Vern Wagner

When Vern Wagner is not tournament bass fishing or teaching kids to fish, he can be found roaming the State Capitol working on fish habitat and fishing legislation.

Posts about Environment

Dear Governor Dayton: Stop the Asian Carp

Posted by: Vern Wagner Updated: January 26, 2012 - 2:48 PM

The following letter was recently sent to Governor Mark Dayton by a Coalition of Leaders, Directors, Members, Anglers and Conservationists, Outdoors and Environmental groups. We ask that you join us in calling for State and Federal action.

Governor Mark Dayton
130 State Capitol
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
St. Paul, MN 55155

Dear Governor Dayton:
On behalf of the undersigned organizations and our hundreds of thousands of members and supporters in Minnesota and nationwide, we thank you for your continued leadership in addressing the threat of Asian carp. We strongly encourage you to develop and implement strong and immediate actions designed to stop Asian carp from advancing northward in Minnesota.
As you know, Asian carp are known to batter boaters and even knock them into the water at the sound of a passing motor. They are voracious filter feeders that can grow to more than 4 feet long, weigh up to 100 pounds and quickly dominate a body of water by gobbling up the same food that sustains native fish populations. As these jumping, jumbo-sized fish travel up the Mississippi, Minnesota and St. Croix Rivers northward into Minnesota’s waters, we are in an emergency situation and immediate actions are necessary.
In early December, the locks on the Upper Mississippi River closed for the winter months. This routine winter closure provides a clear opportunity to stop Asian carp from advancing further north into Minnesota’s waters. We strongly recommend that you capitalize on this winter closing by developing and implementing effective plans to block Asian carp at Lock and Dam Nos. 1, 2 and Upper St. Anthony Falls before the 2012 navigation season commences. In addition, we urge you to support reducing lock use combined with deterrent technologies that would reduce the risk of Asian carp spreading further north.
Specifically, our coalition recommends:
1) Stop the spread of Asian carp upstream from Lock #1
a. Immediately install deterrent technologies and combine with modified lock operations before 2012 navigation season commences;
b. Secure Congressional authorization and direction for the emergency, temporary closure of Lock #1 and the Upper St. Anthony Locks by September 2012;
c. Restore the historic permanent fish barrier at the St. Anthony Falls Upper Lock by September 2014.
2) Slow Asian carp passage above Lock #19 at Keokuk, Iowa
a. Convene a multi-state task force to coordinate a regional and federal response to the spread of Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species in the Upper Midwest by February 2012;
b. Install deterrent technologies at Lock #19 and combine with modified lock operations before 2012 navigation season commences;
c. Install redundant deterrents at strategic locations in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin by October 2012.
3) Control established Asian carp populations upstream of Lock #19
a. Continue to monitor for Asian carp eDNA and live fish in the Mississippi, Minnesota and St. Croix Rivers;
b. Research and implement safe methods for eradication Asian carp from Minnesota’s water (identify recommended strategies by April 2012).
We strongly believe now is the time to act. Minnesota sportsmen and women and private property owners need your support. You are our champion for protecting Minnesota’s vast wildlife resources and quality of life. But without immediate efforts to stop Asian carp, Minnesota could lose its multi-billion dollar statewide annual fishing, water recreation, and tourism industries - which make our state so unique – and see two of our water-based national park units threatened. We ask you to use your leadership to support the actions outlined above to stop Asian carp from jeopardizing Minnesota’s waters. Our combined thousands of members and supporters, as well as the entire sportsmen and women conservation community and private property owners in Minnesota depends on your leadership to lead the way in taking immediate action on Asian carp.

 

We look forward to working with you and respectfully request a meeting to discuss these issues with you in more detail as soon as possible. Thank you in advance for your consideration of our recommendations.
Sincerely,

 

Leaders, Directors, Members, Anglers, of the following organizations.

Minnesota Conservation Federation, Minnesota Seasonal Recreational Property Owners, Minnesota Trout Unlimited, Minnesota Division of Izaak Walton League, Minnesota Coalition of Lake Associations, Mississippi River Fund, Minnesota Waters, National Parks Conservation Association, National Wildlife Federation, New Ulm Area Sport Fisherman, Anglers for Habitat, Audubon Minnesota,  Fish & Wildlife Legislative Alliance, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

 

Minnesota’s Environmental Trust Fund Problems?

