Senseless loss of walleye foreshadows fate of Mille Lacs fishery
On Sunday, May 20th, based on a tip from a local resident, an abandoned tribal gillnet with close to 100 dead and rotting walleyes (see photo) was removed from Mille Lacs by a Tribal/GLIFWC game warden with assistance from MN DNR Conservation Officer. The abandoned gillnet had been un-attended from at least Thursday, May 17.
The majority of the Walleyes, based on observed length, appear to be from the coveted 2013-year class and given an average weight of 2 - 3 pounds per walleye, a waste of 200-300 pounds. Updated: The field report was amended after a manual count by GLIFWC, which reported 67 walleye.
Wanton waste of natural resources is especially galling to Minnesotans, who support a conservation record that's second to none. Why is this happening?
It's because Mille Lacs Co-Management does not work! DNR's co-management has a very "light touch" when it comes to tribal interests. Which opens the door to treaty harvest rights exploitation (gillnetting during the spawn, wanton waste, science made-to-order, politically-driven lop-sided allocations.)
What makes this waste especially offensive is how it highlights the failure of "co-management." That failure is leaving non-tribal anglers, resorters and related businesses in the Mille Lacs fishery feeling as trapped as those wasted walleye.
(Remember, this is the year to ask candidates for elected office exactly what will they do to end the co-management mess at Mille Lacs.)
Tribal protest on Lake Bemidji buries the facts
Recent articles in the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press (below) reported on Chippewa tribal members' protest involving a one-day "fish-off" the day before fishing opener. This will be the third such public violation of Minnesota's conservation laws to make a point.
The tribe is claiming that off-reservation hunting, fishing, gathering rights exist in the 1855 ceded territory area. They deny the plain language of the 1855 Treaty and the long-standing position and regular assertions of the DNR that no such rights exist.
A new tactic this time is to conflate treaty rights claims with opposition to the proposed Enbridge pipeline. Actually, exercise of non-existent rights to hunt, fish, gather in ceded territory over which they have no jurisdiction is not affected by the pipeline. But drawing on the sympathy many people have for claims of environmental threats by the pipeline is a tactic to garner (somewhat confused) support. It's also great for building the narrative about the existence of 1855 "treaty harvest rights."
The most buried fact is the 1855 Treaty itself. It states that the Indians "do further fully and entirely relinquish and convey to the United States, any and all right, title, and interest, of whatsoever nature the same may be..."
If "fully and entirely" could possibly leave anything to the imagination, the all-inclusive, totally un-ambiguous "of whatsoever nature" covers it.
The 1855 Treaty further clarifies "fully and entirely relinquish" to include "which they may now have in, and to any other lands in the Territory of Minnesota or elsewhere." That would include the 1837 Treaty ceded territory. That would also preclude the "inheritance" of any harvest rights affirmed by the Supreme Court's 1837 Treaty case ruling.
Potential Court Case?
The 2010 walleye netting violation was aborted after the Crow Wing County attorney refused to prosecute the DNR-cited tribal members. Prospects for another 1837 Treaty style Supreme Court ruling disappeared.
The 2015 walleye netting violation also has gone nowhere. After an extensive delay, numerous reschedulings, and the recusals of three judges, the case before Crow Wing County Court has entered a state of limbo. Charges against three of the four defendants have been dismissed. At the last hearing, the sole remaining defendant never even showed up.
The recent "fish-off" violation in part builds on the failure of Minnesota's legal system to enforce the law. The DNR's spokesman was reported to have said "Persons who violate state law will be subject to enforcement action that may include warnings, citations, seizure of fishing equipment, nets, and spears."
No adjudication? No problem. Lots of nets and spears on hand.
Rights by Default?
If the legal system abdicates its responsibility to enforce the law, then the tribe has free rein to build the narrative that off-reservation treaty harvest rights do exist. If not actually creating a de facto legal existence of such rights.
Working a case all the way up to the Supreme Court, as was done with the 1837 Treaty, may be a long shot. It may soon be unnecessary. A well-establish narrative will be all that's needed to cow the Governor, Legislature, and Attorney General to cave on respecting the actual terms of the 1855 Treaty.
"Property Rights" Poison Pill
The biggest threat from acceding to any 1855 Treaty harvest claims comes from the tribe's addition of "usufructuary property rights" to claimed treaty harvest rights. This is treaty rights expansion on steroids.
The property rights concept springs from attorney Peter Erlinder's analysis of treaties going back to 1795. His analysis of treaties found them to be likely sources of "as yet unrecognized" and of "as yet undeveloped" property rights "for the 21st Century."
If anyone thinks the "co-management" of 1837 Treaty harvest rights is an impenetrable disaster, imagine adding "property rights" to the mix. Over the entire 1855 ceded territory. Protection of these rights will have land-use management implications far beyond wildlife harvest.
Arthur LaRose, chairman of the "1855 Treaty Authority," has said that having these property rights would allow the tribe to "more forcefully assert management or regulatory rights on larger environmental issues such as the burying of oil pipelines or the relaxation of mining-related sulfate standards for wild rice." Or even where you can put an outhouse.
Keep in mind, the 1855 Treaty ceded territory includes a small portion of Mille Lacs. That makes all of Mille Lacs' contiguous water subject to any newly recognized or newly developed property rights. See Map showing the extent of the 1855 Treaty ceded territory and its intersection with Mille Lacs.
Tribal protest planned before Minnesota's fishing opener
By Mary Lynn Smith, Star Tribune, May 10, 2018
In an effort to exercise what they say are their treaty rights, Chippewa tribal members plan to fish on Lake Bemidji one day before the Minnesota fishing opener.
The one-day "fish-off" protest was sparked by the tribe's opposition to a new Enbridge pipeline across northern Minnesota, to be built either in a new corridor across ceded land where tribal members exercise their rights to hunt, fish and gather food, or in the existing corridor that crosses two reservations.
The idea behind the rally is to send a message to Minnesota officials that they don't have the right to "sell out our terrain, our environment, our ecosystem, our clean water, our fresh fish," said Frank Bibeau, executive director of the 1855 Treaty Authority, which represents about 25,000 Chippewa tribal members who are current beneficiaries of the 1855 Chippewa treaty with the United States.
The tribes retained the rights to hunt, fish and gather when they made the treaties, and they need a territory that sustains those things, Bibeau said. A pipeline could contaminate or jeopardize natural resources in the future, he said.
In the meantime, the "fish off" will allow tribal members to exercise their treaty rights, he added. Friday's protest is similar to one on Lake Bemidji the day before the 2010 fishing opener, when tribal members wanted to assert their belief that the 1855 treaty doesn't restrict their off-reservation rights to fish, hunt and gather. Two Leech Lake Band members placed fishing nets in the lake and, two hours later, conservation officers from the Department of Natural Resources confiscated the nets and about a dozen suckers, walleyes and northerns.
"As the agency has said in the past, the DNR position is that off-reservation harvest rights do not exist in the 1855 treaty area and that state laws will be upheld," DNR spokesman Chris Niskanen wrote in a statement Thursday. "Persons who violate state law will be subject to enforcement action that may include warnings, citations, seizure of fishing equipment, nets, and spears."
Tribal members cited for illegal fishing in contested treaty-area lake
By Grace Pastoor May 12, 2018, twincities.com (Pioneer Press)
Two men who placed a net in Lake Bemidji were waiting, along with about 30 White Earth and Leech Lake band members, were waiting for conservation officer Demo Regas to cite them. Joseph Rousu and Leonard Thompson were cited for fishing a day before the state’s opener.
Rousu, Thompson and a small group casting off of a nearby dock defied fishing regulations in an attempt to push authorities toward recognizing fishing rights they believe were guaranteed by an 1855 treaty.
"It's just acknowledgment of the treaty rights that were established through treaty agreements many years ago," said Leech Lake Tribal Chairman Farron Jackson. "Just to have them properly recognized and acknowledged is important to the members residing in the 1855 treaty area."
The 1855 treaty ceded a swath of land in northern and central Minnesota, and the 1855 Treaty Authority is composed of the beneficiaries of that treaty, including several Bemidji-area Ojibwe bands. Treaties similar to the 1855 treaty specifically allow tribes to hunt, fish and harvest on ceded land, but the 1855 one doesn’t say one way or the other.
The Friday demonstration echoed a similar event eight years ago. Although the DNR confiscated nets and other fishing gear at that event, activists said there were no charges.
In 2015, the group attempted to make a similar statement at Hole-in-the-Day Lake north of Brainerd by harvesting wild rice without state-required harvest permits. That event led to citations, though lawmakers later passed a bill allowing tribal members to gather wild rice without permits.
This year's event aimed to draw attention to the bands' opposition to Enbridge Energy Co.'s Line 3 replacement project, as well as the treaty rights activists feel are being violated. The Canadian company hopes to replace an aging oil pipeline that crosses northern Minnesota on its journey from Canada to Wisconsin.
DNR spokesman Chris Niskanen said Thursday that the department does not believe off-reservation harvest rights exist in the 1855 treaty area. Those cited plan to bring the issue to the courts. "We have no choice but to continue to come out to protect our environment and our resources for our future generations," Bibeau said. "These are what these actions are really about."
PERM at May 7 MLFAC Meeting
PERM’s May Board meeting has been RESCHEDULED for May 14th to allow PERM members to attend the May 7 MLFAC Meeting.
The Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee will meet from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday, May 7, at Izatys Resort, 40005 85th Ave. in Onamia. The agenda includes discussion of the recently announced open water regulations and upcoming studies planned for Mille Lacs.
Members of the public are welcome to attend and observe these meetings, and 15 minutes at the end of each meeting is reserved for public comments and questions. PERM encourages everyone to attend.
Remembering James R. Moeller
PERM wishes to recognize the passing, as well as celebrate the life and work of Jim Moeller, past PERM board member, longtime member/foot soldier. A true member's member!
Also ... he was quite the guy!
Moeller, James R. Age 93, of Brooklyn Center, formerly of Kenwood, passed away on March 2, 2018 after a long illness. As a member of the "Greatest Generation," he entered the US Army Air Corp and served in the Pacific during WWII. Following his service he married Patricia Drake; together they had 2 children and were married for 69 years. Jim owned and operated Twin Cities Drapery. In retirement, he drove a school bus until the age of 88. Jim was a longstanding member of the Masonic Lodge. His passions were hunting, fishing, and spending time with friends and family at his cabin on Mille Lacs Lake. Preceded in death by son, David; parents, Otto and Alma; brother, Dale. Survived by wife, Patricia; daughter, Barbara (Mark) Seymour; grandchildren, Brian, and Bradley (Amy) Christensen, Kimberly (Mitch) Johnson; James, Andrew (Heidi), and Michael (Trang) Moeller; 8 great-grandchildren.
A private celebration of his life is being held at a later date.
Share memories or condolences here.
Memorials preferred to Honor Flight Twin Cities (online or 2674 Mackubin St., Roseville, MN 55113).
Support for Mille Lacs "co-management" accountability and transparency
Here is a "Voice for Mille Lacs." Rep. Sondra Erickson has been challenging the DNR regarding "co-management" of Mille Lacs for years. She's not asking for a lot. Just transparency and treating Minnesotans the same as tribes. Remember, the Bureau of Indian Affairs was created to ensure equal and fair treatment for American Indians, not to promote special rights and privileges.
A voice for Mille Lacs
By Rep. Sondra Erickson Monday, April 9, 2018
It is an honor and a privilege to be a voice for the Mille Lacs Lake area as a member of the House of Representatives in the Minnesota Legislature.
To that point, I face two big challenges in the 2018 session: helping the county and the lake area to grow its tax base, and making the Department of Natural Resources accountable and transparent for their actions regarding co-management of Mille Lacs Lake in the 1837 Ceded Territory.
Over the past years I have worked especially hard with a sense of purpose to help the area grapple with decisions by the DNR whom I challenge repeatedly on decisions made by the Fisheries Technical Committee--DNR, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) along with the eight Ojibwe Bands.
For example, the DNR knows that I want an extensive analysis of gill-netting during walleye spawn and a study of shared hooking mortality.
In respect to the failing economy in the area, the four townships surrounding the lake used to provide nearly 30 percent of the tax base of the county. Sadly, property values of this area have decreased significantly, partly because of the lack of fishing activity, again a result of the DNR’s PR about the lake and their closure of the lake to walleye fishing.
So, what is planned for this session? I have pre-filed a proposal that supports accountability and transparency:
*** Requesting the DNR commissioner to invite two members of the Mille Lacs Fishery Advisory Committee (MLFAC) to attend and observe the fisheries technical meetings (those who livelihood depends on the lake need to observe, not legislators);
*** And requiring that all past and present minutes from all fisheries technical meetings/ correspondence become public documents and get filed in the Legislative Reference Library (the DNR does not archive any documents, a practice again that lacks accountability and transparency).
*** In addition is a hold-over from last session: property tax abatement for affected area lake businesses, so I expect that proposal to be considered.
A welcomed surprise is that the Office of the Legislative Auditor will perform a financial audit of all special revenues collected by the DNR, an audit I have requested for several years and that may shed light on the cost/benefit of co-management.
Finally, I have or will introduce bills to create a Mille Lacs Lake task force to study co-management and a legislative study working group to tackle a long list of problems. And, yet to come is a proposal for some kind of economic boost for the area.
Lest I forget education, I follow the progress and achievement of all students and recently sent congratulatory notes to 70 Isle High School students for earning honor roll. As chair of the House E-12 Education Innovation Policy, I work with my committee to ensure that all students have opportunities to meet their individual needs and that they have the best qualified teachers possible.
I am a disciplined legislator who wants to do what is best and what is important, so I look forward to working with you. Please continue to provide me with your thoughts and ideas.
Bill to change 1837 treaty protocol raises sovereignty question
In the article below, Rep Jamie Becker-Finn uses the term sovereign nation and nation to nation when referring to the Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa! In fact, if the Tribe were a Sovereign Nation the politicians would not be able to accept political donations from them. Local, county, or state money could not be used on their lands. No different than the sovereign nations like Russia, China, or Mexico.
Bill to change language of 1837 treaty protocol met with opposition
By Vivian LaMoore firstname.lastname@example.org Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Holding true to her promise, Rep. Sondra Erickson authored a bill to allow for two members of the Mille Lacs Lake Fisheries Advisory Committee to attend the meetings of the Fishery Technical Committee. The bill received some push back and raised questions of government transparency and whether or not such a bill could even be enforceable.
The bill was first introduced by Erickson (R) to the House in February and has since been amended. The amended version was heard in the Environment and Natural Resource Policy and Finance Committee on Thursday, March 29. The original House File 2732 section 1 states, "the commissioner of natural resources must invited at least two members of the Mille Lacs Lake Fisheries Advisory Committee to attend all meetings of the 1837 Ceded Territory Fisheries Technical Committee."
The amended version of the bill changed the word "must" to "may." Erickson argued the amended proposed bill is "permissive" and is at the will of the DNR commissioner "if he chooses."
What is the FTC
The 1837 Ceded Territory Fisheries Committee is part of the United States Supreme Court's protocols spelled out in Minnesota v. Mille Lacs case. Per the protocol, people qualified to participate in meetings include fisheries scientists and fisheries managers from the state, the Bands and Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC). A number of years ago, the FTC mutually agreed to permit the chairs of House and Senate Environment/Natural Resources Committees to observe (listen in) but not participate. Members of MLFAC have repeatedly expressed concern the FTC meetings are held in secrecy and have said they do not believe the DNR is completely honest with them as to what happens during the meetings. The DNR has continued to say those feelings are unjustified, stating the DNR is, in fact, being transparent.
DNR Fisheries chief Don Pereira has told MLFAC on numerous occasions the DNR has previously asked the FTC to allow designated members of MLFAC to observe the FTC meetings, and those requests have not met with approval. Pereira said members of the FTC feel the meetings are technical and members of the legislature are already allowed to observe. Those legislators should be relaying the information back to their constituents, he said.
House file 2732
The amended bill was heard in the Environment and Natural Resource policy and finance committee on March 29. Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL) asked Erickson if she had consulted with the tribes directly regarding MLFAC representation at the FTC meetings. Erickson replied she had not spoken directly with the Bands.
"I am just not sure what we are doing here when one of the parties represented has not been consulted," Becker-Finn said. She continued with confusion, wondering, "why [do] we need to legislate something we may not even be able to enforce against a sovereign nation."
"We represent the state of Minnesota," Erickson said. "We don't represent the eight Bands under the agreement. This is permissible language for the commissioner if he chooses."
Becker-Finn argued, "You can't make the tribes add additional requirements to their nation-to-nation agreement regarding the setup of the technical committee. We do not have jurisdiction to order the tribes to do anything."
Rep. Dale Lueck (R) said the protocol of the FTC has been discussed since the Supreme Court ruling in 1999 and feels the idea "we are not consulting with them is ridiculous."
Lueck went on to say it is a "gut-wrenching feeling" that people don't understand what happens at the FTC meetings. Opening [the meetings] will "end some of the bitterness and divisiveness that has been going on 20 years."
Rep. Mark Uglem (R) agreed with Lueck, stating "transparency in government is good."
Rep. Peter Fisher (DFL) said he feels the bill is sending "some messages that may not be intended." He continued stating the bill minimizes the sovereign governments of the tribes by mandating a new protocol. "I am not seeing a reach-out to the tribes," Fisher said. "It feels disrespectful to the tribes."
Becker-Finn added the U.S. Supreme Court outlined some of the "games that were played by the federal government" in the court opinion. "I bring that up because I think it speaks to the long standing distrust from a lot of Native folks when it comes to things forced upon them. If we are really serious about coming to a place where we can move past some of the hard feelings, pushing legislation without conversations - us dictating something, forcing one side to do something – is not how we move past a place."
Erickson replied, "The Bands don't come to us and ask us, so these are two different entities. I am speaking on behalf of the state of Minnesota. This is just the way it is. I am working with the DNR and not with GLIFWC and not with the Bands." The bill was laid over, meaning postponed, with no further discussion at that time.
Outside experts and flawed policies
While attending Mille Lacs Fishery Advisory Committee meetings, I could feel the frustration of local resorters, guides, and residents. Their advisory input was always falling on deaf ears.
They can give their own launch statistics on large numbers of walleye caught and released in every year class. They can tell about guides' experience trying to catch bass on shallow rock piles under the sun, only to move because their clients catch nothing but walleyes. Yet the DNR at the meetings continues to say "But our test nets prove the population is low and the walleye are stunted".
Joe Fellegy was also at the last MLFAC meeting. His report in Outdoor News, "Mille Lacs: outside experts, flawed policies," really tells it like it is. (See below or link here.)
(Joe Fellegy not only writes about Mille Lacs and the issues, he lives it, having spent his whole life on or near the lake. He writes the truth with no candy coating.)
In his report, Fellegy unravels DNR's usual song and dance using "outside experts" to affirm their business as usual. This time was supposed to be different. Outside expert Dr. Chris Vandergoot "would evaluate current management objectives and alternative management approaches,..." MLFAC members expected Vandergoot's panel would even look at "the unnecessarily low walleye quotas that trigger radical management actions, like all-release and in-season angling shutdowns.."
When it came time to deliver, at a MLFAC meeting more than six months later, Committee members got nothing. After complimenting DNR data collection practices, Vandergoot said "he could address no questions about policy." He said his panel of experts decided to avoid policy matters, and not tell state managers "how to run their fisheries."
There was no challenge to using imprecise kreel survey and hooking mortality data to come up with to-the-pound quotas, and fishery shutdowns. Normal fisheries science took a back seat to "state-tribal co-management's political quota system..." And unlike most scientific peer reviews, "there will be no written report or summary."
See all of Joe's analysis below or link here.
I am awaiting the next MLFAC meeting to see what new six-month rubber-stamp study the DNR will propose. I also imagine the DNR is spending ALL their time celebrating their share of the 3M lawsuit settlement of $850 million. Just think of all the studies!
Our DNR is supposed to be looking out for ALL Minnesotans! Let's elect new people who will drain the swamp!
Mille Lacs: outside experts, flawed policies
Outdoor News, Vol. 51, No. 08 -- Page 12
By Joe Fellegy February 23, 2018
Mille Lacs is setting records. No, not those released "state-record muskies." Rather, we're seeing the biggest ongoing PR disaster in the histories of Minnesota fishing, fisheries management, fishing-related economics, and our sportfishing culture. While citizen-stakeholders get labeled "anti-science" if they question the extremist workings of state-tribal co-management--yes, we do hear some dumb stuff from angler-biologists--it's management itself that defies fisheries science and triggers distrust toward the DNR's Section of Fisheries.
Traditionally, through decades of fisheries-science literature, and at gatherings of fisheries professionals around the world, Minnesota's Lake Mille Lacs has rightfully been portrayed as the ultimate classic natural walleye lake.
Now, thanks to co-management's political (not science-based) ultra-low quotas, little or no walleye-keeping for anglers, in-season shutdowns, live-bait bans, hooking-mortality penalties, quota-overage punishments, etc., millions of folks mistakenly believe Mille Lacs is suffering severe walleye woes--that the fish are crashing, collapsing, disappearing, dropping, dwindling, and in demise.
This untruthful vocabulary victimizes the Mille Lacs sportfishing community.
Last June 9, the DNR announced "an external review of Mille Lacs Lake walleye management and harvest strategy."
Don Pereira, DNR Fisheries chief, said the review would evaluate current management objectives and alternative management approaches, analyze possible changes in management strategy, and evaluate current assessment methods like fall gill-net surveys, population estimates, and creel surveys. Dr. Chris Vandergoot, of the U.S. Geological Survey and with Lake Erie connections, would lead the panel.
Early media reports emphasized Vandergoot's experience with "multi-jurisdictional fisheries." In a June 6 Star Tribune article, DNR regional fisheries manager Brad Parsons said the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee could ask the experts anything about the DNR's "Mille Lacs policy or management."
Naturally, Mille Lacs watchers expected a review of the DNR's co-management with eight Chippewa bands, six of them from Wisconsin. How would Vandergoot's panel rate the unnecessarily low walleye quotas that trigger radical management actions, like all-release and in-season angling shutdowns?
Imagine the shock and dismay at the Feb. 5 MLFAC meeting when Dr. Vandergoot said he could address no questions about policy. He later told me his panel decided to avoid policy matters, and that they lack authority to tell state managers "how to run their fisheries."
And even after attending the Feb. 6 state-tribal Fisheries Technical Committee meeting, seeing in person the haggling that decides Mille Lacs quotas and regs, he had no "personal opinions" to share. Hmm.
A Feb. 6 Star Tribune piece wrongly stated that "walleye management techniques on Mille Lacs have been affirmed" by the four outside experts. Hey, they never touched the flawed policy and management practices. So toss those misleading articles saying the external reviewers found no problems in Mille Lacs management. And unlike most scientific peer reviews, there will be no written report or summary. The outside experts opined on the DNR's Mille Lacs fisheries-assessment work, but avoided the real biggy: how assessment data is used and misused.
Mille Lacs assessments
Like the DNR's Fisheries chief Pereira, Dr. Vandergoot, the outside experts' leader, is well schooled and deep into fisheries science. He gave overall high marks to the department's fall fish-population gill-net surveys, angler creel surveys, electrofishing, tagging, and hooking-mortality estimates. I agree. The DNR has a long tradition of stellar Mille Lacs assessments and data collection.
In the early 1980s, some of us citizen-activists pushed for annual Mille Lacs fisheries assessments. That ultimately led to the DNR's Large Lake Sampling Program, which includes annual surveys on Minnesota's 11 largest lakes.
Sure, given clearer water and other possible influences on walleye numbers in the DNR's 32 in-shore nets (typically shallower than 15 feet), Fisheries crews could place a few new nets in 20 to 25 feet, short distances beyond some in-shore nets, to observe whatever differences and to satisfy local curiosities.
Normally, the annual fish-population assessments show managers year-class strength, age and size trends, and overall population trends. Any 10-year period normally brings wide fluctuations in year-class strengths, forage abundance, and much more, depending on Mother Nature's whims. In any assessment-netting season, even with the same fish population, the net catches might vary significantly, depending on weather and water conditions. Outside the horrible Mille Lacs co-management system, that's a given and no big deal.
Even with new quandaries and questions about invasive species, water clarity, the food chain, and whatever, fisheries managers would typically sit back and see where things level off after a decade. But under the state-tribal co-management's political quota system, normal fisheries science and trend-watching get scrapped in favor of radical reactions.
Mille Lacs creel surveys began in 1958. They provide info about fish species, numbers, and sizes anglers catch, keep, and release. Like other assessment tools, the random creel surveys cannot yield precise to-the-pound management data. But under the corrosive state-tribal co-management system, they can shut down sport angling on a healthy-enough fishery.
At MLFAC meetings, outside experts Dr. James Bence and Dr. Vandergoot were asked if they could name another walleye-fishing community in the United States that must worry about in-season shutdowns based on hooking-mortality guesstimates. Both said no! Yet, Mille Lacs resorters, guides, business folks, and the angling public face such nonsense in the name of "conservative" management.
Sure, some released fish die.
But big majorities live, and that's the focus everywhere else.
The nutcake management happenings and DNR messaging about Minnesota's largest sport fishery push an endless news flow--from the Mille Lacs Messenger and Brainerd Dispatch to Outdoor News, the Star Tribune, and newspapers across Minnesota and beyond; from Minnesota Public Radio's 40-plus stations to numerous TV channels and many hours of outdoor talk radio.
Add angling websites, social media, and opinion aplenty. Translate that huge negative Mille Lacs media punch into advertising dollars, and the cost would be many millions a year.
Is there a principle in politics, journalism, or fisheries science that exempts tribal governments and tribal resource-management agencies from media scrutiny and accountability to the tax-paying and license-buying public? Regarding Mille Lacs, think eight tribal DNRs and their Wisconsin-based umbrella group, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission--key players in policy and management. Who are they accountable to?
Millions in taxpayer funding?
Where does state management authority begin and end? Are policy critics within the DNR and Minnesota's executive branch forbidden from publicly questioning the standard gospels and workings of Mille Lacs co-management?
Talk about unethical public policy, where the negative impacts far outweigh any positives. How long will Minnesota government's executive branch fail to protect state and citizen interests?
Well, continuing bad policy, plus angler-biologists and others parading their homespun ideas about "doing something" (smart, stupid, or in between). What a clutter on many fronts!
Interestingly, last fall's in-shore and off-shore gill-net assessments showed a Mille Lacs walleye population within pretty normal bounds.
County claims reservation causes harm due to uncertainty
NOTE: PERM wishes to reprint the article from the Mille Lacs Messenger (see below) to help clarify the controversy around Mille Lacs County Board's decision to not renew law enforcement agreement with Mille Lacs Band. Recognizing the 61,000-acre reservation could allow for an extra layer of regulations on natural resources as well as with the other issues in the County’s claims.
We see how co-management of Mille Lacs does not work therefore we support Mille Lacs County Board in their latest efforts.
Douglas J. Meyenburg
County claims reservation causes harm due to uncertainty
By Vivian LaMoore - Mille Lacs Messenger - Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Mille Lacs County responds to Band lawsuit filed in federal court at same time files a counterclaim
Mille Lacs County filed a response to the federal lawsuit filed by the Mille Lacs Band last November. The county has added a counterclaim. In a nutshell, the county’s response and counterclaim is aimed solely on the boundary issue and claims the Mille Lacs Band reservation does not exist. The county says the uncertainty is causing harm.
The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe filed a lawsuit in federal court in November of 2017 against Mille Lacs County as a whole and individually included the Mille Lacs County sheriff and county attorney. Late in December 2017, Mille Lacs County filed a response and included a counterclaim adding several members of the Band government and individually tribal police chief Sara Rice and sergeant Derrick Naumann.
The counterclaim also names the following Mille Lacs Band government officials: chief executive Melanie Benjamin, secretary/treasurer Carolyn Shaw-Beaulieu, District I representative Sandra Blake, District II representative David Aubid, District III representative Harry Davis; all individually and in their official capacity with the Mille Lacs Band.
The four counts to the counterclaim are requesting the court provide the following:
1. Declaratory judgement of disestablishment of the 1855 reservation;
2. Enjoining the exercise of federal and inherent criminal law enforcement outside of trust lands;
3. Declaratory judgement the Band is estopped from contesting the reservation status;
4. Declaratory judgement that the Indian Claims Commission Act bars the resurrection of the 1855 reservation.
[Definition of declaratory judgement via law.com: "a judgment of a court which determines the rights of parties without ordering anything be done or awarding damages. While this borders on the prohibited 'advisory opinion,' it is allowed to nip controversies in the bud."]
In a nutshell, the county is requesting the federal court to rule: to declare the disestablishment of the 1855 treaty; prohibit tribal criminal law enforcement outside of trust land; prevent the Band from approaching the subject of questioning the status of the reservation anytime in the future; and lastly, prohibit any resurrection of the 1855 treaty.
The Band claim
The basis of the lawsuit filed by the Band revolves around their claim the lack of a cooperative law enforcement agreement with the county has limited law enforcement by tribal officers and thereby caused harm to the community by an increase in crime and drug use resulting in 15 overdose deaths since the revocation of the law enforcement agreement.
The Band has held true to their belief the 1855 treaty has never been disestablished. The Band's original complaint (lawsuit) is an eight page document. In that complaint the Band states the reservation was established by a treaty in 1855 and comprises approximately 61,000 acres. Part of that is in federally protected trust land (3,572 acres) and part of that is owned by the Band in fee lands (6,122 acres). The remaining land is not mentioned in the Band’s complaint, other than the remaining acreage of approximately 51,306 acres remain within the boundary of the originally 1855 treaty. The Band's complaint states Band members live throughout the entire 61,000 acres of the 1855 treaty. The Band's complaint is requesting concurrent jurisdiction of criminal law enforcement over the entire 61,000 acres to ensure the safety of all Band members.
The Band complaint references the existence of the 1855 treaty and the establishment of the 61,000-acre reservation no more than two times.
The county's response and counterclaim is a 34 page document. Within that document the county mentions reference to the county's longstanding belief that the reservation of the 1855 treaty was disestablished and not ever re-established no less than 60 times. The county "denies that the reservation still exists."
The county denies many of the points raised by the Band's complaint. The county counterclaim must show harm, according to the U.S. Supreme Court rule of standings. The counterclaim states the harm comes from the dispute over the existence of the 1855 reservation has "created controversy, uncertainty and risk, and has injured the county in the exercise of its criminal and civil regulatory authority outside of trust lands."
The counterclaim states the uncertainty over the existence of the 1855 reservation "causes conflict and uncertainty affecting the lives and property of county residents on a daily basis." The county claims the "uncertainty" has resulted in an "undermine property tax values for on fee lands within the original boundaries of the 1855 reservation, and reduce the tax base and income for the county accordingly."
The county counterclaim states: "non-Indians are also of the view that reservation status is a very serious and unsettling issue. Some have publically acknowledged considering selling their property and moving elsewhere. Others on both sides, have discussed the issue in terms that increase divisiveness and animosity, creating an atmosphere of distrust and social unrest in this rural area."
Proof of actual harm
This case has been filed in federal court. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-2 on May 16, 2016, in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, No. 13-1339, that a plaintiff must allege "concrete" and "actual" harm in order to sue in federal court, according to squirepattonboggs.com. In other words, the plaintiff, in this case both plaintiffs, must show there has been real harm caused by the actions of the defendant.
The Band is the original plaintiff, therefore must prove the defendant, the county, has caused harm to the Band. Since the county filed a counterclaim and is thereby the counter plaintiff, the county must prove the Band has caused harm to the county.
As of press time, no further action has been taken by the court.
Casino revenue takes a hit--along with Mille Lacs economy
January 30, 2018
It's good to hear Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin admitting to "declining revenue from gaming," which she says will come back when the Mille Lacs Lake walleye population recovers. The link to walleye population was made in her January 9th State of the Band address.
Wonder if she is aware of how much Mille Lacs businesses and local economy have suffered for the same reason. There is a lot of controversy over whether the Mille Lacs walleye population is in decline or not. There is no question about the decline in the number of anglers from the loss of Mille Lacs as a premier angling destination. Angler decline is directly related to the mess made by DNR/Tribal "co-management."
Erik Jacobson, Garrison MN, writes that the since the lake "is loaded with walleyes--of all sizes," The problem is that "regulations have been too stringent for too long." (Mille Lacs Messenger Mailbag, "Letter of the Week," Wednesday, January 24.)
He asks that regulations keep up with the actual state of the walleye population in the lake. If "walleye fishing will stay open the entire open water season and anglers can take home some fish," then "Everyone in this area will benefit."
Read Erik Jacobson's "Gaming and Walleye Population" analysis below.
Douglas J. Meyenburg, President, PERM
Next MLFAC Meeting
The next MLFAC meeting has been rescheduled for February 5th. But the location has not been determined. Last minute designation will likely limit the public's attendance, so we encourage you to attend. PERM will post and email the location as soon as we find out.
PERM's regularly scheduled meeting will be postponed one week (to February 12) so that PERM Board members can attend the MLFAC meeting.
On the next day, February 6th, will be the DNR – Tribal "Technical Meeting" when the walleye quotas for 2018 are supposed to be set. If the DNR doesn't pick up on anything coming out of the MLFAC meetings, the Technical Meeting will probably be pretty short, since most of the quota-setting details were locked in for the next three years by the secretly negotiated "Consensus: Mille Lacs Fishery Harvest Plan, 2017-2020."
