The year is 2035 and debate is raging at the Capitol in St. Paul about where to place a gaggle of bronze statues lawmakers commissioned to "commemorate" the transition in Minnesota between two major epochs, the Pre-Invasive Carp Period, otherwise commonly referred to as the "fun" time of human existence in the state, and the Post-Invasive Carp Period, or what some wise-guy scribes have labeled "Depression+Pandemic, Only Worse."

Construction of the statues was authorized earlier in the 2035 legislative session in an attempt to quell public uprisings that threatened not only lawmakers' jobs but, worse, their per diems.

The same 2035 legislators cooked up the euphemism "commemorate" to justify allocation of $5 million for the half-dozen statues that now await arrangement either on (a) the Capitol Mall, where the officeholders will be frozen in disgrace for all time, or (b) along the St. Croix River in downtown Stillwater, whose business leaders have attempted valiantly to replace, with no luck, its storied Lumberjack Days with Whack-a-Carp Weekend, or (c) scattered along the Minnesota River from its confluence with the Mississippi to its headwaters in Big Stone Lake, a distance of 332 miles that features, by last count, 432,879 jumping carp.

In point of fact the bronze statues are less a commemoration than a bow to an enraged public, particularly members of the newly formed Committee to Place Carp Blame Where It's Due, whose mission statement, boiled to its nubs, is to remind Minnesotans "for all time," just who among politicians and policymakers in 2023 were responsible for the state's economic and social collapse resulting from the end of swimming, boating, fishing, camping, tourism and, really, just about every human action, save for work and commuting to and from work.

The group's president is an otherwise mild-mannered mother of two who "throughout her lifetime," she said, had abided the legislature's unwillingness to keep farmers' nitrates from infiltrating her drinking water.

"But this carp invasion is a bridge too far," she said.

In a 2035 opinion poll commissioned by the state's largest media outlet, Snapchat, Minnesotans overwhelmingly favored stringing out the half-dozen or so statues along the Minnesota River, whose carp-ridden watershed drains 15,000 square miles in Minnesota and another 2,000 square miles in Iowa and South Dakota.

Blindfolds cover the eyes of some of the statues, a not-too-subtle metaphor insisted upon by the citizenry to immortalize the 2023 Legislature's inability, or unwillingness, to approve a carp sound and bubble barrier at Lock and Dam 5 on the Mississippi, which experts had advised.

Others of the statues seem to be fashioned mildly akimbo, as if bewildered. Depicted this way, the replicas, due perhaps to a bit of unauthorized editorializing by the sculptor, are considered by some to be a nod to Matthew McConaughey's character, the stoner David Wooderson, in the 1993 movie "Dazed and Confused," and as such swipe at the 2023 Legislature's preoccupation with legalizing weed instead of fighting carp.

"That guy, Walz, he was governor in 2023. He had some good things in his budget for clean water and fish and boating and the environment. He should have included money to stop silver carp in the Mississippi, too. But he didn't,'' said one protester. "Before he lived in the Twin Cities he was from Mankato, hard by the Minnesota River. So, ya, put the Walz statue in Mankato."

A sore point, this, the prospective Mankato statue site, because in Minnesota's Pre-Invasive Carp Period, the Minnesota River as it flowed by that town was abuzz with frolickers.

Now, within 50 miles of Mankato, you can't fire up a 3-horse Evinrude without being smacked in the noggin by a 20-pound Hypophthalmichthys molitrix.

A veritable who's-who of DNR bigwigs in office in 2023 also have been immortalized in bronze, and their statues await placement, including one of Commissioner Sarah Strommen, a unanimous choice.

"As the state's chief conservation officer, she should have demanded Walz back the carp barrier at Lock and Dam 5," one critic said. "If Walz wouldn't bend, Strommen should have channeled former DNR Commissioner Joe Alexander and rallied public support for the barrier nevertheless. That's what she gets paid for, to have a passion for the state's lakes, rivers, prairies, forests and wildlife. And to act on that passion. Not to safeguard a governor's budget that blows through a $17 billion surplus without allocating a fraction of that amount to ensure our kids and their kids will have a place to swim, boat and fish."

The carp barrier idea was supported in 2023 by virtually every Minnesota conservation group, from Friends of the Mississippi River to MN-FISH, a sport anglers' organization. Time and again the barrier was explained to legislators and DNR staff by University of Minnesota professor Peter Sorensen, who argued forcefully the barrier was the state's last best hope to keep breeding populations of silver carp at bay from Minnesota waters.

A similar barrier already was operative in 2023 in Kentucky.

Sorensen's appearance on March 22, 2023, before a state Senate committee should have sealed the barrier deal for lawmakers, inasmuch as only a few days earlier a record number of silver carp were caught by commercial netters in the Mississippi downstream of Lock and Dam 5.

"Once this [carp battle] is lost, it's lost forever," Sorensen told the committee. "That amount of fish is very disturbing. It's hard proof there's a substantial number of them here."

Now, 12 years later, in 2035, all that remains among everyone in Minnesota — politician, policymaker or citizen — is regret.

And not a little bitterness.

The statues? Stillwater got one, which they promptly placed in a dunk tank for wannabe hurlers to target. The Capitol Mall was assigned a pair. The rest were placed along the banks of the Minnesota River.

There, in infamy, their namesakes will be remembered. Forever.