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The April 9 commentary "Whose land is this land" did not accurately represent the Public Lands Rally that took place in the State Capitol rotunda on April 5, or its intent. (The event is described in the opinion as a protest against two specific pieces of legislation regarding potential transfers of land to Native nations in Minnesota.)

Conservation groups from across Minnesota organized a rally to show support for the public lands and waters of our state. This is not the first Public Lands Rally to occur at the State Capitol, although the last rally was organized in 2019. Based on the support of Minnesotans for their public lands and waters, it likely won't be the last. Those in attendance heard from representatives of nonprofit groups, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and elected officials representing both sides of the political aisle.

Those who spoke described life-changing experiences they had on public lands and waters in Minnesota. DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen spoke of growing up in St. Paul but having access to public lands that was transformative for her. State Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, talked about enjoying wildlife management area lands in his district. State Sen. Foung Hawj, D-St. Paul, told of the moment he was inspired to run for public office while doing a lakeshore cleanup near his home. One of us two authors — Eli Mansfield, the state board chair of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers — extolled our shared legacy of public lands and encouraged those in attendance to pick up a free copy of "A Sand County Almanac."

Why did these speakers not address the legislation pertaining to land transfers or other bills currently in discussion at the Capitol? Because it was not the purpose of the event.

The author of the April 9 commentary, Dave Porter, highlighted shirts worn by some in attendance reading "Public Land Owner." This is a phrase and concept that has been popularized by Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. BHA is a nationwide public land advocacy organization that has an active chapter right here in Minnesota. The phrase implies a stewardship and responsibility to our treasured public lands and is not connected to a singular political issue in any way.

The opinion piece implies that, although conservation organizations were announced as sponsors, their leaders and members were not in attendance. This could not be further from the truth. Board members, executive directors, CEOs and other folks in positions of leadership were in attendance at the event.

After the Capitol rally, a follow-up event was held at a craft brewery in St. Paul. The gathering was another chance to connect with conservation leaders and groups from across Minnesota. Those who attended had the opportunity to learn more about the sponsoring organizations and get involved in the conservation and elevation of public lands and waters in Minnesota.

We plan to be back at the Capitol next year to show support for public lands and waters in Minnesota. Our only agenda is to uplift opportunities to connect with each other, the land and the water.

Brad Gausman is executive director of the Minnesota Conservation Federation. Eli Mansfield is board chair of the Minnesota chapter of the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.