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New legislation could help outfitters, border businesses with economic relief after wildfires

Jan 26, 2022 04:33AM ● By Editor

Watch the WDIO-TV Report here

Outfitters hurt by wildfire closures could get help, thanks to legislation introduced by Rep. Rob Ecklund and Rep. Dave Lislegard.  Photo: Gunflint Lodge

From WDIO-TV - January 25, 2022

During this frigid cold snap, a reminder about the heat of summer, when the fires in the BWCA were raging. DFL lawmakers Rob Ecklund and Dave Lislegard have introduced legislation to help outfitters who were hurt by the closures during the fires.

The proposal calls for a maximum one time grant of up to $50,000. Ecklund, who is from International Falls, said, "Over the years, I've gotten to know the outfitters pretty welll. We've had advocates reach out. And that's how this conversation got started. If there's something available to help them out I'd like to see if we can do that."

He also wants to expand this program to include communities impacted by the border closure due to COVID. "With the Canadian border shut down for so long, we need to do something to help the border communities out."

As for those who help people enjoy the BWCA, they are gearing up for another season. And know the last one was tough for many. "There were definitely outfitters who were impacted, since it's such a seasonal business. And it really essentially cut into the second half of the season," Mindy Fredrikson explained. She and her husband John run Gunflint Lodge and Outfitters.

John added, "I think it would be interesting for a lot of outfitters. I know a lot of them were impacted significantly. Most of them didn't have any other kind of relief from that loss."

The legislative session starts on January 31st. The bill is HF 2811.

To see the original story and read related reports, follow this link to the WDIO-TV website.

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