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Minn. legislation advances that would end deer shotgun zones, allow two fishing lines on Minnesota River

A Minnesota House committee advanced a Department of Natural Resources policy bill that includes provisions to eliminate the state's shotgun zones during the deer firearm season and allow two lines for fishing on the Minnesota River during the open water season.

Deer hunting
Hunters walk toward an area where they hope to find some deer north of Moorhead in a 2009 file photo.
Dave Wallis / The Forum

ST. PAUL — Committees in both chambers of the Minnesota Legislature are advancing a Department of Natural Resources policy bill that includes changes being watched by anglers and deer hunters in west central Minnesota.

The policy bill would eliminate shotgun zones during the deer firearm season. Hunters would be able to use all legal firearms, including rifles, in what are now shotgun zones in southern Minnesota.

The bill also includes a provision to allow anglers to use two lines during the open water fishing season on the Minnesota River from Granite Falls downstream to St. Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River.

Currently, two lines are allowed on inland waters during the ice fishing season, but anglers are restricted to one line on those waters during the open water season.

In action Thursday, the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee chaired by Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL- South St. Paul, approved advancing the policy bill to become part of a larger, natural resources omnibus bill. A companion bill is advancing through the Senate.

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The House committee took up the policy bill during a hearing that began with consideration of supplemental budget funding requests made by six state agencies. Most of the discussions focused on the funding requests.

A representative of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association was available but was not called on during a limited discussion on the policy bill.

Along with the elimination of shotgun zones, the bill contains a provision that would establish blaze orange or blaze pink requirements for ground blinds used on public lands during the deer firearm season.

TwoLines MnRvrIMG_1068.JPG
A Department of Natural Resources policy bill moving through the Legislature would allow anglers to use two lines while fishing the Minnesota River from Granite Falls to St. Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River during the open water season. Anglers work the Minnesota River in Renville and Redwood counties in this undated file photo.
Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune file photo

Allowing two lines for open water fishing on the Minnesota River was described as an effort to increase angling opportunities on the waterway by Jason Garms, of the Minnesota DNR. He described the legislation to committee members at the hearing.

The debate over allowing two lines during the open water season has a long history in the Legislature. The DNR has opposed allowing two lines on inland waters statewide. The agency has made it clear that this proposed change for the Minnesota River is not meant as a catalyst for opening other inland waters in the state to two lines.

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoors reporter for the West Central Tribune.
He has been a reporter with the West Central Tribune since 1993.

Cherveny can be reached via email at tcherveny@wctrib.com or by phone at 320-214-4335.
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