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“They are going about it in a sneakier way and that’s wrong. It’s totally wrong,’’ Djupstrom said.
Djupstrom, who headed the SNA program for more than 20 years until 2006, said it should be up to lawmakers to decide whether more SNA sites are opened for hunting and trapping, especially at a time when many Minnesotans want more destinations were no hunting is allowed.
“The hunters already have lots of lands in Minnesota,’’ Casey said.
Booth said the agency has conformed to the law. This year it expanded public notification and opened up the review process for more public input. When the Izaak Walton League made the case to keep some areas closed to hunting and trapping, the agency listened, she said.
“We’ve definitely made decisions in some cases that extra uses can’t be tolerated,’’ Booth said.
Clint Miller, chairman of a citizens’ advisory committee to the SNA program, said so far increased hunting and trapping haven’t conflicted with SNA objectives.
According to Djupstrom, Minnesota has 12 million acres of land and water in public ownership, nearly all of them open to fish and game pursuits. The amount of SNA land off limits to hunting is far less than 40,000 acres.
“It’s so minuscule,’’ he said.
Fuge said that one of the best reasons to minimize recreational activity on SNA sites is to preserve an inventory of relatively undisturbed plant and animal communities for science. “It gives you a benchmark to see what nature is doing,’’ she said. “These are the only sites in the state that have this kind of protection.’’
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