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.