DNR rules for Mille Lacs fishing being challenged in court

PRESS RELEASE — Erick Kaardal, attorney with Mohrman, Kaardal and Erickson, today announced the filing of a lawsuit against the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Kaardal is representing Save Mille Lacs Sportfishing, Proper Economic Resource Management (PERM), Twin Pines Resort, Bill Eno, and Fred Dally.

They are petitioning the Court of Appeals for a declaratory judgment on the invalidity the DNR’s Game and Fish rules for Mille Lacs Lake Fishing published on April 21.

Petitioners challenge the constitutionality of the new rules on the grounds that they violate Minnesota’s Preserve Hunting and Fishing Heritage amendment, which recognizes a cultural heritage of all Minnesota citizens regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or origin.

Petitioners also seek a Court order requiring the DNR to show the following:
•  Why the DNR failed to consider cultural heritage protections afforded by the Minnesota Constitution and the public-trust doctrine.
•  What statutory authority gives the DNR the right to disregard the cultural heritage protections afforded by the Minnesota Constitution, and
•  How the DNR has not mismanaged the Mille Lacs Lake walleye population directly affecting the cultural heritage of Mille Lacs Lake in violation of the cultural heritage protections afforded by the Minnesota Constitution

The suit stems from the petitioners’ allegation of DNR mismanagement of the Mille Lacs lake walleye fishery that has led to the loss of Mille Lacs walleye fishing heritage.

Key to understanding this lawsuit is that Minnesotans in 1998 passed a law, a constitutional amendment that preserves Minnesota’s fishing and hunting heritage. However, DNR regulations regarding Mille Lacs fishing, violates this constitutional requirement.

It is important to note that this amendment came out of Minnesotans’ long-standing recognition of a public trust doctrine. The public-trust doctrine is a key tenant of environmental protection advocates nationwide.

This lawsuit is the first step in a multi-step process to restore the Mille Lacs walleye fishery and walleye fishing heritage.