Every lakeshore owner, resort operator, angler, hunter and tribal member wants to better understand how Mille Lacs Lake is evolving to ensure a thriving fishery and local economy. But that’s not happening! The state and tribal community’s co-management of Mille Lacs is not working and is, in fact, getting worse.
Leaderless co-management, minimal public involvement and zero accountability have resulted in ambiguous management goals that ignore the local economy and have put our Mille Lacs resources at risk.
It’s time that we focus on enhancing the biological, social and economic factors in and around Mille Lacs and end the uncertainty and short-sightedness of the current management arrangement.
A strong administration dedicated to managing resources, allocated or shared, will never settle for lakes reaching a critical stage. The decline in sport fishing and the massive impact on the local economy are clear evidence that it's time to end management systems and policies that don't work. If we need to try and convince the courts, then so be it.
My administration will appoint a DNR Commissioner committed to developing and managing our state's natural resources, timber, minerals, game and fish for the use and enjoyment of all Minnesota residents. Political agendas originating in St. Paul will end and small town values and local economies will be respected.
We will audit the co-management model of governance and develop a comprehensive management plan for Mille Lacs. This legitimate approach will include input from the tribal community, the local community and the sport angling community. Our plan will clearly identify goals and measure our progress towards achieving them.
The Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee will be redesigned and expanded to include a diverse group of stakeholders whose primary responsibility will be to make sure that management priorities advance both lake health and human well-being.
The DNR will align its data collection and modeling systems to its management system. The Fisheries Technical Committee should confirm the accuracy of the data and modeling to ensure that every management decision is locally informed, evidence based and clearly aligned with the management plan for Mille Lacs.
Ultimately, when it comes to the Mille Lacs fishery and the communities that rely on a healthy lake, innovative and transparent partnerships that bring together experience, conservation and scientific expertise create the best opportunities for success.