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Water, Wetlands, and Wildlife

Minnesota: Vegetation Management Memorandum of Understanding between Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Map showing location of Fond du Lac Reservation in Minnesota
Location of Fond du Lac Reservation in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) is responsible for managing vegetation, including invasive species control, along highway rights-of-way (ROW). In cases where highways pass through tribal reservations, tribal leaders may object to the use of herbicides. The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa expressed concern to Mn/DOT regarding the use of herbicides and the loss of culturally significant plants and plant habitats as a result of maintenance actions. Mn/DOT responded by agreeing not to use herbicides within the Fond du Lac Reservation boundaries.

Recently, new populations of invasive plants have been found within the Mn/DOT ROW within reservation boundaries, presenting a new need for Mn/DOT and the Fond du Lac Band to work together to solve the problem. Both parties agreed to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to define the goals and responsibilities between Mn/DOT and the Fond du Lac Band along three highways within the reservation.

Utilizing the Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) technique, Mn/DOT and the Fond du Lac Band can quickly eradicate new invasive populations before they become well established. In some cases, the Fond du Lac Band will allow the use of targeted applications of herbicides on invasive plants, as long as Mn/DOT takes measures to ensure that key plants that are harvested for cultural purposes will not be sprayed in the process and that timely notification is given to inform Tribal members of the spraying. If a new invasive species appears in an area where the application of herbicides would damage culturally important plants, Mn/DOT and the Fond du Lac Band will work together to mechanically remove the plant(s). The MOU also addresses improved communications and data sharing between the agencies.

The MOU for 2009 signed by Mn/DOT and the Fond du Lac Band is a 1-year agreement that can be renewed and revised based on lessons learned during the first year. Mn/DOT believes that the MOU with the Fond du Lac Band will be a template for future MOUs between MnDOT and each of the remaining tribes in Minnesota.

For more information contact Tina Markeson at tina.markeson@state.mn.us or Nancy Schuldt at NancySchuldt@fdlrez.com.

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