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< Does this mean war? | Main | A couple of bloody bills >

How many more weeks of winter?

Posted at 1:28 PM on March 3, 2008 by Michael Marchio

I've often thought that it's a good thing our winters are so long and brutal, because it makes one take the ability to be outdoors a little less for granted than they do in, say, San Diego. For some reason these winters feel like less of a blessing when we're in the middle of them.

The outdoors was on the Senate's mind today too. The Environment and Natural Resources Committee heard SF2943, a bill that would establish certain "Star Lakes" throughout the state.

Sponsored by Sen. Mary Olson,DFL-Bemidji, the bill would hand out the "Star" designation to lakes to reward the work of lake associations that meet a certain criteria, including developing lake management plans, keeping healthy fisheries and keeping pests like Eurasian Watermilfoil and Zebra Mussles out of their lake.

Lakes that become "Stars" would have their distinction marked on road signs, and "could be given priority when applying for help from the DNR and other state environmental organizations."

Another bill heard before the committee, SF2404, sponsored by Sen. Gary Kubly (DFL-Granite Falls) would provide disabled veterans with a free lifetime pass to state parks. A number of states, including Colorado, Oregon, and Washington have similar plans. While a veterans service to their country, especially when they become disabled as a result of that service, really can't ever be repaid, free access to our state parks seems like the very least we could do. I expect this bill will sail through in no time.

Sen. Betsy Wergin (R-Princeton) SF3418, also introduced a bill today that could give people a few extra days to get their ice houses off the lake.

Right now, the half of the state south of the North Dakota border has to remove their ice house by the last day in February. They can be pulled back out for the day, but can't be left on the ice overnight. The northern half of the state has to have their ice houses removed by March 15.

This bill would allow people to have the weekend following that day if it falls on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday before removing the ice house. Seems like a smart proposal. If you're heading out icefishing, pulling your shack off the ice midway through the weekend seems like it would be an unnecessary pain. Bob Collins had a great post about ice-fishing culture recently over at NewsCut, in response to a feature in the New York Times about the MTV Cribs-style ice houses on Mille Lacs. Pretty neat.