Dick Herfindahl: Lessard-Sams Bill almost 10 years old, going strong

Published 9:26 pm Friday, October 26, 2018

Woods & Water by Dick Herfindahl


I received an email the other day from an old acquaintance named Garry Leaf. He was interested in finding out a little bit about the community’s reaction to the Governor’s Fishing Opener that is being held in the Albert Lea area in 2019. Garry is an outdoors advocate who was actually very instrumental in getting the Lessard-Sams Bill brought to a vote by the citizens of Minnesota. Leaf said since it was put into effect, he has been monitoring it to see if the money is being put to use in the manner which it was intended. He said he was pleased that the money recommended by the Lessard-Sams council is indeed being used for the projects for which it was intended. Leaf said in the almost 10 years that the Lessard-Sams bill has been in existence, over a billion dollars in funding has been put to use for various projects. Over 90 percent of that money has been used for what the counsel has intended it for. $350-million has gone to acquire and enhance public lands, $200-million for easements and another $10-$20 million for waterfowl habitat. Money has also been designated to go towards clean water, while WMA’s and WPA’s have also benefited from this fund.

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The money that we spend on hunting and fishing licenses each year goes into the fish and wildlife fund, but is not designated to any specific sport. For example, buying a hunting license doesn’t mean that money goes for any one hunting project. It could go for fish stocking. While that may happen, the bottom line is that it is still used for fish and game. The tax on a hunting or fishing license, however, goes into the general fund.

Garry was very aware that some of the Lessard-Sams money was designated to be used by the Shellrock River Watershed in the dredging of Fountain Lake and other projects. This is why folks like Garry are so very important to all sportsmen. Not only for monitoring what goes on with our sporting dollars, but what he and others like him do helps ensure that our outdoors heritage will be preserved for future generations.

The opportunity to be a host community for the Governor’s opener is already paying dividends in the form of media coverage. I was asked by Garry to do a short interview on the Mike Max Show on his WCCO Radio sports talk show. He and Garry Leaf wanted to talk about the community’s reaction to hosting this event and about some of the resources that we have for fishing and also hunting in our area. I didn’t have the time to name all of the positive things that we have to boast about in our area, but this was only the beginning. He will be calling me to do a couple more interviews as the event draws closer.

Mary Nelson and myself are co-chairs on the fishing host committee for the opener. This means that we are looking for volunteers to take media guests and or members of the governor’s staff, or any guests of the governor fishing. Some folks may not choose to fish, so there will be some boats needed to take people out on the lake(s) just to see the beauty of our area.

Anyone that is interested in being a boat host or wants to find out more about it can go to www.governorsopener.com/ and click on governor’s fishing opener, go under community and click on boat host. This will give you the information that you will need to sign up. If you are not a computer user, you may stop up at the CVB office and pick up an application or you can call me at 507-383-2231 or Susie Peterson at the CVB – 507-373-2316 with any questions that you may have.

Being a boat host is a great way to show off the Albert Lea area and our lakes to the media and guests in a positive way. Many more volunteers will be needed to help with all of the events that are being planned for what is about a three-day event. We want our guests to leave Albert Lea with good memories and a plan to make return visit in the future.

Turn the page: I know that there are still folks who are enjoying the open water fishing season and actually having pretty good success. I have heard of a few walleye, bass, crappie and northern being caught in Fountain Lake. It seems that the pike fishing in Pickeral has died down considerably. That could probably be attributed to the amount of rain that we had a week or so ago. If I have learned one thing over the many years that I have been fishing, it is that the weather is always a likely scapegoat when it comes to getting skunked.

Until next time, fall is actually the perfect time of year to seek out that “fish of a lifetime”, which may actually be lurking just around the next point or under that fallen tree. Yes, that monster could be waiting for that new lure that you saw on TV and just had to have, so what are you waiting for?

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason that we are able to enjoy all the wonderful freedoms that we enjoy today.