DNR Commissioner: Clause on Mille Lacs Agreement 'An Oversight'

August 30, 2017 10:57 AM

Responding to sharp criticism following a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS story about a private agreement covering the next three years of walleye harvests on Mille Lacs Lake, DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said the privacy clause was "an oversight."

RELATED: 3-year Walleye Deal on Mille Lacs Angers Some Resort Owners

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At the top of the agreement, which was signed last April by Native American tribes and the DNR, a clause reads: "This document is subject to attorney-client privilege and protected from disclosure." 

It also states it cannot be released publicly "without the express written permission of the Governor, (DNR) Commissoner, and/or Deputy Commissioner," and it concludes with a statement that the memorandum "should not be included in any files which may be requested by private parties."

Commissioner Landwehr said that clause should have been removed from the agreement once it was signed by the DNR and the tribes.

"This might sound lame, but it was an oversight and it should have been taken off the document," Landwehr said. "Once it is signed, it is considered a public document, and it is a public document," he said.

Landwehr said the contents of the agreement, which establish limits on Walleye poundage from Mille Lacs, were discussed publicly and that the details are nothing new.

"The Mille Lacs Fishing Advisory Committee was included in the things that are in the agreement, but when we are negotiating with the tribes as required by treaty law, the talks remain private until the deal is signed," Landwehr said.

But the chair of the Minnesota House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, said he is not happy about the privacy of the agreement.

"It does not pass the smell test to me, and when I asked the DNR why they did not release the agreement to the public, they gave me a blank stare," Fabian said. 

Fabian has not yet decided if he will ask DNR Commissioner Landwehr to testify before his committee on the issue.

"I want to talk with the lawmakers who represent that area first and find out from them how they would like to proceed before I make any decisions," Fabian said. 

Credits

Jay Kolls

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