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.

Rally at the Capitol featuring Al Lindner on Monday

Posted by: Vern Wagner under Fishing Updated: April 19, 2012 - 6:37 AM

You’re invited! Hunters, Fishermen & Women, Conservationists and friends of the Outdoors will be gathering at the State Capitol Rotunda Monday April 23rd at 10:30 a.m. to support a Hunting and Fishing License increase. Al Lindner, renowned angler, fishing tackle innovator and sportsman's television and radio personality, will be the fearured speaker.

It is not often that folks gather together and demand to pay more for fishing and hunting licenses. But this is actually what Minnesota's Hook and Bullet community wants to do. WHY?

The answer is simple, license fees have not increased in over 12 years and the Game & Fish fund will be running on empty by 2013. So the time to act is now. The DNR has been belt tightening for many years due to budget cuts and rising inflation. There is no room to make any more notches in their belt, without a fee increase they will need a tourniquet to survive the pending cuts.

 Add your voice to the call for State Legislators to approve hunting and angling fee increases that will preserve recreational opportunities and provide funding to fight invasive species.  “This is a user- pay initiative, not a distributed tax, which has full support from Minnesota’s outdoor and environmental groups” said Lance Ness, President - Anglers for Habitat. “Hunters and anglers attitudes haven’t changed. We remain willing to pay our way for quality hunting, fishing and conservation efforts. ”Minnesota’s Game and Fish Fund is in dire straits. Fisheries, wildlife, and enforcement programs have been cut to the bone, and now core programs and services are threatened. Many anglers and hunters mistakenly believe that legacy, RIM and lottery funding can be used to replace Game and Fish Fund dollars in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ budget. “A license fee increases equal to the cost of two dozen jumbo leeches or the sighting in of a deer rifle are affordable for everyone who hunts or fishes,” said Jim Lilienthal, former DNR Fisheries staff and Board Member AFH.  Surveys and research from current and past license holders found that customers are willing to pay for the license privilege, and license cost is not a deterrent to youth participation in hunting or fishing. Individuals and groups need to contact their local representatives and senators and demand support and passage of these USER FEES now.  “Call, email or write your local legislators FIRST, and plan to attend the rally if we don’t get action on the license fee increases and adequate funding for AIS management programs,” said Ness. Asian Carp and other AIS threaten our Minnesota outdoor heritage; the problem is real and action is needed. It isn’t true, as many believe that it doesn’t matter if we do anything because they are coming anyway.  “We need to slow them down in the short term in order to buy time for research and management to control or eradicate them in the long term,” Ness said.  The steps and costs being taken to control the spread of Zebra Mussels are necessary to protect Minnesota’s lakes and watersheds.  Support needs to come from more than just Lake Associations and Environmental Groups. "We as Minnesotans need to join together and make our voice known.  Minnesota needs to develop an adequate long-term funding source for AIS projects and research that doesn’t affect funding of current fish and wildlife management responsibilities. WE NEED FOLKS TO STEP FORWARD NOW.”

While HF 2171 was tabled this week by a Senate vote, there is still time to make it happen.

Come and Rally with us! Bring a sign, make a statement!

“Don’t move a Mussel”  “Fee Fie Foe Fum No Fee Increase Would Be "REEL" Dumb!”

 Vern Wagner, VP

Anglers for Habitat


Dear Governor Dayton: Stop the Asian Carp

Posted by: Vern Wagner under Environment 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.


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 under Environment 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.


Preventing the expansion of Asian Carp

Posted by: Vern Wagner under Fishing Updated: December 15, 2011 - 12:36 PM

Coalition Urges a Permanent Solution to Protect Minnesota’s Waters from Asian Carp.

Sportsmen, environmentalists, and property owners support closing Lock #1 until preventative measures are in place to stop Asian carp

December 14, 2011 -A broad coalition of sportsmen, environmentalists and property owners today are calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) and other state and federal agencies to begin the process of securing a permanent solution to stop the northward advance of Asian carp into Minnesota waters.

On December 5th, 2011 the locks on the upper Mississippi River closed for the winter months. This yearly routine winter closure provides an opportunity to create both a short and long-term way to keep Asian carp out of Minnesota waters. As an immediate, first solution, the coalition is asking that Lock #1 remain closed after ice-out 2012 until a modified lock operation plan can be put in place as an interim measure. Such a measure might include limited lock hours combined with effective preventative technology to reduce the northward advance of these invaders.

“Last week the locks were closed,” said Irene Jones, river corridor program director of Friends of the Mississippi River. “No carp are moving into the upper Mississippi River. The locks should remain closed until a plan is in place that continues to block the carp’s advance.”

Known to batter boaters and even knock them into the water at the sound of a passing motor, Asian carp 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.

Earlier this summer, positive eDNA tests of Asian carp were detected in the Mississippi, Minnesota and St. Croix rivers near the Twin Cities. A silver carp was also caught in pool 9 this summer. Further elevating the urgency of this crisis, on December 8th, MN DNR officials announced that positive eDNA samples indicated that silver carp are above and below the Coon Rapids Dam.

“Needless to say we were very disappointed to hear about the eDNA findings that indicate silver carp above the Coon Rapids Dam,” said Gary Botzek, executive director of the Minnesota Conservation Federation. “These new findings just put a capitol ‘E’ in Emergency in terms of closing the lock at St. Anthony and testing and treating the waters above Minneapolis for a long time,” he added.

In a letter dated November 16th, the coalition asked Governor Dayton to make it a goal of his administration to prevent the introduction and spread of Asian carp in Minnesota waters and beyond to the Dakotas and Canada. Governor Dayton asked a task force of governmental agencies and a coalition of non-governmental organizations to put forth recommendations aimed at meeting this goal.

“These fish are threatening Minnesota’s lake districts up to the Red River and Canada.” said Jeff Forrester, executive director of Minnesota Seasonal Recreation Property Owners. “The potential cost in loss of recreation and property values is almost incalculable.”

“Asian carp represent a clear and present danger to Minnesota’s waters and our way of life.” said Marc Smith, senior policy manager with National Wildlife Federation. “We strongly encourage state and federal officials to immediately develop and implement action plans designed to stop carp from further spreading north.”

“This is our chance to show the nation that we can be successful in stopping these invaders.” said Dave Zentner with the Izaak Walton League.

The coalition plans to present a more detailed action plan to Governor Dayton on December 20th. This plan calls for a permanent solution to this crisis and establishes short-term priorities to be enacted before ice-out 2012, mid-term priorities to be completed over the next six to 18 months, and long term priorities for over 18 months.

“The waters of Minnesota could be forever changed but we have the opportunity to put a stop to it now.” said Darrell Gerber, program coordinator at Clean Water Action Minnesota. “It will take resolve but we can’t let failure be an option.”

Coalition Members: Anglers for Habitat, Audubon Minnesota – National Audubon Society, Clean Water Action, F-M Walleyes Unlimited, Fish and Wildlife Alliance, Friends of the Mississippi River, Izaak Walton League of Minnesota, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Minnesota Coalition of Lake Associations, Minnesota Conservation Federation, Minnesota Seasonal Recreation Property Owners, Mississippi River Fund, National Parks and Conservation Association, National Wildlife Federation, New Ulm Area Sport Fishermen, St. Croix River Association, and Minnesota Trout Unlimited


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