Remember that the evening of February 6th is set aside (starting at 7pm) for precinct caucuses across the state. All citizens are invited to take the first step in deciding who our candidates are and what your party stands for. You can also offer resolutions for new planks in your party's platform.
Real (new) leadership from the Governor's office, Attorney General's office, and the Legislature may be the only thing that can break the logjam at the Mille Lacs fishery.
Whether you attend or not, plan on asking your candidates questions about where they stand on the issues--for example, "What, specifically, will you do to end the stalemate caused by the failure of co-management of the Mille Lacs fishery?"
For more information and to learn where your precinct caucus meets, check out the Minnesota Secretary of State's website here. (If you just need the location, go to Caucus Finder here.)
Gaming and walleye population
Messenger Mailbag -Letter of the week Wednesday, January 24, 2018
I read with interest the article in the Jan. 17 issue of the Mille Lacs Messenger covering Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin's State of the Band address. Of the many important topics she spoke of, as a fisherman, one in particular caught my eye. She said one of the challenges that the Band is facing is "declining revenue from gaming" but she expects the profits to recover when the Mille Lacs Lake walleye population recovers. Which she said "appears to be right on track." I couldn't agree more, it's not only right on track, it's been on track for a number of years now. So if the population is admittedly on track why aren't the regulations keeping pace?
Last summer, anglers were only allowed to fish 78 days of a normal 200-plus day season. The lake was closed to walleye fishing the other 122-plus days of the season. On top of that, it's been two and a half years since open water anglers have been able to keep a walleye. Enough is enough already. Seems everybody except the DNR and the GLIFWC know the lake is loaded with walleyes – of all sizes. And now, for the umpteenth year in a row, winter anglers can keep only one fish (which feels like a gift) and the slot has been set at an unprecedented 20- to 22-inch size range, once again protecting the hallowed year class of 2013. That year class appears to be in the high teens lengthwise right now, and are quickly on their way to another untouchable size.
If that year class continues to be protected, it is going to grow into one the biggest eating machines yet and the cannibalism that has plagued Mille Lacs for years and years - when there is a low natural forage base - will continue. The good news is, right now the lake is loaded with small perch. Every place I’ve put the camera down this winter there are scads of them. The lake is also full of good size tullibees. Muskie fishing last fall, I snagged so many it actually became a nuisance. So in my opinion, there is a lot of natural forage in the lake at this time.
So if indeed the Band's gaming revenues are suffering, it's not from a lack of walleyes in the lake. It's because regulations have been too stringent for too long. Regulations dictate whether fishermen that want to take a meal home will come or not--it's really that simple. Loosen up the regulations and everyone will benefit--including the lake. So I ask you Ms. Benjamin, why don't you make a suggestion--or better yet, an executive order, if possible, to GLIFWC to suggest/agree to a more liberal allocation so the walleye fishing will stay open the entire open water season and anglers can take home some fish? Everyone in this area will benefit.
Erik Jacobson, Garrison
Badly misplayed 'race card'
By Joe Fellegy Outdoor News, Vol. 50, No. 43
The Star Tribune's Oct. 1 Outdoors section carried a Tony Kennedy Q&A with Bradley Harrington Jr., who became the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe's DNR commissioner earlier this year. Amazingly, the Strib facilitates the racism smear against Mille Lacs-connected resorters, anglers, and others who rightfully dispute the horrendous political state-tribal co-management of Mille Lacs – with no hard follow-up questions!
(Co-management refers to Minnesota's DNR plus eight Chippewa DNRs under the Wisconsin-based Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission umbrella.)
The article's intro highlighted the theme of "anti-Indian racial tension." And Kennedy asked, "Do you think vocal opponents of the joint management system have a racist agenda or anti-Indian agenda?" Harrington's lengthy response included the following: "Many of the most vocal voices clearly have an anti-Indian agenda rooted in racism. These are the same people who threw rocks at Native Americans exercising their rights in the 1990s. The recent 'Circle the Wagons' rally (where protesters in boats encircled Gov. Mark Dayton while he promoted Mille Lacs bass fishing) is a perfect example of blatant racism at play on Mille Lacs."
Really? Which "vocal voices" and protesters? Citizen members of the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee? Proper Economic Resource Management, the fund-raising arm of the landowners in the anti-Minnesota 1837 treaty rights case?
Hmm. I attended numerous PERM fund-raisers where the group's leaders and attorneys routinely reminded citizens that their cause was about law and resource management, not about race or opposing "the Indians." PERM, still active on tribal-related issues today, continues to embrace that non-racist theme.
I recently asked Minnesota DNR personnel if they've witnessed anti-Indian racist incidents at monthly MLFAC meetings or at other Mille Lacs issue sessions. No replies from Commissioner Tom Landwehr, Fisheries Chief Don Pereira, Regional Fisheries Manager Brad Parsons, or the DNR Fish and Wildlife Division's Policy and Planning Consultant Katie Clower, who facilitates MLFAC meetings and corresponds with members. Honest responses would say no racism!
Know that with tribal-related issues, the race card is misplayed to silence and discredit those posing relevant questions about high-impact policies, such as treaty management at Mille Lacs and elsewhere.
As the late Chippewa journalist Bill Lawrence (1939-2010) reminded his non-Indian friends: Always distinguish between "the Indians," meaning the people, and what he called the modern "Indian industry" – a rich and super-powerful corporate-legal-political force.
Is there a principle in government, politics, journalism, and academics that exempts modern tribal governments, their resource-management agencies, and state personnel who interact with them, from due scrutiny and accountability?
Hey, they impact public policy, the public treasury, and the well-being of Minnesota resources and people! What they do is fair game for questions, discussion, debate, and criticism every day of the year.
Letter: More Mille Lacs propaganda
Letter to the Editor, Outdoor News
As I read the headline "Ojibwe leader says Mille Lacs not recovered yet," (Star Tribune, Oct. 1, 2017), I said to myself, here we go again.
The story was a Q & A with Bradley Harrington Jr. The quote under his picture said that he thought “science ought to guide walleye harvest, not finances” – and I agree, as long as it’s sound science.
But I also think it’s unconscionable what management of the lake has done to the local economy.
The first question (of Harrington) mentioned a “greater walleye harvest” for anglers. This implies there was an actual harvest by anglers. There has been no harvest in the summer by anglers for the past two years, yet there has been a continual harvest by the bands with no interruption – of actual walleyes, not mythical post mortality poundage.
Harrington went on to say the lake is once again “struggling” – as our DNR keeps saying. He also said “the financial element should not be considered.” Which is true, but then he rounded out his answer with “preparing for tough times in a nature-focused industry should have been considered because that is good business.”
But how can businesses prepare for several years of slashed allocations due to obviously flawed data? Fishing has rarely been better than it was this summer. You can theorize all you want about the factors, but the fact remains, the lake is loaded with walleyes of all sizes right now. And not a single one has hit the fry pan in the past two summers.
Getting back to the “nature-focused” comment: For years, slot limits – not nature – have forced anglers to release eating-size walleyes that were outside the slot, only to allow them to grow bigger. The past two summers, anglers have had to release all walleyes – when the season wasn’t shut down to fishing for them.
The slot limits have built up giant eating machines of big walleyes though the years – and the DNR has admitted that. And now, the renowned class of 2013 that the DNR wants to protect – and has been virtually untouchable – is approaching the 20-inch range and is another giant eating machine. No wonder there is cannibalism.
It’s painfully obvious the Lake Mille Lacs walleye fishery has turned into a political battleground, with state anglers and businesses on the front line, and with the higher powers apparently wanting nothing to do with changing it.
Mille Lacs walleyes were alive and well long before computer programs and this type of “science” got involved.
Erik Jacobson, Garrison
Tribes to hold moose hunt again
Harvest could be up to 44 bulls
September 15, 2017
Equal hunting and fishing rights? In A report in the September 15 issue of Outdoor News stated that The Fond du Lac Band, Grand Portage, and Bois Forte Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa are planning to harvest 44 bull moose this season.
For everybody else the state hunting is closed this year to allow herd to recover.
Pat Rivers, the Minnesota DNR's deputy director of fish and wildlife thinks the harvest of to 44 bull moose "shouldn’t harm the overall moose herd."
Rivers said "We haven’t heard much" public comment against the hunts. "There hasn’t been a large outcry." Calling the hunt a "ceremonial harvest" Rivers added that it "seems like a reasonable accommodation to make."
Each tribe is pursuing moose hunts and deriving quotas on their own.
Tribal biologist Mike Schrage said quotas are based on "demonstrated needs of the tribal community" along with other factors, "the way any natural resources agency would."
Schrage said that the current moose population of about 3,700 animals "has not recovered to its 2006 estimate of more than 8,000." But, since the population has stabilized for the past five or six years, Schrage feels "very comfortable from a biological standpoint issuing bull permits," he said. "We can issue some bull permits and not hurt the population."
DNR's Rivers confirmed that reinstating a hunt for state sportsmen isn't anywhere near the table at the moment. There is still pressure to restore the hunt but right now their focus is on the status of the heard. "We just haven't considered [reinstatement] he said, adding, "We are not likely to open a harvest anytime soon."
New analysis of DNR approach to managing Mille Lacs walleye
DNR management of Mille Lacs walleye questioned
September 21, 2017
Paul Radomski, Minnesota DNR Ecological and Water Resources research biologist is challenging basic assumptions behind DNR management of the Mille Lacs walleye fishery.
Radomski presents his research as "Personal observations on the management of the Mille Lacs walleye fishery." In it he provides a much different view of DNR's co-management of Mille Lacs walleye fishery.
Radomski's August 25, 2017 report tries to answer two questions:
What aspects of Mille Lacs fisheries management need improvement?
What factors were important in the reduction of the walleye population?
1. The Mille Lacs fisheries management goal of protecting large walleye has suppressed young walleye survival and reduced walleye productivity
2. The current Mille Lacs walleye spawning stock biomass is plentiful and the population can produce ample walleye eggs and very large numbers of young walleye.
3. The walleye populations has not collapsed, weakened, or failed; however, the management system has struggled. Suggestions are provided on how to improve the system.
Key points include the following:
** Recent walleye quotas were set assuming that spawning stock biomass was at or near critically low levels. This assumption is incorrect. The current Mille Lacs walleye spawning stock biomass is plentiful and the population can produce ample walleye eggs and very large numbers of young walleye.
** The management goal of protecting large fish has suppressed young walleye survival and reduced walleye productivity.
** Therefore, a benchmark that is used to influence quota setting and close the Mille Lacs walleye fishery appears arbitrary.
** The Mille Lacs walleye population has not collapsed, weakened, or failed, nor does it need to be rebuilt; however, the management system has struggled
** Meeting a quota with hard edges and undue protection of large fish is not likely in the best interest of a tribal or sport angler fishery
** the management system could be simpler. It could be more pragmatic on the difficulties of estimating the number of walleye in the lake with enough accuracy for a hard-edged quota
** Strong year classes are more likely when spawning stock biomass is of moderate abundance rather than at high abundance
** Therefore, it is reasonable lo conclude that a policy of continual stockpiling and maintenance of high spawning stock biomass was the most likely factor in the lower Mille Lacs walleye population.
DNR secret deal with tribe deal raises suspicion, distrust
Star Tribune report includes evidence that the public wasn't supposed to find out about the walleye harvest agreement.
September 11, 2017
The DNR's fishery chief Don Pereira is seeing distrust and public discord around Mille Lacs grow. Hopefully, he will learn more because the DNR is expected to be "on the hot seat to re-explain its management strategy of the famed Mille Lacs walleye fishery," according to a report in the Star Tribune. "Lawmakers in St. Paul and the Mille Lacs County Board have scheduled meetings to hear from Pereira and others."
The DNR is accused of hiding "details of a key walleye agreement made this spring with eight Chippewa bands that co-manage the lake." While the DNR has said, "mistakes were made," the incident is driving demands to restore walleye fishing.
Mille Lacs area residents believe walleye stocks have recovered, based on "phenomenal catch rates."
Elected leadership including Rep. Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton, and Mille Lacs County Commissioner Dave Oslin are calling for the DNR "to be tougher in tribal negotiations to increase the state's harvest allocation," according to the report. "The whole idea of negotiating a quota has to be re-examined," Erickson said.
Legislators have met with Erickson, and Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, is expected to question DNR officials next week. DNR fisheries chief Don Pereira will be questioned by the Mille Lacs County Board in early October. Oslin said the county will present data to show economic losses related to stringent walleye quotas.
Oslin and Erickson agree with Mille Lacs anglers who don't believe the DNR's rigid position that there's a walleye crisis. Oslin said, "A growing core of stakeholders around Mille Lacs believes co-management of the fishery with the Chippewa is't working and should be challenged," according to the report. Co-management protocols stemming from a 1996 federal court order "can be changed and the state should flex its muscles."
MLFAC co-chairman Dean Hanson attacked the DNR over the secret walleye agreement, which set quotas through 2020. The agency brought up points of the agreement, "but the document itself wasn't distributed until Erickson uncovered it," the report stated.
Secrecy appears to have been deliberate, since the signed agreement's masthead included the statement: "Copies of This Memorandum Should Not be Included in Any Files, Which May be Requested by Private Parties." DNR’s Pereira called it an "honest mistake" for not releasing the document to the public, calling the leaked document just "a draft."
Despite being signed and dated by all parties to the agreement.
The report quotes MLFAC Co-Chair Dean Hanson saying, "Things like this really cast a shadow on the whole process. … There's a lot of trust issues here." He is frustrated that "the DNR doesn't take MLFAC input seriously."
Pereira was also quoted, saying, "It's a constant frustration to manage the Mille Lacs fishery while having "to exert so much energy managing human dimensions."
Getting past the secrecy and respecting the volunteer efforts of the Mille Lacs Fishery Advisory Committee would have saved a lot of that energy.
MLFAC Co-Chair Dean Hanson responds to DNR Landwehr's 'that was just a draft'
September 8, 2017
I have reviewed both your and Katie Clower's responses to my e-mail regarding the Consensus Agreement with GLIFIC and the Bands from March & April 2017. Since you have declined to have a public meeting to discuss this situation, I will respond to both of the e-mails at one time.
In Katie's e-mail, she included a copy of a document, which she states was the final agreement. This document does not contain the opening paragraph, which restricted disclosure to the public. Upon reviewing that document (copies of both documents attached), I have several questions. First, if you place page 4 of that document alongside page 4 of the original restricted document, the signatures and dates when they were signed look strikingly similar, and in fact, they look identical to the naked eye. I do not think if you gave me one hundred tries to sign my name twice, any two of my signatures would look that similar. Also, why if both documents were available on March 31, 2017 when they were signed by Don Pereira, was the draft agreement signed along with the supposed final agreement? In the same way, why would the other three parties who signed the agreement seven to twelve days later sign the draft? It would seem reasonable that all of the parties would only sign the final agreement.
Both you and Katie make a point that the lack of disclosure to MLFAC and the public was an oversight and it was not intentionally withheld. I find it surprising that in all of the discussions since March 31, 2017 about harvestable surplus, regulations, closures, conservation caps, etc., no mention of this agreement was ever made and no attempt was made to give anyone a copy of it.
You both also state that the substance of the agreement was discussed with MLFAC members last spring. I certainly agree that we discussed the 2016 overage and its payback, as well as, 2017 safe harvest limits and allocation. There were several elements of the agreement which were never disclosed to us, most notably the fact that the Bands would receive 50% of any harvestable surplus over 64,000 pounds in 2018-2020. It was also never disclosed to us that you had agreed upon parameters for calculating harvestable surplus levels for 2018-2020 based on 2017 spawning stock biomass levels, nor that you had agreed to be locked in to the latest hooking mortality study, which we have many problems with, as outlined in our latest recommendations to you.
In your e-mail, you also outline the problems created by the State's overage in 2016. It was not allowed by your agreement with the Bands. My question then would be; was the Governor made aware of the potential consequences of his decision by either the DNR or the Attorney General's office prior to its announcement? It would seem that this information would be critical to his decision. If he were aware of the consequences, why would he proceed? If not, why was he not given this information? It had some very negative consequences for the citizens of Minnesota.
I have also listened for years to you and other DNR employees say we have no chance if the State went back to court. We cannot win so we should give the Bands whatever they want. I am curious what basis you have for this conclusion. To the best of my knowledge, neither you nor Governor Dayton are attorneys so I assume this conclusion comes from Attorney General Swanson. Have any independent parties ever reviewed these conclusions? There are several national law firms who deal with Native American treaties and rights on a daily basis and are current with the latest court decisions. Would the citizens of Minnesota benefit from having one of these law firms review the State's legal position and options?
In conclusion, there remain many questions about this entire situation, and I still believe an open meeting for MLFAC members and other interested parties would be beneficial.
Agate Bay Resort
Dayton Accused of Secret Deal with Tribes on Mille Lacs Walleye Limits
By Tom Steward September 03, 2017 Center of the American Experiment - Thinking Minnesota
Gov. Dayton may be even less welcome around Mille Lacs now than when a flotilla of sportsmen and residents interrupted his photo op earlier this summer on what used to be the nation’s best walleye fishery. Anglers have endured an extended ban on walleye fishing interspersed with catch-and-release restrictions this summer, due to what critics view as mismanagement of the resource by the Dayton administration.
Now the co-chair of the Mille Lacs Fishery Advisory Committee has accused the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Dayton of cutting a secret deal with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibway and other tribes on the walleye harvest for the next three years. The agreement was finalized in March, but only recently came to light.
MLFAC Co-Chair Dean Hanson launched a blistering letter to DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, accusing him of going behind the backs of a citizens group that was supposed to be part of the process.
"We were shocked to say the least. No one from the DNR had ever spoken to MLFAC about this agreement, either before or after its signing. This agreement was never disclosed to the public at any time. Why would the DNR secretly negotiate a settlement like this without disclosing it to anyone?"
Hanson criticizes several aspects of the deal, including a "boost to treaty harvest quotas" that he says "could severely reduce our potential harvest in the future."
A powerful conservation group, Proper Economic Resource Management, also ripped Dayton and the DNR for a lack of transparency and paying lip-service to local businesses and residents who depend on the fishery. On the PERM website, President Douglas Meyenburg called on DNR Commissioner Landwehr and DNR head of fisheries Don Pereira to resign.
"This shows the DNR's leadership has no regard for the MLFAC members whom they appoint. It ignores the constituencies MLFAC represents and the suggestions they have been making for improving the 'co-management of Mille Lacs.' The agreement leads one to believe all the meetings with Governor Dayton and DNR officials have been nothing more than dog-and-pony shows. If an agreement like this has to be done behind closed doors, and the results known only if leaked, is ther more going on than meets the eye?"
Meyenburg added that the parties to the agreement "should be exposed for breaking trust with the citizens of Minnesota, and violating the spirit of the Supreme Court’s affirmation of 1837 Treaty harvest rights."
One of the conservation group’s guiding principles is listed on its website: "PERM believes that our public natural resources should be managed for the benefit of ALL citizens, and not exclusively for the benefit of those with political access or clout.
Video details DNR’s MLFAC betrayal
The DNR squanders its relationship with MLFAC
August 29, 2017
Mille Lacs Fishery Advisory Committee (MLFAC) member Steve Johnson yesterday released a video discussing the DNR's betrayal of its own "Advisory" Committee. The betrayal stems from the DNR's secretly negotiating an agreement with the Mille Lacs and Fond du Lac Bands and GLIFWC. Johnson's videos follow MLFAC Co-Chair Dean Hanson's letter to DNR Commissioner Landwehr sent last week.
"No one from the DNR ever mentioned [Consensus: Mille Lacs Fishery Harvest Plan, 2017-2020] to MLFAC either before or after its signing," according to Johnson. It clearly left MLFAC members feeling betrayed.
Steve Johnson found it "disturbing" that the DNR would meet with tribal leaders, and never let on for months. "Not one single word or hint was given to MLFAC members, even though the dispute resolution topic was brought up at almost every meeting." Johnson said it was "nasty" and "completely uncalled for."
The DNR squandered its relationship and the trust MLFAC members and DNR leadership had painstakingly worked out over the past year. Loss of trust brings an obvious question: Was this really the first time? Given clues from the past, MLFAC may wonder how close the DNR's clandestine negotiation is to the norm.
After being exposed, the DNR is claiming the secret agreement is actually a "public document." That is a real stretch, given the heavy-handed warning (all initial caps in original) making up the agreement's first page headline:
"This Document is Subject to the Attorney-Client Privilege and Protected from Disclosure. The Department of Natural Resources May Waive the Privilege, But No Waiver Should Occur Without the Express Written Permission of the Governor, Commissioner and/or the Deputy Commissioner. A copy of this Memorandum Should Be Distributed Only to Employees Whose Input is Necessary to Resolve the Issues identified in This Memorandum. Copies of This Memorandum Should Not be Included in any Files Which May be Requested by Private Parties."
Almost as disturbing is the media's near total blackout on reporting the incident. The lack of transparency, and lack of any calls for transparency, only covers the DNR's backside and leaves Minnesotans out in the cold.
Feelings of helplessness and "this will never end" can by offset a bit by sharing these videos. And, by sending an email to Governor Dayton (HERE) as well as to your legislators (HERE).
Whether your Representative and Senator is Democrat, Republican, or Independent, now is the time to ask them for a priority investigation by the Office of the Legislative Auditor, and Legislative Committees looking back at all DNR-Tribal/GLIFWC meetings since Court ordered negotiations began.
Steve John today released a second video covering 20 years of history of "how we got here" regarding the "co-management" debacle at Mille Lacs.
Video #1 Behind MLFAC's Back
Video #2 Some historical info on Mille Lacs lake co-management
Please Like and Share Steve's videos when viewing them!
Douglas J. Meyenburg, President PERM
Proposed casino in Ottertail County faces needed scrutiny
August 29, 2017
Otter Tail County commissioners last week voted to request a full environmental impact statement (EIS) for a proposed casino on Star Lake in response to concerns of local residents.
The White Earth Band of Chippewa is planning to build a Shooting Star Casino and Resort on about 270 acres near Dent, in a rural area of the county. The project includes a gambling facility, hotel, restaurants, conference center and RV park. It will be the White Earth Band’s third casino.
Federal law gives the band the right to build a casino on trust land set aside during treaty settlements long ago, but the county has the power to approve other aspects of the project. Only about 15 acres of the proposed 270 acres are Indian Trust land.
Local residents are worried what this casino would do to the ecosystem surrounding the lake, a very environmentally sensitive area. They are worried run-off from the casino will be detrimental to the lakes and wetlands. Too much human pressure on a fragile ecosystem, especially long-term, could be impossible to reverse.
The casino proposal involves the federal, state and county governments as well as a sovereign tribal nation. An application for a dredging and filling permit on the trust lands is pending with the Army Corps of Engineers. After the county sets the scope of the EIS and gets responses from the tribe, the board will have a maximum of 280 days to make a decision on its portion of the project.
Mille Lacs Band gets $200,000 in Federal dollars for walleye work
The federal Tribal Wildlife Grant program grant to the Mille Lacs Band was awarded last week according to Outdoor News (Mixed Bag August 17, 2017)
Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced $199,075 in funding to Minnesota Native tribes. Over $990,000 was awarded to Minnesota state wildlife agencies through the State Wildlife Grants program.
The funds come from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which offers support for a range of species and habitats across the country.
The Mille Lacs Band’s funding will help identify key habitats for the conservation of juvenile and adult walleye in Lake Mille Lacs.
The $993,310 in funding for the State is part of $48 million being distributed nationwide. It will support endangered species and habitats listed in approved state wildlife action plans.
MLFAC Burned: DNR negotiates secret agreement with tribes
No one from DNR ever spoke to MLFAC about this agreement
The following is a letter being sent today from Dean Hanson, Mille Lacs Fishery Advisory Committee to DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. It is very troubling to say the least. Please read his letter (and DNR's Agreement with the Tribes) and see my comments below.
Dean Hanson's Letter
Dear Commissioner Landwehr,
We recently acquired a copy of an agreement called "Consensus: Mille Lacs Fishery Harvest Plan, 2017-2020", dated March 31, 2017 between the DNR, GLIFWIC, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (copy attached).
We were shocked to say the least. No one from the DNR had ever spoken to MLFAC about this agreement, either before or after its signing. This agreement was never disclosed to the public at any time. Why would the DNR secretly negotiate a settlement like this without disclosing it to anyone? This is exactly the type of thing, which reinforces our position that more transparency is needed in connection with DNR and Band discussions and negotiations. It is an example of why we have requested participation of some kind in FTC meetings.
We also need to consider that this agreement resulted from an overharvest of 6,800 pounds in 2016. It was an estimated hooking mortality, not an actual harvest. These numbers come from expansions of creel census data, which have always been suspect to us, as well as an estimated hooking mortality study, which we have questioned since its release. We also believe that this overage may well be within the margin of error of all of these calculations, as well. In addition, the DNR has stated several times that they do not believe that any harm was done to the spawning stock biomass, the 2013 year class or any part of the walleye population as a result of the overage. So why, given the insignificant overage and its minimal impact, did the DNR give up so much?
The DNR gave the Bands 50% of any harvestable surplus over 64,000 pounds. They set harvestable surplus levels, which could severely reduce our potential harvest in the future. They locked us in to a hooking mortality based on the suspect hooking mortality study. They locked us in to an overage program which all comes due in 2020 and will probably significantly reduce our harvest potential in 2018-2020.
At this point, what did you have to lose by letting them go back to court and fighting it? Maybe a Phase II lawsuit would settle the allocation issues with a more favorable outcome for Minnesota sportsmen.
We believe MLFAC, as well as the public deserves answers to these and many other questions and we request an open meeting with the DNR, MLFAC and anyone else who is interested within 2 weeks. Please respond to this as soon as possible.
DNR's Agreement with the Tribes
My Take On Dean Hanson's Letter
The agreement was negotiated entirely in secret. This shows the DNR's leadership has no regard for the MLFAC members whom they appoint. It ignores the constituencies MLFAC represents and the suggestions they have been making for improving the "co-management" of Mille Lacs.
It must be infuriating to find out that Mille Lacs "co-management" regarding walleye angling has been hard-wired--for the next three years! Especially galling is having an agreement based on research methods and data challenged as faulty by MLFAC members at every meeting.
The agreement leads one to believe all the meetings with Governor Dayton and DNR officials have been nothing more than dog-and-pony shows.
If an agreement like this has to be done behind closed doors, and the results known only if leaked, is there more going on than meets the eye? At a minimum it look like a one-sided sweetheart deal of a payoff, extracted over a measly 6,800-pound overage.
It is time to hold the Governor and DNR accountable for their actions!
** DNR Commissioner Landwehr and Fisheries Chief Don Pereira must resign.
** Other parties to this agreement, tribal management and the taxpayer-funded GLIFWC, should also be held accountable. They should be exposed for breaking trust with the citizens of Minnesota, and violating the spirit of the Supreme Court's affirmation of 1837 Treaty harvest rights.
** Governor Dayton should call for a priority investigation by the Office of the Legislative Auditor to be conducted as soon as possible.
** The appropriate House and Senate Committees should not only review the Auditor's report, but also look back at all DNR-Tribal/GLIFWC meetings since Court ordered negotiations began.
** The appropriate House and Senate Committees should also review and prioritize previously submitted legislative proposals related to fixing Mille Lacs "co-management."
Gov. Dayton, DNR's Landwehr meet with Mille Lacs resort owners
Monday morning, August 14, driving up the west side of Mille Lacs Lake, I saw only a handful of boats, even on such a beautiful day. I was headed up to meet with Twin Pines' Linda Eno, Lundeen Tackle Castle's Bill Lundeen, and Red Door Resort's Steve Kulifaj.
I had the privilege of joining them for a meeting with Governor Mark Dayton and DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. We met to discuss the impact of DNR regulations on anglers and Mille Lacs businesses.
The hour and a half meeting touched on a variety of issues. We had a straightforward conversation that was pointed at times. One highlight was a hearing on how hard it is to run a business without a plan. Can you imagine a Mille Lacs resort customer calling in January to book a summer stay, and having to ask if they can fish while on vacation!
The DNR-Tribal regulations are usually announced only a month or so before opener. These days pre-opener regs can be fleeting, since a mythical number called "hooking mortality," a term invented by the DNR-Tribal co-management team, drives the regs.
We also touched on the number and location of DNR test nets, inaccurate creel surveys and boat counts, DNR refusal or inability to answer questions and concerns brought by MLFAC members, and the State not standing up for non-tribal interests and anglers.
The Governor and Commissioner were reminded how Mille Lacs once provided memories and served the cultures for ALL who used it. When confronted with the debacle of 2016: the lake being closed, opened, and reclosed; the Governor stated he was threatened by the Mille Lacs Band of taking the state to court.
The consensus of resorters was "good, lets go back to court, only this time use all documents and input." Governor Dayton then stated he has no leverage. Resorters thought he had plenty, suggesting for example, expansion of statewide gambling. The possibility of even a few machines in each resort would provide all the leverage he needs.
I also had the opportunity to present the Governor with thousands of petitions collected by PERM to follow through on his campaign pledge: "I believe that all hunting and fishing in Minnesota should be done under the same rules". I also told them both "grow a pair" and tell the tribes they are in charge of all Minnesota's natural resources!
Since co-management was implemented bag limits have gone from 6 walleye to zero. Over 50 businesses have gone under. And those still open are surviving day to day.
The walleyes are there; take the politics out of managing them!
Douglas J. Meyenburg,
Given that Governor Dayton believes "all hunting and fishing in Minnesota should be done under the same rules," PERM's petition asked for the following:
We the undersigned users of Minnesota's natural resources petition the Minnesota Governor, Attorney General, DNR Commissioner, and Legislature to protect the interests of all sportsmen and women, and Minnesota's economic future by:
* Passing enabling legislation requiring the DNR to consider the impact on the state's hunting and fishing when adopting game and fish rules, when applied equally to all citizens, and making funding decisions.
* Using all available means to ban the use of gillnets for game fish;
* Standing up for the interests of all citizens, sportsmen and women, property owners, and resort owners in any potential expansion of "treaty harvest rights";
* Making any such negotiations transparent to the public and subject to Minnesota's good government "open meeting" laws; and
* Enforcing the U.S. Supreme Court Holt Decision, stating Red Lake belongs to ALL citizens, and thereby--
Making your vision for equal protection of the law a reality.
*** PERM 2017 Legal Fund Raffle WINNERS! ***
Andy B.........Onamia.................Ruger American 30:06 Springfield Bolt
Wayne P.......Andover................Ruger America 270 Winchester Bolt
Kent S..........Hugo....................Winchester SXP 12ga Shotgun
Dean P.........Lino Lakes.............Ruger American .17 HMR caliber
Carol S........Bloomington...........Red Door Resort 3 nights-2 day for two
Kevin S........Hillman.................Twin Pines Eat-Sleep-Fish Package for Two
Kevin S........Excelsior...............Paul Hartman Muskie Guide Half Day
Pat K...........Hastings................Muskie Box with Lures
Congratulations to the winners! And many thanks to all who entered the raffle.
Your support is critical to PERM's success.
Doug Meyenburg responds to Rod Sando’s blame game
Secretly negotiated proposed settlement with Mille Lacs was strongly opposed before PERM was created
After reading former MN DNR Commissioner Rod Sando's editorial on Saturday July 15, Why the DNR is not Mille Lacs protesters' enemy, I am surprised that he gives PERM credit for defeating his secretly negotiated proposed settlement with the Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa.
That would have been quite an accomplishment, given that PERM was not formed until after ordinary business owners, residents, conservation groups (clubs), and concerned citizens discovered the "settlement" and testified before the Legislature to defeat his agreement. Sando likes to blame others for losing on a really bad deal.
If you want to know what his deal was about, start with the 49-page "Settlement Agreement Between The Mille Band Of Chippewa Indians and State Of Minnesota." You can find it at perm.org under Recommended Reading (Left panel.)
A few lowlights to look for:
1.) Sando made the settlement with Mille Lacs Band only, when seven other tribes also signed the 1837 Treaty. Had the state of Minnesota agreed to this deal, a Federal Court very quickly would have multiplied the payout seven times over!
2.) The Settlement included a $10,000,000 payout over four years (just over $16,000,000 in today's dollars.)
3.) The Settlement included a 6,000-acre exclusive Mille Lacs Chippewa treaty fishing zone border to be enforced by State of Minnesota. How many more acres would have been added if the other seven tribes asked the courts for equal treatment?
4.) Recognition of a long-since-disestablished 61,000-acre reservation, the boundaries of which would have put the communities of Isle, Wahkon, and most of Onamia, plus many landowners and businesses under tribal jurisdiction.
5.) The State would convey another 7,500 acres of land to the Mille Lacs Tribe, for which the State had to "acquire and present clear title."
6.) Fish harvest would have begun spring of 1993 in the 6,000-acre exclusive zone, and throughout all of Mille Lacs Lake, by tribal members outside of any State laws.
These are some of the realities of this "good deal." When it became apparent the deal was failing there was a mad scramble to change some parts, so there are some documents floating around with different numbers. (Take the time to read all 49 pages and you will discover other issues.) In the end it still failed.
Mainstream media ignored the troubling details of this mega-payout. Instead, they chose to brand Coach Bud Grant and those opposed to the settlement as RACIST for supporting the common folk, even though this document was the focal point of the legislative hearings.
