Cravaack: Return Mille Lacs Lake to Minnesotans

At Nitti’s Hunters Point Resort on Mille Lacs Lake, U.S. Representative Chip Cravaack (MN) announced May 12 he will introduce The Mille Lacs Lake Freedom to Fish Act. Specifically, this legislation regards Minnesota’s state sovereignty, job creation, cutting federal red tape, and strengthening Minnesota’s outdoor fishing tradition.

Citing a 30-year old analysis, the U.S. Coast Guard has assumed federal authority over certain activities on Mille Lacs Lake. Currently, the U.S. Coast Guard is forcing all fishing guides, mostly college students, to spend time and money to obtain a federal boating license to bring fishermen out on Mille Lacs Lake. This license and associated costs put fishing guides on the hook for over $2,000.

In March 2010, the U.S. Coast Guard ruled that Mille Lacs Lake was a federally navigable body of water, based on historical interstate commerce.

Specifically, the Coast Guard justified its overreach by using a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ruling, which maintains that because fur traders and lumberjacks utilized the Lake and the Rum River in the 1700s and 1800s, the lake is deemed a federally navigable water body.

The Rum River is currently dammed at Anoka, and the last log floated on the Lake was in 1904.

“The bottom line is the cost the federal government is imposing on obtaining the TWIC license for maritime workers and the six-pack certification for captains,” said George Nitti, Owner of Nitti’s Hunters Point Resort. “Less control from the federal government on Mille Lacs Lake is a good thing.  By federalizing the licensing process, jobs are being taken away. Although I have a Masters License, at my age I’m doubtful I could obtain the licensing due to the cost of the coursework.”