A new era for Lake Mille Lacs starts this week as the newly formed Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee meets for the first time on the shores of the sprawling lake.
The 17-member group will advise the Department of Natural Resources on Mille Lacs fisheries issues, including regulations. DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr announced the appointments Tuesday, and the group meets for the first time Thursday at McQuoid’s Inn near Isle.
The new group replaces the Mille Lacs Fisheries Input Group, formed in 1997, which included citizens and business owners from the Lake Mille Lacs area. The new group contains some of the same business owners, but is broader and includes anglers outside the area, as well as a Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa representative and an academic representative from the University of Minnesota.
“They really represent a broad diversity of stakeholders,” said Landwehr. “They will be the collective voice for the Mille Lacs community.’’
The DNR received 130 applications. “Obviously, there’s a lot of interest in this,’’ Landwehr said.
He said he hopes the new group will improve the DNR’s relations with the Mille Lacs community.
“We’ll put a lot of stock in what they recommend, but it’s still an advisory group,” he said.
The committee’s meetings will be open to the public. The DNR had intended that two committee members would attend meetings of the state and tribal fisheries technical committee, where walleye harvest quotas and other topics are decided.
But Landwehr said the Chippewa bands have not been receptive to that idea. Those technical committee meetings are closed to the public, a sore point for many.