Posted by: Vern Wagner Updated: January 4, 2012 - 4:39 PM

A recent commentary regarding the LCCMR appeared recently in Outdoor News. The issues raised by the author Jeff Broberg need to be of interest to all Minnesotans. Revenue for the Environmental Trust Fund comes from the sale of Lottery tickets. Does the dismissal of LCCMR's Executive Director bring partisan politics back to Minnesota’s Environmental Trust Fund.

Partisan politics for the Environmental Trust Fund

The surprise dismissal of Susan Thorton, the Executive Director of the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR), deepens the acrimony over Minnesota’s dedicated environment and natural resource funding.  The unilateral and unexplained dismissal of Ms. Thorton, a long-time non-partisan professional, was apparently based on the pretense that the House Speaker and his caucus want to change the LCCMR into a political machine.  I foresee political appointments followed by a raid on the Trust funds to backfill budget cuts accompanied by a rapid shift toward anti-science/anti-environmental policy.  The fact that the Speaker took unilateral action to dismiss the Director without notifying or consulting with the LCCMR is a new chapter in the partisan play-book that portends a continued decline of Minnesota’s resources.

As a long-time LCCMR member originally appointed by Republican Speaker Steve Sviggum, and re-appointed by Democrat Speaker Margret Anderson-Kelleher, I have witnessed the initiation and growth of Citizen involvement in the Legislature over the last five years.  While the LCCMR has little power we have a big responsibility to guide a wide range of Trust Fund spending on issues and projects that affect Minnesota’s natural resources.  Originally the seven Citizens were watchdogs over the process which had been criticized for parochial pork-barrel spending.  After a couple of years citizen involvement was embraced by Legislative members as a non-partisan professional service.  With the help of a competent non-partisan staff the Legislative-Citizen Commission became known as a resource providing technical and scientific resources to all our Legislative decision-makers.  Since the change to a Republican majority the new leaders shun the staff’s and the Citizen’s knowledge and experience and routinely express resentment and disdain toward both staff and Citizens involved in the LCCMR.  Firing the Director in order to “change direction” is just the latest in a string of hostile actions and partisan power plays targeted against Minnesota’s environment.

 There is something deeper.  In my recent experience the majority caucus members appear poorly grounded in science and natural resource management and seem to hold simplified views based solely on opinion and faith, not facts.  I have witnessed the majority leaders rant against research, deny science and insult Minnesota’s scientific, intellectual and natural resource professionals.  Today at the LCCMR there is little meaningful discourse between the Citizen subject experts and the newly anointed leaders who seem to have their minds made up about where the money should go.  In the current LCCMR the minority members rarely participate and the majority members have no apparent culture of inquiry.  There seems little hope of non-partisan deliberation over emerging issues.  The conservative leadership seems to hold deep-seated partisan resentment toward anything they view as having liberal values and they display scorn or fear toward anyone who would question their conservative views. 

Under the new regime woe-be-unto us who think that climate change, environmental education, non-game wildlife, birds, prairies or alternative energy are as important as ducks, trout and deer.  Woe-be-unto us who think the LCCMR Director should be a non-partisan professional who serves all Minnesotans', not just the party in power.  And woe-be-unto Minnesotans' who place their future in the hands of science-deniers and faith-based politicians who think that they can do anything they want because they already know all the answers.

 Jeffrey S. Broberg, LPG, REM

Citizen Commissioner LCCMR

Minnesota Professional Geologist #30019

Registered Environmental Manager #3009

President Minnesota Trout Association.

The LCCMR is made up of 17 members: 5 Senators, 5 Representatives, 5 citizens appointed by the governor, 1 citizen appointed by the Senate, and 1 citizen appointed by the House. The function of the LCCMR is to make funding recommendations to the legislature for special environment and natural resource projects, primarily from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF). These projects help maintain and enhance Minnesota's environment and natural resources. The LCCMR developed from a program initiated in 1963. Since 1963, over $735 million has been appropriated to more than 1,700 projects recommended to the legislature by the Commission to protect and enhance Minnesota's environment and natural resources.

 

Who's to Blame?

Posted by: Vern Wagner Updated: February 16, 2010 - 7:16 PM

 Despite well established rules about transporting invasive hitchhikers, each month more lakes and rivers are added to the list of infested water bodies. An invasive algae known as didymo (Didymosphenia geminate) has made its way into the Connecticut River in Vermont and New Hampshire, and its creeping south. Water Chestnut is spreading across East Coast waterways. Red Swamp Crawfish have been found in Southern Wisconsin.

