Gov. Walz visits hatchery, highlights budget plans

Gov. Walz Visits a Hatchery in St. Paul
Gov. Walz Visits a Hatchery in St. Paul(Quinn Gorham)
Published: May. 1, 2023 at 6:07 PM CDT
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (GRAY) - Monday, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz visited a 129-year-old fish hatchery in the St. Paul area, hoping to see how his proposed funding could make a meaningful difference statewide.

“We can’t put our fisheries at risk. We can’t put the ability to make this generational investment and that’s why we think right now is the time to do that,” said the governor. The St. Paul fishery, operated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, is running on old and outdated equipment.

“The newest equipment back there [in the hatchery] will date to 1989. So most of it is at least 30 years old,” said Genevieve Furtner, St. Paul State Fish Hatchery Lead with the Minnesota DNR.

The Walz administration hopes a big investment in their 2023 budget proposal will help support those hatcheries around the state.

“We have an ask as part of our ‘Get Out MORE’ program to support these hatcheries with $60 million, as well as to support the places where Minnesotans fish,” said Sarah Strommen, Commissioner of the Minnesota DNR.

The Governor’s $60 million proposal is split into one-time money and ongoing money in the form of fees and bonding dollars. While one-time money available in the budget surplus can be used to create new infrastructure, the ongoing money will hep with upkeep on those items.

“We need [funding] beyond the availability of one-time funds. We could modernize a boat ramp, [but] if we don’t have staff... then that experience is diminished,” Strommen said.

Walz expressed a need to invest in the state’s hatcheries, which provide anglers around the state with fish to catch each season.

“Especially with the DNR and[Department of] Transportation, we’ve got a generational need that we’re trying to put into place. That’s where the arguments are not wrong. We shouldn’t use as much as that one-time money on some of these capital things that we can do,” Walz said.

The final dollar amount available for hatcheries in this year’s budget will be decided via a conference committee for the Agriculture, Broadband, and Rural Development Bill, and then head to the governor to be signed.

There are just over three weeks for budget items to be finalized before the Legislative Session officially adjourns.