My life was transformed when, as a teenager, I had the opportunity to take a canoe trip into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness through a program of Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, a Minnesota nonprofit organization. At first, I was unfamiliar with the outdoors and had difficulty enjoying it. But then I was captivated by the beauty and solitude of the BWCA and the companionship of those on the journey with me.
The next year, I went on a longer canoe trip into the BWCA. I eventually canoed to the Arctic Circle, paddled the entire lengths of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers and participated in the Yukon River Quest.
Along the way, I challenged myself and persevered. I made lifelong friendships with people whom I never would have met in my St. Paul neighborhood. I recognized the possibilities in myself and in others. The lessons that I learned on that first trip to the BWCA have helped me years later in ways large and small.
I was elated when the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources recommended that the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness receive a state grant to expand the wilderness canoe trip program by another 250 students over three years and connect another 6,500 students to the BWCA through educational classroom programs. Because LCCMR projects are funded with the lottery and investment income, they do not use tax dollars and do not cause anyone’s taxes to rise.
Too few kids get outdoors and have the opportunities that I have had. This grant would begin to change that. By providing access to the wilderness like the BWCA, we can create conditions for kids to thrive through leadership development, resilience and stewardship.
The Minnesota Legislature must approve the LCCMR recommendations. To my dismay, the Senate recently voted to strip this project to connect kids to the BWCA from the environmental bill, although the project remains in the House version of the bill. In an era of phone and computer screens, we need more programs like this, and the Senate’s actions make no sense.
In the upcoming days, a House-Senate conference committee will try to reconcile the two versions of the environmental bill. As these elected officials engage in horse-trading, I hope they recognize that their actions affect real people. I urge them to follow the recommendations of the LCCMR and fund this project. Future generations of outdoor enthusiasts will thank them.
Lee Vue, St. Paul
MNLARS transition was rough — but don’t scrap it now that it works
I am one of the 187 deputy registrars in Minnesota, and I speak for myself and my office. I read that Gov. Tim Walz believes that MNLARS should be scrapped based on the findings of the Blue Ribbon Council and the opinion of the Republicans in the Legislature (“Car-registration system has been $100M lemon; substitute may cost $73M,” May 2).
MNLARS did have a very problematic rollout. It has been a long, rough road for the state, the deputy registrars and the customer since July 2017. Last summer, there were hours of testimony before the Legislature relaying the problems, frustrations and the genuine anguish that we have all endured, but MNLARS has improved since then.
The public has been very patient. But I am afraid that the current suggestion that we scrap MNLARS may strain the patience of the taxpayer past a breaking point. MNLARS was extremely stressful to transition to and use because of myriad problems, but it has progressed in functionality tremendously. To throw out a $100 million system after it now works fairly well would be extreme folly and an unconscionable disregard for the taxpayer’s money. It has earned bad press, and rightfully so. But this would blacken the image of Minnesota’s fiscal management for decades to come and would amount to political suicide for a number of politicians.
There will always be deputies and consumers who are quite vocal in their opinions about MNLARS, but I can tell you that my employees and the customers who are coming in find that the system works for us, and our work goes fairly smoothly. It does take longer to enter the data, but that is because the data entry area of work was shifted to the local deputies, whereas Driver and Vehicle Services had done that in the past. That is not due to a flaw in the system.
I would suggest that the governor and Legislature think again before taking the step of scrapping an investment of such magnitude.
Stephen Neiswanger, Austin, Minn.
Work one day a week, and bash, blather and ingratiate on the others
After months of careful deliberation, I have come up with a potential solution to the gridlock that seems to have paralyzed Congress. We should have a law that requires the members of both the House and Senate to spend one full day per week passing laws and otherwise conducting the actual business of the legislative branch of the federal government. During the remaining six days, they would be free to run for president, verbally bash all members of the opposing party, blather on incessantly without saying much, ingratiate themselves to anyone with a checkbook and generally engage in the folly with which they presently occupy themselves. This may not be a perfect solution, but it would dramatically increase the productivity of both the House and Senate. Unfortunately, to enact such a law, it would have to be approved by a majority vote of the members of both houses, which would require them to actually agree on something. Since that is highly unlikely, I guess this isn’t such a great idea after all.
John Brennan, Plymouth
Including ‘Bdote’ in Fort Snelling name is an opportunity for respect
We are writing in support of the Minnesota Historical Society and its ongoing acknowledgment of the full spectrum of Minnesota history at its Fort Snelling site. Including the traditional Dakota name, Bdote, at the Fort Snelling location is a mark of respect for some of the earliest inhabitants of the area and shows an appreciation of the broad and full history of our beautiful state. It also provides an opportunity for modern-day inclusivity, reminding us that Native American veterans serve in our country’s armed services at a higher rate than any other group in the United States.
Lawrence and Barbara Sommer, Mendota Heights
WILLIAM BARR TESTIMONY
Grappling with the word ‘suggest’
Many years have passed since I considered myself a young man. Throughout all those years, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a more embarrassing moment of congressional testimony as when Attorney General William Barr said he was grappling with the word “suggest.” Several days have passed since that ignominious moment, and I’m guessing the word he is grappling with now is “integrity.”
Dale Jernberg, Minneapolis