Aquatic Invasive species (AIS), diseases, plants and even insects are creating problems across Minnesota. Hardly a week goes by that we don’t hear about another new problem. Zebra Mussels, Spiny Water Fleas, Eurasian Milfoil, Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS), Grass Carp, Silver, Black and Bighead Carp, Rusty Crawfish, Round Goby, Ruffe, Sea lamprey all have our attention.

 Questions from lake shore associations, anglers and natural resources agencies are: Who’s to blame? How are the problems being spread? What can we do

 Who’s to blame? Fishing contests are amongst the usual suspects, next are those unfamiliar trucks and boat trailers at the public access ramps.  Fishing tournaments and Special Water events are easy to target, they are all required to obtain a County Sheriff’s water permit (Minnesota Statute 86B.121  and the larger events have DNR permits (Minnesota rules 6212:2400-2800; Minnesota Statutes 97C.081, 86B.121).  And while these folks are likely to have been on many different lakes over the season, they are also likely the best informed and self-regulated anglers. Yet since they are easier to scrutinize then boaters or fishermen from resorts or out-state or just regular boaters and anglers, they often operate under a microscope. These are the groups that need to join into coalitions with lakeshore and other conservation efforts facing the challenges of combating the spread of AIS.

 Recreational anglers and boaters aren’t much better at the blame game, they point to waterfowl or docks and floating rafts. Everyone has an idea of who to blame.  Maybe it’s those big Yachts that are moored for long periods or maybe it’s the DNR nets that move from lake to lake.  And what about the tiny DNR budget for AIS, are there sufficient staff and resources to enforce the existing laws? Does their budget even come close to equaling what we spend yearly on latte’s or double mocha’s?

 The conversation needs to move beyond the blame game. Lake Associations need to join forces with organized angling and boating groups. Targeting fishing tournaments, water ski or other water events increases division, these groups can showcase responsible behavior.  Anglers and boaters need to make sure they are part of the solution, not the problem.  

 Minnesotans’ need to outgrow their polite, shy, keep things at an arms distance nature. When at a boat ramp and they see a boat or trailer packing a bale of weeds, we need to offer a friendly hand to clean it off. We will need to develop more patience at the ramp to give folks the time they need. If we want our Kids to become good caretakers of our natural resources they need to learn it; from seeing parents practice responsible behavior.

When I’m up on Leech or Gull or the Whitefish Chain fishing a Bass tournament, I might be on the water daily three or four days before the event. On these days as I load up it is easy to give in to “Why bother crawling under the boat - since I’ll be back on the same water, same lake, same spots tomorrow morning” but it needs to become part of my routine.

 Other outdoors groups have learned how to solve problems. The snowmobile groups have a trail monitor program and have figured out ways to funnel dollars in to County Sheriff’s departments for increased surveillance and contact. Maybe we can add a new category to our Turn in Poachers (TIP) program, and have a method to report violators?  How about a Statewide Volunteer AIS Inspector training program and having them at the boat ramps at peak times?

 Fact is, that AIS's are here, they will move to more lakes and streams and if we can combine efforts to try to contain it; we might make a difference.

 Vern Wagner, Vice President,  Anglers For Habitat. Tournament Director, Bassmasters Weekend Series

 

Help direct 100 million dollars in Clean Water funding

Posted by: Vern Wagner Updated: January 7, 2010 - 9:34 AM

Don't know if anyone has this on their radar yet, but I'd like to make you all aware of a great opportunity.  Recently I was asked to be a committee member for the Citizens Stakeholder aspect of a 25 yr. Water Sustainability Framework plan that the legislature has funded the U of M to conduct. A big part of this is for me, is to push the Hook and Bullet folks toward the survey and listening sessions. It is confounding to me that the Clean Water folks always use photos of people fishing or swimming, yet when it comes time to fund projects, most of the money goes to impaired water rather then protecting and restoring aquatic habitat and areas that are not yet impaired. My thinking is that we as anglers and hunters have not been part of these conversations and as a result we our voices aren't heard. So there are a couple of things that the committee I'm on are trying to promote. Let your voice be heard!

 

 

The University of Minnesota’s Water Resources Center is developing a Water Sustainability Framework for the next 25 years to protect and improve Minnesota’s precious water resources. Because the state’s surface and ground waters belong to the people, we are gathering public opinion via surveys and listening sessions on a range of water issues.

Use this link (wrc.umn.edu/watersustainabilityframework/MinnesotansandTheirWater/index.htm) and complete an online survey to make sure your opinions are heard. It’s anonymous, quick, and easy. Responses will be incorporated into the Minnesota Water Sustainability Framework that will be presented to the State Legislature January 2011.

