From the 3/4/11 Duluth News Tribune
“State Land Bill is Egregious anti-Hunting Legislation”
David A. Lien
Hunters, anglers and other outdoors enthusiasts are concerned about a bill the State House Environment Committee is considering. It's HF332, the "No Net Increase in State Land" bill. It would deprive sportsmen and sportswomen of the incalculable benefits of public-hunting lands and other lands. In a nutshell, the bill is nothing short of anti-hunting legislation. "(The bill) would prohibit any net increase in the acreage of state-owned land," Rob Drieslein, editor of Outdoor News, wrote this month. "(Lawmakers) need to hear from sportsmen in their district that this bill threatens current and future hunting land in Minnesota."
Northern Minnesota outdoorsman Shawn Perich's thoughts mirror those of many sportsmen and sportswomen on the proposed legislation. "It is hard to see how the state would be well served by a 'no net gain' law to require land sales any time the state acquires more property," he said in Outdoor News. "What land would we sell? Maybe state forest property that supplies raw materials for the timber industry? A wildlife area purchased with donations from a local Pheasants Forever chapter? Or, what the heck, should we turn over one of our state parks to Disney?
"What about the often-heard argument the state already owns more land than it can afford to manage? It's baloney," Perich continued. "What those who make the argument about the cost of land management fail to consider is the financial benefits to the state derived from public lands - which range from lucrative mineral leases to the economic impact of the state's 500,000 licensed hunters." Howard Ward, a founding member of the Blue Earth County chapter of Pheasants Forever, an organization that has raised and donated thousands to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for the acquisition of Wildlife Management Area lands, also disapproves of legislatively mandated land divestitures.
"Members go out and work hard to solicit prizes and raise cash to buy (Wildlife Management Area lands); it's hard for them to see the Legislature mandate that these parcels be sold..." "It's not right. We shouldn't even be looking at it...How can they even consider stealing what hunters bought and paid for?"
More than eight years ago, a Minnesota citizens' committee recommended the state double its Wildlife Management Area system over the next 50 years, adding 700,000 acres. The committee said the state should move quickly because of the increasing land costs, continued habitat loss and the need to provide recreation for a growing state population. Forty percent of Minnesota’s lakes and streams are polluted, and more than 1 million acres of natural areas, forests and hunting land are projected to be lost in the next 25 years, the Star Tribune reported.
Conservation derives from the Latin “conservare,” meaning “to keep guard,” something hunter-conservationist Teddy Roosevelt did admirably. My Minnesota Backcountry Hunters & and Anglers group believes, like President Roosevelt did, that, “Of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendents than it is for us.”
This proposed “no net-gain” bill is nothing less than a short-sighted giveaway of public resources at the cost of every other value we hold dear. The plan is an egregious swipe at the public-lands legacy of hunter-conservationists like President Roosevelt and today’s hunters and anglers.
David Lien is a native of Grand Rapids, a life member of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association and the acting chairman of the Minnesota Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (www.backcountryhunters.org). He currently resides in Colorado Springs, Colo., and wrote this exclusively for the News Tribune.