Legislature's environmental 'to do' list starts with Asian carp

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The list of environmental and outdoors issues to be tackled at the Minnesota Capitol this year is topped by some big-eating, high-jumping invaders from the south.

A DNR proposal to erect a barrier aimed at stopping the spread of invasive Asian carp up the Mississippi River will be a priority. But the Associated Press reports a handful of other questions will also get attention from lawmakers.

The DNR's Asian carp plan would use a system of bubbles, sound, and lights to discourage the fish from venturing into the locks at the Ford Dam in St. Paul. Getting past that point would give the carp unobstructed access as far as downtown Minneapolis, where the river's northernmost lock and dam sits at St. Anthony Falls. The invasive species of carp are a threat to Minnesota's sport fishing industry because they tend to wipe out the food supply that sustains native fish.

Other issues that may come up during the new legislative session include hunting and mining. Specifically, lawmakers may revisit the wolf hunting season. Minnesota's recently concluded hunting season was the state's first since the gray wolf came off the endangered species list. There are also questions about whether the state should have a moose hunting season, given the mysterious and rapid decline in the state's moose numbers.

As for mining, expect moves to tighten regulations affecting planned copper and nickel mining in northeastern Minnesota and frac sand mining in the southeast.

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