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Local projects featured in Dayton's bonding proposal

Several Brainerd Lakes area projects featured prominently in Gov. Mark Dayton's bonding proposal unveiled Friday, including the Mille Lacs Lake fishery and the training facility at Camp Ripley.

Several Brainerd Lakes area projects featured prominently in Gov. Mark Dayton's bonding proposal unveiled Friday, including the Mille Lacs Lake fishery and the training facility at Camp Ripley.

Dayton recommended $3.5 million to construct a new Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Management Station on Mille Lacs Lake, in response to the declining walleye population there. The plight of the popular game fish in the lake has spawned controversy over the DNR's handling of the population and the decision by the state to close the summer fishing season early, in August of last year.

Dayton said in a phone press conference Friday that he still hoped the Legislature would approve the request, despite its prior refusal of the idea for a special session to approve a financial aid package for local resorts and other businesses affected by the season shutdown.

"The special session had its own considerations," Dayton said. "This is an investment for the future. We know that we cannot take the walleye population of Mille Lacs for granted."

The new facility is essential if Minnesota is to restore the walleye in Mille Lacs and keep them going in the years to come, Dayton added.

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"We need this fishery," he said. "I hope (the Legislature) will support it."

In addition to the proposed multimillion-dollar Mille Lacs facility, $100,000 is set aside for the DNR fish hatchery in Brainerd and $125,000 in Park Rapids.

Dayton's proposal also allocated more than $3.5 million to build an oil train derailment response training facility at the National Guard's base at Camp Ripley.

Legislators from the Minnesota House of Representatives' Bonding Committee visited Camp Ripley in August to hear officials from the Minnesota Department of Military affairs and the National Guard base make their pitch for state bond money.

The potential oil disaster training facility could be added onto the existing Combined Arms Collective Training Facility, essentially a mock city the guard and other state agencies use for training missions.

The oil disaster simulator would include railroad track and railcars, as well as pipes to mimic fuel pipelines, officials said. It would also be specially designed with a concrete pad to keep the harmful chemicals used to simulate leaks from polluting the surrounding landscape.

ZACH KAYSER may be reached at 218-855-5860 or Zach.Kayser@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ZWKayser .

Related Topics: CAMP RIPLEY
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