DNR exploring partnership with Minnesota Fishing Museum, Hall of Fame and Education Center

Mille Lacs Lake could be new home for DNR fisheries facility and fishing museum complex

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and officials with the nonprofit Minnesota Fishing Museum, Hall of Fame and Education Center are exploring a possible move to bring the museum to the shores of Mille Lacs Lake near a proposed new DNR fisheries facility.

DNR and museum officials announced the partnership today at the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame induction at the Northwest Sportshow.

The DNR is proposing to build a new $3.5 million fisheries facility at Mille Lacs Lake that would include a fisheries management station, fish hatchery and storage. The DNR would be able to more efficiently meet its Mille Lacs management goals and outreach needs with the new facility.

Currently the Minnesota Fishing Museum is located in Little Falls, and the hall of fame is in Baxter. The museum contains the state’s largest collection of Minnesota fishing artifacts, and memorabilia. The hall of fame is dedicated to some of the state’s most innovative anglers. Museum and hall of fame officials are interested in combining the entities under one roof at a site on Mille Lacs Lake and expanding into a modern new 42,000 square-foot building. A proposed new education center would instruct and inform new generations of anglers.

“There are some hurdles to overcome, but this is a natural fit for the DNR and for the museum and hall of fame,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “The two facilities could be a place for anglers to learn about Mille Lacs Lake, the state’s honored fishing heritage and famed anglers, and ultimately become an important tourism draw for the Mille Lacs area.”

“A partnership with the Minnesota DNR not only helps us accomplish our mission of recognizing and preserving Minnesota’s rich fishing heritage, but it would provide the platform to inspire future generations of anglers to enjoy and protect our aquatic natural resources,” said Jeff Doty, president of the Minnesota Fishing Museum, Hall of Fame and Education Center.

The state owns several parcels around Mille Lacs Lake, and the DNR is investigating which might be best suited for a DNR and museum/hall of fame joint campus. The DNR would likely enter into an agreement to lease state land to the museum and hall of fame. The museum and hall of fame would be responsible for raising money for its own building.

The DNR is currently seeking $3.5 million as part of Gov. Mark Dayton’s bonding request to build the fisheries management facility on Mille Lacs. None of the state bonding money would be used for the museum/hall of fame facility.

The museum includes fishing history exhibits, world class taxidermy, artistic painted murals and thousands of artifacts, including boats and motors. Initial studies indicate the Minnesota Fishing Museum, Hall of Fame and Education Center could draw up to 80,000 visitors a year. Its long-term goal is to inspire and educate visitors about all lakes, rivers and watersheds statewide.

The 2016 supplemental budget proposed by Gov. Mark Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith also includes a $300,000 grant for the Mille Lacs Area Tourism Association to market and promote Mille Lacs and to attract new and diversified tourism opportunities to the area.