A Q&A session with Gov. Mark Dayton makes clear — as do his actions — where he stands on the outdoors
A Q&A session with Gov. Mark Dayton makes clear — as do his actions — where he stands on the outdoors: “It’s one reason people love this state and stay here,” he said.
Q: You seem to have an understanding of the importance to Minnesotans of nature, the outdoors and outdoor activities. How did that develop?
A: My grandfather bought a cabin and 170 acres in 1930 on Lake Vermilion for $5,000. When I was a kid, my family would go up there a couple weekends each summer, and my father would take us fishing. As it turned out, my father didn’t know anything about catching fish. But I didn’t know that until I was about 21 years old. It wasn’t until I got to fish with (former state senator) Doug Johnson (of Cook, Minn.) that I actually had some luck on Lake Vermilion.
Q: Is the cabin still in the family?
A: Yes, though it’s been put in a land trust, so it will transition out of the family in the next decade or so. But I have wonderful memories of time spent there.
Q: You’ve said that you hunted waterfowl also when you were a kid.
A: Yes. I remember my dad driving us down to Heron Lake in southwest Minnesota to hunt ducks. When I can, I still like to get out. In 1996, for example, I traveled to Alaska with my son Eric and Will Steger.
Q: What’s your understanding of the importance of the outdoors and outdoors stewardship among Minnesotans?
A: I think it’s an essential ingredient of the unique nature of Minnesotans. Even those of us connected with the city enjoy the outdoors, and take advantage of the incredible opportunities available in our state, particularly our lakes. We talk about the quality of life enjoyed by Minnesotans, and the outdoors is a major part of it. It’s one reason people love this state and stay here.
Q: As was apparent in the just concluded legislative session, the outdoors and politics often mix in Minnesota. When you campaigned for the governor’s office, you seemed to appeal often and directly to hunters and anglers for their vote. Is that constituency important to you politically?
A: Absolutely, and my appreciation of that constituency comes from growing up here. I’m proud to be the governor who began the Governor’s Pheasant Opener in the state, just like we have a Governor’s Fishing Opener and Governor’s Deer Opener. This year our Pheasant Opener will be in Madelia. (Congressman) Collin Peterson was actually the one who encouraged me to launch the Pheasant Opener.
Q: In the past session, you sided with the Legacy Act habitat recommendations of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, breaking, as you did, an agreement over Legacy funding that you had reached with legislative leaders.