LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Our system of public lands makes Minnesota great
The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Bemidji Pioneer by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bemidji Pioneer. To submit a letter, email email@example.com or mail it to Bemidji Pioneer, P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.
Being an outdoor person, I consider myself a Minnesotan through and through. I would not want to live anywhere else.
My reasons are numerous but at the top of the list is the vast amount of public lands we have; approximately 3.5 million acres in two national forests, 1.5 million acres in our Wildlife Managed Areas, millions within our county-administered lands (St. Louis County alone has 900,000 acres of CAL) and the crown jewel of all these lands is the 5 million acres in our state forest system which is the second largest state forest system in the nation, next to Alaska.
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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources manages these state forest lands, including the WMA lands and although I may object to some DNR policies, I am glad they are there.
When I do object to a DNR policy, it is usually due to mandates from the state legislature, powerful special interest groups or political appointees who come from a non-resource background.
The rank-and-file DNR staff and good department managers with a natural science background do the best they can under difficult circumstances. Without them, these treasured lands would be far more threatened.
These state forest lands and WMAs are the goose that lays the golden egg. It is these public lands that lure people to our lakes, rivers, forests and wild to semi-wild lands we have and is the principle driving economic force in the Northland.
Without these abundant public lands, the Northland would be far more exploited by industry than it is now. It is this balance between extraction and public use that is the challenge for DNR staff.
As income disparity increases in our nation, it is imperative that we protect these public lands as they provide the opportunity for the common, ordinary man who cannot afford costly private lands to bring his son or daughter to the Northwoods deer hunting, camping, fishing, boating, hiking and a plethora of other reasons. This is freedom and democracy at its finest.
If you are a DNR forester, wildlife manager, fisheries manager or conservation enforcement officer, now or in the past, thanks for being there. It is our system of public lands that makes Minnesota great.