After the settlement was defeated at the Legislature, landowners and affected counties were allowed in the lawsuit. It was at this point that PERM was formed to raise money and educate the public.
By Sando's own admission in his editorial, his Minnesota DNR--at that time--recommended businesses that depend heavily on fishing should diversify. Did they know even then how much gillnetting during the spawn would affect walleye populations in this premier walleye destination?
I challenge the mainstream press to find jut one reporter to do a full and in-depth story on how we got to the point we re at now. Dig a little. Review the Indian Claims Commission payments to the Mille Lacs and other Chippewa bands. Also look at the 1837 Treaty itself, which references a revocation of temporary hunting and fishing privileges. Find documents at perm.org
Mr. Sando, PERM members didn't specifically organize the recent Boat Rally protest on Mille Lacs. It was a spontaneous reaction to DNR co-management's over-reach. PERM did however promote it because so many concerned, frustrated citizens were willing to put their boats on the water for a cause.
Look at all the media coverage the Boat Rally got, reaching you in Oregon, a fish and wildlife resarcher in Alaska, and even being reported in the Wall Street Journal. It shows the issue is real, and can’t be dismissed or swept under the rug.
Douglas J. Meyenburg, President, PERM
Boat Rally to Keep our Walleye Fishing and Save our Economy
Join us on July 8th at 10 am
Gov. Dayton will be fishing on a Fisher's Resort launch boat on July 8th. So let's "circle the wagons" in a peaceful protest to Keep our Walleye Fishing and Save our Economy.
Please join us in a show of support for Lake Mills Lacs walleye. Head up early, have breakfast at an area resort or restaurant, show your support, do a little fishing, and have a meal locally before leaving. This an attempt to show the Governor and his media there is support, please join us and be respectful!
Douglas J. Meyenburg
WHY SHOULD YOU JOIN US?
*** DNR Management of the lake has nothing to do with Biology anymore, it is all about Politics (Governor and DNR's fishing shutdown decision reversed course so they would not "hurt our relationship with the Bands." Star Tribune 8/24/2016)
*** In 18 years our State has brought this lake from a premier Walleye lake with limits of 6 to closure of the Walleye Season (Mille Lacs DNR Management is a Perfect Example of Public Policy Gone Mad!)
*** How do you have an economy based on fishing and justify shutting the fishing down? (Over 50 Small Business have vanished from the lake; many more struggle to survive.)
The Governor's Launch will depart from Fisher's Resort at 9 am. Fisher's Resort is located on the NE corner of Mille Lacs.
Check in on the Twin Pines Resort Facebook page for updates and LIVE broadcasts as the rally forms. Facebook.com/TwinPinesResort
Email questions to DougMeyenburg@hotmail.com or LindaEno@live.com
Let's send a loud and clear peaceful message to the Governor from the water! (Remember to be respectful of other fishermen.)
DNR relies on little more than guesswork to set regs
'Co-management' solutions only look at half the equation
The issues on Mille Lacs persist! Last year, before going into the "co-management" technical meetings, the DNR admitted they didn't know how many walleye were in Mille Lacs. But now they're able to say we have about 50% less than historical levels?
At many of the MLFAC meetings, I've heard the DNR mention walleye population study numbers. They could be plus or minus 10%, or 12%, or 15%. Now it's 50% less?
Last week Gov. Dayton had some members of MLFAC committee down for lunch to discuss the issues. They talked. He listened. But there were no proposals coming from Gov. Dayton!
People who take the pulse of the lake daily have a much better picture of the state of the lake!
So I am asking you to use the link at perm.org to email the Governor. Ask him to take action immediately and do away with "co management."
Of course the tribes may sue. But maybe that's exactly what's needed. "Co management" or not, Dayton is still accountable to us, the taxpayers. He is ultimately responsible for protecting natural resources for ALL Minnesotans
Steve Johnson, Mille Lacs Fishery Advisory Committee member, and a longtime business owner on Mille Lacs, explains.
Douglas J. Meyenburg,
New 'We the People' Petition Launched
Local advocate for Mille Lacs asks angling community to petition the White House to save the walleye
(PERM is sharing this because we support any effort to normalize usage of Mille Lacs and do away with "co-management.")
Call to Action
"Pursuant to an 1837 Treaty, several Chippewa Bands ceded land in present-day Minnesota and Wisconsin to the United States. The United States, in turn, guaranteed to the Indians certain hunting, fishing, and gathering rights on the ceded land "during the pleasure of the President of the United States." This new petition calls for the elimination of bilateral management of the lake's resources.
We need the support of the angling community.
Petition seeks to 'remedy' Mille Lacs
Petition has PERM's support
Outdoor News today reported on a whitehouse.gov petition that seeks a "remedy to eliminate bilateral control of" Lake Mille Lacs' walleye management. The lake's walleye is managed jointly by the DNR and Chippewa tribes as a result of a 1999 Supreme Court decision in the Chippewa v. Minnesota case.
The petition's creator, Jon Knudsen, a launch boat captain at Nitti's Hunters Point Resort, is advocating for President Trump to curb the Treaty's harvest privileges in the 1837 ceded territory. It states that the harvest privilege "is guaranteed to the Indians, during the pleasure of the President of the United States."
The Supreme Court concluded, "President Taylor’s 1850 Executive Order was ineffective to terminate Chippewa usufructuary rights under the 1837 treaty."
However, Knudsen is relying on Justice Sandra Day O'Connor’s opinion, in which she states, "We do not mean to suggest that a President, now or in the future, cannot revoke the Chippewa usufructuary rights in accordance with the terms of the 1837 treaty."
Knudsen says the current system isn’t fair to state anglers and surrounding businesses. "We can't have anything for the table, and the Indians can go out and keep 10 fish, any size," he said. "How can you recognize the Indians’ right to fish and not our right to keep fish?"
The petition has the blessing of PERM, which has long been involved in the issues of fisheries management on Mille Lacs.
Doug Meyenburg Jr., President of PERM, said the group is "in favor of anybody doing anything positive to straighten out the situation on Mille Lacs."
Asked if PERM itself was reaching out to the Trump administration, Meyenburg said the group is examining its options. "We are always working continually to straighten the mess out," he said.
Knudsen, who is not a member of PERM, said he appreciates what the group has done.
"It's a political powder keg that none of our elected officials or representatives want anything to do with," Knudsen said, hopeful that Trump, who has rallied on lifting regulations to help businesses, could be the one modern president to get involved.
New 'We the People' Petition Launched
Local advocate for Mille Lacs asks angling community to petition the White House to save the walleye
(PERM is sharing this because we support any effort to normalize usage of Mille Lacs and do away with "co-management.")
Call to Action
"Pursuant to an 1837 Treaty, several Chippewa Bands ceded land in present-day Minnesota and Wisconsin to the United States. The United States, in turn, guaranteed to the Indians certain hunting, fishing, and gathering rights on the ceded land "during the pleasure of the President of the United States." This new petition calls for the elimination of bilateral management of the lake's resources.
We need the support of the angling community.
Please click 'We the People' link below, then sign when prompted by the White House website. There will be an e-mail sent and you will have to click on their confirmation link to be counted."
We the people ask the federal government to Change an existing Administration policy:
Remedy to eliminate bilateral control of Mille Lacs Lake, MN to save the walleye population of the lake.
Created by J.K. on June 13, 2017
Because of closed season netting by Sovereign Ojibwe and MN DNR regulations, the tourism and angler's right to fish are being denied the region that is dependent on tourist dollars to survive. All administrative remedies have been exhausted. The region is losing it's appeal to fishermen that can only shake their heads at the inconclusive measures that so-called "treaty" management has done to this premier walleye destination. The Sovereign Nation of Ojibwe claims it has the "right" to decimate the lake to take as many fish as it can take and dictate how many fish everyone else can have. This is beyond their "sovereign" discretion. We aren't allowed to take any fish as a result. There is a plentiful population of walleye in the lake, yet they would deny anglers the right to fish.
Outside experts to review DNR's Mille Lacs walleye management
Dennis Anderson reviews the June 5 MLFAC meeting
I reminded DNR Fisheries chief Don Pereira about a comment he made after attending the Technical Committee meeting with the tribes (which he attended having no idea about the number of walleyes in the lake.) He said this year's DNR management and quotas would be about the political more than the biological.
That might explain the DNR’s using—and over emphasizing—"hooking mortality" as a cover for being way to conservative with the quota.
Many experts are saying we need to get more of the large walleyes out of the lake. They are eating machines with poorer fertility. Removing some would actually protect stock levels.
At some point the DNR has to realize they are the ultimate authority and still in charge of Mille Lacs' conservation.
Anderson's article is worth reviewing since it covers the experience of resorters.
See Also ... Steve Johnson's June 7 Facebook post (Johnson's Portside on Mille Lacs) for a more detailed explanation.)
Douglas J. Meyenburg, President, PERM
Anglers, citizens concerned about Mille Lacs encouraged to attend Advisory Committee meeting
The Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee will meet from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Monday, June 5, at the Garrison Town Hall, 27069 Central St. in Garrison.
DNR staff will provide updates on the fishery, including upcoming research projects and preliminary findings from last year's experimental stocking.
The committee will also be discussing its future activities. Members of the public are welcome to attend and observe these meetings, and 15 minutes at the end of each meeting is reserved for public comments and questions.
Please attend and feel free to speak up during the "public comments and question" period at the end of the meeting. The DNR needs to know we are paying attention and want to keep politics out of co-management.
Upcoming PERM Board meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, June 14 and again on Monday July 10 at 7:30 pm in the Boardroom at the Cinema Professional Bldg., 657 Main Street, in Elk River.
Doug Meyenburg, President, PERM
Band's walleye take a lesson in conservation
Fond du Lac Band has tough year for walleye in 1854 Treaty lakes. Makes up for it in 1837 Treaty lakes, especially Mille Lacs.
A story in Outdoor News today, May 12, 2017, shows that Mother Nature often creates tough odds for survival. The Fond du Lac Band was reminded of this again this spring.
Many factors can affect survival. Aspects of water quality including dissolved oxygen, temperature, and pH have been known to affect walleye egg survival. Egg adhesiveness can remain for a little as one to two hours. High wind speeds from the wrong direction or at critical times can transport eggs and move substrates and "should be considered a critical factor in annual walleye egg survival and year-class strength."
The odds for survival are long enough. Why would any fishery management add to that by allowing gillnetting during the walleye spawn?
PERM's position is American Indians were made citizens of the United States in 1924. They must follow the laws that all other Americans have to follow. PERM continues to promote equal hunting and fishing rights for all!
Keep your lines tight and your tip up!
For Fond du Lac Band, walleye take in ’17 a tale of two ceded territories
By Javier Serna, Outdoor News, May 12, 2017
Brian Borkholder, inland fisheries biologist for Fond du Lac Resource Management blamed the weather for the poor 1854 lakes take. "That’s fishing." he said. "it warmed up too early on some lakes, and got too cold on others, particularly when a recent ice storm hit Cook County."
The Fond du Lac Band harvests game and fish in northeast Minnesota under treaty rights in the 1854 ceded territory. Those rights were upheld in U.S. District Court by Judge Richard Kyle in 1996. That ruling prevents the state from regulating band harvest.
Mille Lacs 2017 Tribal Spearing - Video
An April 25th video shows spearers working the shoreline during the walleye spawn. This type of action is playing over and over on Mille Lacs. It shows the disruption of the spawning process. It even shows an example of how spearing has its own "spearing mortality."
Douglas Meyenburg, President, PERM
Spring netting is not 'fine'
Tom Wolak, from Foley, has it right when he writes "I can't believe [the DNR] still adheres to the idea that there is no correlation between spring tribal netting and the decline in walleye numbers." We must remember that there is a short time period for the laid eggs to be fertilized! So not only do we lose the fertile females and their mates, but the netters and spearers are disturbing the process and huge amounts of eggs are scattered without being fertilized! See his letter below.
Douglas Meyenburg, President, PERM
Mille Lacs is fine; spring netting is not
Letters to the Editor Outdoor News April 7, 2017
After reading another article about how the DNR is closing Lake Mille Lacs to keeping any walleyes this summer, I can’t believe it still adheres to the idea that there is no correlation between spring tribal netting and the decline in walleye numbers. With that kind of logic, let’s have a spring deer hunt with hunters only being able to take does carrying fawns.
How can taking the big, egg-filled females out before they can deposit their millions of eggs not have an effect on a lake’s future? They claim by closing the lake to allowing fishermen to keep some walleyes they are somehow helping preserve the spawning class of fish. How many of those spawning class are gonna be taken in Native American nets before they can spawn?
The spring netting needs to stop. Compensate the tribes for not netting and allow the lake to return to how it used to be, naturally. The problem is those in power who don’t know squat about how a lake sustains itself. Mille Lacs doesn’t need anything but time and to be left alone – free of any spring netting – to return to being our premier walleye destination.
Tom Wolak, Foley
DNR can’t have it both ways with Lake Mille Lacs
Letters to the Editor Outdoor News March 31, 2017
What is going on with the DNR and Lake Mille Lacs? The most restrictive regulations, even after summer and winter fishing seasons that clearly proved the lake is full of walleye of all sizes.
After stating that we need a record-low harvest of walleyes because the lake is in "crisis" with only one year-class of small walleyes present in any numbers, DNR Fisheries Chief Don Pereira then states that one reason for the historic restrictions is that fisherman caught much higher numbers of walleye in all sizes than the DNR expected.
Which is it? Record-low walleye numbers with fish in only one size/year-class, or large numbers of walleyes in all sizes? The DNR can’t have it both ways.
The frustrating part is that the DNR had determined a much higher harvest allotment this year than the DNR's "partners" in managing the lake would agree to. These so-called partners get to take fish by net, spear, and hook and line without the same restrictions as the rest of us. My biggest concern is for the hard-working, tax paying business men and women on and around Lake Mille Lacs who will go under this year thanks to the DNR and its partners.
Troy Smutka, Chaska
Ask President for Executive Order to Save Mille Lacs
Given the DNR's new Mille Lacs walleye regulations--and shutdown--for 2017, it might be time to ask the President for an Executive Order to address the situation at Mille Lacs.
The new regulations came out right after my last email, where I first suggested asking for an Executive Order. As I wrote then, "Will this fix the situation at Mille Lacs? It can't hurt. The more emails the President gets only helps our cause."
It's time everyone hunts and fishes under the same rules!
Here is a Sample Message to ask President Donald Trump to sign an Executive Order regarding the Mille Lacs situation. Add your own thoughts to make it personal.
The MN DNR's state/tribal "co-management" of 1837 Chippewa Treaty's harvest rights for Mille Lacs has gone from over one million pounds of walleye to a tiny catch-and-release quota race with "hooking mortality." Adding a mid-season shutdown of walleye fishing, which affects all species, further destroys Mille Lacs as Minnesota's premiere walleye angling destination, its local economy, and its property values.
We ask that you sign an Executive Order to honor the 1837 Treaty's original intent and address the technical flaw in the 1850 Presidential Order regarding the 1837 Treaty's tribal harvest rights.
Here are some reasons to ask for an Executive Order.
(Adding the whole list below is too large to fit size limits for the Contact the President email.)
* MN Dept. of Natural Resources, Mille Lacs Band, and Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission's co-management of 1837 Treaty harvest rights for Mille Lacs has brought devastation of Mille Lacs as Minnesota's premiere walleye angling destination, its local economy, and property values;
* Mille Lacs walleye harvest has gone from over one million pounds to this year's negligible catch-and-release harvest quota using a poorly-substantiated hooking mortality algorithm and a mid-season shutdown of walleye fishing;
* The co-management of Mille Lacs allows the unsustainable gillnetting of walleye during spawning season; and prohibits that policy from being challenged or researched;
* The co-management of Mille Lacs impacts angling for all other species, further reducing Mille Lacs as an angling destination;
* MN Dept. of Natural Resources has publicly admitted that co-management of Mille Lacs is driven more by politics than biology;
* The Indian Claims Commission paid ALL claims brought by the Chippewa tribes; paying the Mille Lacs Band $3.93 million in 1965; and again paying the Chippewa, including the Mille Lacs Band, $9.02 million in 1973 for claims under the 1837 treaty, including claims for lost hunting and fishing rights (2016 dollar equivalents);
* Minnesotans and the Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa have traditionally maintained good relations since President Zachary Taylor's 1850 revocation order;
* Minnesotans wish to restore such relations with the Mille Lacs Band, as well as Mille Lacs being Minnesota's premiere walleye angling destination and its local economy;
* Chippewa tribes still retain all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of U.S. and State citizenship, in addition to rights acquired under the concept of "tribal sovereignty";
* Minnesota's Gov. Dayton has publicly stated that "I believe that all hunting and fishing in Minnesota should be done under the same rules";
* The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on the existence of treaty harvest rights was based on its determination that President Zachary Taylor's 1850 revocation order was technically flawed;
We ask that you sign an Executive Order to honor the 1837 Treaty's original intent and address the technical flaw in the 1850 Presidential Order regarding the 1837 Treaty's tribal harvest rights.
Will Mille Lacs 2017 Regs Call for a New Presidential Order?
While thinking of soliciting some help with a new effort to restore Mille Lacs as Minnesota’s greatest angling destination, I thought, “Who better than working with the friends of Mille Lacs Lake?” Together we have tried to work with the State of Minnesota and tribal co-managers. We even sued the State of Minnesota. It all fell on deaf ears!
Let’s start something new. Let us start at the top—with a new Presidential Order!
The 1999 Supreme Court’s split decision does not prevent a future Presidential Order. The 1837 Treaty, the Indian Claims Commission, and numerous Congressional actions, taken together, make clear that the original temporary hunting and fishing privileges SHOULD NOT EXIST. We are ALL United States citizens, including American Indians. We must all abide by the same laws.
I ask you to take a few minutes and go to perm.org. On the left of the screen there is a link for contacting President Trump. Click on it and within a few seconds you can send our President your own personal message.
Ask him to sign an Executive Order to replace the technically flawed (according to the 1999 Supreme Court ruling) Presidential Order signed by President Taylor in 1850 that ended harvest rights under the 1837 Treaty with the Chippewa Tribe.
Also ask him to look at the federal government’s failed Federal Indian Policy and do away with this "selective sovereignty". We are all citizens of America subject to the same rights and rules. Will this correct the present situation at Mille Lacs? I don't know. But we have tried so many things over the years. This can't hurt. Whether you voted for Trump or not is really not relevant. If he chooses to help, we will ALL benefit. While on the PERM website sign up for our email updates if you aren’t getting them. (We won't share your email addresses.) The more emails the President gets only helps our cause. Make Mille Lacs Great Again!
Douglas Meyenburg, President PERM
Mille Lacs 'catch and release'—again
Doug Meyenburg comments after MLFAC meeting
Isle, February 15, 2017—Last night, while attending the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee Meeting, I heard the head of DNR Fisheries Don Pereira announce to the committee and public in attendance that Mille Lacs again will be catch and release for the 2017 open water season.
This reg comes after last summer’s hot bite, and this winter’s catch being on fire? (Just look at the pictures on resorters’ websites.)
Pereira pointed out that negotiations with the tribes weren't going very well because they are mad about non-tribal anglers going over our 2016 quota. We must remember that 2016 regulations were catch and release only, so quotas are made-up hooking mortality numbers. NOT ONE fish was allowed to be harvested by non-tribal anglers.
Pereira admitted that the issues are political and not being made with biology as the determining factor. My question would be "will 2017 regs be a kiss and make up year"?
The DNR pointed out that there is a spike in angler activity in the last few weeks of July, which boosts hooking mortality. But this is discounted by most people on the Committee as they are on the lake daily and don't see enough boats. For example, one Committee member who sells live bait said that the day after the 4th of July weekend his sales of live bait dropped like a box of rocks. So where does the DNR get these numbers?
Governor Mark Dayton ordered stocking in Mille Lacs last year. But the DNR team last night admitted it is only being used for research data and not to add fish to the lake. I sit there representing PERM as an observer wondering how these resorters and other business people are going to make it. Their deep-rooted livelihoods are at stake. So many of these people have become good friends and it pains me to see this happening to them in the name of politics.
Is this the end of the story? NO. The 1855 Treaty is now being disputed in the Crow Wing County court. The 1855 Treaty ceded territory includes Mille Lacs Lake, the Brainerd Lakes area, Winni, Leech, Lake Bemidji, and everything in between. If history holds true, some federal judge will give the White Earth tribe the same harvest rights as Mille Lacs tribe has. The map of 1855 treaty area is at perm.org. Look it up.
Now is the time to stand up for the Mille Lacs area and the state of Minnesota. Tribal co-management is not working. The Governor and MN DNR are responsible for the natural resources being regulated for all citizens. But it looks like the tail is wagging the dog.
Please take the time to share this email. Then contact Governor Dayton, DNR Commissioner Landwehr, and your House and Senate members and ask them to take the action required to iron this mess out.
Mille Lacs advisory committee meets Feb. 15
PERM members encouraged to attend
The Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee will meet from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, at McQuoid’s Inn, 1325 State Highway 47 in Isle. DNR staff will provide a report-out from January’s Fisheries Technical Committee meeting, and preliminary results of last summer’s hooking mortality study. Members of the public are welcome to attend and observe these meetings, and 15 minutes at the end of each meeting is reserved for public comments and questions.
Fellegy: Endless storm batters Mille Lacs sport fishery
Tribes ask Governor to disband MLFAC
Joe Fellegy, in his Friday, November 4 Outdoor News commentary called state-tribal co-management of Mille Lacs a "destructive gale." It was a storm that "rips at the sport fishing community, with no end in sight."
He stated that it is "no surprise that angler numbers and hours fell to all-time lows" after facing a super-low walleye quota, no keeping, and a night-fishing ban. This "maximum conservation" still wasn't enough he according to Fellegy. "So, clobber anglers and suffering businesses with fuzzy guesstimated walleye 'hooking mortality' assessments to drive 'em over the unscientific low quota, and hit 'em with a Sept. 6 complete shutdown."
The resignation of Jamie Edwards, Mille Lacs Band representative, from the DNR's 17-member Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee added to the ongoing PR disaster. His resignation letter to DNR's Tom Landwehr and copied to Gov. Dayton brought unfair negative press for Mille Lacs and for MLFAC. It smeared the MLFAC as "anti-science and anti-tribal."
Fellegy found even bigger news. "Unreported by state officials, even to MLFAC leadership: letters from tribal officials asking Gov. Dayton to disband MLFAC!"
Fellegy attended all MLFAC meetings over the past year. He "heard no anti-Indian comments from members." He pointed out "Mr. Edwards was rarely present and faced no flak." Fellegy then asked, "Minnesota’s DNR formed MLFAC for input on the state's side of co-management. Why should any tribal officials be on that committee, especially after their disband-MLFAC requests?"
Especially galling for Fellegy was how the DNR minimized its Sept. 6 shutdown with the line that Mille Lacs has "minimal fall fishing and business." Actually, "Mille Lacs ranked as one of Minnesota's top fall-fishing draws," according to Fellegy. Fellegy defended MLFAC's describing the gillnetting of game fish, especially during the spawn, as culturally "offensive to most Minnesotans." He called out the "misplayed race card" that too often "shuts down discussion and debate of tribal-related policymaking." Fellegy also called out the media for "defending and insulating the unjustifiable co-management system and its impacts."
Disgusted with trial moose hunts
Outdoor News, November 4, 2016
The beleaguered Minnesota moose population is suffering another blow this fall thanks to hunts by the Fond du Lac Lake Superior, Bois Forte and Grand Portage bands of Chippewa Indians. This travesty will result in 38 animals killed. Justification for the hunts has generally been, "It won't biologically threaten the moose herd." If this is true, then why is the hunting exclusive to Native Americans?
Minnesota is a fair and open society based on freedom and equality, right? According to the 2015 U.S. Census, American Indians account for 1.3 percent of the population in Minnesota... So shouldn't they be allowed just 1.3 percent of the moose hunted? This year, the bands should have been allowed to kill just one moose and the remaining 37 should have gone to the other 98.7 percent of Minnesotans.
Until things change, any freedom (-and moose-) loving Minnesotans who spend their money at the Black Bear, Fond-Du-Luth, Fortune Bay and Grand Portage casinos need to have their heads examined!
Chippewa tribes renew hunting of Minnesota moose
Against DNR wishes, the Fond du Lac Band has killed 25 moose already; plans are to harvest 38
October 19, 2016
A three-year hunting reprieve for Minnesota's struggling moose population has come to an end this fall. Shooting of 38 bulls by three Chippewa Indian tribes is planned. Twenty-five of those moose already have been killed by members of the Fond du Lac Band. The DNR urged the Band not to authorize a moose hunt, but the tribe chose to exercise its sovereign hunting and fishing rights.
The targeting of moose in 2016 ends a three-year period when state and tribal game managers stopped moose hunting in the face of an alarming population decline. From a peak of 8,840 moose surveyed in 2006, the DNR now estimates the population to be under 4,000 animals.
Now the cultural importance of a subsistence moose hunt overrides public sensitivities. That's because game managers now believe the state’s moose population has stabilized, adult moose mortality is low and calf survival is "reasonable."
DNR reverses under Indian pressure
Dave Orrick in the Pioneer Press commented on the closure of walleye fishing on Mille Lacs. He had questions about state leadership, as did Joe Fellegy. (PERM summary of Fellegy article and Fellegy Outdoor News article.)
The DNR and Dayton had said walleye fishing would remain open, in “an apparent violation of treaty protocols.” Last year the DNR closed fishing in early August when the kill limit was reached. This year Governor Dayton said the season would stay open, even after the hooking mortality “harvest” was more than 50% over the quota.
Then Gov. Dayton announced a closure would come on September 6th.
The DNR may have tried to signal a post-quota walleye season by saying earlier this month that they “believed the increased hooking mortality was actually not harming the lake’s walleye population.” This came after pre-season warnings of a “fairly high probability” of closure by August 1 if live bait use wasn’t banned. It was banned--but then restored “after local businesses objected.”
Reversal of the walleye season extension came, in turn, after strong pushback by the Mille Lacs band. Their response included the possibility of lawsuits. The tribe was said to be “displeased” with the walleye season remaining open after the quota was reached. What about all the anglers, resort owners, and taxpayers being a little bit displeased?
Dayton took credit for keeping the walleye season open through Labor Day, after which fishing pressure (and hooking mortality) slows down. Unfortunately, Dayton could take all the credit since the Mille Lacs Fishery Advisory Committee only knew about the closure when it was announced at their last meeting.
It might help if it’s remembered that the State is ultimately responsible for managing all the natural resources in Minnesota.
Douglas Meyenburg, President PERM
Politics at work: Mille Lacs walleye shutdown
By Steve Johnson, Johnsons Portside 8/23/2016
Walleye fishing on Mille Lacs to close September 6
August 23 | Onmia DNR Fisheries Chief Don Pereira announced tonight that walleye fishing on Mille Lacs will close September 6. He made the announcement at the Fishery Advisory Committee meeting being held at Izatys Resort in Onamia.
This reversal comes shortly after Governor Dayton reversed the DNR's closure that was tied to hooking mortality reaching (surpassing) the 2016 walleye harvest quota.
Wonder if the Governor is actually calling the shots. Or is he bowing to behind-the-scenes pressure beyond the DNR?
Expect to be reading a lot more in the papers and on the news tomorrow.
Douglas Meyenburg, President
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Mille Lacs Walleye season remains open!
Fishery Advisory Committee points the way
St Paul | August 10, 2016 Governor Dayton has announced that the Mille Lacs walleye fishery will remain open even though the harvest quota has been reached for the season. He said closure "would devastate area businesses and communities." Tribal leaders were asked for their "understanding and forbearance" in the matter.
The Mille Lacs Fishery Advisory Committee helped point the DNR and Governor in the right direction.
DNR reps at Committee meetings initially rejected looking at "socio-economic factors" in making resource management plans. Later it was pointed out that the Committee's charge included their consideration.
That's important because looking at economic loss in the Mille Lacs community wasn't considered a part of "co-management." The DNR only looked at things like lake biology, slot limits, and hooking mortality. That's not the whole picture.
This year the entire harvest was from "hooking mortality." Local professionals say the formula the DNR uses to assess hooking mortality is severely flawed. For example, do all boats on Mille Lacs get included in scoring hooking mortality? (DNR counts the number of boats times a predetermined number of fish per boat.) Many anglers on Mille Lacs are targeting Muskies and Bass! Not every trailer on shore belongs to an angler. Some are pleasure boats. But this formula would have meant the end of walleye fishing for the season if not for Gov. Dayton's weighing in.
Will socio-economic factors be part of co-management going forward? Let's hope so. Even the DNR's latest press release mentions taking "socio-economic factors into consideration" and preventing "significant economic loss in the Mille Lacs community."
We must remember that ultimately the State of MN is responsible for ALL natural resources within the state's boundary. These MUST be managed for all citizens.
Off-reservation (non-Mille Lacs) tribal walleye harvest mostly light
August 6, 2016 -- Reduced walleye harvest on Mille Lacs had bands in the 1837 Treaty ceded territory moving walleye harvest activity to other lakes. Last winter, the bands declared their intentions to exercise their off-reservation treaty harvest rights on 73 lakes. Only 10 of these lakes saw any harvest activity, either netting or spearing. These were:
Chisago Lake (Chisago County) – 67 pounds – 21% of quota
Green Lake (Chisago) – 513 pounds – 78% of quota
Rush Lake (Chisago) – 42 pounds – 4% of quota
South Long Lake (Crow Wing) – 245 pounds – 44% of quota
Platte Lake (Crow Wing) – 48 pounds – 7% of quota
Blue Lake (Isanti) – No harvest
Spectacle Lake (Isanti) – 35 pounds – 37 % of quota
Knife Lake (Kanabec) – 7 pounds – 2% of quota
Sullivan Lake (Morrison) – 15 pounds –3% of quota
Pokegama Lake (Pine) – No harvest
All fish are counted by tribal officials. Non-tribal harvest is assumed to be under the quotas. Tribal anglers must get a permit each day they fish. They must declare which lake they wish to fish that day. Access is from designated boat landings that have monitoring. Spearers are limited to fish under 20 inches, with one between 20 and 24 inches, and one of any size.
Are you concerned about:
* DNR’s co-management of Mille Lacs?
* Claims for expanded Mille Lacs “reservation” with expanded tribal law enforcement authority?
* An 1855 Treaty lawsuit?
It’s underway! DNR could end up co-managing off-reservation hunting, fishing, gathering—and “property rights”—in 1855 Treaty ceded territory. Lakes include Gull, Long, Whitefish, Cross, Leech, Cass, Pokegama, and Winnie. The 1855 ceded area includes Mille Lacs! See map.
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Mille Lacs advisory committee meets July 19
The Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee will meet from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 19, at the Garrison City Hall, 27069 Central St. in Garrison. Discussion at the July meeting will include updates on the ongoing hooking mortality study, and the 2016 open water creel results thus far. Members of the public are welcome to attend and observe these meetings, and 15 minutes at the end of each meeting is reserved for public comments and questions. The advisory committee of citizens has been active since October 2015. For more information about the committee and DNR’s management of Mille Lacs Lake, visit the Mille Lacs Lake management page. To sign up to receive these email updates, click on "Newsletter" on the left menu and enter your email in the blue box on the page.
Lake Mille Lacs stocking deserves history lesson
Here is an insider’s view of the DNR’s unwarranted bias for keeping a pure "Mille Lacs walleye" strain that’s held up restocking as a management tool. (And how much of requiring only Mille Lacs walleye eggs as a work-around is a driver for getting a $3.2 million hatchery at the lake?)
From Outdoor News Letters June 24, 2016
The adage, "What goes around comes around," can certainly be applied to the recent, last-ditch effort by the DNR--that of stocking walleyes in Lake Mille Lacs.
The culture of anti-stocking of walleyes began in 1990, beginning with the no cross-watershed--"keep the walleye genome pure"--dogma. After 1990, the DNR's anti-stocking culture and its "new stocking policy" unnecessarily left un-harvested walleyes to die in rearing ponds because I, as an employee, couldn't exceed the stocking quota. To me, the DNR's recent Mille Lacs stocking is laughable.
Except for his research staff, DNR Fisheries Chief Don Pereira should unplug the computers of his fish managers. Modeling fish populations in the office is fun, but not reality. The people of Minnesota own the fish, not the DNR. Therefore, fisheries specialists need to leave their world of virtual fish management and better engage the public on their turf--but not at choreographed public meetings.
The true mission of the DNR is: "We will work with the people of Minnesota to manage the state's resources." It is not: "We will manage the resources for the people of Minnesota." As a result, we seem to have a public agency that already knows what's right for us.
David G. Holmbeck
Editor's note: Holmbeck is a former DNR employee.
Mille Lacs County revokes law enforcement agreement with Mille Lacs Band
The Mille Lacs County Board on June 21 revoked the last Cooperative Agreement it entered into with the Mille Lacs Band in 2008.
For 25 years an agreement between the County and the Band allowed for joint law enforcement without having to address disputed boundaries.
Now the Mille Lacs Band's revival of the dispute over the existence of a 61,000-acre reservation "made it clear that tribal government prioritized tribal law over and above Minnesota law and its cooperative relationship with Mille Lacs County." The County was left with revocation as the only way it could "uphold the integrity of state law."
