The Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) has the responsibility of controlling noxious weeds on its right-of-ways. Some of the roadways traverse through Tribal Reservations. The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has expressed concern over the use of herbicides on road right-of-ways within its Reservation boundaries and the loss of culturally significant plants and plant habitats. Mn/DOT has responded to this concern by not using herbicides within the Fond du Lac Reservation boundary.
New populations of invasive plants have presented a need for Mn/DOT and Fond du Lac to work together to attempt to eradicate these invasive plants. Both parties decided to cooperate on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for vegetation management along Mn/DOT roads within the Reservation. The MOU defines the goals and objectives between Mn/DOT and Fond du Lac along three highways within the Reservation boundaries:
Both Fond du Lac and Mn/DOT can see the benefits of using EDRR for finding and eradicating new invasive plants in small populations. In some areas, Fond du Lac may allow Mn/DOT to spray herbicides. There will be many steps taken to ensure that plants sprayed in the area will not be harvested for cultural purposes. If invasive plants are in an area where herbicide application is not an option, Mn/DOT and Fond du Lac will work together to mechanically remove the plant.
The MOU for 2009 will be a one year agreement and the cooperating agencies will meet after the growing season to see how the MOU worked and what changes can be made. The MOU with Fond du Lac will be a template for future MOUs between Mn/DOT and each of the remaining Tribes in Minnesota.