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Endangered Species Law - Right-of-Way Exemption Guidance or Policy Document


After several e-mails and a telephone conversation with DNR's Dr. Ann Pierce (Manager of Rare Resources Program), it was time to take our next step and file a Government Data Practices Act request.

Hi Ann,


Thank you for your update last Friday (Sept. 18) on the DNR’s progress in issuing a guidance or policy document, interpreting the provisions of the 2019 amendment to the Minnesota endangered species law. You stated that this document is being reviewed by DNR legal counsel, with no certainty when the document will receive final approval and implementation.


As you know, the 2019 amendment expands the scope of the public road right-of-way exemption that would otherwise protect endangered plants under the Minnesota endangered species law (Minn. Stat. 84.0895, Subd. 2).  I have attached our May 15, 2019 letter that explains the problems with the 2019 amendment.  


This amendment was signed by the Governor on May 30, 2019.  (2019 – First Special Session, Chapter 4, Article 3, Section 13.)  Two growing seasons have transpired without a guidance or policy document that could have provided the most protective interpretation of this exemption. Instead, road authorities are allowed to interpret the statute on their own.  


We look forward to obtaining the guidance or policy document at the earliest possible date.  To ensure that the DNR gives this high priority, our board has no choice other than to file a Government Data Practices Act request. (For your convenience, I have attached a copy of this form, also e-mailed separately to the Data Practices Compliance Official.)


As Friends of Minnesota SNAs have advocated since 2019, the best possible legal result is a complete repeal of the public right-of-way exemption and repeal of the “ignorance” exemption to Minnesota’s endangered species law. (See first attachment.) The DNR Natural Heritage Advisory Committee (NHAC) has also advocated for the repeal of these statutes. (See second attachment.)  We look forward to working with you and other DNR staff to achieve this result in the 2021 Legislative Session.


Thank you.


Best Wishes,




P.S. – Please acknowledge receipt of this e-mail.  Thank you. 


Thomas E. Casey, Board Chair

Friends of Minnesota Scientific and Natural Areas

A Minnesota Non-Profit, Tax-Exempt Corporation


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