The Tribal Police Department will continue to exist, but will no longer have the powers of a state law enforcement agency in the disputed territory unless a new cooperative agreement is reached.
The County believes the reservation was disestablished and replaced with trust land. The band believes the reservation still exists and covers the entire 61,000 acres. Disputed land includes cities of Isle and Wahkon; Kathio State Park; Father Hennepin State Park; the Bayview community; and the entire southern shoreline of Lake Mille Lacs. Many citizens with no affiliation to the Mille Lacs Band own property and live within this area.
If the old reservation could be shown to still exist, the Mille Lacs Band would likely assert jurisdiction over all of the reservation, including non-Band members. Instead, Mille Lacs County Sheriff Brent Lindgren believes County residents "are entitled to the protections of Minnesota law."
"While it is a rejection of the Band’s unwillingness to follow state law, it is not a rejection of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe," according to Pat Oman, County Administrator. "The county will continue to work with the Band toward establishing a true partnership in law enforcement."
Sheriff Lindgren also stands "ready to put together a new cooperative agreement that respects that compromise" of the one just revoked.
Conflicts evident at Fisheries Advisory Committee meeting, discussion with tribes productive
Brainerd Dispatch’s Zach Kayser reported on tensions between Committee members and DNR staff evident at the June 6 Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee meeting.
One of the biggest issues was the request of committee members that there would not be another economically devastating closure of the walleye season. Bill Eno of Twin Pines thought “no closure” should hold even if state anglers surpassed the harvest limits negotiated with the tribes.
The DNR maintains that their data indicates a drastic decline in the vitality of the walleye population, with a lack of walleye of spawning age. Tina Chapman of Chapman's Mille Lacs Resort & Guide Service questioned that premise. Disagreement about the state of the fishery remained unresolved.
Another issue was over the Committee also considering social and economic impact of the walleye crisis or just focusing on the walleye population issue alone. If the committee focuses just on the walleye, then it's merely a "partial" tackling of the program that overlooks the social and economic consequences, according to Eno.
A tense moment came when committee member Crow Wing County Commissioner Paul Koering expressed concern that the DNR moderator was steering the conversation too much. DNR facilitator Katie Clower quickly apologized and the discussion returned to the agenda. Jamie Edwards of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe also expressed hope for a "less divisive approach" going forward.
Meet the tribes
Kayser described the face-to-face interaction with biologists from Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission as a breakthrough for the committee. This helped offset months of Committee members criticizing the tribal approach to fishing on Mille Lacs walleye.
Committee members learned just how GLIFWC regulates fishing by tribal members. GLIFWC is a consortium between tribal governments that manages resources off-reservation lands on which the tribes have gathering rights. The commission does not have the authority to dictate what the tribes themselves do. Each tribe's DNR-style agency manages reservation resources independently.
Also productive was learning that monitoring is primarily a tribal responsibility. A tribal warden and creel data team is present at all times during tribal fishing activity and every fish harvested is counted. Tribal counts are themselves sometimes subject to double-checks from observers sent by the DNR.
Can walleye ‘hooking mortality’ be reliably tabulated?
Joe Fellegy, in his June 3 Outdoor News commentary, challenges the importance of “hooking mortality” in the DNR’s “co-management” of Mille Lacs.
He agrees that hooking mortality plays a role in walleye sport fisheries. Modern angling trends encourage more release and more interest in mortality and survival of released fish.
Fellegy covered a lot of research that has been done on hooking mortality. Then he adds that mortality is almost never a player in lake management decisions impacting local fishing-related economies.
The “giant exception” of course is Mille Lacs. Hooking mortality is a huge issue at Mille Lacs because it’s factored into already stringent walleye quotas set by state and tribal co-managers.
Last summer, “guesstimated” hooking-mortality pounds pushed anglers over the state’s super-low quota and closed walleye fishing for four months. This year a low quota and hot walleye bite could bring a shutdown—even with catch and release only and foregoing the lake’s popular night-fishing tradition.
Fellegy questions why a shutdown would even be considered, when there is no allowed harvest and an all-time-low fishing effort. Especially when it would be based on “fuzzy hooking-mortality guesstimates.”
Fellegy blames a “flawed Mille Lacs-unique state-tribal co-management system” for such a convoluted arrangement that was “never envisioned by the 1837 treaty.”
Study dodges angling realities
Fellegy reports that the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee (MLFAC) never got much of an answer to the question of how hooking mortality was brought into Mille Lacs management. Skeptical anglers and some MLFAC members further questioned whether hooking mortality can be reliably quantified for the way it’s being used in managing Mille Lacs.
DNR’s response is another study. It will be two years of collecting details on 1,500 walleyes per year to “refine” the hooking mortality model. The DNR also greatly expanded its list of creel survey topics, spreading response data over a large number of categories.
Bottom line, Fellegy believes certain MLFAC members and others are “right-on in demanding that there be no walleye-fishing shutdown based on fuzzy and unbelievable guesstimated mortality pounds.”
Capitol Rally to raise awareness about Mille Lacs issues stays positive
May 5, 2016
Rob Drieslein commented on a rally in front of the state Capitol over Mille Lacs issues last Saturday. The Hunting and Angling Club held the event to denounce the catch-and-release fishing regs for Lake Mille Lace, as well as raise awareness about commercial gill netting that could come to the 1855 Ceded Territory.
Drieslei's follow up on the rally included an interview with Douglas Meyenburg, president of Proper Economic Resource Management. In making a connection to the rally, he noted that PERM has raised money for the landowner litigants in the 1837 Treaty case and remained active in monitoring and publicizing tribal natural resources treaty rights claims.
Yes, Meyenburg would've liked to have seen more people attend the rally. But Meyenburg admitted that "some people are so used to mediocrity and mismanagement of Mille Lace that they throw their hands up because they feel like there's nothing they can do." On the other hand, 500 people turned up at an April 29 Sportsmen to Save Minnesota fundraiser for PERM in Foley. Also, Meyenbur's comments on where he’ll open for fishing May 14 put an upbeat spin on circumstances for the area.
"I'm opening on Mille Lace because I just enjoy the lake--the structure, the resorts, the restaurants," he said. "Part of it is supporting the people up there, but Mille Lacs always has been the perfect 'up north' lake for me. It's still the place to be." A retired heavy equipment operator for the city of Coon Rapids, 67-year-old Meyenburg served in the Navy as a young man, but otherwise has resided in East Bethel most of his life. Mille Lacs is 75 minutes from his home and he's fished there for decades. About 10 years ago he became PERM president because "the lake has been managed for political reasons for too long, and that's why I want to stay in this fight." He'll fish the walleye on opener, but he also loves Mille Lacs for its fine bass, pike, and muskie fishing. I suspect the people in Meyenburg's fishing party will have a good time on May 14.
Curran Lake Update
April 13, 2016
After about 6 hrs of mediation yesterday with the DNR, reps from the Attorney General office, and landowners, the DNR has agreed to install and maintain a weir (dam) at the lake's outlet, which had been dredged to the point of draining the whole lake.
The landowners were given an award which they called a slap in the face, but they didn't want to pursue a costly lawsuit. The dam will be installed by 9-30-16 and will allow Curran Lake to slowly recover it's historical high water mark and, hopefully, return to the fishing and duck hunting destination it once was.
Doug Meyenburg, President
Steve Johnson Report
Misinformation on Mille Lacs Challenged
April 11, 2016
The amount of MISINFORMATION out there about Mille lacs is AMAZING. I will start some educational posts, some that will include my opinion (of course) and some clear facts as well.
Here is #1 - Mille lacs is NOT void of walleyes. Best guesstimates (DNR) would put the total poundage of mature and young walleyes around 2 million pounds. I and others believe this estimate is low due to sampling errors.
Average annual mortality is around 10% for walleyes. The harvest this year is 40k pounds total. That is 2%. I would say that is very conservative.
Any questions or topics any of you would like me to cover feel free to ask on this post or message me. (I will delete and ban TROLLS as they serve no purpose and should remain under their bridge of anonymity).
Pushback on Mille Lacs live bait ban
April 3, 2016
Resorters are voicing “unrest” over DNR’s live bait ban for Mille Lacs according to a Star Tribune story today. And they should.
It’s bad enough that walleye fishing on Mille Lacs under DNR ”co-management” has declined to catch and release only and no live bait. So non-tribal walleye “safe allowable harvest” this year is now zero.
Actually it’s less than zero, because hooking mortality counts against the zero harvest, putting walleye anglers into negative territory. Once hooking mortality reaches a “negative” harvest of 28,600 pounds, it’s shutdown for walleye fishing on Mille Lacs.
It’s much like the night fishing ban that was put in place to address the walleye problem. DNR’s latest scattershot no-live-bait-solution also manages to gummy things up for all other angling on Mille Lacs.
Even worse, no-live-bait ”would wipe out $2 million a year in local sales of live bait and related fishing tackle” according to Steve Johnson, Advisory Committee member.
Some Committee members are also pushing back for another reason. They never had a chance to weigh in on the possibility of a no-live-bait solution!
The DNR must have been listening at the meeting where they were ripped by the Committee’s own biostatistics expert, for basing their “hooking mortality” formula on outdated assumptions. They learned that artificial bait is used more these days than when their hooking mortality formula was first designed. And that mortality is reduced with artificial bait. But the DNR did not bring up the possibility of a catch-and-release season coupled with only artificial bait. The "Advisory" Committee never had a chance to discuss it.
Doug Meyenburg, President
Chippewa talks on Mille Lacs should be public
See also comment to this post
March 25, 2016
Dennis Anderson came out with a few overlooked facts about the 1837 treaty harvest arrangement under a 1999 Supreme Court ruling. He makes a case for Mille Lacs fishery co-management discussions being public. He thinks it’s the only way to get past a state divided by 16 years of closed negotiations.
It started with a 1990 Mille Lacs Chippewa lawsuit against the state of Minnesota over harvest rights in the 1837 Treaty’s ceded territory. Centerpiece of the lawsuit was Mille Lacs, the state's premiere walleye angling destination. Also at stake was Mille Lac's multimillion-dollar tourism economy.
A proposed settlement would have given the band $8.6 million, 7,500 acres of land and exclusive fishing rights on 4.5 percent of the lake. Plus a harvest of 24,000 pounds of walleye annually.
The Minnesota Legislature turned it down, reviving the lawsuit that was decided in the Chippewa's favor 5-4 by the Supreme Court in 1999.
Anderson's key overlooked fact is that while the rejected proposed settlement might look good compared to the present situation, it only included the Mille Lacs band. If the legislature had accepted it, they would have had to negotiate similar agreements with seven more tribes, who were parties to the 1837 Treaty.
That was unlikely given the first proposal's rejection.
Today the DNR is forced to come up with ever more drastic quota schemes—the latest being no walleyes kept and no live bait—to accommodate treaty harvest rights.
Anderson figures the DNR and tribes have found ways to work together. But private negotiations, behind-the scenes stance of the tribes, and current situation with Mille Lacs fishery and economy, all combine to leave Minnesota "a state divided on Lake Mille Lacs."
Anderson doesn't see that changing until co-management occurs in public "for all to see."
Key facts missing
Dennis Anderson’s article is good. However, some key facts are missing.
The 4.5 percent of the lake was an exclusive tribal fishing zone that the state would have to patrol to keep non-tribal anglers out! But tribal harvest could be on all contiguous waters, allowing gillnets throughout the lake.
Many acres of land that were included in the deal had homes and businesses on them, which would require Minnesota to get clear title on all of them before any land transfer.
The Chippewa, including the Mille Lacs Band, accepted payments from the Indian Claims Commission in 1965 and 1973 to settle these claims with the Federal government once and forever!
The US Supreme Court ordered "come to an agreement" not MN taking orders from tribe.
Doug Meyenburg, President PERM
Steve Johnson Report
The Half Truth You Hear
March 22, 2016
When the media or the DNR talks about a "low" population of walleyes in Mille lacs, they do not include the estimated 900,000 walleyes of the 2013 year class, weighing in at over 600,000 lbs.
Why you ask? Because they don't get applied to the BIOMASS TOTAL until they reach 14" or reach sexual maturity.But, and this is a big but,all sizes get applied to HOOKING MORTALITY. Welcome to the whacky world of Treaty Fisheries Management! Chew on that one for awhile.
Steve Johnson, Johnson's Portside on Mille Lacs.
DNR regs for Mille Lacs walleye draw fire
'Designed to keep walleye fishing open,' but mid-season closure MORE likely this year!
March 22, 2016
See COMMENTS below
This summer it's catch and release only for walleye anglers, who also must use artificial bait. And a season-long closure of night fishing is back for all but Muskie anglers.
The DNR's new regs for walleye fishing on Mille Lacs were said to be "designed to protect the fish needed to rebuild Mille Lacs Lake's walleye population."
Don Pereira, DNR fisheries chief said, "Not allowing harvest is a difficult decision but it provides our best option."
This year's safe walleye harvest quota remains at 40,000 pounds, (28,600 for state anglers, and 11,400 for tribal anglers.) Yet even with zero harvest, hooking mortality is still a factor.
The DNR expects many more smaller-sized fish to be caught, especially the 2013-year class, given the unusually hot bite this past winter.
Unfortunately, "The possibility of closing Mille Lacs to walleye fishing is greater this year than it was last," according to Pereira. "Even with our catch-and-release approach, the risk remains considerable."
The DNR is being particularly cautious with the 2013-year class, which they are counting on to rebuild Mille Lacs' walleye population.
Is this how to manage a lake?
These new regs are driven by "co-management" politics as much as by lake biology concerns. They threaten the livelihood of many businesses on and around Mille Lacs. It's one more reason why we must push for having the DNR go through the legislature when making such major changes.
Charges have been filed in Crow Wing County against four tribal members given citations for gill netting and wild rice violations on and near Gull Lake. Remember, the problems with Mille Lacs started with an illegal tribal harvest and citation in the Mille Lacs area.
Violators and their supporters in Crow Wing County have been very open about creating a lawsuit to "affirm" harvest--and now property--rights for the entire territory ceded by the 1855 Treaty. This includes the Brainerd Lakes, Winne, Leech lake area and a wide band of Northern Minnesota. Can you imagine enduring what we have experienced as "co-management" over so many lakes and so much territory?
Visit perm.org to sign up for email alerts, get involved now to prevent many major Minnesota Lakes being "managed" into catch and release!
Forward this to like minded sportsmen and women!
Doug Meyenburg, President PERM
2016 Mile Lacs Regulations
--Catch and release only on Walleye.
--No live bait allowed, Artificial baits only, yes GULP is artificial
--4 fish limit 17-21 protected slot, 1 allowed over 21" in bag of 4
--5 fish limit 30"-40" protected slot, 1 over 40" in bag of 5.
The walleye fishing this summer will be "off the hook."
The 2013 year class is now ranked second only to the one in the early 2000's. These fish will be starving if we don't have a HUGE perch hatch this spring. There are also too many big fish in the system and they may be hungry as well.
The Mille Lacs Fishery Advisory Committee will now be addressing the CAUSE and EFFECT of the management system in place on Mille Lacs. The DNR has told us that everything is on the table. Well, there will be a big pile on the table. My intention is to tear into Treaty Fisheries Management and make it stand on its own as a successful management style. If it doesn't, and I know it won't, we can advise to explore a new approach to Mille Lacs. This should include a compromise approach with the Bands, something the DNR has NEVER even mentioned.
Steve Johnson, Johnson's Portside on Mille Lacs
Lawmaker will seek to override Mille Lacs walleye rules
March 22, 2016
Sen. Dave Brown, R-Becker, responding to the DNR's new regs for Mille Lacs, says they are “doing everything they possibly can to destroy the economy” around the lake.
Brown says he’ll introduce a bill to override the state’s decision to allow no walleyes to be kept this year on Lake Mille Lacs. Instead, he wants a two-fish limit and live bait.
Leech Lake tribe members in Treaty rights lawsuit over killing deer out of season, on private land
Two Leech Lake tribe members facing illegal deer hunting charges asked the Beltrami County District Court to dismiss their case last Friday. They claimed the state has no jurisdiction to charge them over hunting violations.
Tribal members Tony Lee Morris and Randy Gregg Finn, both of Cass Lake, shot a doe they encountered on a rural gravel road a few miles outside the Leech Lake Reservation. They shot the deer from their car, and then followed the wounded deer onto private land, where they gutted it and dragged it back to the road.
The men were confronted by the landowner, after which they left the deer and fled. DNR officers later located Morris and Finn, and the two men confessed to killing a deer out of season, on private land.
Tribal attorney Frank Bibeau argued that the case should be dismissed, claiming an 1855 Treaty gave tribal members the right to hunt, fish and gather across most of northern Minnesota.
The case is similar to one in which four Ojibwe tribe members were charged almost a year ago with illegally gathering wild rice without a permit and setting gill nets. While that case is considered to be the first step in a court battle to clarify tribal land use rights, Morris and Finn's case, would not be part of it, according to Bibeau.
Expect more incidents of illegal harvest as a narrative is built to show that harvest--and soon to appear "land use" rights--have existed all along.
Hooking mortality a sore point among Mille Lacs resorters
Hooking mortality was a hot topic at the DNR Mille Lacs Advisory Committee meeting in Garrison last week. The Star Tribune's Tony Kennedy showed how DNR estimates of hooking mortality for walleyes is becoming a major source of frustration among resorters and related businesses on the lake. 'Hooking mortality' roils Mille Lacs policy.
Resort owners are adamant about avoiding another shutdown, and they are speaking up at the Advisory Committee meetings. They have questions about the model and data used to generate DNR estimations of hooking mortality.
The DNR believes current methods are "basically sound," according to Tom Jones, the DNR's regional treaty coordinator. But concerns about inaccuracy have led to a review and a new computer model, "but we haven’t vetted it yet," he said.
Recent experience shows why hooking mortality estimates has become a critical issue. Kennedy reported that in 2015, 64 percent of the season's walleye allocation was reached via hooking mortality. In 2014, the breakdown of walleye deaths was 54 percent from hooking mortality.
A major driver for the imbalance is the lake's stringent bag limit (only one 18- to 20-inch walleye per angler in possession). Anglers' endless catch and release to get a keeper only drives up hooking mortality. And the potential for mid-season shutdown.
The hot bite expected from the abundant 2013-year class walleyes (none are keepers) makes the hooking mortality that much worse.
Now, a growing contingent of Mille Lacs stakeholders is pressing for harvesting some of those fish. Committee member Steve Johnson of Johnson’s Portside said, "If people could keep one of those, they wouldn't have to catch and release 100 or 150 of them."
Committee members also heard from Karen McQuoid, a resort owner and a biostatistician from the medical device industry challenged the DNR’s models for making estimates. She explained how models were based on an assumption that all walleye were caught the same way. They ignored different mortality outcomes between live and artificial bait.
A number of alternatives were also aired at that Committee meeting.
The next Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee will be 5:30-9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, at Izatys Golf Resort, 40005 85th Ave. in Onamia.
Why the DNR stays stuck managing Mille Lacs
Steve Johnson (Johnson’s Portside) sounds off after five DNR Advisory meetings of "all talk and no action." He says the Committee is blocked from doing what it was created for in the first place: advising the DNR on how to solve identified issues. But then he says it's not entirely the DNR's fault.
In the first of a two-part MilleLacsMessenger.com interview, Steve comes up with a plain explanation of why the DNR's management has been so ineffective. Short answer: the DNR starts and ends with protocols created under Treaty Fisheries Management.
The DNR is mandated by the protocols to manage the lake in order to meet the quotas. That means their well paid/educated experts don't get a chance to biologically manage the lake.
The DNR doesn't have the tools to deal with protocols overriding biology. So they are left with using fishing pressure and mortality rate to meet specific quotas based on estimates that have a 20 to 30 percent margin of error.
Steve believes the only change that will have an impact is to change the protocols. That means going back to analyze, and possibly re-negotiate, the protocols. It's not about re-negotiating the treaty, it's about reexamining the protocols. But "That is where it has to start."
(Note: All Messenger attempts to reach the DNR for comment were unsuccessful.)
See Steve Johnson's interview "Seeking change in lake management" below.
Seeking change in lake management
MilleLacsMessenger.com, Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Part one of a series: Frustrated fish advisory council member Steve Johnson of Johnson’s Portside sounds off
It is not difficult to find locals of the Mille Lacs Lake area who are outspoken in their views on the management of the lake. Many spoke loud and clear last summer when the Department of Natural Resources shut down Mille Lacs walleye fishing mid-summer. As a result, Governor Mark Dayton issued a directive to the DNR to find a solution to help the lake and the businesses that rely on the lake for sustenance.
Crises and Mission Creep
After years of co-management, it’s not news that the situation at Mille Lacs is more and more often described as a “crisis.” That’s especially true for the angling and hospitality industry that grew up around a once-premiere walleye-angling destination.
So it’s a little off-putting to hear about the DNR’s proposed $3.5 million facility on Mille Lacs. It’s said to come with educational programming, outreach staff, and community meeting rooms. And a fishing museum? That seems too much like leveraging a crisis for bureaucratic gain.
Given Mille Lacs' size and complexities, the DNR’s recent decision to open up a storefront office in Garrison, putting them right at Mille Lacs, is a good idea. Why not hold off on the Taj Mahal until they can bring walleye quotas back to what it was in the early days of co-management?
See Tim Spielman’s article on the “new” Mille Lacs walleye quotas for 2016 below.
Mille Lacs 2016 Walleye Quota Same as 2015
Tim Spielman, Associate Editor at Outdoor News, Friday reported on a pre-DNR announcement of the 2016 walleye quota by Dylan Jennings, GLIFWC public information director. As expected by many, total allocation would again be 40,000 pounds, with the same 28,600 pounds for state anglers and 11,400 pounds for the tribes.
The bands haven't announced their plans for 2016, although Mille Lacs band announced last July they planned not to net walleyes on the lake this year.
The DNR is looking at options for this year’s fishing regulations. They likely know that the number one concern of Mille Lacs resorters and businesses is the DNR managing the lake so that angling doesn’t get shut down mid-season.
Resorters Spielman spoke with prior to the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Group's Thursday, January 28 meeting said they wanted the Committee to look at all options. They especially wanted to know more about how options would be shaped by the DNR’s use of a “hooking mortality” measure. Interest grew after the DNR assessed 12,500 pounds of hooking mortality in just two weeks last July. That led to a first-ever mid-season shutdown of walleye angling.
Hooking mortality and data derived from creel surveys were discussed by the Committee on Thursday. DNR representatives faced a great deal of skepticism over their assessment of fishing pressure as well as their hooking mortality and creel estimates for those weeks in July.
Spielman also shared Rep. Tom Hackbarth’s take on Mille Lacs and DNR plans. He is one non-committee member who is allowed to sit in on the “closed” state-tribal technical meetings. Hackbarth mentioned discussions about walleye stocking, the processes involved, and a decision to maintain the unique genetic strain of Mille Lacs walleye. He described the last meeting as having “no surprises.”
However, Spielman noted that Hackbarth did take exception to a proposed $3.5 million DNR facility at Mille Lacs. The facility would be a resource for public information and research. Attendees at Thursday’s Advisory Committee also learned that the Fishing Museum now in Little Falls has agreed to move operations to DNR’s proposed facility. Hackbarth did not think bonding for the facility would be funded by the legislature. Or that it should be funded.
Steve Johnson Report
Steve Johnson, Johnson's Portside Bait & Liquor and member of the DNR's new Fisheries Advisory Committee has agreed to share his recaps of the committee's meetings as they happen.
January 27 Mille Lacs Update
By now many have heard that the bite on Mille lacs is good. We have seen some nice fattys in the mid 20's. Also there are some slot fish being caught. But the story is the sheer numbers being caught in the 11" to 16" range. It seems the 2013's are everywhere and in huge numbers, (handle them carefully) I believe we have 2012's and 14's mixed in but the 2013 is boss. They are aggressive and I believe they may be getting short on forage. The pigs this year have bellies on them like we haven't seen in awhile. There is an abundance of small perch and tullibees that are keeping them fed. Some Jumbo perch ( 12"+) have been caught and seem to be showing up in a few places. Lots of perch to be caught and sorted of course, you can get some nice 10" for a great meal.
Its been one of the best winter bites I have seen and most of it came in the last 3 weeks of late ice.
I believe there is a very very large 2013 year class and and its eating machine is just kicking in. Hopefully they graduate to a new forage like the small perch, but then what? The DNR has decided to protect all of them so that eating machine will only shrink because of starvation and mortality formulas.
She is cycling as usual and putting out a huge year class and we should use the only management tool we have, harvesting some. But my guess is the DNR will gift us with a 1 fish summer and few extra pounds with a catch and release benchmark. They will own the decision to protect the eating machine and the consequences that become of it, oh wait, thats our job!
MLFAC meeting tonight, I will update. Steve
Treaty management spawns false Mille Lacs collapse message
Joe Fellegy, writing about the DNR's annual Roundtable in Outdoor News’ January 22 issue, saw that Mille Lacs was "center stage" on the Agenda. It showed how the ongoing (and never-ending) portrayal of Mille Lacs is a huge issue, which he calls the "controversy capitol of Minnesota fishing."
Fellegy pointed out the lake’s many fish-related records as the “ultimate classic natural walleye lake.” But he called its latest record “the most-published negative vocabulary ever associated with a Minnesota sport fishery.” This he saw coming from the “extremist workings of treaty fisheries management.”
Today the large diverse Mille Lacs walleye-fishing community is “terrorized and victimized by the biggest PR disaster” ever. He credits “treaty fisheries management, and the callous indifference of state and tribal government personnel” with creating an endless negative media cycle. Last summer’s unneeded walleye fishing closure brought a “tidal wave of collapse and crisis stories.”
The worst part of all this is the media’s “false narrative” that the Mille Lacs walleyes are “about gone.” Until three years ago walleye fishing was pretty good. Since then, “the political treaty-management quotas were chopped by over 90 percent,” using much tighter limits. Fishing traffic was estimated to have fallen about the same percentage. “But,” Fellegy points out; the walleye population “is not down 90 percent and remains fishable.” Fellegy describes this with a glossary of negative PR terms and misleading media stories.
Fishing-related businesses are used to dealing with Mother Nature, and dealing with an ever-evolving sport-fishing economy. So Fellegy thinks it’s “wrong” to hit them with the huge losses that come from “extremist” treaty management and its “intolerable PR crap storms.”
Fellegy also faults journalists and politicos who so often play the race card, which derails discussion and allows “high-impact players to escape accountability for their policies and actions.”
The lack of transparency of the closed-door Technical Committee involving the DNR, bands, and GLIFWC is especially irksome for Fellegy. He gives examples of a growing awareness in the media about how secret meetings fuel distrust and deprive the public of knowing how fish management decisions are made. He challenges the DNR about being so timid in pursuing transparency.
Fellegy then lists results of treaty fisheries management at Mille Lacs as a litany of negative outcomes for everyone involved.
Read more (as only Joe can tell it)
Mille Lacs advisory committee meets Jan. 28
Support the New Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee by showing up The next meeting of the Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee will take place 5:30-9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28, at McQuoid’s Inn Event Center, 1325 MN-47, in Isle.
Melissa Treml, DNR Fisheries Research manager, and representatives from the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission will provide a report from the recent Fisheries Technical Committee meeting. Tom Jones, DNR regional fisheries treaty coordinator, will provide a presentation on creel surveys and hooking mortality. Members of the public are welcome to attend and observe.
The 17-member advisory committee of citizens has been active since October 2015.
Steve Johnson Report
Support the New Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee by showing up
Steve Johnson, Johnson's Portside Bait & Liquor and member of the DNR's new Fisheries Advisory Committee has agreed to share his recaps of the committee's meetings as they happen.
January 19 Mille lacs DATA vs. TRUTH and MAGIC Update #5
Those of you who fished Mille lacs this summer know that it was a fantastic Walleye bite. Those of you who avoided Mille lacs missed out on some great fishing and catching. DNR collected data and their conclusion has been that Mille lacs has a depleted walleye population. This would be a complete opposite of the actual activity of walleyes that went on this summer.
Why did walleyes bite in Mille lacs this summer? Two reasons this may happen.
1. There is a forage shortage (not enough to eat).
2. There is a good population of walleyes.
Now if you ask the DNR, they will tell you that there is no forage crash (eliminates reason number 1) and the population of walleye is low (opposite of number 2). So the only reason we had such a great bite is simple. IT'S MAGIC.
With 35% of normal pressure on Mille lacs this past summer, those few anglers released 200,000 pounds of walleyes. Harvested only about 13,000 pounds because of the tight slot and limit of 1. (Add another 15,000 pounds for hooking mortality)
Skip ahead to the present winter bite and we are right back at the MAGICAL MIRACLE OF MILLE LACS. Reports started right away this winter, great walleye fishing, jumbo perch showing up, and the Northerns have been active too. Walleye of all sizes are being reported, the largest number being the 2013 year class 13"-15" and the 2014 class 9"-12".There are walleyes from 15"-20" being caught and the big walleyes are plentiful coming though the ice.
Look at social media (Facebook etc.) or call any resort on the lake and you will get the same story, fishing is great on Mille lacs. But, how can this be?
Mille lacs is managed with a system relying on accurate data, the DNR considers the 20-30% margin of error in the data going in as acceptable. Huh? To determine the success or the "harvest" they again use an inaccurate (creel survey) type of data collection. This also has a high MOE. So if they are inaccurate on the input (low) and again inaccurate on the outcome (high) we have been double damned.
In my opinion, Mille Lacs has and always will be a Mother nature controlled cyclical monster that cannot be manipulated in a positive way by anyones actions.
DNR CLAIMS AND EXCUSES
1. Clear water, this was blamed on zebra mussels starting in 2008, now because zebra mussels have DECLINED 25%, they say the clear water started in the early 90's because of the federal clean water act. (Nice switch) Wind, rain, algae blooms, all effect the clarity on a daily basis.
2. Zooplankton is too low in the lake (spiny water fleas and zebra mussels are the cause) to support the smallest of baitfish etc. Yet we have walleye year classes coming in and we have baitfish that is not lacking and everything seems to fat and healthy.
3. Netting in the spawning areas is not now nor ever has been a problem. Their DATA shows that walleye production is VERY good. This will need to be proven to the anglers on Mille lacs and in Minnesota (who find it culturally offensive) in some other way, maybe another STUDY. They like studies.
So here we are heading into the black hole of the unknown, waiting for the DNR to meet with the Biologists, and then determine the fate of not only Mille lacs lake but the entire community surrounding it.
I will not drink the magic kool aid they keep handing out. I will continue to look at the actual activity that happens on Mille Lacs every day. I believe it is more accurate than having a few biologists spending a few hours on the lake and shoving their data into the laptop waiting for the winning lottery ticket to come out of it.
Rant continued later.
Citizens can apply to serve on Lake Vermilion Fisheries Input Group
Citizens interested in discussing Lake Vermilion fish and habitat can nominate themselves as volunteers on a newly forming Lake Vermilion Fisheries Input Group.
Applications must be completed by Sunday, Jan. 31, and are available on the Lake Vermilion page.
Read more ...
Steve Johnson Report
Steve Johnson, Johnson's Portside Bait & Liquor and member of the DNR's new Fisheries Advisory Committee has agreed to share his recaps of the committee's meetings as they happen.
January 11 Mille Lacs Fishery Advisory Committee Update #4
Good news first: The DNR has no clue what is going on right now on the early ice bite, so since the fishing is fantastic on all species we will keep this to ourselves.
Ice conditions improve daily and by this weekend there will be resorts pulling houses in some areas. So far we have had many happy anglers enjoying the bite.
YOU CAN'T, WE CAN'T, WE WON'T, WE HAVEN'T, is how most of the answers start from the DNR when we ever bring up any subject matter outside of the TFM box.
When asked if "ANYONE" has ever offered to sit down with the band and talk COMPROMISE? The simple answer WE HAVEN'T.
Can we attend the FTC meetings? Answer WE CAN'T.
Not a KOOL AIDE drinker here, everything, all decisions about management is based on data with a margin of error of 20-30% depending on who answers the question. Most of the anglers and resorters simply shake their heads when told how few fish are in the lake (disagree) and that there is no forage crash (agree), yet we all saw the how the catching was this summer and how the winter is following the same route. HMMMMM? Fat healthy Walleyes in all sizes were the norm this summer.
3 Main areas of concern for me under TFM
1. 30% data MOA "margin of error" on population of walleyes.
2. TFM is assumed accurate using this input and success and progress is based on #3
3. CREEL survey results that also have a 30% MOA.
So if you are low on the population "input" and high on the creel survey "outcome" you are double damning us. Welcome to Mille Lacs management.
We listened to the legalese of the court agreements. We listened as they told us they have never made an effort to change the system, only to blindly follow the TFM rules and never question.
NETTING: "Spring gillnets are not an issue as we have good production every year" This argument will never go away until proven one way or the other. I suggested a Grid/Area study to actually look at the eggs themselves inside a netting area and inside an "off limits" netting area. It has been done before in other lakes successfully so why not here.
As I write this, the DNR is ready for the FTC meeting, they know exactly what they will be putting on the table and yet they will not tip their hand to us. (More sleepless nights).
We were asked about next summer regulation goals "given no clue as to any numbers" most of us said to avoid closure of the lake, this opens the door to blame the group if they decide to go to C&R at some point. One person on the MLFAC was ok with closing the lake. It was the same one that said we should not have opened the winter season. I will let you find out who this is.
