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Minnesota Legislature

Recreation statutes amended (new law)

Published (5/29/2009)
By Sue Hegarty
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The omnibus game, fish and forestry law includes new regulations related to fishing and hunting, plus uses for parks and state trails.

Sponsored by Rep. Kent Eken (DFL-Twin Valley) and Sen. Satveer Chaudhary (DFL-Fridley), the law includes several new fishing provisions. For example, people age 90 and older can fish without a license. Known as the “Irene Long Act,” it is named for a 91-year-old Isle woman who lives on a fixed income but enjoys annual fishing. Long’s angling highlight is catching a 43-inch muskie on Lake Mille Lacs.

In addition, lifetime spearing licenses for residents are added to statute and will cost between $173 and $372 depending upon the angler’s age. Bow-fishing for rough fish will also be allowed at night on approved lakes.

Organizing fishing contests becomes easier if additional conditions are met, thereby avoiding the need for a permit. Conditions include: if 25 or fewer boats are competing, if the contest is limited to rough fish or if the total prize value is $500 or less.

School field trips to state parks will be less expensive thanks to a provision that allows buses carrying students on school-sanctioned trips to enter state parks without paying admission.

There was lively debate in a House committee about establishing criteria before naming any more state property after people, yet the Northshore Trail between Duluth and Two Harbors will be renamed in honor of C. J. Ramstad, an outdoor enthusiast and publisher who was killed in a motor vehicle accident. Some female legislators said there is too much disparity between men and women when naming state property.

Backed by the All-Terrain Vehicle Association of Minnesota, there will be new penalties for reckless operation of an ATV. For instance, riding across a wetland will be a gross misdemeanor and upon second offense, could lead to the seizure of the machine by law enforcement.

Minnesota’s state grain, wild rice, can be harvested in public waters, but the earliest date for harvesting shifts from July to Aug. 15 and continues through Sept. 30. Harvesting too early can negatively impact the grain’s ability to reproduce as a perennial crop, according to one lawmaker.

HF1237*/SF1110/CH176

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