Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton received a standing ovation at Isle High School when he announced Friday there will be no netting of fish on Lake Mille Lacs next year. The Mille Lacs Band has agreed to cease netting to help restore the lake’s valuable walleye population.
One resort owner said the DNR has been “asleep at the wheel for too long” and they’re thankful the governor has "woken up.”
DNR commissioner Tom Landwehr said “unprecedented” conditions in July pushed the lake within 3,000 pounds of reaching its annual walleye quota, partially blaming the high catch rates during the Fourth of July holiday and first two weeks of the month. Resort owners started receiving notices from the DNR to prepare for closures as early as Aug. 3.
The walleye decline has been apparent over the last decade, DNR fisheries chief Don Pereira said, and while it’s not wholly a result of fishing, it is a result of the changes in water clarity and warm temperatures.
Gov. Dayton and state lawmakers have discussed a special session to provide a Mille Lacs tourism relief package and to address storm damage in the Brainerd, Minn. area.
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe statement
“The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe remains deeply committed to safeguarding the long-term health of the Mille Lacs Lake and ensuring the region’s economy continues to grow and prosper, including businesses that rely on the lake.
“As Governor Dayton and legislative leaders develop a plan to help the region, the Mille Lacs Band will continue to promote the region through the DoTheLake campaign and other marketing efforts to drive additional tourism to the region. The Mille Lacs Band Department of Natural Resources and Environment will continue to work closely with the Minnesota DNR, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission and other stakeholders to protect the lake for future generations.
“There are no quick solutions to fixing Mille Lacs Lake, but the Mille Lacs Band is committed to restoring the lake. Our people made our home here hundreds of years ago and we intend to preserve this lake for generations to come. We look forward to partnering with the Governor to support his efforts to address the immediate and long-term challenges of the region.”