I asked why the DNR does not involve the public on data collection through a website or something? Well Ill be darned, its already in use by Bass groups and the U of M has its own version, yet our DNR didn't even know it. They stated that they gave logbooks out 1year to launches and it didn't work so they quit. BRILLIANT!
WE, not the DNR, at some point will attempt to open a line of communication with the BAND and at the very least talk. The higher powers have their model gods to follow blindly as they always have.
More later. Please share and “like” this post to get the word out
Four tribal members finally charged with violations in treaty rights protest
Authorities have charged four American Indians with fishing and wild rice harvest violations during a protest last summer. Protesters planned to set up a court test of rights they claim exist in an 1855 treaty
The four were named in complaints filed Dec. 30 in Crow Wing County District Court. They have their first court appearances scheduled for Feb. 1 in Brainerd.
Their attorney Frank Bibeau, executive director of the 1855 Treaty Authority, said that the four, along with his group, are trying to force Minnesota to recognize expanded harvest rights in that treaty.
The state disagrees with the band’s claim that members have special off-reservation fishing, gathering and hunting rights on land ceded under an 1855 treaty.
Unlike the 1837 treaty, the 1855 treaty doesn't explicitly say anything about off-reservation harvest rights. But Bibeau's group contends the treaty, backed by case law and federal statutes, guarantees those rights anyway.
Read more …
The people’s fish and lack of transparency
Ron Schara recognized the anger and distrust of the sport-fishing public over the DNR-tribal co-management of walleyes in Lake Mille Lacs. He writes that if DNR and tribal fish managers hope to change that, more transparency in the co-management process is needed.
Media often bring up the word transparency when they have questions about the way government operates. Stringent open meeting laws apply to almost every gathering where decisions by government officials are made. It’s part of Minnesota’s reputation for "clean" and “open” government.
Yet, when Minnesota is dealing with walleyes on Mille Lacs, complete transparency is lacking. Ever since the courts ordered co-management of Mille Lacs' fish, DNR and tribal fish managers regularly hold closed meetings regarding the people's walleyes. Major newspapers, who so love transparency, are editorially silent about the secrecy.
The fish management meetings likely are on the up and up. But without transparency, the public is in the dark about how decisions are made. Today we know those Mille Lacs fish management plans were, at best, faulty, ill-advised, or biologically inept.
Without transparency, who knows how many tribal nets go into the lake, or how the walleyes are counted? Of if Wisconsin band netters follow the same rules.
Transparency is the best way to deal with accusations that tribal netting is bad. But DNR and tribal leaders insist on secret negotiations in meetings closed to the public. Recently the DNR said some members of the new advisory committee could sit in on these negotiations. A few weeks later, the DNR said tribal officials objected, after which the DNR rolled over and concurred. The secrecy continues; meetings remain closed. And once again, the media say nothing.
Meanwhile, the fishing public's distrust goes on. Sadly, it doesn't need to be this way.
Steve Johnson Report
Steve Johnson, Johnson's Portside Bait & Liquor and member of the DNR's new Fisheries Advisory Committee has agreed to share his recaps of the committee's meetings as they happen.
December 17 Mille Lacs Fishery Advisory Committee Update - - Posted December 18
DNR presented the group with the fall assessment data for Mille lacs. The data collection practices that they have used for 40 yrs (slightly modified) is still used today to implement Treaty Fishery Management. A 20% margin of error is acceptable to the DNR (it was claimed 30% a few years ago, but 20% sounds better). Why is this important? If you apply that margin of error to some of the below average year classes, they will jump into or above average.
The 2013 year class ( now 13"-15") is very strong. The DNR has made the decision to protect this large year class at all costs. This has never been done before, to manipulate the rules to protect 1 yr class in my opinion is wrong. I made it very clear to the entire room that that decision was made and implemented solely by the DNR. They will own that move good or bad. In the past history of Mille lacs, it will produce a good to great yr class every 4-8yrs. We can call that time frame the "pause" because a big year class will eat EVERYTHING until well fed, then there will be room for another one. This cycle can be seen on almost all of the historic data. Point being that we used to harvest some of those walleyes to thin the EATING machine. Now that wont happen. I totally disagree with that decision.
I asked the DNR "what besides controlling angler harvest and pressure can you do to to fix your claimed issues?" Not one DNR employee could answer that question, in fact I saw numerous shoulders shrug and all of them looking to each other to answer.....no answer.
The next meeting will be addressing TFM on the legal side, it will be open to the public as always, we are expecting a large crowd, the public should be informed on how this came about and how it may be approached for modification or elimination.
I will let you chew on this and end with a trivia question.
How many millions of dollars has the State of Minnesota paid out in the last 30 years to numerous Tribes, in exchange for not exercising some of their harvest rights? Its a huge number and a compromise of this type should be explored with the Bands. As well as offering up my Walleye Replacement Program.
Give me your best guess.
Steve Johnson Report
Steve Johnson, Johnson's Portside Bait & Liquor and member of the DNR's new Fisheries Advisory Committee has agreed to share his recaps of the committee's meetings as they happen.
Mille Lacs Lake Doesn’t Need FIXING - - Posted October 31
The management practice need to be completely CHANGED.
Most of the data that I observed was “average”, nothing to be alarmed about in my opinion. Using Data that is not accurate (+/- 30%) and applying it to the Treaty Fisheries Management approach that requires accuracy falls into the definition of insanity.
The DNR can only manage anglers, they have no control on how the lake cycles, never have and never will. the history clearly shows an ecosystem that ebbs and flows, goes up and down, has good decades and bad years, Yet she fixes herself over and over. For instance the TULIBEE have made a miraculous recovery, there are 3 year classes that apparently knew the trick to get around “Global climate warming changeup” or whatever its called this month. How did that happen?
Many eyes are wide OPEN going into this new advisory group. This will not become an INSERT group as the last one became over the last 5 years.
The first meeting was simply to lay out the intended ground rules for the group, all of which in my opinion is simply a directive to keep order. The course the group takes will be dependent on information that is or is not provided by the DNR, but also what we hear from the general public and what the group itself puts on the agenda. EVERYTHING will be on the table this time. EVERYTHING!
DNR sets Mille Lacs winter walleye limit
ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota DNR announced today that anglers can keep one walleye between 18 and 20 inches, or one longer than 28 inches, during the season December 1 to February 28. Anglers can also keep five northern pike, with one longer than 30 inches. If the winter walleye harvest approaches or tops the 5,000 pound cap on walleye, the DNR will move to catch and release. Read more.
Steve Johnson Report
Steve Johnson, Johnson's Portside Bait & Liquor and member of the DNR's new Fisheries Advisory Committee has agreed to share his recaps of the committee's meetings as they happen and we present the rest of it here.
MLFAC meeting #2: Rebuilding the trust with the DNR. October 22
I won't say our second meeting was a waste of time, but for the most part it was just that.
#1. Deja Vu was felt once the DNR put the "BOX" of 3 choices of regulations on the power point screen. I saw this coming and had made up my mind to protest the voting process for the time being and force the DNR to make the choice and thus receive the GLORY from the Press. They in no way can say that the MLFAC made the recommendation. We clearly put the decision in their hands. Basically it was a 1 fish bag from either 18"-20" or 19"-21" both of which they claim will keep us under the 5000# cap for the winter. Who the Hell came up with this 5000# cap? We will never know.
#2. No one from the MLFAC was allowed to attend the DNR/TRIBAL technical meeting as they promised. We, "the old advisory group," have asked for this for 10 years and had smoke blown in our rears. Now the smoke is blowing again, something about COURT WORDING that does not allow it. ???????? Who is driving this boat of Management?
#3. The Northern pike reg was handled the same way, little to no info provided and looking for us to make a decision to keep the status quo or something else. We again chose to let the DNR take the credit for whatever regulation they come up with. More glory from the press for them.
#4. We did have some constructive conversation among the group and came up with a list of future topics. On this list is TFM, TREATY FISHERIES MANAGEMENT, the management system that we all live and die by on Mille Lacs. All of this mess I can directly blame the TFM system. It is impossible to come up with a topic on the lake that is not directly related to and affected by TFM, and rarely is it a positive outcome. We got it on the discussion board for a future meeting, to dissect it, evaluate it, enhance it, remove it entirely, those choices are all on the table for the group to recommend to the DNR. Now that I will be happy to get blamed for.
#5. We asked that the DNR to stop the negative "false 30-year low" press releases, we are well past any 30-year low, they can’t seem to tell the truth very often.
#6. We all agreed that the "closure" clause be removed and C&R used in its place. To have them hang a "closure" clause over our heads is RIDICULOUS during a season of zero mortality on walleyes.
#7. The meeting went late...who cares. They seemed more concerned about the timing than the subject matter.
New input group another ‘DNR Dog and Pony show’ as some have labeled it?
We hope not, but time will tell
We are wondering how much of the DNR’s newest plan for dealing with the Mille Lacs fishery has potential for restoring a premiere angling destination and local economy. And how much is just a dog and pony show. There’s some evidence both ways.
The DNR’s response to dealing with the walleye fishery shutdown, and outcry that followed, is detailed in its plan, Mille Lacs Lake Management: Minnesota DNR. In it, the DNR promises to begin “implementing concrete steps aimed at improving the Mille Lacs Lake walleye population, while building a closer working relationship with the Mille Lacs community.” Here are items we are looking at.
First up, a refurbished Fishery Input Group
The new advisory committee, formed "to oversee the lake," replaces the old Fisheries Input Group. Early reports are that nothing has changed beyond a few new members. "We'll put a lot of stock in what they recommend, but it's still an advisory group" according to DNR’s Commissioner Landwehr.
Landwehr said "he hopes the new group will improve the DNR's relations with the Mille Lacs community." We hope so too. In the past it looked a lot like providing cover for "co-management" of Mille Lacs.
It’s still all about members looking over options coming from the DNR. They cannot discuss, or even bring up, alternatives not brought in by the DNR. Then they get to put their fingerprints on one of them before the DNR announces it to the public.
This time though, it wasn’t quite business as usual. At its recent meeting, the Committee did not endorse a particular option. Instead, they agreed that this winter’s ice fishing limits be conservative. They also recommend catch and release-only rather than shutdown, if the quota is being reached. That generated kudos from some of the lake’s supporters.
New staff and new facility
The DNR’s plan includes building a research facility, hatchery, and outreach center right on the shores of Lake Mille Lacs. It will support a lot of research, including fish surveys, lake monitoring, harvest monitoring, and hatchery production.
The new fisheries facility is estimated to cost about $3.5 million, and will be submitted as part of next year's bonding bill. How much will this proposal actually cost? Once a bureaucracy expands, adding program, facilities, and staff, it never goes away. Maybe taxpayers going into debt for this will now better relate to the plight of Mille Lacs resorters, who are also going into debt.
Better communications, data sharing, and responsiveness to local needs sure sounds like the “customer service,” which the Governor says the DNR needs. But a larger concern than the cost is the emphasis on research and public relations, with no attention paid to problems with “co-management.”
The DNR has long opposed stocking walleye in Mille Lacs. Now they are responding to public pressure by saying it would start planning for something it doesn’t think will be necessary.
They propose a pilot stocking effort to design techniques, just in case the state ever needs to supplement the lake's natural spawning with outside help. They will go ahead if walleye population “keeps dropping.”
This is only planning and a pilot project. How long will it take for any real impact on Mille Lacs? The DNR has already run out the clock as far as the local Mille Lacs economy goes.
The DNR has long heard complaints about the lack of transparency in the Mille Lacs “co-management’s” setting of limits and quotas. In its Mille Lacs Lake Management plan, the DNR says it will also focus on “increasing the transparency of quota setting on Mille Lacs.” Almost immediately came word from DNR Fisheries head Don Pereira that “tribal band members didn't like the idea and were of the opinion outside observers would have a chilling effect on the discussion.” So that will be the end of it?
First order of business
We agree with the St Cloud Times Editorial Board’s position that “the state should strike a deal with Indian bands that stops them from netting walleye permanently on the lake.” They added, “The state should push hard--and even spend money--to get the bands to stop netting permanently.”
Steve Johnson Report
We agree with a Facebook post by Steve Johnson, Johnsons Portside, that gillnetting walleye on Mille Lacs during the spawn is an issue for many anglers. Continuing to allow this “only makes that crowd larger.” More specifically, Johnson states, “The DNR must do more to prove that [the gillnetting] has no negative effect on the lake. The only PROOF being presented by [the DNR] is that recruitment is good and stable, I think you need to take this further, as it is the only definitive answer ever given in the whole situation.”
President, Proper Economic Resource Management
White Earth Band LSOHC Land Purchase Request Resubmitted
Next Council meeting set for October 6
In 2013, the Fond du Lac tribe received a $2.8 million grant from the Outdoor Heritage fund. Although it took two years of wrangling between the Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Committee and legislators, the funding did set an encouraging precedent for the White Earth band to follow.
Early this year, the LSOHC recommendation to the Legislature included a similar White Earth proposal for buying land to put into trust for preservation. This time Rep. Dennis McNamara's Environment & Natural Resources Policy & Finance Committee shot it down. They deleted the White Earth proposal and adding all the $2,188,000 to the "shallow lakes and wetlands" section's $2,130,000.
In August the White Earth band resubmitted its proposal, "Protecting Forest Wildlife Habitat in the Wild Rice River Watershed," for the same $2,188,000.
Its funding request was heard by the LSOHC September 2, and will again come before the Council October 6. Council Chair Bob Anderson, Rep. Denny McNamara, and Ron Schara voted against funding. Eight other members voted to fund the proposal, but only three supported the full amount.
Opposition includes concern over loss of PILT (payment in lieu of taxes) of $12,000. Others were those upset over the prohibition of wolf hunting on tribal lands. House Speaker Kurt Daudt in March, said the debate is about more than loss of property taxes. “Turning land over to an Indian nation, everybody knows that’s the controversial part of it.”
As expected, opposition has also been characterized as coming from “individuals who harbor deep-seated prejudice against American Indians.”
Representative Denny McNamara, R-Hastings in September suggested using the concept in the proposal, but stripping it from the control of tribal sovereignty. He could see it working under a DNR wildlife or aquatic management area.
No basis for FABRICATING new 1855 Treaty rights
Before getting caught up in tribal activists' demand for fabricating new 1855 Treaty rights, Minnesotans should consider the plain language of the 1855 Treaty. The treaty states that the Indians "do further fully and entirely relinquish and convey to the United States, any and all right, title, and interest, of whatsoever nature the same may be, which they may now have in, and to any other lands in the Territory of Minnesota or elsewhere."
Timeline Making the Case for NOT FABRICATING New 1855 Treaty Rights
1855 - Several Chippewa Bands including the Mille Lacs Band negotiate the treaty of 1855. In this treaty the Chippewa agree to relinquish "all right, title and interest in and to" all lands outside their reservations. This language included any special hunting and fishing privileges.
1858 - Minnesota enters the Union. The State begins to enact laws including fish and game regulations.
1896 - U.S Supreme Court rules in Ward v. Racehorse that when a State enters the Union, preexisting treaty rights are subject to state law.
1924 - All American Indians granted citizenship.
1838 - President Franklin Roosevelt affirms Taylor's 1850 Presidential Order in a letter to the Chippewa.
1946 - Congress creates a tribunal, the Indian Claims Commission (ICC), to hear and resolve all types of Indian claims, including treaty rights claims by Indians against the United States. The Indian Claims Commission Act (ICCA) was designed to correct any mistakes made by the U.S. in any treaties and agreements with the tribes. The ICCA is unusual in that Congress gave the Commission authority to also hear claims that were moral in nature. Therefore, tribes could bring cases claiming that the federal government had coerced them into signing treaties, or misrepresented agreements, or acted in other ways that could be seen as violating fair and honorable dealings that were not recognized by any existing laws. 50 years past the deadline: Why are Indian tribes still suing over ancient treaties?
Also important was Congress' understanding that no one should be allowed to litigate a claim forever. In return for the elimination of any statute of limitations on claims filed under the Act, tribes understood that the ICCA would provide complete, final closure to their complaints.
1965 - ICC awards the Chippewa, including the Mille Lacs Band, $3.93 million for insufficient payment under the 1855 Treaty. As with all ICC cases, the Chippewa, by accepting payment, were forever barred from future claims under the 1855 Treaty.
1973 - ICC awards the Chippewa, Including the Mille Lacs Band, $9.02 million for claims under the 1837 treaty, including claims for lost hunting and fishing rights. The ICC payments were based on the maximum value of the land, which was the timber, and acquired "recognized title," the most complete form of ownership.
1980 - U.S. District Court rules in a Red Lake case that clear language like that in the 1855 Treaty extinguishes all off reservation hunting and fishing claims. This ruling is later upheld by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
1985 - U.S. Supreme Court rules in a Klamath Indian case in Oregon, that similar language to that in the 1855 Treaty as well as ICC payments, extinguish any hunting and fishing rights.
1999 - The Supreme Court's ruling in the Mille Lacs1837 Treaty case concluded the Chippewa did not give up their 1837 rights under the 1855 treaty. But the 1855 treaty doesn't specifically mention hunting, fishing and gathering as retained rights.
Time to Act
Minnesotans have the opportunity to become informed at the beginning of this unwarranted attempt to expand treaty rights--and especially the creation of "tribal property rights" never imagined, mentioned, and far beyond anything authorized by treaties!
If ignored, expanded treaty rights would open the Brainerd lakes and Gull Lake area, and most of northern Minnesota, to hunting and gathering outside state law. That would just be in addition to asserting management or regulatory rights "related" to environmental issues over the entire 1855 Treat area.
Stay involved. Monitor the process. Let your legislators know you want them involved and showing leadership in ensuring equal protection of the law for all Minnesotans.
Douglas Meyenburg 763-843-1039 email@example.com
President, Proper Economic Resource Management (PERM)
Next Steps in 1855 Treaty rights expansion effort
Tribal activists seek citations for another Mille Lacs-style lawsuit
Tribal activists from the White Earth and Fond du Lac Bands last are using the illegal harvesting of wild rice to assert off-reservation harvest rights. They claim such rights were preserved for Native peoples in the 1855 Treaty between the United States and the Chippewa.
It is a reprise of a 2010 effort by tribal members to trigger a court battle, via illegal gill netting, that could affirm heretofore "undiscovered" or "undeveloped" treaty rights. That effort died after no charges were brought.
Behind the public demonstrations is a much larger concept, that of "usufructuary property rights." Protection of these rights will have land-use management implications far beyond wildlife harvest." Arthur LaRose, chairman of the "1855 Treaty Authority," says "If the group can establish off-reservation rights in those areas, it can more forcefully assert management or regulatory rights on larger environmental issues such as the burying of oil pipelines or the relaxation of mining-related sulfate standards for wild rice."
No basis for FABRICATING new 1855 Treaty rights
Before getting caught up in the activists' narrative, Minnesotans should consider the plain language of the 1855 Treaty in which the Indians “do further fully and entirely relinquish and convey to the United States, any and all right, title, and interest, of whatsoever nature the same may be, which they may now have in, and to any other lands in the Territory of Minnesota or elsewhere.
Minnesotans should also consider the Timeline making the case for NOT FABRICATING new 1855 Treaty rights.
Illegal wild rice harvest a bid for treaty rights expansion
Replay of Mille Lacs 1837 Treaty case would go far beyond 'harvest
Chippewa tribal members have announced they will challenge state wild rice harvest licensing laws. They plan a major off-reservation harvesting event on Aug. 27. They are hoping for a test case that can be brought to federal court to affirm their claims regarding the 1855 treaty's coverage.
Behind the scene is a much larger concept, that of "usufructuary property rights." Joe Fellegy first described this strategy in an Outdoor News article, which PERM discussed in its August Member Update newsletter, 'Co-management' land-grab? Move to expand 1855 treaty rights to include property rights
The treaty rights expansion effort springs from attorney Peter Erlinder's analysis of treaties going back to 1795. These treaties, ... "are likely to be sources of as yet unrecognized Anishinabe usufructuary property rights in the 21st Century."
He also refers to "sources of a deeper understanding of as yet undeveloped Anishinabe usufructuary property rights..."
These usufructuary property rights [somehow] include "the right to modest living." Which then requires "environmental protection to maintain the long-term value of the usufructuary property rights..."
Erlinder continues, "This, in turn, will have land-use management implications far beyond wildlife harvest, and promises a broadened role for tribal governments in land use decisions that might impact the harvest of wild game, fishing or gathering." State of Minnesota v. Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians, Ten Years On
LaRose echo's Erlinder's description, saying his group's concerns go beyond ricing, fishing and hunting. "If the group can establish off-reservation rights in those areas, it can more forcefully assert management or regulatory rights on larger environmental issues such as the burying of oil pipelines or the relaxation of mining-related sulfate standards for wild rice."
Besides pipelines and mining, "environmental issues" could easily include water usage policies, agriculture, sanitation, as well as protected flora and fauna. And the list could go on.
Instead of treaty harvest of Mille Lacs walleye, picture the DNR handling a "co-management" relationship with the EPA.
The case for no expansion
The Supreme Court's ruling in the Mille Lacs1837 Treaty case concluded the Chippewa did not give up their 1837 rights under the 1855 treaty. But the 1855 treaty doesn't specifically mention hunting, fishing and gathering as retained rights.
In a specific instance, one state judge ruled that the 1855 treaty "does not forbid creation of new rights of way on the land that was sold in 1855," and that the treaty couldn't be used to stop the pipeline. Wild rice harvest will test treaty rights
Finally, on July 27, 1965, the Indian Claims Commission awarded the Chippewa, including the Mille Lacs Band, $3.93 million for insufficient payment under the 1855 Treaty. As in all ICC cases, the Chippewa were forever barred from making future claims against the Federal government.
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Why Mille Lacs fishery faltered—and what we can do
Star Tribune outdoors columnist Dennis Anderson today responded to DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr’s announcement that the Mille Lacs walleye quota might be exceeded by month’s end.
He references Dick Sternberg’s analysis in 2003, and his prediction that "management of the lake, if not changed, likely would contribute to a marked downfall of Mille Lacs walleyes."
"Marked downfall" is an understatement when it comes to this years token quota of 28,600 pounds. Unfortunately, it likely means walleye fishing on will end until at least Dec. 1.
Anderson notes that the DNR "largely dismissed" Sternberg's analysis in part due to "bureaucratic parochialism," and in part it was because "Sternberg undertook his data review at the request of PERM, or Proper Economic Resource Management, a group whose slogan is 'Ban the gillnet.’ Consequently, some viewed Sternberg's work as an anti-netting hit job. It wasn't."
Anderson points to Sternberg's early warning about cannibalism of young walleyes: "As long as the Mille Lacs walleye population remains heavily skewed toward the larger size classes, the threat of heavy cannibalism of young-of-the-year walleyes will persist."
Anderson adds that the DNR’s continuation of tight harvest sport fishing slot limits has also contributed to the lake's present-day imbalanced walleye fishery.
One of Anderson's key points is that co-management "has complicated [the balancing] task beyond measure irrespective of whatever effect, if any, the bands' netting has on the lake's walleyes."
Anderson says a "safe allowable harvest’" of Mille Lacs walleyes needs accurate estimates of walleye population and size distribution—which may not be possible. And even if it was, the DNR and the bands have more or less dismissed the cannibalism problem.
What really stands out is Anderson's suggestion that "the governor and key legislators should tell the DNR that its Mille Lacs fisheries management meetings with the Chippewa no longer can be held in secret." (!)
"Rather, to ensure from this point on that the public knows firsthand the nature, context and agreed-upon definitions of data being used to make management decisions, these get-togethers should be open to the public."
"And should have been long ago."
PERM Board members respond to DNR Mille Lacs announcement
- Walleye showing up after two years of no gillnets
DNR Blue Ribbon Panel dodges the gillnet problem on Mille Lacs
The walleye being caught in Mille Lacs this year are mostly in the 13 to 15-inch range. That tells us they are about two years old. That in turn tells us they hatched in the years when there was no gill netting due to weather conditions (late ice-out).
It is also logical to conclude that this year-class of fish was not adversely affected by water clarity, zebra mussels, global warming, spiny fleas, cormorants, muskies, northern, or high bass population. Observers should then surmise (with confidence) that the effecting variable was gill netting.
In this case, the lack of gill netting resulted in respectable levels of reproduction (despite the reduced population of spawning fish). Nature has provided us with the perfect scientific conditions that verify what many have long suspected. Gill netting during the spawn ruins a lake’s balance and targeting of a species results in near extermination.
Of course this same conclusion could be reached by looking at historical data from other lakes that have been gill netted. But now Mother Nature has provided us with irrefutable proof of a cause and effect relationship between gill netting and the walleye population's demise.
This also shows that the DNR's approach to improving the walleye population by targeting other species, such as northern or bass was misguided. Further, it is evidence that the DNR's "Blue Ribbon Panel" was far off the mark when they neglected to consider gill netting as a possible factor.
Nothing in their report, "Mille Lacs Lake Walleye Blue Ribbon Panel Data Review and Recommendations for Future Data Collection and Management," mentions the problem of gillnetting during the spawn.
The Panel started "by agreeing that the decline in Mille Lacs walleye began around 2000 ... which corresponded to a period of considerable change for both the walleye fishery and the lake itself."
"Significant changes" included going to a joint recreational and tribal walleye fishery in 1998, and introduction of harvestable slot limits the next year and protected slot limits in 2003. Then they add, "However, these changes in the fishery occurred against a backdrop of lake changes related to water quality, etc., etc., etc., (see the list above.)
Not once in the entire 31 pages of the report do the words "gill net" or "gill netting" appear regarding harvest of walleye! Surveys, data, assessments, yes, but never harvest, let alone "during the spawn."
The DNR has neglected to responsibly manage the resource in an unbiased manner for the people of Minnesota. The Tribes and GLIFWC are equally culpable in this mismanagement. There is no longer any need for debate.
These are my opinions and have not been reviewed or approved by anyone else.
Let me know where I am wrong.
Joe Ward, PERM Board Member
- Governor Dayton, Resign!
"I believe all hunting and fishing in Minnesota should be done under the same rules." Gov. Mark Dayton, Candidate Forum at Game Fair, August 2010. Gov. Dayton knew then about the issues at Mille Lacs. After the election, he appointed Tom Landwehr as DNR Commissioner. He also knew there were issues.
Five years later, nothing has been done. Will he use a meet and great at Game Fair in a few weeks to announce the future of Mille Lacs? I doubt it; maybe a press release at best.
The hierarchy of the MN DNR, Tribal DNR managers, and GLIFWC must take full responsibility for mismanagement of Mille Lacs. The Supreme Court did not order co-management. They stated the DNR must sit down with Tribal governments and figure a way to accommodate court-affirmed treaty harvest rights. They also stated, should conservation of the 1837 treaty area be negatively affected, bring it back to the court.
Therefore, I am telling Gov. Mark Dayton to FIRE the hierarchy of the DNR, along with head of Fisheries and his advisors, prior to turning in his resignation. Corporate Minnesota would not stand for this type of management, and neither should the citizens of Minnesota!
Doug Meyenburg, PERM President
Mille Lacs walleye quota expected to be reached by end of month
The DNR just announced what amounts to an upcoming announcement about the end of keeping a Mille Lacs walleye for this year.
Anybody think it wouldn't come to this? We're a long way from the 400,000 and 500,000-pound walleye quotas from years past; in a lake once known as a "walleye capitol"
Yes, "unusual circumstances" can be included in the explanation for why we are at this point. But "co-management" negotiations that dodge the gillnet issue leaves us with a measly 28,000 pound quota. Not much wiggle room there for any "unusual circumstances."
DNR biologists are noticing a large increase in the small walleye population from the 2013-year class. They should also notice that such a strong year class follows no gillnetting due to very late ice out in 2013. We expect a similar strong year class for 2014 because there again was very limited gillnetting.
Don't give up on Mille Lacs. Take advantage of Northern pike and smallmouth bass being "at or near record highs" and the " liberal regulations for these species" in what the DNR calls "one of the premiere fishing destinations in the state." Just don't pretend that this takes the place of a premiere walleye-angling destination.
Mille Lacs’s popularity rises and falls with its walleye population, but its sustainability is tangled up in political considerations and "co-management" negotiations. What's needed is more basic conservation and fewer sophisticated statistical models. That could drive common sense negotiations that recognize using gillnets during the spawn benefits no one, and leaves most Minnesotans out in the cold when it comes to this (former) premiere walleye angling destination.
Read the DNR press release here.
Doug Meyenburg, President, PERM
“Co-management” land-grab. Again
By Joe Fellegy, Outdoor News, July 17, 2015
Joe Fellegy writes about big challenges to state management authority and citizen rights to Minnesota resources. They come from renewed attempts to project tribal sovereignty over territory where it does not exist. If successful, the same "co-management" process that exists for Mille Lacs could spread across all of northern Minnesota.
Fellegy starts with the fish-in by Leech Lake and White Earth Chippewa gillnetters at Lake Bemidji before the 2010 Minnesota fishing opener.
"Their goal: get arrested for violating state law and spawn a major court-case claiming "treaty rights" across the 1855 Treaty ceded territory, a huge swath from the north end of Lake Mille Lacs and the Brainerd lakes area to the Canadian border at one point, and reaching the Dakota border at another. The DNR didn't bite. But efforts to gain tribal harvest and co management rights in that 1855 territory, and possibly across all of northern Minnesota, are-very much alive today."
1855 "treaty rights" claim revived
At meetings he attended last fall and early this June, Fellegy heard from tribal sovereignty activists, including Winona LaDuke and Peter Erlinder. "As usual, behind cushy talk about fish, ducks, wild rice, water quality, culture, heritage and tradition, [were] tribal governments and their attorneys … seeking more tribal harvest rights and management authority."
This "would-be dramatic power grab" is based on an expanded notion of 1855 "treaty rights" outlined in law professor Peter Erlinder’s recent treatise "Minnesota v Mile Lacs Band of Chippewa 19th Century U.S. Treaty-Guaranteed Usufructuary Property Rights, the Foundation for 21st Century Indigenous Sovereignty."
Fellegy noted that Erlinder uses U. S. District Judge John Tunheim's dismissal of fish-poaching charges as support for his expansion of "treaty rights." Fellegy describes Tunheim's ruling as one in which "an individual's 1837 treaty rights trump state, tribal, and federal law."
Down-the-road, Fellegy could see "Individual enrollees from outside the 12-county 1837 Minnesota ceded territory claiming new 'rights' at Mille Lacs and across hundreds of lakes, umpteen miles of streams, and millions of land-acres." In other words, "much-expanded tribal harvest rights and tribal management authority across all of northern Minnesota—about everywhere north of Interstate 94."
Fellegy wonders, "given the powerful legal and political forces embracing such arguments, with potentially giant costs and negatives for Minnesota, what's state government's response plan?"
DNR Commissioner's Pay Raise
Little Tommy just got a raise from $119,517 to $154,992 only $35,475., for a guy that should be fired for his lack of attention with regards to Mille Lacs. At least now he can afford some bi-focals so he can read the 1837 treaty decision, and get it back into the US Supreme Court. That wonderful document was just used again in dropping charges for "Operation Squarehook"! Thanks again to Gov "Markie Dayton" for all your faith in this matter!
Douglas J Meyenburg Jr
Dick Sternberg Update re Gambling on Mille Lacs
CORRECTION: Reference to gillnets in Dick Sternberg studies should have been to DNR test nets specifically "until they distribute their nets to sample the entire lake basin, they will not have a valid population index--or safe harvest level."
Dick Sternberg's concluding statement in Mille Lacs Fish Management Plan summarizes the study, and the major point being made in the previous email (and below.)
"Mille Lacs Lake is a world-class walleye "factory" with a walleye population that has proven to be remarkably resilient. Prior to the treaty-management era, the fishery held up well despite increasing fishing pressure, better boats, improved fishing tackle and precision electronics that enable even novice anglers to locate fish and unerringly return to the spot."
"Therefore, the DNR should submit a new management plan to the Court that enables them to increase the total walleye harvest to historic levels, which will not only help restore population balance, but also improve the health of the Mille Lacs sportfishing economy."
Studies can be downloaded from PERM's website here Mille Lacs Fish Management Plan See also Time For A Change Safe-Harvest Politics How to Fix Mille Lacs (Thank you Mr. Sternberg.)
That said .....
Whether you are a Mille Lacs angler or just gamble for money, we have a heck of a deal for you. Enter our 50/50 Raffle, where you can win up to $25,000!
PERM and SMLSF are sponsoring the raffle to help bring back Mille Lacs walleye angling and the local economy behind it. It's another reason to enter, and another way to win.
It's a good reason to enter, really, because the DNR-tribal "co-management" of the mighty lake, isn't going to fix itself anytime soon--not without citizen action!
PERM volunteers have been involved for about 20 years, raising funds, informing the public, pushing a case to the US Supreme Court. And more. Our work included getting studies by former DNR biologist Dick Sternberg. The studies showed that given the DNR's method of test netting, "they will not have a valid population index—or safe harvest level." But the DNR discounted the studies.
End results are showing they should have listened to Sternberg and PERM.
So we brought a lawsuit against the DNR. The Appeals Court did agree with the basis of the SMLSF / PERM lawsuit. It found the DNR did not take the Hunting and Fishing Heritage Constitutional Amendment into account in its rulemaking. Minnesotans certainly believed in the amendment. It passed by 70 percent of those voting! However, the court also sided with the DNR, saying there is no law that says they have to show they took the amendment into account.