While you’re on the WRC web site (wrc.umn.edu), you can learn more about the Framework, as well as sign up for regular email updates on the progress of the Framework and find out more about where Listening Sessions will be held around the state.

If you’re unable to access the survey online, call 612-624-9282 and we’ll send you a written copy.


Listening sessions

Minnesotans will have the chance to voice their opinion in person on how the state should invest resources to protect clean water at statewide public meetings beginning Jan. 19, 2010 coordinated by the University of Minnesota’s Water Resources Center.

The meetings, called “listening sessions,” will be facilitated by staff from the Water Resources Center and Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources and are a chance for people to voice their opinions on a range of water-related issues from boating and water recreation, to priorities for cleaning up polluted lakes and streams.

St. Cloud Jan. 19 Holiday Inn and Suites 75 37th Ave. S.

Chaska Jan. 21 University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Snyder Auditorium 3675 Arboretum Dr.

Crookston Feb. 3 University of Minnesota, Crookston
Youngquist Auditorium 2900 University Dr.

Baxter/Brainerd Feb. 4 Northland Arboretum 14520 Conservation Drive

Duluth Feb. 10 Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Building
525 Lake Ave. S. 4th Floor, Large Conference Room

Rochester Feb. 11 Holiday Inn South 1630 S. Broadway

Marshall Feb. 16 Best Western Marshall Inn 1500 E. College Dr.

West St. Paul Feb. 18 Thompson Park Center-Dakota Lodge


Please feel free to forward this message to your colleagues, members, or constituents.

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Help direct 100 million dollars in Clean Water funding

Posted by: Vern Wagner Updated: January 7, 2010 - 9:34 AM

Don't know if anyone has this on their radar yet, but I'd like to make you all aware of a great opportunity.  Recently I was asked to be a committee member for the Citizens Stakeholder aspect of a 25 yr. Water Sustainability Framework plan that the legislature has funded the U of M to conduct. A big part of this is for me, is to push the Hook and Bullet folks toward the survey and listening sessions. It is confounding to me that the Clean Water folks always use photos of people fishing or swimming, yet when it comes time to fund projects, most of the money goes to impaired water rather then protecting and restoring aquatic habitat and areas that are not yet impaired. My thinking is that we as anglers and hunters have not been part of these conversations and as a result we our voices aren't heard. So there are a couple of things that the committee I'm on are trying to promote. Let your voice be heard!

 

 

The University of Minnesota’s Water Resources Center is developing a Water Sustainability Framework for the next 25 years to protect and improve Minnesota’s precious water resources. Because the state’s surface and ground waters belong to the people, we are gathering public opinion via surveys and listening sessions on a range of water issues.

Use this link (wrc.umn.edu/watersustainabilityframework/MinnesotansandTheirWater/index.htm) and complete an online survey to make sure your opinions are heard. It’s anonymous, quick, and easy. Responses will be incorporated into the Minnesota Water Sustainability Framework that will be presented to the State Legislature January 2011.

While you’re on the WRC web site (wrc.umn.edu), you can learn more about the Framework, as well as sign up for regular email updates on the progress of the Framework and find out more about where Listening Sessions will be held around the state.

If you’re unable to access the survey online, call 612-624-9282 and we’ll send you a written copy.


Listening sessions

Minnesotans will have the chance to voice their opinion in person on how the state should invest resources to protect clean water at statewide public meetings beginning Jan. 19, 2010 coordinated by the University of Minnesota’s Water Resources Center.

The meetings, called “listening sessions,” will be facilitated by staff from the Water Resources Center and Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources and are a chance for people to voice their opinions on a range of water-related issues from boating and water recreation, to priorities for cleaning up polluted lakes and streams.

St. Cloud Jan. 19 Holiday Inn and Suites 75 37th Ave. S.

Chaska Jan. 21 University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Snyder Auditorium 3675 Arboretum Dr.

Crookston Feb. 3 University of Minnesota, Crookston
Youngquist Auditorium 2900 University Dr.

Baxter/Brainerd Feb. 4 Northland Arboretum 14520 Conservation Drive

Duluth Feb. 10 Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Building
525 Lake Ave. S. 4th Floor, Large Conference Room

Rochester Feb. 11 Holiday Inn South 1630 S. Broadway

Marshall Feb. 16 Best Western Marshall Inn 1500 E. College Dr.

West St. Paul Feb. 18 Thompson Park Center-Dakota Lodge


Please feel free to forward this message to your colleagues, members, or constituents.

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