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Conferees on policy, lands bill

Published (5/13/2010)
By Sue Hegarty
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Excess land for sale by the Department of Natural Resources, also known as the lands bill, was added to the omnibus game and fish bill, and passed May 12 by the House.

The Senate did not agree with the changes, and a conference committee has been requested to work out the differences.

Sponsored by Rep. David Dill (DFL-Crane Lake) and Sen. Satveer Chaudhary (DFL-Fridley), HF3124/ SF2900* would authorize the sale and purchase of varying sizes of property in multiple counties. One of those includes an 80-acre parcel in Hastings that Rep. Denny McNamara (R-Hastings) said is no longer desirable as a Wildlife Management Area and is better suited for development.

A provision that would allow the DNR to sell land for less than its appraised value drew criticism. Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) suggested the DNR hold out for a while longer until the economy improves.

Dill said the provision was included because it would apply to land that did not sell at its appraised value and needs to be liquidated.

The bill also contains several modifications to hunting and fishing laws, including the removal of height restrictions on permanent deer stands and permitting a private landowner, or a person authorized by the landowner, to hunt bear on the person’s land using a drum with bait.

A few amendments succeeded on the House floor.

Rep. Andrew Falk (DFL-Murdock) added a provision to allow the DNR to remove beavers, in addition to removing their dams, if they cause water to back up and threaten access to public roads; Rep. Cy Thao (DFL-St. Paul) added an amendment to allow spears to be used for hunting big game during the big game firearms season; and Rep. Denise Dittrich (DFL-Champlin) succeeded in restricting the harvest of small mouth bass in four spawning areas until the Monday following the third Sunday in June.

In order to deter poaching of trophy deer, restitution payments would be increased to between $2,000 and $5,000. And those who accidentally kill a deer with a motor vehicle would be given an option to keep the deer.

To address agricultural concerns, a new provision would allow a county to offer a bounty on the taking of coyotes.

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