be harvested in public waters.

Stricken from the bill on an 11-9 vote was a provision that would have changed the name of the Northshore Trail to the C. J. Ramstad Memorial Trail between Duluth and Two Harbors.

“Somebody’s got to stop and think about criteria,” said Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul), noting thousands of individuals may be worthy of such an honor.

Ramstad was an avid outdoorsman and publisher of snowmobile and ATV magazines. He was killed in an automobile accident in 2007. Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R-Cedar) sponsors HF924 that seeks the name change.

The House Ways and Means Committee will now consider the bill, which includes provisions that:

• delay harvesting of wild rice until Aug. 15;

• allow children under age 12 to ride an off-road motorcycle alone if accompanied by a person age 18 or older;

• allow visitors to purchase multiple-vehicle state park permits;

• eliminate liquor service at John A. Latsch State Park;

• eliminate the need for state park permits for buses carrying students on school-sanctioned visits;

• make it a misdemeanor to pass within 150 feet of a law enforcement watercraft with its emergency lights activated; and

• allow a peace officer to kill a protected wild animal if it poses an immediate threat to public safety.

The bill also modifies the Reinvest in Minnesota conservation program to include protection of environmentally sensitive areas, flood-prone areas and for carbon sequestration.

In addition, beginning Jan. 1, 2012, owners of 1-ton pickup trucks may purchase critical habitat license plates, which may also be personalized.

Sen. Satveer Chaudhary (DFL-Fridley) sponsors a companion, SF1110, which awaits action by the Senate Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Budget Division.

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