Governor Dayton’s Proposal To Bolster Minnesota’s Outdoors

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                        April 2, 2015

Gov. Dayton’s proposals to bolster Minnesota’s outdoors

Minnesota’s outdoors enthusiasts would see significant improvements to the state’s management of fish and wildlife, and to other outdoor recreation programs, under a budget being proposed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

The governor’s proposal would improve fisheries population surveys, create more forest wildlife habitat, help landowners improve grassland and prairie habitat, improve monitoring and management of wildlife populations and create more opportunities to help get kids and families into the outdoors.

“Gov. Dayton’s proposal is an investment,” said Ed Boggess, director of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Fish and Wildlife Division. “He’s asking the Legislature to allow DNR to improve management of fish and wildlife, and enhance enforcement efforts, by using dollars that hunters and anglers have already paid when they purchased a license.”

The proposal would use existing funds from the state’s game and fish fund to improve fish and wildlife populations, habitat, user facilities and access to information that supports those activities. Dayton’s budget seeks $5.4 million in fiscal year 2016, which begins July 1, and $5.1 million in fiscal year 2017.

In addition, those investments would include eligible reimbursements of $6.1 million from federal excise taxes paid on certain types of outdoor gear and marine fuels, reducing the state’s two-year, $10.5 million cost to a net of $4.4 million. None of the dollars would come from the state’s general fund.

Dayton has also proposed to increase the ability of DNR conservation officers to protect natural resources and public safety associated with outdoor recreation. “With two dozen vacant stations across the state, the capacity of conservation officers to serve and protect the outdoor public and resources has diminished significantly,” said Col. Ken Soring, DNR Enforcement Division director.

The governor’s proposal includes $1.004 million in fiscal year 2016 and $1.523 million in fiscal year 2017 from the game and fish and natural resources funds. Funding this initiative will partially restore the DNR’s capacity to provide enhanced resource protection and public safety through education, outreach and delivery of law enforcement services. This funding will be used to hire conservation officers to fill the equivalent of 11 of the 24 vacant field stations over the biennium.

“Fishing and hunting are important parts of Minnesota’s heritage,” Boggess said. “The dollars anglers and hunters spend to hunt and fish in Minnesota are the primary funding source for fish and wildlife management and the quality outdoor experiences Minnesota offers.”

Fishing and hunting are important economic drivers for Minnesota. The activities generate $3.2 billion in annual retail expenditures and support 48,000 jobs, according to the most-recent economic survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Minnesota’s high-quality fishing and hunting opportunities attract 1.5 million licensed anglers and 580,000 licensed hunters, including 300,000 non-residents and their families who visit Minnesota each year to fish and hunt.

“Conservation funding is a financial model that works,” Boggess said. “Hunters and anglers pay to participate. DNR reinvests those dollars so fish, wildlife, habitat and all Minnesotans benefit.”

Increased funding provided by the governor’s fish and wildlife budget proposal would:

  • Allow fisheries staff to better manage lakes, streams and rivers by conducting more population and creel surveys that provide necessary data to make wise, science-based management decisions.
  • Provide better delivery of services that help landowners in southern and western Minnesota create much-needed grassland and prairie habitat.
  • Develop more opportunities and provide skill-building programs for youth, adults and families so they become active anglers and hunters.
  • Provide more information about the best way to manage Minnesota’s 5,000 shallow lakes, which are less than 15 feet deep, contain a significant amount of aquatic plants, and provide important wildlife habitat.
  • Create improved habitat for moose, grouse, pine marten and other forest wildlife.
  • Expand shooting range access and the number of ranges for archery and firearms.
  • Improve the quality, availability and usability of information in online and mobile tools such as the DNR’s Fish Minnesota (www.mndnr.gov/fishmn) and Recreation Compass (www.mndnr.gov/mobile/compass).
  • Improve aquatic habitat monitoring and management.
  • Maintain long-term monitoring of how key lakes change as the climate warms, so that data collected can be used to make future fish and aquatic habitat management decisions in a changing environment.
  • Allow wildlife researchers to investigate the impact of contaminants on grouse and pheasants.
  • Provide funding for necessary wildlife research on prairie chickens, grouse, waterfowl, pheasants, furbearers, bear, wolf, squirrel, elk, deer and moose.
  • Improve facilities such as parking lots and accesses on wildlife and aquatic management areas.

Increased funding provided by the governor’s enforcement budget proposal would:

  • Protect habitat (water, air, wetlands, vegetation).
  • Ensure sustainable harvest of resources.
  • Increase quality of life by ensuring safe and equitable outdoor experiences.
  • Recruit and train youth and adults in outdoor activities.
  • Support economic opportunities, ensuring commercial activities are conducted in sustainable manner.
  • Respond to citizen calls for service, search and rescue, and natural disasters.

“Abundant, healthy fish and wildlife populations and habitats are the foundation for healthy outdoor recreation,” Boggess said. “Gov. Dayton’s funding proposals assure that the high quality opportunities for fish and wildlife recreation that Minnesota enjoys will continue.”

More information about why and how DNR spends its fish and wildlife dollars is available online atwww.mndnr.gov/licensedollars.

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