ST. PAUL -- Outdoor enthusiasts may remember the 2021 Minnesota Legislature, which adjourned this past week, more for what it didn’t do than what it did, which was very little of note as far as new rules for hunting, angling and other outdoor activities go.
Proposals were introduced, discussed, debated and then dismissed that would have allowed rifles for deer hunting statewide — eliminating the shotgun zone — and that would have cut the general statewide walleye limit from six to four fish daily.
Other proposals to encourage the move from lead to lead-free fishing tackle also were ignored, as were efforts to encourage the use of lead-free ammunition. Both measures were aimed at preventing the needless deaths of loons and eagles, while the ammunition measure also would have helped prevent toxic lead fragments in venison consumed by people.
Other measures that would have changed trapping regulations to reduce the number of pet dogs that are incidentally trapped and killed each year did not pass the Legislature.
The Legislature also failed to pass a fee increase for state parks and scuttled a proposed increase in fees to battle aquatic invasive species.
Lawmakers did move to require the DNR to annually establish daily and possession limits for gar, a fish that had been open to unlimited harvest, after videos surfaced of some people killing and wasting dozens of the prehistoric-looking river fish.
- What’s a gar and why is it the big winner at the Minnesota Capitol?
- Read more fishing coverage in Northland Outdoors
Lottery funding for projects finally approved
After failing to approve the annual allotment of state grants for dozens of projects and research efforts in 2020 — leaving many projects dead in the water — lawmakers this year did approve spending money from the state’s lottery proceeds.
The bill provides $70.88 million for fiscal year 2022 (which started July 1) and nearly $61.39 million for last year from the environment and natural resources trust fund, a constitutionally dedicated fund funded by state lottery proceeds.
The money will pay for 165 projects across the state aimed at environmental protection, conservation, preservation and enhancement.
Heritage sales tax funding also approved
The omnibus legacy finance bill spends the proceeds from 0.375% of the state’s sales tax proceeds, directing the money toward projects for clean water, the outdoors and the arts. It was created by a statewide referendum in 2008 and is a special pool of money.
This year's bill allocates $645 million over the next two years to four funds that promote clean water, prairies, forests, wetlands, parks, trails, the arts and cultural heritage, including $127.8 million for the Outdoor Heritage Fund; $126.7 million for the Clean Water Fund; $73.1 million for the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund; and $54.8 million for the Parks and Trails Fund.