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Public Weighs in on Trout Stream Proposals

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Public Weighs in on Trout Stream Proposals

Nearly 600 comments have been received from individuals interested in proposed trout stream management changes in southeast Minnesota, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The opinions were solicited during a series of seven public open houses and through letters and e-mail this summer, said Jason Moeckel, DNR Southern Region Assistant Fisheries Manager at Rochester. The final open house was held Sept. 2.

"We have been very pleased with both the level of discussion and the interest demonstrated," Moeckel stated. "It's been very helpful." Proposed changes on trout stream management range from additional slot limits to more catch and release and restrictions on live bait along certain stream segments. The proposals are part of DNR's strategic plan for coldwater resource management in the southeast that was made public in August of 2003. The plan was formulated after extensive public input. The ultimate goal of the strategic plan is to work in partnership with individuals and local communities to protect and enhance trout streams in southeast Minnesota. Key tools include habitat improvement and regulations that are intended to improve the abundance and catch rate of larger trout and provide more variety in trout angling opportunities, Moeckel explained. "We wanted to give people ample opportunity to react to the proposals before any final decisions are made," Moeckel said. Written comments will continue to be taken until Sept. 30. The DNR plans to announce the final management plan in November. Moeckel said the open house format was "really appreciated by those who attended. It allowed for extensive one to one and small group discussions and also provided us with a lot of good ideas and thoughts that will be helpful as we put the final package together." There has been a "real mix of opinions" on the proposals, Moeckel said. "There is a segment that is very strongly opposed to additional catch and release or live bait restrictions. At the same time there is a segment that is highly supportive of these management tools. The large majority of comments, however, are somewhere in the middle." Moeckel said an obvious concern of many respondents is live bait fishing restrictions that could affect kids. "We've received a large number of comments urging us to make sure kids continue to have ample opportunities to fish with live bait and we're going to work hard on that," Moeckel said. Another significant area of interest concerns which stream segments might eventually be designated for catch and release or live bait restrictions.

"Most anglers support the idea of improved fishing and understand the benefits of restricting harvest and hooking mortality," Moeckel stated. "For many anglers the concern has to do with where and how those restrictions are applied. We'll do the best we can to satisfy the majority of anglers in this regard while also deriving as much benefit as possible." Written comments on the proposals can be sent to Moeckel at 2300 Silver Creek Rd. NE, Rochester, 55906, or, [email protected]

For additional information, contact: Jason Moeckel, DNR Southern Region Assistant Fisheries Manager, Rochester (507-280-5063).

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