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Governor appoints Brainerd man to wild rice council

Gov. Mark Dayton announced his appointments to the Governor's Task Force on Wild Rice.

Among those appointed was Gary Drotts of Brainerd, who will serve as a non-native wild rice harvester on the task force. The terms for all those appoint begins Wednesday, Sept. 12, and will continue through April 7, 2019.

Established in June 2018 through Executive Orders 18-08 and 18-09, the task force will work toward the restoration and protection of wild rice habitats to preserve the cultural, environmental and economic interests many Minnesotans have for this complex issue.

"Wild rice is vitally important to many Minnesotans and, especially, to our state's Native Americans," stated Dayton in a news release. "We must find a sustainable solution that will protect both wild rice and its waters and economic growth and jobs. I thank the members of this task force for their efforts to find a solution that benefits all Minnesotans."

The task force is comprised of representatives from tribal nations, industry, environmental advocacy groups, scientists, state government agencies and other stakeholders.

Over the coming months, the task force will work to review existing peer-reviewed scientific literature and existing wild rice conditions. The task force will also help develop recommendations on funding for additional data collection, best management practices for protecting and restoring wild rice, sulfate minimization plans and the development and installation of cost-effective sulfate treatment technologies.

By Dec. 15, the Governor's Task Force on Wild Rice will recommend specific policy proposals and actions that can be taken by the executive and legislative branches of state government and the private sector to protect wild rice in Minnesota, while supporting continued economic development and job creation across the state.

Also appointed to the task force: Kurt Anderson of Brookston, electric utility representative; Paul Austin of Minneapolis, environmental nongovernmental organization representative; Chrissy Bartovich of Mountain Iron, ferrous mining industry representative; Leya Charles of Welch, Minnesota Dakota tribal representative; Kathryn Hoffman of St. Paul, environmental nongovernmental organization representative; Emi Ito of St. Paul, independent scientist with expertise in wild rice research, plant-based aquatic toxicity; Peter Lee of Kakabeka Falls, Ontario, Canada, independent scientist with expertise in wild rice research, plant-based aquatic toxicity; Norman Miranda of Deer River, municipal wastewater discharger representative; Brad Moore of Mahtomedi, non-ferrous mining industry representative; Al Pemberton of Red Lake; Red Lake Nation representative; and John Rebrovich of Eveleth, statewide labor organization representative.

Ex-officio members of the task force are Ann Pierce with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Catherine Neuschler with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.