Now we're working with legislators to correct this, so everyone's heritage is protected. This should be a non-partisan "no brainer"!
PERM's position is that "co-management" does not work--especially when half the "co-management team" is harvesting outside state law. The number of fish has steadily gone down since gillnetting during the spawn was introduced into Mille Lacs. Yet DNR explanations for the decline grab at and promote every single thing under the sun, including global warming.
Are we going to let failed politics continue to dictate Mille Lacs management?
It is my opinion the DNR does not want to take the 1837 Treaty decision back to the US Supreme Court. They fear the Court will blame them for the mismanagement. They fear the Court then will turn all management of the 1837 treaty area (which includes Mille Lacs) over to the tribes that signed the treaty.
So remember, that the DNR now manages all our natural resources, and that every square inch of MN is in an ancient treaty area. It's all "ceded territory," originally bought from the Indians. "No gillnets in Lake Vermillion" is just a handshake between two tribes, and we don't know for sure if the rumors in the Gull Lake area are true.
Everyone involved in the mismanagement of Mille Lacs, including the Governor, Attorney General, DNR Commissioner, and a whole bunch of DNR folks should be asked to resign! A properly put together Mille Lacs case can then be presented to the high court. Then all citizens should demand their legislators take an oath to see it through.
But the job starts with us! It takes citizen input and grassroots dollars to take on a bureaucracy as big as the DNR. Here’s what you can do:
1. Please support our 50/50 Raffle. Here are all the details! Or call us. Fred Dally--218-678-9775 Bob Carlson--218-838-6420 Bill Eno--320-692-4413 Doug Meyenburg-- 763-843-1039
2. Contact your legislators.
3. Ask your friends to sign up at perm.org for email updates. (Send to 10, or send to all your friends. This is a call for grassroots support!) And please include me, firstname.lastname@example.org in your forward list.
Lets make a change!
Thank you for your moral and financial support.
Douglas J. Meyenburg, President
What fish species is Lake Mille Lacs managed for?
Lake Mille Lacs has been turned into a trophy lake for everything but what originally made it the "queen of walleye lakes" in Minnesota. Reportedly, 90 percent of the fishermen and women came to Mille Lacs for walleyes.
Unfortunately, DNR Fisheries gurus have micromanaged the lake to death, and have effectively avoided what the real demise of the walleye population is. Tribal netting, though reported to be limited, continues. Muskellunge fishing is at its best. DNR Fisheries claims both have little effect on the Mille Lacs walleye fishery.
Netting and muskies appear to have been given Pope status and remain untouchable.
My recommendations: 1) Turn the voluntary walleye stamp into a mandatory Lake Mille Lacs walleye stamp. Allow the governor to negotiate with the tribes a financial agreement to eliminate netting on the lake. That seemed to work on Leech Lake and other lakes where netting—by Native Americans or commercially—was being done years ago. 2) Make keeping Muskies mandatory to reduce this huge predator's herd.
Lake Mille Lacs cannot be a trophy lake for all species or for all fishermen. Let's focus on the 90 percent who prefer walleyes.
Paul Dyrstad, Barnum
Outdoor News May 29, 2015 Letters
Mille Lacs Fishing Regulations
These rules are confusing, too
Has anyone followed the fishing regulations on Lake Mille Lacs? For northern pike, the possession limit is 10. But only one may be over 30 inches. However, two northerns of less than 30 inches taken the same day must be in one’s immediate possession before one harvests a northern of 30 inches or greater. What? And for walleye: possession, one, in the slot allowance. No catching one tomorrow if you haven’t eaten the one you caught today. No freezing one until later. What? And night fishing has been suspended. What?
Fix that beautiful lake Up North and help all of the people who depend on it for their livelihood. And, oh, to be safe, bring a lawyer fishing with you.
Susan Wilson, Savage
Star Tribune May 26, 2015 Readers Write
Haven’t we learned our lesson yet?
(Given the management of walleye harvest on Mille Lacs)
Ron Schara wonders if we’ve learned anything, given walleye management on Mille Lacs: –Walleye at a 40-year low “thanks to the DNR's miscalculated ‘safe harvest’ figures;” –Nobody at the DNR fired or transferred; and –Nothing from the Legislature to help hard-hit businesses around Mille Lacs.
He notes that “DNR Fisheries officials finally admitted their excessive harvest quotas aimed at 15- to 18-inch walleyes was a huge error” that gave us the current situation.
But “making Mille Lacs healthy again will be painful for all concerned.” Shara writes that "It wasn’t just tribal netting, by itself that decimated the walleyes in Lake Mille Lacs." Tribes with treaty rights have nothing to gain hurting the lake or its anglers.
Recently the Fond du Lac Band–at the request of the Bois Forte Band–agreed not to net and spear walleyes in Lake Vermilion this spring, even though they had the right. The Bois Forte wanted to keep Vermilion known for its tourism opportunities, not for its tribal netting. The request bolstered the Bois Forte's reputation as “good neighbors.”
Which Schara considered to be good news—and another lesson: “The goodwill of the Lake Vermilion community–its tourism business and all–is considered too important to risk for a few walleye dinners.”
For Schara, treaty rights “are not the issue. The issue is gill nets. It doesn't matter who sets them.”
He points out that lessons were learned from netting on Red Lake and commercial netting on Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake. Now those lakes have “returned to walleye glory, aided by state and tribal leadership.”
Schara’s key point: “the comeback of world-class walleye fishing did not occur until the walleye nets were eliminated or severely controlled.”
Read More - Ron’s Ramblings By Ron Schara Outdoor News May 8, 2015
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Clearwater County troubled by White Earth project
The Clearwater County Board of Commissioners sent this letter to the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council on January- 9.
Commentary from Outdoor News January 30, 2015
Dear Council Members:
While Clearwater County is in support of the conservation of our lands, we are troubled by the fact that the White Earth Tribe has requested funding from the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council for $2,188,000 for the purchase of 1,994 acres on the White Earth Reservation and within Clearwater County. Our concern is that the lands, as described in the White Earth application, would be put into federal trust status. Trust status would result in the removal of state regulation, non-member rights to freely use the land, and removal of the land from the Clearwater County property tax roll.
The transfer from private land ownership to trust status will transfer all management rights, licensing, game regulation and enforcement to the tribe. The tribe can set its own limits and seasons, which normally include a longer season and a higher game limit than the state's.
Once the land becomes trust status, the tribe can and probably will restrict access to the property for multi-use access such as hunting, and the all-around enjoyment of the land by members and non-members.
Read More ...
Only the mediocre are always at their best
Much like our DNR, the Blue Ribbon Panel the DNR hired has to agree with those that sign the check. This is done all the time in government. Hire an "independent" panel to verify the findings of said agency.
When Rod Sando signed the band code to allow gill nets during the spawn about 15 years ago, he knew what the outcome would be. But Rod was already promised a job near the west coast. Why not hire a blue ribbon panel to say "Let's try Mille Lacs without gill nets for 15 years." Then compare the outcome to present day conditions.
The stats for walleye reproduction that I have seen are that 7-10% of laid eggs make it a year, coming from about 26,000 eggs per pound of adult female walleye. Well, 7-10% of a gill-netted walleye equals about zero. Maybe less than zero, since chasing around to pull and reset nets just might disrupt the spawning of those escaping the nets. Then consider the incidental catch of other species. But maybe DNR's blue ribbon panel didn't take that into consideration.
"Only the mediocre are always at their best". That's how the MN DNR reacts to questions about wildlife these days. Rather then saying "Lets get going and do what it takes to fix the problem," the DNR runs to their spin doctors for a story on how we will have to live with mediocrity.
Can you imagine being the guys and gals with the DNR that know better but in order to keep their jobs they must agree with the upper management?
Douglas J Meyenburg Jr.
Does our DNR enforce only laws they like?
It was announced in the Jan 16, 2015 Outdoor News that the MN DNR, Red Lake Nation, and Bureau of Indian Affairs signed a new 5-year memorandum of understanding last week that outlines continued cooperative management of the walleye population in Upper and Lower Red Lakes. Upper Red regs change again: Hot bite, high pressure drop walleye bag to two.
They recognize an imaginary line running south to north lining up with the Eastern boundary line of the Red Lake Indian Reservation dividing tribal waters from non-tribal waters. They do this knowing that in 1926 the Supreme Court ruled in US vs Holt State Bank, that the water, the bed, and the shoreline of ALL of Upper and Lower Red Lakes belongs to ALL citizens and is to be managed for ALL citizens.
The imaginary line is just that, imaginary! In a meeting I attended with then DNR commissioner Gene Meriam, he admitted the MN DNR was aware of this ruling, but said they were going to deal with the Red Lake Tribe "as we have for the last 75 years."
Now the mighty Red Lake harvest for state anglers has been cut to two fish. Maybe this should be the limit for all of Red Lake!
I am asked almost daily "Why is PERM involved in a lawsuit against the MN DNR regarding Mille Lacs?" The answer is simple. DNR policy makers are hired by us, the citizens of Minnesota, to manage our Natural Resources for ALL citizens. They are not doing this and every so often they need to be reminded they work for us.
Douglas Meyenburg, President
Upper Red regs change again
Hot bite, high pressure drop walleye bag to two
By Tim Spielman Outdoor News
Bemidji, Minn. — In anticipation of good fishing and great angler interest, and as a means to keep walleye harvest within a pre-determined "safe harvest range," the DNR implemented more restrictive rules for walleye anglers on Upper Red Lake this winter.
But even those changes – a daily bag reduced from four to three, and a broader protected slot of 17 to 26 inches – couldn't keep state anglers on Upper Red from shattering the harvest mark from last December. That also prompted the DNR this week to cut the daily and possession limit for walleyes on the lake to two fish. One walleye over 26 inches is allowed in possession. The regulation begins Jan. 23.
While ice angling's been popular on Upper Red for several years, this year weather conditions and other factors set the stage for the December record-setter, when about 77,000 pounds of walleyes were harvested, according to Gary Barnard, DNR area fisheries supervisor in Bemidji.
"What occurred was a couple things," Barnard said. "There was an excellent bite, and there was already ice on the lake in November, so (the official ice-fishing season, for harvest-tracking purposes) began Dec. 1. It made for a full month of high harvest and a good bite." Ice anglers came to the lake in droves.
"The pressure is really off the charts," Barnard said.
He said an increase in mobility caused in part by more "wheel houses" on lakes, along with much cheaper gas, likely led to heightened pressure on Upper Red. Also, slower bites on other big, northern waters likely pushed some fishermen to the Waskish area.
But greater fishing pressure originally was at least somewhat unexpected. "Usually when (regulations) are more restrictive, it drives the (fishing) pressure down," he said. "But it didn't."
Will it now, when the new rules take effect Jan. 23? Usually fishing pressure slides as winter progresses. Not so yet this year. "The pressure hasn’t let up at all," he said. "It's very noticeable in the area."
Barnard said greater restrictions were needed for a couple reasons. First, the state must be within a particular harvest range for a three-year average of walleye harvest, per an agreement with the Red Lake Nation. Also, the summer harvest season is still months away. "We really need to save some of the harvest for the summer," Barnard said.
A year ago, when the winter walleye harvest was about 120,000 pounds, the summer take was about 112,000 pounds. Last year's December take of walleyes was about 50,000 pounds, meaning harvest this year is up 57 percent.
Barnard said the department had hoped to keep winter harvest below 118,000 pounds of walleyes, but now, that doesn't appear likely. He said the DNR likes to work through such matters as they pertain to Upper Red with a local advisory group. While there wasn’t much time to offer opinions regarding the recent change, Barnard said group members understood the situation.
"They were very supportive of this," he said. "They understand the ramifications of if we don't (make changes). When we called and told them about this, nobody was surprised."
Todd Mortenson, of Mort’s Dock, is one of those group members. "The catch rates were really good in December," Mortenson said Tuesday. "Red Lake has really been the go-to lake in December the last two years, and this year was no different. Our catch rates have been so good, so I think people will understand. That's kind of my take. "It's not because we have a lack of fish. We have agreements that we have to live by between the state and the Red Lake Nation. We have to get our averages down where they belong. We have to bite the bullet and do it for now." Red Lake Nation controls more than 80 percent of the combined 285,000 surface acres of Upper and Lower Red lakes. Band members are allowed to harvest about 830,000 pounds of walleyes – most for the band's commercial processing operation – each year. Tribal hook-and-line ice anglers are allowed to take fish between 13 and 22 inches; there’s a 100-walleye bag limit for the harvest of walleyes caught for the commercial fishery.
Javier Serna contributed to this report.
Mille Lacs walleye lawsuit: Court hears arguments
An appeals Court has heard the lawsuit challenging the DNR's rulemaking process filed by PERM, Save Mille Lacs Sport Fishing, Twin Pines Resort, Bill Eno, Fred Dally and attorney Erick Kaardal.
This case was heard Thursday by a three-judge panel. Anglers, resorters, and homeowners on the lake attended the hearing in St. Paul. Many watched TV screens in overflow rooms and it was well-covered by media. This lawsuit could pay off far beyond Mille Lacs if it gets the broad ruling it seeks since a broad ruling could be applied to every lake and hunting area in the state!
Read More Video
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DNR Petitioned in District Court to Explain Damages to Public Water Wetland
and Agricultural Land
St Paul, Ramsey County, October 10, 2014
PERM (Proper Economic Resource Management), and eight other individuals and businesses who own or rent land directly below Curran Lake in Sibley County, filed a petition yesterday for a writ of mandamus in Ramsey County district court against the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The Petition is a result of this year's 2014 spring-time flooding that caused damage to valuable agricultural land after the collapse of a flood-control culvert that was under the DNR's control and responsibility to maintain. The Petitioners had repeatedly warned the DNR since 2011 of the poor condition of the culvert but were ignored.
Support DNR Mille Lacs Rules Lawsuit
DNR rule making:
* Failed to consider hunting and fishing heritage protection that is in the Minnesota Constitution. – As a result, spawning walleye were not protected in Mille Lacs.
* Ignored the public-trust doctrine—government owns and must protect and maintain natural resources for public’s use.
– The public trust doctrine is a key tenant of environmental protection advocates nationwide.
* Lawsuit seeks hunting and fishing heritage protection ruling applied to EVERY lake and hunting area in the state.
– Citizens to have a voice in rulemaking process.
– Helps restore equal hunting and fishing rights for ALL.
See video explaining lawsuit at perm.org
More at savemillelacssportfishing.org
THEN - Sign up for email - Join - Donate
A 'Grass Roots' Movement!
Many $20 (or more) gifts will keep this lawsuit going.
MAIL: Payable to PERM Heritage Legal Fund 657 Main St, Ste 102, Elk River, MN 55330.
ONLINE: at perm.org or savemillelacssportfishing.org
PERM is a 501(c)(3) Organization. Gifts are tax deductible.
From The Chairman's Boat
Stepping up to save Mille Lacs
I spent part of Sunday sharing my boat with my daughter, son-in-law, and my twin grandsons on Coon Lake. It is a joy to bring fishing to a whole new generation. It is a big job for three adults to keep two 2-year-olds dry, hook free, and entertained. This makes me realize why I and many other PERM members have stuck it out for equal hunting and fishing rights for the past 20 or so years.
I wonder if these youngsters, when they are ready, will be able to enjoy fishing on Mille Lacs Lake as I have in the past. This is a big reason PERM has joined forces with Save Mille Lacs Sporting Fishing to sue the MN DNR over the policies used to manage Mille Lacs and other lakes.
Has this lawsuit had any effect on how they do business? I say yes. Was this lawsuit partially responsible for lifting the "night ban"? I say yes. Is this lawsuit the reason the DNR now has a traveling "Hooked on Mille Lacs On The Road" forum traveling the state? I say yes. Is this the reason the DNR has an online newsletter you can subscribe to? (Hooked on Mille Lacs update at www.mndnr.gov/millelacslakenews) I say yes.
These are all things they should have been doing prior to our lawsuit. Sometimes it takes a grassroots effort to make a state agency remember who they work for. Their next meeting DNR to discuss Lake Mille Lacs walleye reproduction, will be held at 6:30 to 8:00pm on Thursday, Aug 28, at the New Brighton Community Center, 400 10th St NW, New Brighton. Citizen input will be taken.
As a supporter of PERM, SMLSF, and this lawsuit, YOU are making a difference on how the DNR does business. Help make sure that the volunteers can keep our lawsuit funded by visiting PERM.org or savemillelacssportfishing.org and donating what you feel you can afford to keep DNR conservation activities and rule making transparent. View the videos posted here for updates. Erick Kaardal just today filed our response here to the DNR brief as described in his most recent video.
(Speaking of support, congratulations to Frank M. from Hampton, Minnesota, who won the four-gun "Family Plinker Pack" at PERM's Game Fair raffle. One gun for each mender of his family.)
Please forward this to your outdoors minded friends.
Doug Meyenburg, Perm Chairman
Mille Lacs battle still being waged in court
Legal wrangling over Mille Lacs continues, with attorney Erick Kaardal asking the Court of Appeals to invalidate the DNR' Mille Lacs management scheme in favor of one that considers the lake's "hunting and fishing heritage."
"Management of Mille Lacs, like all Minnesota natural resources, must be in accordance with the state constitution, including the hunting and fishing heritage of those resources," Kaardal said. "The DNR has failed to do so on Mille Lacs."
The case began April 24 when Kaardal asked the appeals court to rule that the DNR has not managed Mille Lacs in consideration of the cultural heritage that has developed around more than a century of walleye fishing on the lake.
The DNR responded May 29 by filing more 18,000 pages of biological and other records the agency says support its current Mille Lacs management. But nowhere in the voluminous filing is evidence the DNR has considered Mille Lacs' fishing heritage, Kaardal claims.
"That heritage is one of walleye fishing, not smallmouth bass fishing or northern pike fishing, which the DNR is attempting to change it to on Mille Lacs," Kaardal said.
Kaardal again asked the court to throw out the DNR’s Mille Lacs management plan. "The omission in their 18,000 pages is so egregious we want the court to direct the DNR to follow the constitution regarding hunting and fishing in all of its actions, not just regarding Mille Lacs,” he said.
Read more from Dennis Anderson Star Tribune July 29, 2014
DNR Mille Lacs Rules Lawsuit Moves Forward
Attorney Erick Kaardal has reviewed the DNR's response in the lawsuit challenging the DNR on it's fishing rules for Mille Lacs. The suit was filed on behalf of Save Mille Lacs Sportfishing (SMLSF) and Proper Economic Resource Management (PERM.)
The DNR's 18,700-Page court-ordered response shows DNR failed entirely to consider cultural heritage protections afforded by the Minnesota Constitution and the public-trust doctrine.
In their rule making process, they ignored the constitutional amendment affirming, "That hunting and fishing and the taking of game and fish are a valued part of our heritage that shall be forever preserved for the people and shall be managed by law and regulation for the public good."
"If you voted for the 1998 Constitutional Amendment (passed by over 77% of voters), according to Doug Meyenburg, PERM President, "you are left out by the way DNR makes all its hunting and fishing rules."
They failed to provide any legal basis for disregarding these protections.
Of particular interest to Mille Lacs walleye anglers, was Kaardal's finding that "they failed to show that they have not mismanaged the Mille Lacs Lake walleye population in violation of these protections."
The lawsuit is also based on Minnesota's long-standing recognition of a public trust doctrine. Under this doctrine, certain natural and cultural resources are preserved for public use, which the government owns and must protect and maintain these resources for the public's use. The public trust doctrine is a key tenant of environmental protection advocates nationwide.
VIDEO: Erick Kaardal Explains Suit (8.5 minutes)
What can you do to help?
Sign Up for PERM email ALERTS Join PERM Donate to Heritage Legal Fund
DNR Responds, Lifts Mille Lacs Night Fishing Ban
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JULY 14, 2014
Douglas Meyenburg PERM 763-843-1039
Bill Eno Save Mille Lacs Sport Fishing 320-279-1174
The DNR has just lifted its ban on ALL night fishing on Mille Lacs. The ban was the most controversial part of their April 21 emergency Rule for fishing on Mille Lacs. Critics saw it as an unnecessary overreach and dodging the real issues behind the crashing walleye population in Mille Lacs.
The ban’s suspension came hard on the heels of a brief filed Friday, July 12 by attorney Erick Kaardal. His brief was the next step in the Save Mille Lacs Sportfishing (SMLSF)/Proper Economic Resource Management (PERM) lawsuit against the DNR.
The suspension “came out of pressure from the lawsuit, media, resorters, and anglers,” according to Doug Meyenburg, PERM President. “This is a grassroots lawsuit that is already having an effect on the way the DNR does business,” he added.
The DNR may be hoping that suspension of the rule will take the heat off them and the wind out of the lawsuit, rendering it moot. Not so, according to Kaardal. “I have seen this from bureaucracies before.” The lawsuit remains significant since “our case should be able to proceed because the rule still exists and is still effective through 2015,” according to Kaardal.
That Court of Appeals lawsuit first filed in May challenged the DNR for failing to preserve Mille Lacs Lake fishing heritage for Minnesota citizens, as required by a Minnesota constitutional amendment and by Minnesota’s related “public trust” doctrine.
The lawsuit argued that DNR’s April 21 emergency Rule for fishing on Mille Lacs “does not apply or even mention the applicable legal standards,” and therefore the rule is invalid.
The lawsuit further argued that the court in which the lawsuit (a Petition for Declaratory Judgment Against the Rule) has jurisdiction, and that the petitioners have standing to file a lawsuit.
The court then denied the SMLSF / PERM lawsuit’s request for the DNR to “show cause” or how it did not ignore the constitutional amendment and public trust doctrine. However, the Court did require the DNR to “forward the record and itemized list of the contents of the record,” to the Petitioners.
The DNR then respnded with an 18,700 page administrative record—that "did not mention the Preserve Hunting and Fishing Heritage constitutional provision, nor the public trust doctrine." Despite the length and apparent lack of itemization, Kaardal soon found that the emergency Rule, published by the DNR on April 21, 2014, does not apply or even mention the applicable legal standards.
The brief file Friday by Kaardal again argues for a Declaratory Judgment, since the DNR’s failing to preserve Mille Lacs Lake fishing heritage as required by the Minnesota constitutional and related “public trust” doctrine renders the Mille Lacs fishing rule invalid.
The brief further argues specifically for the Court of Appeals to issue a broad ruling. Several reasons are given, but of particular importance is to require the DNR to apply the law in every case. That would avoid piecemeal litigation--lake by lake or species by species. All lakes and sport fishing across the state would be covered by the ruling.
Read Brief of Appellants in Support of Declaratory Judgment here.
Ron Schara, in a candid moment, lays it on the line
The Star Tribune's entertainment columnist "C.J." recently interviewed Ron Schara. This month Schara celebrated 20 years of “Minnesota Bound.” C.J. took this as an occasion to do a Q&A with Schara, someone with whom she was friendly toward the end of his Star Tribune career, which spanned 1968 to 2007.
C.J.'s success interviewing celebrities comes in part from asking pertinent and provocative questions. She started right out with:
Q: What are three things you would change if you were in charge of the DNR?
Ron Schara rose to the occasion and in a straightforward reply said:
A: One, I would be more accountable to the collapse of the fisheries of Mille Lacs. Nobody’s been fired. Nobody’s been [reassigned]. Why not? Clearly DNR made a huge mistake there. Second thing I would do is be more proactive media-wise. I would have more news conferences, etc. And the third thing I might propose changing is having a citizens commission instead of a single commissioner, to take some politics out of it. I like our commissioner today, but he’s still appointed by the governor [serves at the pleasure of the governor and carries out his policies]
Read more C.J.: Every dog has its (bad) day, even Ron Schara's By: C.J. Star Tribune June 21, 2014
DNR still not finding a walleye predator to blame
More than a year into its "diet composition" study, the DNR, is not finding any confirmation that predator fish are responsible for the population crash of small walleyes.
Could it be predator gillnets that are "eating" the walleye?
The Pioneer Press' Dave Orrick reports on the DNR diet study.
The basic problem with Mille Lacs walleyes: Young aren't surviving. They're reproducing, and no diseases are killing them off, so the DNR is looking at whether they're being eaten, they're starving, or both.
Answers are critical.
Mille Lacs is a top destination for Twin Cities anglers, who support a robust tourism industry. The industry is trying to market other aspects, but the main show has always been the walleye.
Now there aren't enough walleye to go around -- a problem compounded by Indian tribal members who don't have to follow Minnesota laws and can legally net a portion of the lake's walleye.
The scarcity of young walleye -- and fear that without them the population could crash -- has prompted the DNR to set strict regulations this year, including a bag limit of two, and a complete ban on night fishing.
So even while Mille Lacs offers some of the best fishing in the state, longtime business owners say anglers are scarce this year.
"It's too early to draw many conclusions," according to the DNR study project manager. And there are study limitations that may never be overcome.
Walleye as predator
Under 13 inches: In summer and fall, mostly yellow perch. In winter, too few caught to have a good sense.
13 to 18 inch: In August and September, cannibalism picked up, with 10 percent to 15 percent of the diet. In winter couldn't tell.
18 to 23 inch: Similar diet patterns as 13- to 18-inch, except fewer walleyes. In the winter, they ate mostly perch.
23+ inch: Cannibalism noted in September and October, with 10 to 15 percent of their diet walleyes.
Less than 25 inch: From fall into winter, walleye became a notable part of their diet, with young walleye making up 20 percent to 25 percent of their food intake.
Over 25 inch: Walleye never made up more than 10 percent of their diet.
Mostly crayfish. When they do eat fish, the proportion of walleye is very small.
Read More... On Mille Lacs, who's eating who? By Dave Orrick Pioneer Press 06/14/2014
DNR Lawsuit Update June 12
Our attorney Erick Kaardal is working on document review and the appellate brief. A draft brief should be ready for review next week. The due date is June 28th.
It appears that the DNR did not make findings of fact regarding Mille Lacs Lake walleye fishing heritage prior to making their rules and determinations. Kaardal noted that the DNR produced thousands of pages of documents that he is plowing through to confirm this. But then he added, "So, everything is working out…it’s just a lot of work to do."
Stop the Bud-bashing and target the real culprits!
Joe Fellegy explains how leadership when it counted spared Minnesota from a reckless expansion of tribal jurisdiction and management authority
Outdoor News May 23, 2014
At angling websites and newspaper comment sections, when the topic touches what Ron Schara aptly dubs “the Mille Lacs mess,” one often sees ignorant, misinformed, and politically jaded remarks blaming Bud Grant. That’s Bud Grant, legendary former Minnesota Vikings coach, passionate outdoorsman, and equal-rights proponent.
If it hadn’t been for that darn Bud Grant, they say, everything could have been “settled” … for a mere “few million dollars and a few acres of land.”
Sounds like a bargain for a real fix. Except there was way more to it— like tons of legal baggage that would have impacted Minnesota’s resource-management authority and citizen harvest rights for years to come, not just at Mille Lacs but across 3,061,500 acres of 1837 Treaty ceded territory across 12 counties.
From the Chairman’s Boat …
First off, THANK YOU to all of you who are buying raffle tickets and sending in donations. PERM needs the funds to represent the sportsmen and women in this long-overdue lawsuit.
What is important to know is that this lawsuit doesn’t represent only anglers, even though the lawsuit’s focus is on Mille Lacs. The lawsuit, based on the right to hunt and fish in Minnesota’s constitution, includes all! (“Hunting and fishing and the taking of game and fish are a valued part of our heritage that shall be forever preserved for the people and shall be managed by law and regulation for the public good” —1998 amendment) Also, the 1837 Treaty decision does not only affect fish. All natural resources are included in the DNR agreement with the tribal governments.
Unfortunately, the DNR made a very feeble agreement, one that allows for the taking of most wild game without any regard for state rules. In many areas the tribal firearms deer season begins Labor Day weekend and carries on past the New Year and allows two deer per day per tribal member. Pheasants, grouse, and similar game harvest have little or no rules. Migratory waterfowl are the exception, since they are regulated by the Feds.
PERM is calling on all hunting and angling clubs that support specific species. This is a time for all sports-minded folks to stand up for equal hunting and fishing rights for everyone Members of these clubs joined because they wanted to carry on the tradition and heritage of the outdoor sports and all they have to offer. This is the basis of the DNR lawsuit!
You can help make this happen by donating money, items for fundraisers, your time, or your talents.
A golf tournament fundraiser is being planned for Sunday, August 3rd. So watch your emails for all the details. Since it will be near Mille Lacs, it just may be a great weekend for some fishing and golfing.
Please forward this to all your sporting friends and ask them to go to perm.org to sign up for email updates and to donate.
Thanks for your support!
President Proper Economic Resource Management
Comments on DNR Lawsuit
Rep. Sondra Erickson
On Monday, April 28, Representative Sondra Erickson wrote:
Last week a coalition of anglers, resort owners, and other Mille Lacs stakeholders announced a lawsuit against the DNR alleging mismanagement that has decreased the walleye population over the past several years. The group specifically cited the 1998 constitutional amendment passed by voters that aims to protect Minnesota's hunting and fishing heritage.
Lake Mille Lacs has a long history of being one of the premiere walleye fishing lakes in the country. The DNR's inept handling of the walleye populations in recent years puts that heritage at risk, and calls into question the effectiveness of their management of the lake.
I support efforts to hold the DNR accountable for their management of Lake Mille Lacs. Additionally, I hope this prompts the DNR to honor the state's open meeting law when making decisions regarding the 1837 Treaty area that impact fish limits and populations.
Opening the process and allowing anglers, resorters and guides to share their wealth of knowledge about the lake would go a long way to improving DNR management of the lake and its fishing resources.
---Sondra Erickson, State Representative, District 15A
Bob Kangas, retired game warden
On Thursday, April 24, 2014 Bob Kangas, wrote:
I want to thank you for going forward with a lawsuit against the Minnesota DNR for negligent management of the walleyes in Lake Mille Lacs. As you probably know, the Fond du Lac band is also going to spear spawning walleyes in 13 lakes this year in Northeast Minnesota. The band said they will not gill net in 2014 in these lakes. We must get the DNR to have some guts to say no to this method of taking. I've attached a letter I wrote to Outdoor News and a few other papers. It amazes me as to how few people are aware of this. Keep up the good work.
---Bob Kangas, Minnesota Game Warden, Retired.
On Thursday, April 24, 2014 Bill Eno, wrote:
Thanks Bob. Nicely said. We would like to pass your letter around if it is ok with you. Tomorrow in Foley there is a PERM banquet to raise funds for our suit. Not sure where you are right now, but there will be some great supporters and Erick Kaardahl our lawyer will be the main speaker. We all have to pull together and not miss a beat. Would welcome your attendance and maybe say a few words. Let me know. Thanks.
--- Bill Eno, Twin Pines Resort
From Hunters & Fishermen to Greenies on Earth Day: 'You’re Quite Welcome!'
Humberto Fontova 4/26/2014
Over 40 years ago, Americans from all walks of life came together to launch "Earth Day." It was a call to action for the conservation movement.
But well before the first Earth Day, millions of Americans "came together" in a "conservation movement." The Pittman-Robertson Act (1937) imposed an excise tax of 10 per cent on all hunting gear. Then the Dingell-Johnson act (1950) did the same for fishing gear. The Wallop-Breaux amendment (1984) extended the tax to the fuel for boats. All of this to "protect the environment" and buying and maintaining various forms of wildlife habitat.
To date, hunters and fisherpersons have shelled out over $20 billion "on behalf of the environment." The National Shooting Sports Foundation found that for every taxpayer dollar for wildlife conservation, hunters and fishermen contribute nine.
Please note: to "preserve nature," they don't tax hiking boots, Kayaks, mountain bikes, binoculars or birding Field Guides, but they do tax my shotgun, deer rifle, scope, compound bow, duck decoys, and camo pants.
Ten cents of every dollar I spent on my hunting and fishing toys funds things like habitat for Spotted Owls, Red Cockaded Woodpeckers, Snail darters, Black-Footed Ferrets, California Condors, etc., etc.
This avalanche of tax dollars comes on top of those I fork over for the stacks of licenses, and permits, and stamps I'm required to have before I set a foot afield. And…, all the above is on top of my voluntary dues and assorted donations to such as Ducks Unlimited. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation such donations total $300 million a year.
You'd think some thanks might be in order. Well, think again. Here's the Sierra Club's official position: "Wild animals should not be valued principally in terms of whether they can serve as targets. As members of the family of life, we should respect the moral right of all creatures to exist, to be free of unnecessary predation…"
Anyway, you're quite welcome Greenies.
DNR rules for Mille Lacs fishing being challenged in court
April 24, 2014
Today Erick Kaardal, attorney with Mohrman, Kaardal and Erickson, announced the filing of a lawsuit against the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Kaardal is representing Save Mille Lacs Sportfishing, Proper Economic Resource Management (PERM), Twin Pines Resort, Bill Eno, and Fred Dally.
We are petitioning the Court of Appeals for a declaratory judgment on the invalidity the DNR’s Game and Fish Rules for Mille Lacs Lake Fishing published on April 21.
The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the new rules on the grounds that they violate Minnesota's Preserve Hunting and Fishing Heritage amendment, which recognizes a cultural heritage of all Minnesota citizens regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or origin.
The lawsuit also seeks a Court order requiring the DNR to show the following:
• Why the DNR failed to consider cultural heritage protections afforded by the Minnesota Constitution and the public-trust doctrine.
