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Backers say dedicated funding is alive and kicking

By John Weiss

The Post-Bulletin

OUTDOORS NOTES

Bills that would allow the public to vote on a constitutional amendment to dedicate sales-tax dollars for conservation are not merely alive in the Minnesota Legislature — it appears they’re gaining momentum.

The one stumbling block for many outdoors enthusiasts has been that legislators have clouded the issue with funding for arts, arts education and other non-resource items. That funding, however, is being cut back, said Garry Leaf, a spokesman for Sportsmen for Change. "Those are pretty good moves from where we’re at," he said. "It’s more passable."

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In fact, he thinks a dedicated funding proposal is going to reach Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s desk. "I think this year, they are going to pass it," he said.

The Senate is now calling for 24 percent of money raised to go to the arts, while the House is asking for 10 percent. If there is too much funding for arts, some proponents say voters in rural areas would be reluctant to support the amendment. People in greater Minnesota don’t see the connection between a Twin Cities public TV or radio station and a wetland that is infested with carp and needs to be restored, Leaf said.

His best guess is some big moves forward could happen next week. After that, it would be up to conferees from the House and Senate to reach a compromise.

The house file is 2285, the senate file is 6.

NEW TROUT BOOKLET: The Department of Natural Resources has published two new books that highlight trout streams, lakes and public fishing opportunities in the northwest and southeast areas of the state.

The northwest book is new, the southeast book is an update of one published a few years ago.

They are available by calling 1-88-646-6367 or on the Web at www.state.mn.us/fish/trout/index.html.

SUCKER FISHING TOURNEY: The Ultimate Panfish League Rochester is turning to open water — and suckers.

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That’s right. Forget about panfish, bass or walleyes. Think suckers.

The first event, out of three, will be from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday at Hammond. Registration begins at 5:15; meet at the bridge where Wabasha County Road 11 crosses the Zumbro River.

Anglers can go up and down the river as far as they wish. You only need to bring in the largest sucker.

Other sucker runs will be April 30 on the Root River and May 14 at a mystery river.

For more information, go online at tylerholmoutdoors.com/uplr.

TEACHING KIDS TO FISH: More adults are needed to help with a May 4-6 fly-fishing camp for youths ages 12-15 at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center northwest of Lanesboro. The ratio the DNR is seeking is one adult for each one or two children. The parent or guardian doesn’t need to be an experienced fly angler. Teens coming to the event will learn how to cast, tie flies and read the water; they will finish with a guided trip to a bluffland stream.

Cost is $100 per youth and $120 per adult; that includes food, lodging and activities. For more information or to register, call Eagle Bluff at 1-888-800-9558 or going to groups@eagle-bluff.org.

To learn more about volunteering, contact Kathy Beaulieu at Kathy.beaulieu@dnr.state.mn.us.

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