WILLMAR -- License fees generated by anglers and hunters pay for the "boots on the ground" work performed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Among other duties, the DNR wildlife staff headquartered in Sibley State Park is responsible for overseeing a three-county area with 54 wildlife management areas covering 10,293 acres.
The DNR fisheries office in Spicer is responsible for managing the fisheries in more than 40 lakes in a seven-county area, stocking 38 lakes and operating a hatchery program that hatches up to 65 million walleye fry each year.
These and a proposal to raise license fees will be the focus of an informational meeting from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services building, 2200 23rd Street NE, Willmar.
The Little Crow Anglers is sponsoring the meeting and is encouraging the public to attend.
Leaders of conservation and wildlife groups in the area will be available to answer questions, according to LeRoy Dahlke, DNR wildlife manager, and Dave Coahran, acting fisheries supervisor in Spicer.
The DNR is seeking its first license fee increase in 10 years. It seeks to raise the annual fishing license from $17 to $24, and the small game hunting license fee from $19 to $22. A deer license would increase from $26 to $30.
A variety of new license combinations would be made available, including three-day and 90-day fishing license options, according to Jason Moeckel, fisheries operations supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. He outlined the license fee proposals recently to members of the West Central Chapter of the Darkhouse Anglers at a meeting in Spicer.
There are about 100 vacancies currently unfilled at the DNR, including 22 conservation officer positions.
Moeckel warned that there are "cracks in the foundation'' and that work is not getting done. The license fee increases would allow the DNR to replace some of the vacant positions, he said.
Local sponsors are hoping for a good turn out at the meeting. Dahlke said they are hoping to let people know what is being proposed, and to hear the concerns and thoughts of area residents.
To view the license proposals, visit www.mndnr.gov and click "Hunting and Fishing Heritage Initiative.''