• What statutory authority gives the DNR the right to disregard the cultural heritage protections afforded by the Minnesota Constitution, and
• How the DNR has not mismanaged the Mille Lacs Lake walleye population directly affecting the cultural heritage of Mille Lacs Lake in violation of the cultural heritage protections afforded by the Minnesota Constitution We are challenging DNR's mismanagement of the Mille Lacs lake walleye fishery that has led to the loss of Mille Lacs walleye fishing heritage.
Key to understanding this lawsuit is that Minnesotans in 1998 passed a law, a constitutional amendment that preserves Minnesota’s fishing and hunting heritage. However, DNR regulations regarding Mille Lacs fishing, violates this constitutional requirement.
It is important to note that this amendment came out of Minnesotans' long-standing recognition of a public trust doctrine. The public-trust doctrine is a key tenant of the environmental protection advocates nationwide.
This lawsuit is the first step in a multi-step process to restore the Mille Lacs walleye fishery and walleye fishing heritage.
Help PERM and the plaintiff group in making this legal challenge a success.
Read the entire Petition to the Appeals Court here.
View Erick Kaardal's discussion of the lawsuit here.
Read Dennis Anderson's Star Tribune article 'Anglers, resort operators sue DNR over Mille Lacs walleye fishing rules' here.
Read Doug Belden's Pioneer Press article 'Minnesota DNR sued over Lake Mille Lacs walleye fishery' here.
View KSTP TV Channel 5 'Group Files Lawsuit over Lake Mille Lacs Walleye Regulations' here.
View KMSP TV Channel 9 'MILLE LACS LAWSUIT: Residents sue DNR over walleye harvest cuts' here.
View WCCO TV Channel 4 'DNR Being Sued For Alleged 'Mismanagement' Of Lake Mille Lacs' here.
Help PERM and the plaintiff group in making this legal challenge a success.
TOTAL night fishing ban for Mille Lacs! -- Who Pays
Dennis Anderson on how DNR plan to boost walleye number 'catches others in the crossfire'
Star Tribune April 18, 2014
Understanding the logic of Mille Lacs fisheries management grew more challenging still when the Department of Natural Resources announced recently a total night fishing ban on the big lake this summer and fall. Not only of walleye angling, but of bowfishing for carp — as if this sport could be confused with jigging or long-lining for walleyes — and also muskie fishing, with its 80-pound-test line and plugs and bucktails the length of a man's forearm
The attempt by the DNR to reduce the big lake's walleye harvest by limiting access between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. from May 12 to Dec. 1 is a best-shot effort to keep anglers from reaching this year's minimalist 42,900-pound quota prematurely.
Fishing is often productive at night, and by keeping anglers off the lake at that time, thereby slowing harvest, the hope is Mille Lacs walleye anglers can enjoy their sport throughout the coming year.
Among parties particularly aggrieved by the edict are the lake's launch owners, who often stay on Mille Lacs until well after dark, particularly in the hot-bite months of late May, June and early July. Their target is walleyes, and keeping the big boats docked, as well as the many nighttime bobber-fishing anglers who cast to rock piles after dark, might, in fact, yield the slow walleye harvest the DNR seeks.
Of course to sympathize with this approach one needs first to accept that anything to do with walleye management these days at Mille Lacs makes sense, starting with the DNR's failure to acknowledge that in effect, if not in fact, the big lake's walleye population has collapsed. Concerning as well is the DNR's seeming unwillingness to acknowledge that part of the lake's walleye management equation are the nets strung in its waters in spring by eight Chippewa bands. This failure to speak frankly about all elements at play at the lake — not just its zebra mussels and burgeoning smallmouth bass and northern pike populations, among other topics — has significantly undercut the agency's credibility.
Consider now the plight of muskie anglers and bowfishermen, significant segments of whom visit Mille Lacs each year. The former routinely fish at night, the latter exclusively. Both spend money around the lake, at gas stations, restaurants and motels — which everyone acknowledges the area sorely needs. Moreover, the actions of neither has anything whatsoever to do with Mille Lacs walleyes or the lake's walleye harvest.
Yet these anglers, too, are banned from fishing Mille Lacs between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., in part because the DNR says enforcing a night ban exclusively against walleye anglers, and not all anglers, would be difficult.
"I can't tell you how much this upsets me," said muskie guide Josh Stevenson, owner of Blue Ribbon Bait in Oakdale. "Mille Lacs is unlike any lake in the state. It's big, it's wild, it's a challenge and I, like other muskie fishermen, fish it regularly at night, maybe four hours on, four hours off, depending on the moon phase."
Added Stevenson: "Mille Lacs is a challenge like no other lake anywhere. If you know the lake and your timing is right, you have a chance to put a 50-incher in the boat. This might take days or weeks. But the fish are there, and they're often caught at night. To have that taken away from me just kills me. And for what? To reduce the walleye harvest?"
Curt Cich, president of the Land of Lakes Bowfishing Association, a state group, is similarly incredulous. Not only do bowfishermen shoot carp, an invasive species, thereby performing a public service, they do so in flat-bottom boats with generators running and high-beam lights glowing — hardly the profile of walleye anglers.
Cich has met with DNR fisheries and enforcement managers to plead his case but hasn’t heard back.
"I can't understand any reason why we should be kept off the lake," Cich said. "We have nothing to do with walleye fishing, and in no way could we ever be confused with walleye fishermen."
In a phone interview Thursday, DNR fisheries chief Don Pereira was sympathetic but asked anglers of all stripes to see the big picture. Rebuilding the lake's walleyes will be challenging, he said. And keeping Mille Lacs walleye fishing open throughout the year is important for anglers and the region’s economy.
But might pressure from bowfishermen and muskie anglers change the DNR's mind and allow them back on the lake at night this summer and fall?
If the past is prologue, don't count on it.
Better that these fishing specialists plead their case with the governor or legislators, who often are sympathetic to common-sense arguments, if only in election years, which this is.
Ban the Gillnets!
DNR's disconnect from Mille Lacs
From Joe Fellegy's column in Outdoor News April 4, 2014
DNR announcements about record-low walleye, quotas, and "radical angling regs for pike, bass, and walleyes," have triggered a firestorm of "public concern and disgust."
Distrust of DNR and state leadership is growing. It comes from their focus on a flawed [co-management] system, rather than on "citizen-stakeholders and a Minnesota resource treasure."
It's all about "eco-system complexities." Little mention is made of "spawning-time tribal gill-net fishing .... and the related 'treaty fisheries management.' "
Pike explosion? Now an alleged Northern Pike assault becomes one of those complexities. DNR then responds with regs to greatly increase the number of pike taken, including "A 10-pike limit. Darkhouse pike-spearing revived on waters famed for trophy pike and muskies. Pike season extended a month." Yet there is little to justify such "radical 'pro-active' management" of pike. And it's unlikely to draw attention away from the walleye fiasco.
Smallmouth bass regs The new, generous, smallmouth bass regs may also serve the same [unstated] agenda regarding walleye. Although the bass regs have generated a lot of static from bass pros. 'Hooking mortality' scam DNR adds "hooking mortality" to the catch-and-keep figure. The more regs force walleye anglers to catch and release, "the more they're punished with hooking mortality."
Not 'common sense' DNR is concerned about crash of smaller walleyes is about numbers. But "treaty management's emphasis is on total pounds." That means the walleye quota could be reached much more quickly.
A resource and 'heritage' surrender! Many Minnesotans are unaware that their state government has, in a real sense, surrendered half the Mille Lacs fish resource plus half the state's management authority over a huge state asset--with all the economics, culture, and Minnesota outdoor heritage that attach. The ridiculous 50-50 state-tribal pike and perch allocations have long been in play. Several years ago tribal managers noted they could go for 50 percent of the annual safe harvest level (SHL) on walleyes too. .... Don Pereira, DNR Fisheries Chief, affirmed the system: "The Bands' declaration is deducted from the total SHL and the balance is for State anglers. If the Bands' declaration is greater than half the SHL, then they are reduced to half the SHL."
Surely the 1998 Hunting and Fishing Amendment to Minnesota's Constitution, as well as the 2008 Legacy Amendment, didn't cut half the Mille Lacs fishery, traditionally Minnesota's largest, from Minnesota's outdoor heritage or from state management responsibility. Maybe DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, Attorney General Lori Swanson, Governor Mark Dayton, and legislators on House and Senate natural-resources committees can elaborate.
Mille Lacs: DNR's terrible disconnect, and what comes next? By Joe Fellegy Outdoor News--April 4, 2014
DNR puts temporary ban on night fishing on Lake Mille Lacs
By Dave Orrick Twincties.com Pioneer Press 03/25/14
Night fishing on Lake Mille Lacs will be banned nearly all year this season, The ban -- the most stringent ever employed on the lake -- is among several changes announced by the DNR as it grapples with a declining walleye population in Mille Lacs.
But some resort owners and guides were outraged:
-- "It's like a dagger to the economy up here," said Bill Eno, owner of Twin Pines Resort in Garrison.
-- "They're going to have to figure something else out because this is blowing up right now," muskie guide Jason Hamernick said. "My phone won't stop with calls and texts."
Slow year for walleye
Given those tight restrictions, as well as an increasing amount of baitfish for the walleyes to eat, fisheries biologists believe the action will be slow this year for walleye, a trend that began this winter when ice anglers reported finding fish on sonar but having difficulty coaxing them to bite.
Still, DNR officials said they couldn't risk having too many fish taken.
The problem of Mille Lacs walleye is that for several years, they have not been surviving into adulthood, and scientists are trying understand why.
Treaties complicating matters
Complicating matters are treaties with Indian tribes that have rights to take fish from the lake. Biologists say only 60,000 pounds of walleye can be safely taken from Mille Lacs, including 42,900 pounds by non-tribal anglers. That's the lowest safe harvest level enacted under the modern treaty regimen.
But they know the night ban will be painful.
Eno said 75 percent of his business is evening launch cruises for walleye. He said he'll redo his schedules, but he's particularly worried about weekend anglers from the Twin Cities. Nobody can get off work Friday and make it up here by then from the Cities."
Hamernick said all of his muskie bookings involve an evening component -- often casting until past midnight -- because muskies on Mille Lacs bite better when the sun is low or down. "This is terrible," he said. "This'll push a lot of muskie guys to other lakes."
Muskie anglers catch few walleyes, but Pereira said it would be too difficult to enforce a selective night ban. As such, nobody will be allowed on the lake with any fishing gear aboard after 10 p.m.
Treaty management on Mille Lacs: Time for long overdue change
By Tim Ajax, Fishing guide, Isle – Outdoor News – March 21, 2014
The Lake Mille Lacs fish population has been out of balance for years. DNR knows their treaty management has played a role. Unfair fish allocations, spawning-time gillnetting, strict quotas and angling regulations, plus related bad publicity are too much.
• The DNR can’t keep saying thousands of feet of gill nets over spawning grounds for days does not disrupt the maximizing of the spawning reproduction process.
• The bands’ gillnetting and DNR regs target the same fish DNR now says are in short supply. if DNR worries about a giant eating machine they helped create, why keep anglers from harvesting the buildup of malewalleyes over 20 inches?
• Why the hooking-mortality assessment? Where else does DNR enforce a penalty on anglers for releasing fish other than Mille Lacs?
• For years before tribal gill-netting and DNR’s treaty management, anglers could keep six walleyes, with one over 20 inches. The harvest was spread over more walleye sizes. The result: more balance and a lake in farbetter shape.
• DNR and tribal managers now encourage more pike harvest so the bands won’t worry about exceeding their pike quotas and stopping walleye netting.
• From the start, we’ve been told the bands’ gillnetted fish are closely counted. Are they? Who’s watching? We see landings where there is no counting.
It’s time for sportsmen statewide, who care about Mille Lacs and other Minnesota fishing waters, to unite, rally, and support our precious resources. Communicate promptly and often with your state and federal government officials, and with candidates for office. No more politics. No more excuses. No more gill nets during the spawn. It is time to save the Mille Lacs fishery – the fish and the people.
Mille Lacs ‘Hooking Mortality’ Scam: Punishing anglers for conservation?
By Joe Fellegy Outdoor News March 15, 2013
Catch-and-release fishing—anglers unhooking and letting fish go—is a given in Minnesota’s sport-fishing world. Live-release is positively embraced by conservationists, tournament pros, and plain-folks anglers. And it’s used by managers to influence fish numbers and sizes.
Outside DNR’s Mille Lacs treaty management and its annual “safe allowable harvests” (quotas), where is “hooking mortality” a big issue? When calculating walleye harvest at Mille Lacs, anglers are assessed estimated hooking-mortality—pounds of walleyes that die via release. Those thousands of guesstimated release-mortality pounds plus guesstimated pounds of kept walleyes equals total walleye kill by state-licensed anglers.
Think of it. Penalizing a sport-fishing community for practicing conservation—in this case releasing walleyes via regulation! The hooking mortality assessment adds to the hassle, debates over extremist regs, and even fear of possible shut-down at Mille Lacs under treaty management. Unbelievably, the more they’re forced to release, the more Mille Lacs anglers are punished!
A main premise of catch-and-release fishing is that most let-go fish live. They contribute to a fish population’s health and to quality fishing. Where, beyond Mille Lacs, must anglers and fisheries managers obsess and worry about minority percentages of fish that don’t survive catch-and-release?
Under extremist Treaty Fisheries Management at Mille Lacs, especially given this year’s slashed “safe allowable harvest,” there’s heavy focus on the hooking-mortality penalty, which could push state-licensed sport anglers over the precipice.
A 15-year exemption!
Why punish Mille Lacs sport anglers with a hooking-mortality assessment for practicing conservation? It’s got anglers, resorters, and DNR managers worried and uncertain over what should be a non-issue. It’s inexcusable and must end. I’d argue that the Mille Lacs sport-fishing community deserves a 15-year exemption from unnecessary and unfair hooking-mortality assessments.
After all, through 15 years of separate state and tribal fisheries and “co-management” at Mille Lacs, not a pound of mortality has been assessed on the tons of unwanted northern pike annually “released” by tribal gillnetters. Ask veteran tullibee netters (like me), or DNR fisheries biologists who use gill nets in fish population surveys. Given how toothy pike behave in gill nets—twisting and tangling, often with gills wrapped tightly in net mesh—fair-minded and honest folks might suggest a 50- to 70-percent mortality assessment on often-doomed “released” gill-netted pike.
Face it. Here’s a real conservation issue, not a contrived one like hooking mortality. Yet, it’s gone unaddressed with no release-mortality assessments. For 15 years, tribal managers and tribal harvesters, unlike state-licensed anglers and DNR managers, haven’t faced possible netting shut-down because of pike-release mortality, a legitimate conservation concern.
Mille Lacs led on release
Instead of being hit with unfair hooking-mortality assessments, Mille Lacs resorters and anglers deserve top-rate treatment—especially by state fisheries managers—for their history-making boost of walleye-release in Minnesota. In the early and mid-1980s they inspired a statewide revolution promoting release of keeper-size walleyes.
Mille Lacs resorters and anglers played a pivotal role in promoting release ethics and release-based management. What an impact! Hey, give ‘em some credit for millions of conservation pounds across Minnesota! And free ‘em from today’s hooking-mortality scam.
Input Group responds to options—none includes gillnets
March 8, 2014
It was standing room only at the Mille Lacs Fishery Input Advisory Group meeting March 8. The big turnout was likely in response to the DNR Mille Lacs walleye harvest quota for 2014. Cutting the quota to less than one fourth that of last year may have gotten anglers’ attention.
Various harvest options were presented, most revolving around the crash of young walleyes. Options included pursuing other fish species instead of walleye. The DNR gave several explanations for the walleye crash—none included gillnets.
When challenged about the crashed walleyes’ impact on the local economy, DNR fisheries chief Don Pereira said “Federal court says we can’t fight tribal netting based on economics, only on conservation.”
PERM has long urged the DNR to take advantage of the court’s permission to use the conservation exception in its negotiations with the tribe. Failing that, the DNR is allowed unilateral action to ban the gillnets on Mille Lacs. PERM’s Economic Impact study was only designed to confirm the urgency of the DNR taking action via the conservation exception.
Tribal walleye spearing coming to NE Minnesota
March 07, 2014
The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa will initiate spearing of walleye his spring in lakes within the 1854 ceded territory, which covers most of Northeastern Minnesota.
The initiative is, at this point, is likely to have low impact, and was described as being “pretty low-key.”
Testing the waters as it were.
The band’s right to hunt, fish, and gather in the 1854 treaty area was described as being “affirmed in the 1980s in federal court." However, the DNR’s own website explains that a lawsuit by Grand Portage, Fond du Lac and Bois Forte Bands ended with the bands entering into an agreement whereby 1) the state makes annual payments to each tribe, and 2) “the Bands establish their own regulations that apply to harvest by Band members. The Bands' regulations restrict commercial harvest, big game seasons, spearing, netting, and other activities of concern to the State.”
The agreement acknowledged harvest rights by the payments involved, but that agreement “approved by the federal court, does not commit to a legal conclusion as to whether the 1854 Treaty harvest rights remain valid."
A year later the Fond du Lac Band withdrew from that agreement. They continued with their own regulations including the restriction mentioned above. However, does not being a party to the agreement mean restrictions, such as spearing, no longer apply?
Start up of walleye spearing could test whether previously agreed to restrictions still apply. But that could only happen if anyone notices the “low key” testing of the waters.
Mille Lacs treaty management: state’s day of reckoning is here!
By Joe Fellegy – Outdoor News – February 7, 2014
This year the annual news cycle is already more negatively powerful than ever. It stems from treaty fisheries co-management and the state’s failure to protect state and citizen interests. Impatience is growing over state leaders who are more loyal to a flawed system than to their own citizens and Mille Lacs.
The future of a walleye angling destination economy is in doubt.
The bad news about Mille Lacs started early. It began with the usual new quotas, bag limits, size restriction, gill-net harvest reports, etc. It quickly expanded with the DNR hype on its “new plan” for Mille Lacs. Loss of the walleye-angling-destination work-arounds, such as promotion of alternative fish species, or non-walleye Mille Lacs tourism themes added to the equivalent of millions in negative advertising.
Errors compound the bad news barrage.
Journalists and politicos commonly misinterpret Court affirmations of basic treaty-rights harvests and OK on “tribal co-management.” Court affirmations of treaty rights are now applied to using gill-nets and all aspects of the “treaty management” system. These affirmations are used to immunize “managers from the scrutiny and hard questions … that policymakers should face.”
It’s also not true, contrary to the DNR’s past claims, that state government hands are tied. If state leaders remain indifferent to the Mille Lacs fiasco’s impact on Mille Lacs-related businesses, then maybe these businesses “should be exempted from state taxes.”
Politicians and media also have wrongly freed taxpayer-funded tribal governments and “co-management” bureaucracies from hard questions and accountability. They give a pass on using the “racism” label against anyone who questions their action.
Public policy on Mille Lacs, and its devastating impact on the Mille Lacs economy are bringing “ near-universal agreement that the walleye gill-netting and related “treaty management” must go.”
Read More ...
How to Fix Mille Lacs
By Dick Sternberg
Background. It’s been more than a decade since I worked on behalf of the Mille Lacs landowners group to expose threats to the walleye fishery that had begun to develop as a result of the new court-ordered “treaty-management” program. With fish-management decisions being made on the basis of treaty dictates rather than biological facts, most of the serious fisheries problems we are experiencing today were easy to predict. Now, after 15 years of treaty management, the walleye population is at an historic low and the DNR seems to be at a loss as to how to solve the problem.
In attempting to summarize the causes of the problem, the DNR says: "The problem is complex. Many things are or have been going on at once. (You can find the DNR’s assessment of the dismal walleye situation on its website's Mille Lacs page under the Background FAQ tab.)
One thing the DNR did not address in their laundry list is the difficulty for non-band members to catch “keeper” walleyes. Because of the extremely narrow harvest slot in 2013 (only 18- to 20-inch walleyes could be kept), anglers had to return 89 percent of the walleyes they caught. They were also assessed a “hooking-mortality” penalty on the walleyes they released, so when the bite was hot and large numbers of fish were being thrown back, hooking mortality far exceeded the catch of keepers. In July 2013, for example, anglers harvested 13,579 pounds of walleye and were assessed hooking mortality of 38,490 pounds which counts against the non-tribal harvest quota for the year.
Another laundry-list omission: the alarmingly low percentage of males in the walleye population. In the 2013 sampling, only 39 percent of the walleyes were males. DNR biologists suspect that the gender imbalance is the result of the tribal harvest, which runs 80 to 90 percent male, in addition to the non-tribal harvest which is heavy to males because slot limits force anglers to target the smaller fish. The long-term effects of the gender imbalance are unknown.
But the DNR didn’t need my input on the issues of cannibalism and heavy predation by other fish species; they knew exactly what was going on. “The pattern of year classes starting out strong but diminishing significantly over time has been occurring since 2000,” DNR said in the 2008 Technical Committee report. “Lower survival of young fish may be a recruitment response to the increased numbers of large fish since treaty management began in 1997,” they concluded.
So if the DNR understood this problem and most of the others on the above laundry list, why haven’t they taken stronger action to solve them? Cannibalism, for example, could be reduced by adjusting the slot to allow more harvest of large walleyes. That, in turn, would increase levels of perch and other forage fish, thereby benefitting smaller walleyes. But as the DNR reminds us every time this solution is proposed, harvest of more large walleyes would put us above the safe harvest level as dictated by the TREATY-MANAGEMENT system.
So how can we fix Mille Lacs? We must discontinue treaty management and establish a biologically-sound system that allows managers to manage with all of the tools at their disposal, not with one hand tied behind their back. That will require the State to go back to court and show that treaty management is un-biological, unfair to anglers and unlikely to restore the premier walleye fishery for which the lake has long been known.
It's STILL the nets
Dennis Anderson's 'stern steps' for Mille Lacs
Dennis Anderson in the Star Tribune yesterday wrote about the Mille Lacs walleye problem, "Mille Lacs predicament requires stern steps." Anderson's "stern steps" started with "No nets for the Chippewa, no keepers for the rest."
For starters, PERM recognizes Anerson for writing on an issue so often avoided by Minnesota journalists—gillnets in Mille Lacs during spawn, and "treaty fisheries management."
Last March Anderson nailed it when he pointed out the "real problem" with walleyes on Mille Lacs by writing "it's the nets!"
This time, after touching on a number of confounding factors, Anderson only says the gillnets "in and of themselves" are "not entirely" the lake's problem. This time he says it's a combination of the gillnets and the harvest slots.
Remember how the DNR and State blamed state anglers for over limits taken as a major part of the collapse of Red Lake, with twice the surface area of Mille Lacs?
Another confounding factor maybe, but Mr. Anderson, it's STILL the gillnets!
One recent assessment of gillnets showed there were eight MILES of tribal gillnets on Mille Lacs during the spawn! Taking the egg-filed female walleyes during spawn is still the primary problem.
Anderson gets more on track asking "what to do?" He suggests the DNR should go to Governor Dayton for an OK to ask the tribes to pull their gillnets until the walleye population recovers. Then he backs away with a much more modest "secondary possibility," ask the tribes to "focus their harvest on bigger walleyes."
But he returns again with a solid "if they refuse either option, the state should take them to court."
Remember, the Governor and the DNR are still responsible for all the natural resources in the state of Minnesota. They always had the authority to do what is necessary to protect Minnesota's natural resources.
Anderson opens up the discussion by asking for any better ideas, a sample of which he promises to publish in future weeks. (Send to email@example.com)
This would be a good time to suggest politically-driven, politically-correct half-measures have had their day. The fading Mille Lacs sports fishing economy demands no less.
Read the rest of Anderson’s Mille Lacs predicament here. Be sure to check out the comments too.
Joe Fellegy calls for pro-Minnesota policies and action in place of "tribal-training"
Contradictory rulings on the illegal sale of walleyes by two federal judges (Kyle – charges stick; Tunheim – charges drop) on two sets of offenders from the same bust, opens the door to endlessly expanding interpretations of "treaty harvest rights."
It’s another example of the unequal application of the law when anything tribal is involved. And it makes the common sense rule of “everyone hunts and fishes under the same laws” an increasingly remote possibility.
Gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton made promising comments in the Outdoor News booth at 2010 Game Fair. He called for equal fishing and hunting rights in Minnesota. So where’s Governor Dayton's fix? Nowhere. Instead, Gov. Dayton signed Executive Order 13-10, mandating all Executive Branch agencies to develop regular tribal consultation, tribal-friendly practices, and a stew of collaborations, interactions, and trainings.
Order 13-10 training for Executive Branch agencies, which already have numerous agency-tribal liaisons, should be replaced with much-needed transparency and accountability on tribal matters.
Read more "Trade tribal-training Order for pro-Minnesota policies, action" by Joe Fellegy Outdoor News December 6, 2013
Who owns Red Lake?
Supreme Court affirmed State's ownership of Red Lake
With more attention given to the poaching case in Northern Minnesota involving members from several Indian Tribes, "Sale of contraband walleyes from Red Lake, Leech Lake persists" it's again clear that one major point is missing.
All press accounts I have read imply that all of Lower and about half of Upper Red Lake are controlled by the Red Lake Band of Chippewa. This is an assumption PERM has questioned for years. In fact, it is directly contradicted by the U.S. Supreme Court's 1926 U.S. v. Holt State Bank decision.
In that decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Red Lake was not made part of the Red Lake reservation, so there was no "exclusion of others from the use of navigable waters." They added that in the creation of the Red Lake reservation "There was nothing in this which even approaches a grant of rights in lands underlying navigable water..."
The court affirmed that the Indians were to have access to the lake, and to be entitled to "use them in accustomed ways; but these were common rights vouchsafed to all, whether white or Indian..." The Court added that these waters "shall be common highways, and forever free, as well to the inhabitants of said State as to all other citizens of the United States." Finally, the Supreme Court concluded, "...the State on its admission into the Union became the owner of the bed of the lake..."
In a televised interview with then DNR Commissioner Gene Merriam, I brought this to his attention. He answered, "We know of that decision, but we plan to deal with the Red Lake Band the way we have for the past 75 years."
Since Holt has never been overturned, does that not put our state in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling? The Governor, DNR Commissioner, Attorney General, and all members of our legislature have been notified of this various times. Ignoring this should put them all in violation of their oath of office, to uphold the law of the land.
Saving Mille Lacs: Minnesota's 'walleye stadium'
Ron Schara gets it right
Ron Shcara is well informed about Mille Lacs. So we're happy to read his straightforward account about the collapse of the walleye population there. The mainstream media is catching up with the Mille Lacs fishery management issue!
Schara's account in the Friday, April 12 Outdoor News, "Saving Mille Lacs: Minnesota's walleye stadium," doesn't speculate about any confounding factors that need lots more research. He says "it's a walleye crisis of our own making." The reason—once again—is the "spring netting assaults by eight bands of Chippewa," which he combines with the "voodoo walleye rules by the DNR."
"It's time for a reality check" according to Schara, and we couldn't agree more—except maybe to add, "long past time."
Schara presents a list of parties that "should be outraged." Then he unwinds the DNR and tribal fish manager's walleye game plan. He highlights the contradiction of common sense referenced by Star Tribune columnist Dennis Anderson two weeks ago. That is, the DNR's agreeing to strict walleye restrictions, while agreeing to netting that is "highly effective" in harvesting the very walleye protected by their restrictions. (That might explain Schara's "fish management lunacy" comment.)
Governor Dayton is called on to get behind a search for solutions, in a process "free of political correctness and racial overtones." Schara challenges the DNR in the same way. Go after a common sense solution, while remembering that "the Mille Lacs Band has a history of wanting to be good neighbors."
Suggestions by Dick Sternberg, former DNR fish biologist who "predicted the lake's walleye population demise over a decade ago" are a good place to start according to Schara. He draws these suggestions from a PERM publication written by Dick Sternberg, "The Mille Lacs Fish Management Plan: Threat to Minnesota's Premier Walleye Fishery (On Behalf of Mille Lacs Lake Landowners.)"
PERM retained Sternberg's services when Mille Lacs "co-management" was first getting underway. PERM paid well over $50,000 for expertise that could temper the DNR's initial approach to accommodating the impact of treaty harvest of walleye. A follow up report "The New Mille Lacs Plan: A Closer Look, By Dick Sternberg on behalf of PERM" has additional suggestions to address "the constraints of treaty management."
We hope that other journalists will be as forthcoming in shining a light on the Mille Lacs fishery management issue.
Is the treaty harvest system broken?
Join PERM and become part of the solution
Ten men have been indicted for the buying and selling of walleyes, according to a story by Doug Smith today in the Star Tribune. The walleyes and other fish were netted from lakes on the Red Lake and Leech Lake Indian reservations.
The illegal activity has been going on since 2009 and was considered "widespread." In that time "hundreds of thousands of dollars" of poached fish were sold. The indictments confirmed rumors, which Grand Rapids fishing guide Tom Neustrom said "have been flying for years that band members were netting fish and selling them."
Leech Lake Band legal director Lenny Fineday upped the number indicted saying "Between 15 and 20 individuals will likely be issued tribal citations." He added, "Those people are either members of the Leech Lake Band or other bands."
Highlighting PERM's long-standing concern about using gillnets for the treaty rights harvest of game fish, Fineday emphasized that "Under the band's conservation code, the act of netting was not illegal," Netting is perfectly legal when it is used for "sustenance fishing."
The Star Tribune report compared the current indictments with similar poaching allegations back in the 1990s "that led to the collapse of the walleye fishery on … Upper and Lower Red Lake."
Read more Sign up for PERM Alerts Join PERM and become part of the solution.
A Path To Victory
The past dozen years have been discouraging for Minnesota citizens who opposed the effort by the Ojibwe Bands to reinstate the 1837 Treaty hunting and fishing rights. Many people believe that the battle ended with the United States Supreme Court’s decision in 1999 recognizing the treaty rights.
But two legal issues were not addressed by the United States Supreme Court’s decision in 1999:
1) Whether the Indian Claims Commission Act prevents the courts from issuing an injunction barring the State of Minnesota’s enforcement of its fish and game laws.
2) The Second Phase of the trial was never heard in the District Court or at any other level, because the State of Minnesota opted to enter into agreements or protocols with the Bands allowing the treaty harvest under the Bands’ hunting and fishing codes.
The only issues ultimately decided by the Supreme Court and District Court decisions were whether the treaty right was still in existence and whether it extended to private lands. The first issue, the Indian Claims Commission Act, has been the subject of other articles.
This will focus on the Phase II issues, which should be heard in the District Court.
It's the nets!
Dennis Anderson gets it right
After all these years of reporting on Mille Lacs, its walleyes, and some of the byproducts of tribal-state "co-management" coming out of the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Dennis Anderson finally gets it right.
In his Star Tribune article yesterday, Anderson says the DNR's most recent solution, a two-walleye limit, "doesn't address the real problem." He uses the term "bizarre" in describing the DNR's walleye limit announcement. But he saves "wackiest" for the DNR's new Mille Lacs smallmouth bass limit.
Given the new Mille Lacs walleye sport-fishing quota--cut in half this year--and accounting for "release mortality," Anderson can see that "the lake, perhaps, would be shut down to walleye fishing."
So what does the DNR do? It trades off the "world-class smallmouth fishery" as an alternative to the busted walleye fishery. According to Anderson it's "Bye-bye world-class smallmouth fishery."
He attributes DNR managers' growing list of factors confounding walleye management to their being practiced at "public-relations management." Factors he considers "secondary worries" in any case.
The problem he says "hides out in plain sight every spring" with ice-out.
It's the nets.
Anderson: Two-fish walleye and bass limits obscure real issue on Mille Lacs
By Dennis Anderson - Star Tribune, March 29, 2013
State 'leaders' giving away state resources?
Joe Fellegy asks some tough questions
State's ambiguous conservation authority
In his most recent column Fellegy asks about the state's increasingly ambiguous legal jurisdiction over conservation whenever tribal governments challenge the State's authority. Then conservation authority and landowner property rights often go out the window.
Fellegy explains with examples where Minnesota Indian tribes unilaterally declare their authority over specific conservation issues.
Currently tribes are leading these assertions with wolf-protection. This issue comes with a lot of politically correct sympathy from some quarters, almost all of which completely ignores the underlying agenda of tribal governments.
When conservation is about walleye
Fellegy connects the increasingly intolerable Mille Lacs hassle with "state leadership's lack of resolve to defend state and citizen interests." Fellegy reports that the DNR (and the State's) defense, is based on 'its hands are tied.'"
State government's hands appear to be similarly "tied" in Wisconsin. Fellegy points out examples of the Mille Lacs situation having its counterpart in Wisconsin. There, the "horrendous playing-out of 'treaty rights' " has just expanded the number of one-walleye-bag-limit lakes from 10 lakes to 197 lakes! At this rate, he wonders, "Who knows what the future could bring?"
Fellegy describes the modern Indian Industry as being deep into law and maximizing its power. Unfortunately, he notes, across the DNR there is "no comparable intensity." It's a passive attitude that has left "many in the outdoors community increasingly distrustful, and even scornful, towards state government."
Are state 'leaders' giving away state resources and state control?
