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DNR fees are going up. Here's how some outdoorspeople are responding

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Itasca State Park
State park entrance permits will increase $2 for a daily pass and $10 for an annual pass under new DNR fee hikes. Here, the Mississippi River headwaters at Itasca State Park.
Courtesy of the DNR

Hunting, fishing and riding a four-wheeler will cost a bit more in the environment and natural resources budget bill awaiting a signature from DFL Gov. Mark Dayton. 

  The fee hikes will generate $23 million in funding for the Department of Natural Resources. Some GOP leaders opposed the increases, but they still passed in the final version of the budget.  

Earlier in the budget process, DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said the fee hikes are necessary to keep parks open, trails maintained and wildlife management programs effective.  

He also said that most people who take advantage of Minnesota's great outdoors won't mind paying a little more.

  As the bill was on its way to Dayton, Carl Seemann of Bemidji was out looking to trade in an ATV he was unhappy with for a new model.  He will have to pay $15 more to register a new ATV. 

Carl Seemann talks with salesman John Frank at Bemidji Sports Center.
Carl Seemann talks with salesman John Frank at Bemidji Sports Center on May 22, 2017.
John Enger | MPR News

  "I don't think it's objectionably high," he said. "If they can buy these expensive machines, let them pay for the privilege of someone making those trails."  

ATV and snowmobile registrations are part of a long list of tag and license fees that will increase under Minnesota's new budget.

Resident angling fees will rise by $3 each, deer hunting licenses by $4. State park entrance permits will increase $2 for a daily pass and $10 for an annual pass.

  At Lake Bemidji, Jerry Thompson put his boat in the water. He said thinks the DNR doesn't get nearly enough funding.

"Three dollars is pretty minimal," he said. "I don't know why they won't increase it by at least that much. If they're going to pass an increase they might as well do a legitimate increase."

He hoped they'd raise the license fee by $10, but most anglers probably don't agree. 

Rick Carlson pulls his boat from Lake Bemidji.
Rick Carlson pulls his boat from Lake Bemidji on May 23, 2017. He's not happy about the $3 increase to fishing licenses, but said it won't stop him from getting out on the water.
John Enger | MPR News

At the same dock, Rick Carlson said he's not happy about the fee hikes, but there's not a lot he can do about it.  

"No matter what the price we'll just keeping doing it," he said. "What else is there to do? It's what the sportsman does. He pays the money."

Sportspeople also complain, said Ed Bergum, a lifelong hunter and angles who runs a gunsmithing shop outside Bemidji — That's just part of the culture. 

Ed Bergum tinkers on a pump act .22 rifle.
Ed Bergum tinkers on a pump act .22 rifle in his shop.
John Enger | MPR News 2014

Bergum is around a lot of other hunters in the weeks leading up to deer season. He said they're always complaining about something. There's never enough deer. Or hunting land. Or vacation days. 

"I'm sure I'm going to hear complaints," Bergum said. "Someone's going to complain no matter what."