Governor Tim Walz Budgets State Funds For MN DNR
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MN-FISH "Governor Walz Proposed Budget State May Provide DNR Project Funding News Releases January 26, 2023

Truthfully, 40 years as a professional angler doesn’t merit much more than a pat on the back for sticktoitiveness. But, it did help set me up with a skill set that would likely qualify me for a position as a “Fishing Club Historian”, if there was such a thing. That’s funny too because I hated history in school, I thought it was boring and that my teachers were trying to cram a bunch of useless dates and names into my fuzz covered skull.

These days I love history, and I get why some of my past teachers thought it was so important. Because without knowing about the stuff that’s happened before, there’s no way to fully understand the stuff that is going to happen in the future. ¬†

Take fishing organizations for example; during my time in the industry, I’ve seen dozens of them come and go. In fact, I’ve been involved with quite a few of them, sometimes holding relatively prominent positions. One thing that all those organizations have had in common is that they’ve disappeared. That’s right, the pattern has repeated itself, repeatedly. Somebody gets the idea to start a fishing group or coalition, it gets some folks fired up and at first, it goes like gangbusters. Most of them have lasted for a year or two, and then they fizzle out.

The reasons that these organizations have burned out vary, sometimes the “team leaders” realize the commitment it takes to keep the organization running is simply too great. Sometimes the leadership lacks a vision that appeals to a wide enough audience and the group’s membership fails to attain critical mass. Other times there just isn’t enough money or volunteer help to allow the group’s goals to be achieved.

After all that failure, you’d think I would be turned off by the notion of joining another one, but back in March of 2019, I did.

The reason I decided to give MN-FISH, the upstart fishing organization a whirl, was because I noticed something “bigger and better” happening with them. The coalition was big, and the list of board members was impressive, this newly formed group actually had a chance to succeed, I thought. So I chose to pony up $250 of my hard earned cash to join it as a life member.

I wrote about my decision to join at the time, and as the self-appointed club historian, preserved the entire article in the FishRapper archives. Don’t worry, the documents are not classified, so you can get your free history lesson right now by following the link to this report >> "MN-FISH Sportfishing Coalition, Leading the Lead-Able" March 22, 2019

To be honest, there were a couple of seasons when I’d check the website, and my email inbox hoping for signs of momentum. When I couldn’t notice that there was much going on, I began to worry that history might be repeating itself again. But last spring, at the 1st annual “Sportfishing Summit”, the coalition’s commitment to improving fishing in Minnesota became much more apparent. Somehow, they managed to get representations including everybody from the bait store clerk to the governor. In other words, if there was anybody in the state who could do anything to help improve our state’s fishing, they were there.

There were a lot of things talked about at that gathering, but the overriding thrust of that summit was to drill into everybody’s head, the importance of directing monies from the state’s general funds to MN DNR projects, specifically in this instance, crumbling boat ramps, fish hatcheries and other DNR managed infrastructure. One highlight of the summit happened when Ron Schara, president of MN-FISH, got Governor Tim Walz to publicly commit to budgeting state funding for some of these DNR projects.

So, what’s the big deal about that, you’re wondering. Well, the big deal is that to date, Minnesota’s DNR receives $0 dollars in state funding. They have depended entirely on sporting license sales, along with stipends from a federal sporting goods tax. So, if they were actually able to accomplish this goal, MN-Fish might be the first organization that could point to a full-scale, bigtime win for Minnesota anglers.

Yesterday, a news release came over the wire and in it, an announcement that Governor Walz did in fact include $110 million in the budget for the aforementioned DNR projects.

“This is huge news,” said MN-Fish executive director Mark Holsten. “The main goal of MN-FISH since it was launched was to work on behalf of Minnesota anglers and improve the quality of fishing throughout the state. From day one, several members of the state’s fishing community have volunteered to bring anglers’ voices to the state capitol through the organization MN-FISH, and it is working.”

The news release came to me in the form of an email, and to date, I can’t find a link to it on the MN-FISH website. I’m sure how to share the contents of the email effectively on this page. But if you’d like the original email forwarded to you, I can do that, just use the contact information below to let me know and I’ll send it over.

Now this is just the first step, no money goes anywhere with legislative approval. So, for now, we’ll have to wait and follow the story as it unfolds. Stay tuned for updates as they become available. And if you have a few minutes, check out the MN-FISH website and see if their message makes sense to you; this might be a group you can support. fish smiley image — Jeff Sundin 218-245-9858 or EMAIL

Jeff Sundin is a full time fishing guide, outdoor writer and photographer. Learn about guided fishing trips and more, click >> More About Jeff Sundin.