Minnesota DNR Commissioner Visits Brainerd
The commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources made a stop in Brainerd Thursday to discuss Governor Tim Walz’s proposed budget and how it will affect our natural resources.
“I feel really pleased to be here in Brainerd today at the Northland Arboretum to talk with a group of folks that are really passionate about DNR issues,” said Sarah Strommen, Minnesota DNR Commissioner.
Local stakeholders and community members gathered at the Northland Arboretum to meet with the commissioner.
“We had a wide-ranging discussion. We talked about aquatic invasive species funding. We talked about funding for responding to chronic wasting disease. We talked about public waters protection funding,” explained Strommen.
Some of the main concerns that the stakeholders voiced were aquatic invasive species and the recent finding of chronic wasting disease in Crow Wing County. Earlier this month, a wild deer in Crow Wing County tested positive for chronic wasting disease, moving the issue into the spotlight.
“One was turned over to us that was found dead and it was thin and it was screened for the disease, very routine. Unfortunately, it came back infected, and actually, we have the whole carcass that we brought down to the diagnostic lab at the University of Minnesota and it was concluded that it died from the disease,” explained Michelle Carstensen, Minnesota DNR Wildlife Health Program Supervisor.
The Minnesota DNR hopes to combat CWD before it becomes a problem, and they are happy that the budget will help them to do that.
“The governor has proposed $4.57 million in general fund funding over the next biennium. So a couple things, one is it allows us to have the funding that’s needed to act quickly and act aggressively,” said Strommen.
Overall, Commissioner Strommen and the DNR are pleased with the governor’s budget proposal and are hopeful that it will allow them to put issues like CWD and invasive species in the forefront.
“I think it just highlights the importance of chronic wasting disease across the state. It’s also important to recognize this isn’t just something that hunters should be funding. This is a resource that is shared by everybody in the state and having some dollars identified to support that work beyond just hunting licenses really sends that message that it’s important for everyone,” added Carstensen.