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John Persell: Working on natural resources and wildlife management bills

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opinion Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Last week, you may have read a column by my fellow Representative, Roger Erickson, about our upcoming legislative session.

He previewed many of the top priorities the House will be working on this session, such as addressing the state’s minimum wage, investing in infrastructure projects to put people back to work, and repealing several farm and business taxes. Aside from those key projects, I’ll also be working on bills related to natural resources and wildlife management.

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In our area, some of our greatest aesthetic and economic resources are the lakes and woods around us.

Because of that, a significant number of jobs in our area relate to the tourism industry.

From restaurants to resorts to small businesses, we all rely heavily on the economic activity generated by our guests from other parts of the state and country, as well as from around the globe.

This kind of economic activity requires our vigilance to maintain walleye and trout grade water quality and diverse, sustainable forests that our residents and guests love to enjoy.

With Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) becoming a more pressing issue, we need to do more to make sure AIS don’t become an overwhelming problem.

Last session, we made new investments in research in an effort to try and learn more about how to prevent these AIS from moving through our waterways. This session, we need to do more to increase enforcement across the entire state.

Many times AIS spread because of carelessness on the part of those going from one lake to another. People don’t clean off their boats and trailers properly and, before you know it someone has taken something from southern Minnesota and brought it up north, or vice versa. Enforcement can help educate folks and reduce AIS spreading across the state, and I will work to make this a priority.

Another way we protect our natural resources is by investing in projects through the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.

This trust fund is made up of profits from the Minnesota State Lottery and other private donations. It helps maintain our forests, agricultural lands, wetlands, parks and trials, lakes and rivers, and other natural resources.

This year, I’m happy to say that I am authoring the bill that allocates nearly $30 million for these projects across the state. Along with many other things, this bill will help fund several projects related to preventing the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species. As the bill comes up for debate in committee and on the House floor, I’ll give more detailed updates.

If you or anyone you know is interested in these issues, I encourage you to contact me to offer ideas or suggestions. You can reach me by phone (651-296-5516) or email (rep.john.persell@house.mn) anytime you want to offer some input.

JOHN PERSELL is a State Representative from Bemidji.

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