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DNR to appeal Bde Maka Ska ruling

The state Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the former Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Tom Landwehr "exceeded his authority" in 2018 when he changed the name of Lake Calhoun, which had existed for more than 40 years, to Bde Maka Ska.

MINNEAPOLIS — The battle over what to call a popular Minneapolis lake will wage for another round, after the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced Wednesday the agency will appeal Monday's Bde Maka Ska decision.  

DNR officials say a petition will be submitted with the Minnesota Supreme Court by the May 29 deadline. The state Court of Appeals ruled that the former Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Tom Landwehr "exceeded his authority" in 2018 when he changed the name of Lake Calhoun, which had existed for more than 40 years, to Bde Maka Ska.

RELATED: Mayor, Park Board push back on ruling changing Bde Maka Ska to Lake Calhoun

In announcing the appeal DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen expressed worry over the precedents Monday's court decision could be set. 

“DNR is very concerned with the implications of the Appeals Court’s ruling for our ability to work with county boards to reflect community standards in how the state’s waters are named. We have long worked with counties in eliminating offensive or derogatory names," Strommen stated. 

“We are also concerned with another aspect of the Appeals Court’s decision. Specifically, it opens the door for people to challenge a range of final agency decisions well after established appeals periods. This presents the potential for considerable disruption in the normal order of government decision making.”

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The name of Lake Calhoun was changed due to mounting concerns over the man it was named after, U.S. Vice President John Calhoun, who was a staunch defender of slavery. The DNR based its approval of the name change on the longstanding understanding of its authority under state statute, the fact that Bde Maka Ska meets all state naming criteria, and that Hennepin County met all public process and other procedural requirements in asking DNR to approve the name change.