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Trout stream plan aims to continue positive trend


Fri, Sep 5th, 2003
Posted in Features

Anglers will find more large trout on their lines if a new 12-year fisheries plan for southeastern Minnesota streams achieves its goals.

The plan, prepared by the Department of Natural Resources, aims to improve stream quality, scientific knowledge and trout populations by working within and beyond the banks of the stream, according to Ron Payer, director of the DNR Fisheries Division.

“Southeast Minnesota’s trout populations have been on an upward trend for many years,” Payer said. “Our new strategic plan aims to further improve a high quality fishery through habitat improvement, innovative angling regulations and a commitment from citizens who can to make a difference.”

Payer noted that the plan reflects input from anglers, landowners and others who have attended a series of public meetings in recent months.

“One strategy we are particularly excited about is called the three-tier system,” Payer said. “Under this proposal, streams or sections of streams would be classified in one of three ways: total catch-and-release, protected slot of 12 to 16 inches, or standard statewide regulation.”

The goal is to provide anglers with options suited to their style of fishing while simultaneously applying scientific principles that may increase the number of trout 15 inches or larger. The three-tier system has the support of Trout Unlimited and the Minnesota Trout Association. It could be implemented in 2005 following public input meetings in 2004.

The DNR’s new plan includes 40 strategies. They range from broad private-public partnerships to specific guidelines for the use of hatchery-raised trout. A key goal is to meet the needs of as many anglers as possible.

Mark Heywood, DNR fisheries manager at Rochester, said staff will begin implementing the plan in 2004.

“Thanks to public input, we have defined what needs to be accomplished between now and 2015,” Heywood said. “The next step is to finish an operational plan – who needs to do what – to convert this collective vision into action.”

The operational plan will be released this autumn, Heywood said. Meanwhile, the DNR will continue to solicit opinions and suggestions from the public.

“The quality of our streams always will be a reflection of the land use around them,” Heywood said. “Realistically, the success of our plan will be linked to the level of cooperation and enthusiasm put forward by citizens, landowners, anglers and governmental entities empowered with conservation responsibilities.”

Copies of the plan, called the “Strategic Plan for Coldwater Resources Management in Southeast Minnesota,” are available on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Anglers who have specific questions about the three-tier angling regulation system should contact DNR fisheries offices at Lake City, Lanesboro or Rochester.

Source: Minnesota DNR

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