The White Earth Nation of Ojibwe proposes to preserve 2034 acres of wildlife habitat with 6,500 feet along the Wild Rice River using some of the Legacy money. Members of the Outdoor Heritage Council who make recommendations for spending Legacy money, recommended this proposal, a good choice. The habitat potential is outstanding.
But the House environment committee, headed up by Rep. Denny McNamara, decided that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources should be the grant recipient even though DNR did not ask to be the recipient, the White Earth Nation has the purchase agreement for the land, and the land is within the White Earth Reservation.
For the record, The White Earth Nation is experience in restoring and managing lands with wild rice beds and will open it up for public hunting and fishing. In accordance with White Earth Nation hunting regulations there will not be wolf hunting on the property.
When the Legacy bill came to the House floor for a vote, Rep. Persell offered an amendment that would have the White Earth Nation purchase the land and restore the proposal as originally recommended. Rep. Flanagan spoke in support. Hear what they had to say:
Rep. McNamera spoke in opposition saying that having DNR own the land, “solved the problem.” The only problem Rep. McNamera mentioned was that the seasons for DNR and the tribes are not the same.
Projects recommended by the Outdoor Heritage Council don’t usually face opposition. The StarTribune editorial board said “(o)pposition to the project has not been based on its merits, but on the tribe’s involvement. That’s wrong.” The StarTribune has it right.