With a microphone in his hand before an audience of fishing enthusiasts, outdoors television personality Ron Schara graciously welcomed Gov. Tim Walz this week to the first-ever Minnesota Fisheries Summit.
He thanked Walz for attending the forum on how best to sustain strong fishing across the state, then he cut to the chase:
Will the governor support a push by anglers in the final weeks of the legislative session to win $60 million in bonding money for badly needed hatchery repairs and another $37 million to upgrade public boat launches?
Before Walz could reply, Schara reminded him emphatically that fishing is not only a cornerstone to the quality of life in Minnesota, but it creates $4.4 billion of economic impact. And, yet, lawmakers appropriate zero tax dollars from the state’s general fund to support the industry. “Zero,” Schara repeated. Do politicians realize how important it is to invest in fishing?
Walz took the bait. The governor assured the crowd of about 75 anglers, guides, lobbyists, business owners, tourism officials and staff from the Department of Natural Resources that the pitch for bonding money will receive his support.
“I’ll make it a priority in final negotiations,” he said.
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