Sunday, October 1, 2023

DNR Land Squabble

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Sustainability. Nature, Wildlife

Ed Hessler

I recommend reading Dennis Anderson's column "DNR logs a failure in its handling of land squabble," Star Tribune, August 13, 2023.

After reading a column by a colleague Tony Kennedy "about logging by the Department of Natural Resource (DNR) pm state wildlife management areas (WMAs) and aquatic management areas (AMAs)", Anderson had some things to say. 

Kennedy had reported that "the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (NWS) 'dropped the hammer'" on such logging. "Four years ago 28 DNR field managers wrote" Commissioner Sarah Strommen "saying it was 'scientifically dishonest'" to make the claim that this was done to benefit wildlife. But logging continued, anyway. The Star Tribune last year quoted Last year, Anderson writes, retired DNR wildlife manager Martha Minchak made the observation in the Star Tribune about an internal DNR struggle. "Forestry holds sway over everything...Wildlife management is being sacrificed for timber harvest."

Anderson also notes that Commissioner Strommen is doing the bidding of her boss, Gov. Tim Walz, who," Anderson continues, ascending another rung on the ladder, "kowtowing to timber producers." I was struck by this description of Commissioner Stommen by Anderson. [S]he is more like you and me, torn professionally in a lot of directions," while also noting that "she bends to the loudest voices...while forgetting those that suffer, silently, our communal slights: wildlife. It reminded me of passages from Aldo Leopold's Sand County Almanac. Keeping all the pieces.

Strommen was forced more than a week ago when "the FWS [made clear] it will withhold Federal funds until the DNR produces documentation that logging it has authorized complies with federal rules," and in future. It is real dosh: 22 million dollars. 

Anderson draws attention to another issue, a contribution from taxes on the "purchase of fishing and hunting equipment" the result of two Congressional Acts, Pittman-Robertson (1937) and Dingell-Johnson (1950). These funds are for habitat restoration and related programs" with the guarantee that states will not divert these funds for other uses.

Anderson emphasizes that "logging isn't bad"...but in the instances cited above, "fish and wildlife should be considered first -- not only because it's required but because it's the right thing to do," the fair thing to do. The principle of fairness is important in all policies.

Anderson notes that he was able to "follow the dots" upon hearing about the death of "Robbie Robertson, the great songwriter and lead guitarist of The Band." I'm not going to botch a retelling. This is a lovely story on doing the right thing.

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