Update: The Kahn amendment didn't pass.
Bluestem has been following the effort to keep the White Earth Band of Chippewa's request for Legacy funding for a project to protect a stretch of the Wild Rice River.
While the Lessard-Sams Commission voted to fund the request, it was removed from the Outdoor Heritage Omnibus Bill in January by the House Environment committee. We revisited the issue earlier this month when PiPress outdoors reporter Dave Orrick [took] on issues in White Earth Legacy funding woes.
Later this afternoon, Rep. Phyllis Kahn will be offering H0303A31 an amendment to HF303, the Legacy Omnibus bill. The pre-filed amendment would add this language:
(h) Protecting Forest Wildlife Habitat in the Wild Rice River Watershed
1.5$2,188,000 in the first year is to the
1.6commissioner of natural resources for an
1.7agreement with the White Earth Nation
1.8to acquire lands in fee to be managed for
1.9wildlife habitat purposes. A list of proposed
1.10land acquisitions must be provided as part of
1.11the required accomplishment plan."
1.12Page 11, line 27, delete "$4,318,000" and insert "$2,130,000"
1.13Adjust amounts accordingly
But the resistance to the White Earth Nation's owning the land and managing it is so strong that House Environment chair Denny McNamara (R-Hastings) will move to amend the amendment with H0303A47, which strips out the involvement of the White Earth Nation.
Kahn's Strib Commentary
Some historical (and opinionated) context for the issue was articulated earlier this week by Kahn, who raised the issue in commentary in the Star Tribune, Why the double standard on Lessard-Sams fundingrecommendations?:
Just two years ago, I was lambasted for having the gall, as a legislator, to propose changes. This year, a Republican legislator is doing the same, and the critics …
Two years ago, outdoor sports columnist Dennis Anderson of the Star Tribune vilified my leadership of the House Legacy Committee because I had the temerity to change the funding recommendations of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.
In a series of eight articles prominently featured in the sports pages, Anderson excoriated me because I believed that elected legislators should be able to change recommendations of the Outdoor Heritage Council. So virulent were his criticisms that I actually received a death threat from one of his readers.
Anderson’s main point was that the conservation, hunting and fishing interests in the state had been original advocates for constitutionally dedicating sales tax receipts to outdoor projects and that, as part of that effort, those groups sought and received approval for a joint citizen-legislative body to recommend projects to be funded. Anderson felt that there should be absolutely no deviation from those recommendations. He believed that legislators should not be trusted, given a history of environmental degradation in the state for which he blamed the Legislature and politicians.
My sin, in Anderson’s myopic view, was that in 2013 I believed that the council had improperly excluded $6.3 million in conservation projects in the metro area from ever being considered for a hearing, that it had excluded a land acquisition project for the Fond du Lac Reservation solely because of anti-Indian bias, and that it did not consider aquatic invasive species a threat to conservation, hunting and fishing interests.
In addition to accepting all of the council’s recommendations, I used undesignated Outdoor Heritage Fund money to fund these three projects.
Those changes generated a firestorm led by Anderson and joined by dozens of conservation and sports groups. Anderson even threatened Gov. Mark Dayton and the DFL House with electoral defeat if they dared to even consider these changes.
My position won the day on the floor of the Minnesota House, in the joint House and Senate conference committee, and by verbal agreement of the governor. In the end, Anderson’s threats convinced Dayton to veto the provisions. (Ultimately, each of the rejected proposals was recommended by the council, passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor the year after the Anderson outcry.)
Just this year, a council project for the White Earth Reservation has been removed entirely by the Republican-controlled Minnesota House. The White Earth project followed the process and was among the highest-ranked.
So where are Dennis Anderson and his horde of conservation allies and hunters and fisherpersons who believe in the sanctity of the council’s process? Nowhere. Where is the hue and cry? Silence.
Why is this happening?
Why the double standard?
Is it because the House Republican author and council member Denny McNamara, who had voted for the White Earth project during council meetings, flip-flopped and changed the council’s recommendation at the legislative level when he was in charge?
Is it OK for a Republican, but not DFLers, to change the council’s recommendations?
Is it because a woman proposed the change two years ago?
Or is there a consistent theme that some mainly Republican members of the Legislature just don’t want to fund projects on Native American land because they don’t value Native Americans’ religious freedom and their desire not to allow the hunting of wolves on their land?
Whatever the reasons, it is abundantly clear to me that Anderson and his allies in the conservation, hunting and fishing communities are rank hypocrites.
In just two years, they have gone from vocal defenders of the Outdoor Heritage Council and its process to silent and deadly collaborators in killing the White Earth project.
There has been no such high-minded sanctimony this year over process from Anderson and his adherents. Rather, only smug self-satisfaction that their Caucasian Legacy remains intact.
Strong language for the Minnesota Nice folks who might not feel comfortable with such directness.
Photo: A canoe in wild rice beds.
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