By Joe Fellegy - Outdoor News, March 29, 2013
Mille Lacs walleye limit cut to two
Mille Lacs walleye limit cut to two Perplexed by a complicated and underachieving Lake Mille Lacs fishery, the Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday that anglers can keep only two walleyes from the big lake when the state’s open water fishing season begins May 11.
And Mille Lacs walleyes that end up in a live well or on a stringer must measure between 18 and 20 inches — though one trophy larger than 28 inches can be kept. Read more.
Wis. DNR, Chippewa tribes locking horns again
MILWAUKEE - The state Department of Natural Resources and the Chippewa tribes in northern Wisconsin are locking horns again, this time over the tribes' plan to dramatically increase the number of walleye harvested this spring.
The Chippewa bands' announcement last week ratcheted up the conflict in what has been a sometimes contentious relationship between the tribes, the state and nontribal neighbors. Tribes already were upset over state moves to allow a wolf hunt and to relax certain mining standards, and their latest announcement invites comparison to a situation decades ago when the resumption of spearfishing spawned protests from other residents that escalated into violent confrontations. Read more.
Next PERM Board Meeting Monday, May 6
PERM's December meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 6 at 7:30 pm in the Boardroom at the Cinema Professional Building 657 Main Street in Elk River.
Joe Fellegy gets it right
Mille Lacs fish fiasco: Give the human side overdue attention!By Joe Fellegy – Outdoor News, Feb. 6, 2013
Joe Fellegy doesn’t hold anything back. He starts out like this:
Fish and fishing people comprise a fishery. Without people there is no fishery. Given the ongoing turmoil at Mille Lacs—traditionally our “premier walleye lake” but now, increasingly, the controversy capitol of Minnesota fishing—state leadership better rescue both fish and people from the quagmire. They owe us. After all, back in the 1990s miscreants in state government helped dig the Mille Lacs hole. And seemingly indifferent state personnel have maintained it. Last year the Mille Lacs Fishery Input Group passed a resolution asking DNR officials to use state legal and political clout to end the mess. Have they?
Fellegy gives state leaders, along with “would-be conservationists, academics, and journalists” a well-deserved jab, because they “turn blind eyes and even run for cover from the Mille Lacs monster.” And worse, they “callously overlook the human element, the thousands of people trapped … by walleye gillnet harvests and by ‘treaty fisheries management’…”
Even more significant, is Fellegy’s fresh take on the Mille Lacs situation as a moral issue. He brings up the principle of "the Double Effect." This refers to a set of ethical criteria in which the permissibility of acting when one's otherwise legitimate act (for example, recognizing treaty harvest rights) will also cause an effect one would normally be obliged to avoid (for example, trashing the Mille Lacs walleye fishery and local economy.)
At what point would the ethics of "double effect" come into play? Fellegy shows how it already has.
The DNR? Not yet. Why not? Because they use a very narrow interpretation the Supreme Court's ruling. In the DNR's interpretation, the DNR cannot object to "specific methods of take, ethics, or fair chase." (DNR letter to the Mille Lacs Fishery Input Group, January 24, 2012.) Or more plainly, "Our hands are tied. And, there is no elephant in the room."
The advantage of a very narrow interpretation? It comes with a lot of politically correct—and politically expedient—cover. Downside? A premiere walleye fishery destination is depleted, with a local economy increasingly on the ropes. And then add living under the ever-growing taxpayer-funded '"co-management" bureaucracies.
The Court's ruling can (and should) be more broadly interpreted. For example, the court did not order gillnetting, treaty harvest rights are usufructuary, meaning they are granted and come with a responsibility to preserve the resource, and the DNR can legally restrict treaty harvest rights if there is a problem with public health, public safety, or conservation. Again, more plainly, we cannot overlook the property rights of the state and its citizens just to avoid dealing with exploitation of the Mille Lacs fishery under cover of "treaty harvest rights."
Read more on Joe Fellegy's take, "When the bad far outweighs any good, and when those in charge fail to minimize the harm, there’s a problem!
Is Mille Lacs out of balance?
Walleye numbers are low and legal keepers hard to find, leaving some anglers anxious. The Department of Natural Resources is planning a spring study to peg the population and try to determine the cause.
(See Related, below)
Once again, this lake is putting anglers, biologists, and policymakers to the test.
In October, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' annual gillnet survey reaped the fewest walleye in the 40 years the survey has been standardized. Biologists [were] "very concerned."
Underneath it all lie tensions over Indian tribal netting of fish, especially since the tribes have expressed a desire to increase their share of the annual bounty this fish factory serves up.
In a few days, officials with the DNR and American Indian groups will meet behind closed doors to figure out the acceptable tonnage of walleyes that can be harvested from the lake this year. There's good reason to believe that number could be lower than last year's take. The meeting isn't public, but the decision is to be announced soon after.
And that could affect the size and limits of fish that could be kept next year, which could mean the coolers once again will remain empty and frying pans un-greased.
This, in a lake that is as important to the hearts of tens of thousands of anglers as it is to the state's tourism economy, from guides to resorts.
So a lot of people are watching.
One outcome that's unlikely is one many guides and resort owners have been pushing for years: ending tribal netting during the spring spawn.
In the back of everyone's minds are fears that Mille Lacs' walleye population, which is entirely naturally reproducing, will plummet, as it did in Leech Lake a number of years ago and as it did most dramatically in Upper Red Lake, where the population collapsed in 1999.
Both lakes have rebounded. But on Leech, it followed stocking fish and killing thousands of cormorants, and on Red, the season was closed for seven years to let stocking take hold.
Related: Rep Sondra Erickson (15A) introduces transparency, open meeting bills
HF33 would increase transparency by requiring the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) commissioner to report annually on the costs associated with the management of fisheries in the Lake Mille Lacs and the ceded tribal territory based on the 1837 treaty. I believe it's important that Minnesotans are aware of the exact costs year - which number in the millions - as well as the services. We also need to know what kind of funding is provided to the Ojibwe tribes as a part of the 1837 treaty.
HF42 requires meetings involving the DNR, Ojibwe bands and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission involving the 1837 treaty rights to be subject to open meeting requirements outlined under state law. It would allow members of the Mille Lacs Fishery Input Group only to attend the meetings and perhaps local press.
HF42 would also require an annual report on aquatic invasive species containment efforts under state law to help ensure existing enforcement mechanisms and whether or not state laws are being followed to achieve containment of these harmful invasive species.
Emergency alert on Mille Lacs walleye crash
Last fall, the DNR found Mille Lacs walleye survey results so low (lowest since 1983,) that they pushed the co-management arrangement into "condition three."
Yet, it was still pretty much business as usual this summer. Harder decisions would have to wait until a DNR technical group could take another look this fall.
Bad news. Survey results this fall are the lowest since 1972, and a continuation of a decline that began in 2009.
What can be done? Start with a common sense elimination of gill nets during spawning? Or schedule another study in the spring—after the next round of treaty harvest gillnetting walleye during spawning.
For nearly 20 years, members of PERM have been challenging the idea of using gill nets in Mille Lacs during walleye spawning season. PERM keeps pointing out how much this contradicts the DNR's mission of stewardship to the governor, legislators, DNR, plus other state and agency officials.
You could do the same. Call the governor, attorney general, DNR Commissioner, and your legislators (especially while they are candidates!) Demand that they take action and get involved, and publicly address treaty harvest issues.
If you want to learn more about saving Minnesota's premier angling destination, come to PERM's Blainbrook event on December 6.
Press Release: Moderate Standard of Living
Study: Minnesota’s Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa does not live in poverty. On average, their income is on par with Mille Lacs County as a whole
(BOSTON -July 23 2012) An extensive income analysis by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University finds that Chippewa Band families and households, on average, are not living in poverty. The finding does not justify the expansion of fishing, hunting and gathering rights to meet the income needs of the Chippewa Band.
The average incomes of the Chippewa Band are well above several measures of low and moderate income used by federal agencies and a local Minnesota group. Moreover, while the average incomes of Chippewa Band’s smaller families and households continue to trail those of Mille Lacs County as a whole, the incomes of the Chippewa Band’s larger families outpace those of Mille Lacs County as a whole. READ MORE ...
Full Report: Moderate Standard of Living
Standard of Living of the Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa
Historically, average incomes of the Native American Indians have fallen well below the national averages. However, the adoption and rapid expansion of casino gambling on Indian reservations over the past three decades has narrowed the gap between Native American incomes and average households. The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is no exception. The average incomes of the Band are well above several measures of low and moderate income used by federal agencies and a local Minnesota group. Moreover, while the average incomes of smaller families and households within the Mille Lacs tribes continue to trail those of Mille Lacs County as a whole, the incomes of the tribe’s larger families outpace those of the Mille Lacs County as a whole. It is clear that the Mille Lacs Band has achieved incomes that cannot be considered low and are on par with the local population as a whole. Full Report here
Press Release: Impact of the Treaty Harvests on Mille Lacs Economy
Study: Mille Lacs economy suffers as treaty regulations limit fishing and hunting rights for residents
(BOSTON -August 2, 2012) Since a 1999 Supreme Court ruling upholding the fishing harvest rights of the Mille Lacs Chippewa Band of Chippewa’s, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has increased the band’s allocation of fish on Lake Mille Lacs to over 142,000 pounds of fish. In response to the ensuing scarcity, the Minnesota DNR has imposed restrictions on residents not bound by the treaty. These regulations are stifling the local Mille Lacs economy, 14.7 percent which are dependent on industries related to hunting and fishing and leisure and hospitality. READ MORE ...
Full Report: Impact of the Treaty Harvests on Mille Lacs Economy
The Economic Impact of the Treaty Harvests on the Local Economy of Mille Lacs Lake
Since the 1999 Supreme Court ruling upholding the fishing harvest rights of the Mille Lacs Chippewa Band of Chippewa’s, Minnesota DNR has increased the Chippewa Band’s allocation of fish on Lake Mille Lacs to over 142,000 pounds of fish, a staggering amount. As a result, the sustainable harvest has been unstable and precarious. However, the DNR has instituted strict fishing quotas that only apply to Lake Mille Lacs. These restrictions have hurt industries most dependent on tourists, as frustrated anglers have sought out other lakes in the region. These industries comprise 14.7 percent of the local economy, and have suffered the brunt of the real damage, as these restrictions do not operate in a vacuum. Policymakers should take notice and action to correct the situation. Full Report here
Call to Action! Mille Lacs 5-year Plan needs input
Help our DNR bring some sanity to this situation
On July 26 the Minnesota DNR will begin secret meetings with the Mille Lacs band of Chippewa and GLIFWC (Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission) to determine the future of Mille Lacs sport fishing. They will set safe allowable harvest guidelines for State anglers and Band members for the next five years. The conclusion of these meetings could very well seal the fate of Mille Lacs and the entire 1837 Treaty area. READ MORE ...
Kudos to the DNR for recognizing the Mille Lacs problem
Thanks to the Star Tribune and Dennis Anderson for bringing this to print
The DNR deserves credit for finally facing the gillnetting problem on Mille Lacs. They used plain English in pointing out the “tribal fishery exploitation rates” as the problem. It’s not the sport anglers fishing with hook and line. DNR to bands: Mille Lacs has problem
Now the DNR must keep the public involved and informed. The Mille Lacs fishery management process should be open and transparent.
There is no need to keep increasing the size of treaty harvests—let alone allowing the use of gillnets. Thanks to PERM members and supporters who helped pay for our Mille Lacs Band Standard of Living report, we now know that the “subsistence” argument no longer applies.
That is important to know, because if this situation does go back to court, then the court will have to look at whether the tribes have achieved a “moderate standard of living.”
In the case of Mille Lacs band, they have. According to PERM’s report on the US Census Bureau’s 2010 count, Median Household Income for a 4-person Mille Lacs Band Family is $70,809. This compares to $65,737 for Mille Lacs County.
I don't have an issue with a few ceremonial fish being harvested as long as MN State laws are followed. But now that a moderate standard of living has been achieved, the courts can, as they have in the past,—and must—stop the nearly open-ended exploitation of one of Minnesota’s greatest natural resources.
Feel free to let DNR and your elected officials know that you want the Mille Lacs fishery management to be open and transparent.
Douglas J. Meyenburg, President
Click here, US v Holt State Bank, to read the actual ruling.
Can 'subsistence' justify treaty harvest quotas?
Doug Meyenburg's message to Minnesota Legislators
Can "subsistence" still be a basis for justifying the ever-expanding Mille Lacs treaty harvest quotas?
The need for subsistence fishing, by definition, does not apply after a "moderate standard of living" is reached. Which is the case when U.S. Census Bureau data show that the 2006 -2010 five- year average of median income of a 4-person Mille Lacs Band household is $70,809. For Mille Lacs County, it is $65,737.
If anything, the ever-expanding Mille Lacs treaty harvest quotas should be declining.
At the very least, gillnetting (a factory farm method,) during the spawning season of Minnesota’s premier game fish, netting mortality of rejected species, and "incidental take" (that included a state record Muskie) should no longer be tolerated.
Gillnetting spawning walleye contradicts all principles of conservation and stewardship.
It’s time to end it.
PERM is asking the legislature to get involved. Examples of where to start included proposals this session for: legislative approval for treaty harvest agreements, fishery management cost reporting, and open meeting law applied to treaty-related meetings.
Take steps to move both tribal and non-tribal parties beyond "what's mine" and work together to restore Mille Lacs as a treasured angler destination and major asset for the Mille Lacs economy.
Douglas J. Meyenburg, President
Record Muskie NETTED on Mille Lacs
It's long past time to ban the gillnets!
Just learned that a new state record Muskie was killed in the gillnets on Mille Lacs. A post on the Lakestatesfishing web site stated:
"It was reported to me by a Mille Lacs Resort owner that a 54.8# Musky was taken by gill net today on the east side of Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota. It was supposedly 56" long. That is all the information I have at this time. If true, it likely would be a Minnesota state record if it had been taken by hook and line. Update: I talked to again to the source and this information comes directly from the Aitkin Fisheries office."
After reading some of the comments on this post, I wanted to confirm this myself, so I called the Aitkin DNR fisheries office and talked to Eric Jensen. He confirmed the report and told me it was taken in a gillnet by a Fond du Lac Band member.
How many trophy Muskie, Walleye, Northern, Bass, Crappie, Sunfish, or Perch are netted and never reported to the public? It’s long past time to ban the gillnets! (Here's a video of more Muskies netted and tossed.)
Input Group asks DNR to act on Mille Lacs gillnetting
The Mille Lacs Fishery Input Group, formally request that the DNR draw on Minnesota’s legal and political resources, and use its authority as primary manager of Minnesota’s natural resources (including the Mille Lacs fishery,) to respond to the massive gillnetting of Mille Lacs walleyes and pike, the only such spawning-time gill-net fishery in the United States.
‘Business as usual’ is unacceptable.
Examples of compelling reasons and serious concerns include:
• Major Conservation Issues
• Lack of Transparency
• High Costs
• Disproportionate Allocation of Mille Lacs Fish
Read the full proposal.
DNR dodges Mille Lacs gillnet, quota issues
Policy of official indifference prevails
Just took another look at two recent articles in Outdoor News by Rob Drieslein and Joe Fellegy. They shine a light on the annual behind-the-scenes negotiations between the DNR and Chippewa tribes over their Mille Lacs treaty harvest quotas.
Both articles do a good job of explaining the Mille Lacs treaty fishery management quagmire in plain English. They’re well worth a read.
According to DNR comments made to Outdoor News editor Drieslein, the DNR "cannot object to methods the bands use to kill walleyes" and, gillnets "are not a conservation issue." Gillnets are not a conservation issue? The tribes could use dynamite along with their miles of monofilament gillnets and the DNR could do nothing?
As far as the DNR was concerned, it’s only a question of “whether the bands stay within their quota."
Where did those “quotas” come from? They came from a negotiating process required by the Supreme Court in lieu of a specifically-defined Phase II allocation. Negotiating quotas—and representing all Minnesotans—is the DNR’s job. Drieslein has more to say here.
Joe Fellegy calls it like it is. “Nobody can deny that the miles of tribal ‘subsistence’ gill nets on Mille Lacs spawning reefs and shoals each spring, plus the related ‘treaty fisheries management,’ could win awards for the most bizarre, most culturally offensive, most costly, and most-challenging-for-managers fishing monstrosity on the face of Minnesota. Yet, amazingly, official indifference to legitimate citizen concern, anger, and frustration continues. (Where are the journalists and conservation activists, Fellegy wonders.)
Fellegy did some digging and makes some interesting walleye-net-survey-result comparisons. He shows how the DNR has painted itself into a corner with its treaty management efforts to date. Big picture: “there’s been no leadership, no outreach, no discernible politicking, or work to advance state and citizen interests.” That’s on top a continuing loss of accountability to all citizens of Minnesota. More on Fellegy's DNR top brass appear uncaring in face of Mille Lacs madness
Now might be a good time to contact the DNR—651-259-5022 or email Tom Landwehr—and point out how the Mille Lacs Fishery Input Group's resolution is simply about the DNR doing its job, and being responsible for representing the interests of all Minnesotans.
(Douglas J. Meyenburg, President)
Large Fish Kill Discovered Near Leech Lake
Hundreds of dead Northerns and Walleyes were found in a rotting pile of fish, about 10 miles east of Leech Lake. A December 2 CBS/WCCO report noted that Tullibees, Muskies, five-pound Northerns, and thirty-inch Walleyes were seen in the pile. Perpetrators cleaned the Walleyes, and left the rest of the fish to rot.
It’s the kind of collection that can only come from gillnetting. It was described as “wanton waste.” In this case, that’s malicious, defiant and without justification whatsoever.
Story and video.
When it comes to 'treaty rights,' who will defend state interests?
Joe Fellegy raises key question ...
"Given state government's weak record on tribal-related affairs--an official reluctance to defend state and citizen interests--it’s probably naive to trust the offices of Attorney General, DNR Commissioner, and others, to move beyond complacency, silence, and apparent satisfaction with the status-quo (including the perennial Mille Lacs meat-grinder.)"
‘Treaty rights’ issues: will state officials defend state interests?
(Joe Fellegy, Outdoor News, June 10, 2011)
PERM agrees that the state laws that have been broken by various tribes should be prosecuted by the State DNR, and the Attorney General's office to the fullest extent of the law. Our DNR and AG's office know that these are state game laws that were broken.
During the 1837 Treaty lawsuit PERM paid to have alot of research done. This information was made available to our State agencies, but they turned it down. PERM hasn't lost this information and we will again offer our assistance to the state.
PERM is a voice for the average citizen and believes strongly that it is the tribal governments that need to be upholding the language of the treaties.
I encourage you to read Joe Fellegy's article, then forward this email and ask your friends in the sporting community who believe in equal hunting and fishing rights to support PERM anyway they can.
Thank you for your assistance. Doug Meyenburg, PERM Chairman
Douglas J. Meyenburg, President
Treaty rights claims proliferating
State facing high stakes legal quagmire
Dennis Anderson (Star Tribune sports writer) is on top of the issues in giving a heads up today (Treaties stir up the peace) on the latest treaty rights claims. He does not see tribal-state negotiations over these claims coming before being heard in a federal court. This, especially after the “convoluted ‘co-management’ ” and the “ever-increasing walleye quota” from the Mille Lacs fishery coming out of the last major treaty rights case in 1999.
PERM, and others who have extensively researched treaty rights, also believe that state and local governments should take this situation seriously. Doing so would help quash the growth of entitlements manufactured under the guise of treaty rights, ”tribal sovereignty,” reparations, political correctness, or kowtowing to well-funded special interest groups.
As Anderson notes, the state currently “lacks the corps of Indian treaty experts it employed a decade or more ago, a position of weakness—with the stakes so high—it can ill afford.”
PERM believes state and local governments should use all the expertise at their disposal. Specifically, the state and local governments should actively pursue application of the Indian Claims Commission Act (ICCA). This Act of Congress was carried out to settle every claim, legal and moral, by tribe or Indian, once and for all. All settlement was accomplished between 1948 and its completion in 1972.
That achievement may explain why tribal claims are now being directed at state and local governments, which may not be aware of their recourse to the ICCA.
Unfortunately, the state of Minnesota never used the ICCA when it was fighting the 1837 treaty harvest rights case in 1999. PERM’s representation of landowners in the case was effectively stymied by the state’s failure to apply the ICCA argument.
We hope that mistake is not made again. We hope the ICCA can be used as it was intended.
A little prevention by highlighting the ICCA now would go a long way to head off expensive lawsuits, maintain positive relationships with our friends and neighbors—and ensure equal protection of the law for all citizens sustainable access to Minnesota's natural resources.
Douglas J. Meyenburg, President
Cedar Lake Fish-In -- NO Citations
Friday, May 13 - The tribal "fish-in" involved about 15-20 Dakota Indians who apparently set nets in the middle of the night. They then pulled them out this morning for the benefit of DNR Officers watching from the opposite shore. DNR officers confiscated about two dozen fish and escorted tribal netters to their cars, but didn’t issue citations.
Information about the netters that was gathered in the largely peaceful process will be forwarded to the Hennepin County attorney's office for consideration of charges. Organizers believe they have a right to net fish under an 1805 treaty and hope to be charged so they can bring a case to court.
PERM believes this is a game violation against the state and that the state should ticket and prosecute them as they would any other game violation.
Illegal 'fish-ins' to promote expanded 'treaty harvest rights' --FRIDAY MAY 13
Red Lake, Cedar Lake targeted
It was reported to us that Minnesota Chippewa will be illegally harvesting fish tomorrow in the state portion of Upper Red Lake listed as the Waskish area.
Dakota Sioux activists also plan to gillnet the same day in Cedar Lake, next to downtown Minneapolis.
Please stay away from these areas. If you must observe, observe only. It you take pictures, consider sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since this is an illegal activity, ask your DNR officials to write tickets and confiscate boats, rods, nets, and anything else used in these illegal activities.
Steve Fellegy Launches Website
C.A.S.S.T (Citizens Against Selective Sovereignty Today)
On May 13th, 2010, Steve Fellegy purposely made a “cast” into the Lake Mille Lacs waters, to ultimately, harvest a walleye during the traditionally closed fishing season for ALL citizens, but exclusively open to Native Americans at the same time, to expose unequal rights being sanctioned by the U.S. and Minnesota state governments.
"Our fight is NOT with American Indians. It is with the U.S. Government." Short term focus is on exclusive rights. Long term focus is on modern day solutions to Native American issues and to create better lives for Native Americans.
Mille Lacs Angler Challenges Tribal Netting
‘Cobell’ $3.4 Billion Mismanagement Payout
WHO is responsible?
Doug Meyenburg—citizen—recently wrote Minnesota’s Congressional delegation about the $3.4 billion Cobell settlement. He wrote to ask, among other questions, how a program got to be so mismanaged as to cost taxpayers $3.4 billion!
Read Doug's letter here ...
What is the “Cobell Settlement”?
Cobell v. Salazar is a class action lawsuit brought by Native American representatives against the United States government. Plaintiffs claim that the U.S. government incorrectly accounted for Indian trust assets, (land which came out of the Dawes Act.) These lands were assigned to individual Native Americans, but managed by the Department of the Interior on their behalf.
Read Cobell summary here ...
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Joe Fellegy's Kudos to editor, and priciest walleyes!
Rights affirmed, but 'grow like topsy'
I caught last Sunday night’s Outdoor Talk on KTLK, 100.3 FM, and heard a lively discussion about 2011 Mille Lacs fish allocations under “treaty fisheries management.” Rob Drieslein, Outdoor News editor and the show’s co-host, offered his take on what certainly is the most grotesque, costly, and high-impact legal-political-social fiasco on Minnesota's fisheries scene.
“I want to be clear,” Rob said. “This tribal netting is completely ridiculous ... I think it’s an abomination.” He was referring to tribal resource managers targeting spawning walleyes with a massive gill-net fishery.
(From Joe Fellegy March 11 story in Outdoor News)
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Bands' walleye harvest continues to rise
Harvest levels on Lake Mille Lacs stir debate
The Chippewa bands netting Mille Lacs walleyes this spring will be shooting for a record 142,500-pound harvest, 10,000 more than last year. Non-band anglers take has been reduced by 14,000 pounds. (From Doug Smith March 3 story in Star Tribune)
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Bands' walleye harvest continues to rise
Harvest levels on Lake Mille Lacs stir debate
The Chippewa bands netting Mille Lacs walleyes this spring will be shooting for a record 142,500-pound harvest, 10,000 more than last year. Non-band anglers take has been reduced by 14,000 pounds.
That’s 71 tons of fish, 42 percent more than the allocation four years ago. It shows a rising harvest by Chippewa netters since 1997, when courts affirmed off-reservation fishing rights.
The bands’ 26 percent of the “safe harvest level” is a 26-74 percent split. But actual harvests the past three years have averaged 42 percent of the total. Twice in the past eight years, the bands' actual harvest exceeded 50 percent of the total walleye take due to low overall harvest.
How high will the bands' harvest go in the future? Will fishing regulations for non-band anglers need to be tightened to prevent over-harvest? At what point might band allocations be challenged?
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Chippewa's favor in 1999, but the court never said how the walleye resource should be divided between the bands and non-bands.
There is growing interest in netting fish among band members according to Brad Kalk, from the Mille Lacs band natural resources department. "Over the past decade, the number of band members who net on Mille Lacs has steadily increased," he said.
But the bands' next five-year plan is a big unknown according to the DNR.
Mille Lacs fishing guide Steve Fellegy violated fishing laws to raise a court challenge to what he says are unequal hunting and fishing rights. He says when the bands first filed their initial lawsuits in the 1990s, they asked for relatively few fish a year. "Here we are at 65 tons in spring 2010," he said. "I have grave concerns about what the future brings, based on the past."
From story at Star Tribune
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Quotes in the news
Is Mille Lacs-style ‘co-management’ planned for northern 2/3 of MN?
The plan is outlined in attorney Peter Erlinder’s “Anishinabe Nation’s ‘Right to a Modest Living’ From the Exercise of Off-Reservation Usufructuary Treaty Rights ... in ALL of Northern Minnesota.”
This is the legal argument that could also make taxpayers liable for up to $420 million in back payments for not having Mille Lacs-style ‘co-management’ in northern 2/3rds of Minnesota.
Courts have affirmed treaty rights, but how they are exercised is negotiated. Expanded exercise of rights would be negotiated under threat of a $420 million lawsuit.
For example, did the US Supreme Court’s Mille Lacs decision approve gill nets during walleye spawning season? No, the DNR approved a tribal conservation code that included gillnets and shining deer over bait—among other practices outside of state law.
Who negotiates for Minnesotans? How many more lakes will end up with gillnets? Will we know anything before it’s a ‘done deal’?
From a PERM Ad in Outdoor News, August, 2010
Peter Erlinger: Ojibwe treaty rights in Minnesota
Professor Peter Erlinder from the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota says the Minnesota v. Mille Lacs (1999) US Supreme Court case and other Ojibwe legal victories have paved the way for White Earth and Leech Lake bands to hunt, fish, and gather off their reservations in the ceded territory.
The law school professor thinks it may be more cost effective for the state to negotiate with the bands and establish co-management of resources in the territory, like Wisconsin, rather than fight the tribes in court.
Erlinder thinks the Anishinaabe are in a position to help save the land from mining, logging, and over development. “Ojibwe treaty rights are a device to help keep the land healthy.”
From a video produced by Nick Vander Puy | www.IndianCountryTV.com
Future of Tribal Sovereignty
Ken Davis, chairman of Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa said the right to self-governance lies directly with land, and that to expand sovereignty, the land base has to be expanded.
“To purchase land only from tribal members doesn't expand sovereignty."
Davis recommended buying as much land as possible whether out of or within the reservation's boundaries.
From Indian Country Today (Oneida, NY) | September 10, 2008 | By David Melmer
Tracking the Land: Ojibwe Land Tenure and Acquisition at Grand Portage and Leech Lake
“The federal trust responsibility must be revitalized in order to become an effective method for tribal land acquisition. The Indian land tenure reality … has prompted many to prioritize land acquisition.”
From a 2008 Dissertation by Leah Carpenter for the University of Arizona
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Leech Lake-White Earth Fishing Protest
Key 1855 Treaty fact dodged
By Joe Fellegy (From Outdoor News, May 21, 2010)
The illegal "treaty rights" fishing on Lake Bemidji on May 14, was related to the new quest for White Earth and Leech Lake Chippewa off-reservation harvesting rights across millions of acres and multiple counties in the 1855 Treaty ceded territory. Tribal co-management authority is also being sought.
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Treaty with the Chippewa, 1855 - Full Text
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'Son of Mille Lacs' lawsuit pending?
The recent Leech Lake White Earth protest to assert “hunting and fishing rights” started out with illegal fishing, as well as use of illegal gillnets.
Were gillnets in these protests used to establish gillnetting as part of treaty-based harvest rights in upcoming negotiations or lawsuits?
Use of gillnets would fit under claimed treaty rights. Dale Green, with the Leech Lake Band’s legal department, was quoted on MN Public Radio saying the 1855 Treaty included the right to “hunt, fish and gather using modern means.” Did "modern" in 1855 include 4 by 100 foot monofilament gillnets?
Is spearing also planned for in the exercise of claimed treaty rights? Muskie guru Pete Maina compared the violent incidents when the Ojibwe asserted their right to spear walleye in northern Wisconsin, with Green’s comments about peaceful demonstrations and negotiations.
An earlier demand for recognition of harvest rights in Minnesota did lead to gillnetting—during walleye spawning season no less—in Mille Lacs. Gillnetting and quotas turned up, even though court affirmation of harvest rights never covered what exercise of those rights included.
That was negotiated behind the scenes instead and presented to the court for approval. Ongoing tweaks were allowed, again, to be carried out almost entirely behind the scenes. On top of this, a huge, unwieldy, and expensive “co-management” bureaucracy was created.
“Modern methods” and massive co-management could be coming to vast stretches of northern Minnesota.
Still, it is well established that Minnesota citizens, and likely the majority of rank and file tribal members, have a strong sense of stewardship when it comes to Minnesota’s natural resource heritage. They are not going to buy the exploitation of hunting and fishing rights under the window dressing of claimed “treaty rights."
Peter Erlinder 'Treaty Rights paper
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Is this what 'usufructuary' looks like?
'Treaty fishing rights' exploited
Fish gut piles are boorish and irritating, but certainly not reflective of the attitude of most tribal members (we will argue.)
The bigger issue is the extent to which recognized—Supreme Court affirmed—harvest privileges are being exploited. That is, exercised far beyond the original intent of either parties to the 1837 Treaty.
|Mille Lacs gut piles show destructive capacity of gill netting||
Some fish are discarded whole
The 1999 Supreme Court ruling, Chippewa v. Minnesota, referred to usufructuary rights.
What is a usufructuary right?
It is a right that allows the use of property that belongs to another. Usufruct is the right of temporary possession and enjoyment of something that belongs to somebody else, so far as that can be done without causing damage or changing its substance.
Usufructuary rights are assigned, can be rescinded, and confer a responsibility to preserve the asset. In the case of assets that are consumed, preservation confers a responsibility for sustainable consumption.
Lost Gillnet's payload
Is gillnetting covered as a usufructuary right?
Gillnetting walleye during spawning does not preserve renewable natural resources! And, as both the gut piles abandoned on private property, and the recovered fish-laden “ghost” (lost) gill nets show, the destructive power of gillnetting totally contradicts the meaning of usufructuary rights and sustainable consumption.
Get the gillnets out of Mille Lacs!
Mille Lacs gill-netting: biggest scam on state’s outdoor scene
Gillnetted-fish gut piles draw attention to bigger issues
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Stop the commercial gillnetting
Get the gillnets out of Mille Lacs!
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Red Lake Ownership
Red Lake Ownership established by Supreme Court Ruling
U.S. vs. Holt State Bank Supreme Court ruling in 1926 concludes with the following statements:
“… the lake, and therefore the lands under it, was within the limits of the Red Lake Reservation when the State was admitted. The existence of the reservation is conceded, but that it operated as a disposal of lands underlying navigable waters within its limits is disputed. We are of opinion that the reservation was not intended to effect such a disposal and that there was none.”
“… There was no formal setting apart of what was not ceded, nor any affirmative declaration of the rights of the Indians therein, nor any attempted exclusion of others from the use of navigable waters. The effect of what was done was to reserve in a general way for the continued occupation of the Indians what remained of their aboriginal territory; and thus it came to be known and recognized as a reservation. There was nothing in this which even approaches a grant of rights in lands underlying navigable waters; nor anything evincing a purpose to depart from the established policy, before stated, of treating such lands as held for the benefit of the future State.”
"… Without doubt the Indians were to have access to the navigable waters and to be entitled to use them in accustomed ways; but these were common rights vouchsafed to all, whether white or Indian, by the early legislation reviewed in Railroad Company v. Schurmeir, 7 Wall. 272, 287-289, and Economy Light & Power Co. v. United States, supra, pp. 118-120, and emphasized in the Enabling Act under which Minnesota was admitted as a State, c. 60, 11 Stat. 166, which declared that the rivers and waters bounding the State "and the navigable waters leading into the same shall be common highways, and forever free, as well to the inhabitants of said State as to all other citizens of the United States."
"We conclude that the State on its admission into the Union became the owner of the bed of the lake. It is conceded that, if the bed thus passed to the State, the defendants have succeeded to the State's right therein; and the decisions and statutes of the State brought to our attention show that the concession is rightly made."
Click here, US v Holt State Bank, to read the actual ruling.
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