"If you have the project
money but not the labor, you're in trouble.''
DENNIS ANDERSON, DNR regional fisheries
supervisor at Grand Rapids
Some fisheries projects
and fieldwork may have to be curtailed in Northeastern
Minnesota if a state agency ban on hiring and contracts
remains in effect.
Currently, Minnesota state
agencies cannot hire seasonal or permanent employees
and cannot contract with private parties because of
budget cutbacks. That restriction is hitting some Department
of Natural Resources area fisheries offices hard.
Deserae Hendrickson, the
DNR's area fisheries supervisor at French River, said
she will have to cut back annual lake surveys by one-third
this summer if the hiring ban remains in place. She
said her office had planned to conduct full lake surveys
or more specific surveys on 26 lakes this summer. The
surveys are done every few years to determine the health
of a lake's fish populations.
"There's going to be important
work that doesn't get done,'' said Dennis Anderson,
DNR regional fisheries supervisor at Grand Rapids.
DNR fisheries offices perform
two basic kinds of research -- ongoing annual surveys
of lakes and streams, and special research projects.
The annual surveys are conducted with regular staff,
but many research projects require hiring seasonal or
The DNR is funded primarily
by money from fishing and hunting licenses -- so-called
dedicated funds. Other money comes to the state from
excise taxes anglers and hunters pay on fishing and
In some cases, the department
has money for special projects but cannot hire the people
it needs to conduct them.
"If you have the project
money but not the labor, you're in trouble,'' Anderson
That could be the case
for Don Schreiner, who supervises the DNR's Lake Superior
area fisheries office at French River. He may have to
cut by 25 to 30 percent this summer the number of sampling
sites in a juvenile lake trout survey he takes each
summer, he said.
"We have four full-time
personnel, including myself,'' Schreiner said. "We depend
heavily on seasonal and student workers to assist with
our summer field surveys.''
Some fully staffed area
fisheries offices in Northeastern Minnesota will be
able to do their planned surveys this summer.
"We're sitting OK, I think,''
said Chris Kavanaugh, DNR area fisheries supervisor
at Grand Rapids. "We're lucky in that we don't have
The DNR applied for and
was granted an exemption to hire temporary workers to
help with the spring walleye egg-taking and hatchery
work necessary for stocking efforts, Kavanaugh said.
The French River area fisheries
office is already down one professional staffperson,
Hendrickson said. And longtime assistant area fisheries
supervisor Don Schliep will retire effective Friday.
"We'll have two of our
three professional people gone in our office,'' Hendrickson
said. That leaves her without the crew leaders necessary
to supervise fieldwork, and it also will affect people
seeking information from her office.
"What suffers is our coordination
with other agencies and other groups and our responses
to the public,'' she said. "That will all get slower.
It will have the potential to impact a lot of people.''