Legislators Visit Minnesota’s NW Angle
Jul 16th, 2021 by Keith Worrall
Modified Jul 16th, 2021 at 10:16 AM
Last week, a group of legislators rallied together and journeyed up to the NW Angle. It has been well documented, with the U.S. / Canada border has been closed to non-essential travel since March, 2020. Resorts, businesses, and guides have been cut off from their customers and the revenue needed to keep their businesses alive. Cabin owners have been cut off from enjoying and simply maintaining their cabins. Visitors have been cut off from visiting their “happy place”, for many, decades long traditions.
The group consisted of U.S. Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach along with David FitzSimmons, Chief of Staff to Congresswoman Fischbach, Ben Anderson, District Director for Congresswoman Fischbach, State Senator Paul Utke, State Representative Matt Grossell along with Lake of the Woods Tourism Director Joe Henry.
The group started on the south end of the lake having a welcome dinner at Sportsman’s Lodge. The next morning, Henry drove the group 42 miles across Lake of the Woods via the Lake of the Woods Passenger Service, a charter boat shuttle service to Angle resorts. There, they visited Sunset Lodge and Flag Island Resort.
That afternoon at Flag Island Resort, a community meeting took place. The meeting was well attended by resort and business owners, cabin owners and a few visitors to the Angle.
It just wouldn’t be right to visit the NW Angle without fishing! The group, guided by Lance Sage and Forrest Huset, had the chance for just a couple of hours, to experience some good walleye fishing. The group jigged and pulled spinners, easily catching enough fish for a hearty shore lunch.
After the guides cleaned the fish, Paul Colson of Jake’s NW Angle set up and prepared a delicious meal for the group. Fish tacos with the fresh walleye in a freshly fried tortilla, mango salsa, special white sauce, cheesy corn, coleslaw. It was absolutely amazing.
The next morning, the group met with the teacher of the Angle Inlet school, Linda LaMie, parents and students. Over the past year, students from the Angle Inlet school had written letters to all three legislators expressing how they were isolated, couldn’t see their grandparents, discussing how business was slim to none, etc. The legislators were touched by the letters and Senator Utke even used quotes while discussing the Angle on the Senate floor.
After viewing areas for a possible NW Angle airport, the majority of the group boarded one of Lake Country Air’s float planes for a different perspective on the way back to the south shore. Henry and Representative Grossell took the boat back across.
Upon arriving on the south shore, the group stepped into a meeting at Ballard’s Resort with the Lake of the Woods Tourism board along with County Commissioners Ed Arnesen and Jon Waibel. The conversation shifted to various topics affecting local businesses, residents, etc.
It was only a couple of nights, but much was accomplished.
We appreciate the support of all legislators standing up for a small part of America that has seen unprecedented challenges during the past 14 months. Please see the press release from Congresswoman Fischbach below.
July 12, 2021 Press Release
Rep. Fischbach Visits Minnesota’s Northwest Angle
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach (MN-07) led a delegation to Minnesota’s Northwest Angle last week to call attention to the continued closure of the border between the United States and Canada and visit with affected business owners, workers, and residents. The delegation included State Senator Paul Utke (District 2), State Representative Matt Grossell (District 2A), David FitzSimmons, Chief of Staff to Congresswoman Fischbach, and Ben Anderson, District Director for Congresswoman Fischbach.
“For a region that relies so heavily on cross-border travel and tourism, the indefinite border closure has been devastating. We visited with many resort owners, workers, cabin owners, and Angle residents who simply want to resume doing what they love, but they need the government to act,” said Congresswoman Fischbach. “One resort owner told us they typically have 80 boats at their docks at this point of the summer. This year, they are happy with 20 boats at their docks. They are understandably frustrated and anxious, and they need certainty.”
“This has been an extremely challenging time for our region, and we appreciate Congresswoman Fischbach’s visit and assistance. Resorts and businesses up at the Angle are in their second summer with little to no business since the border closure has cut off customers from driving up. There needs to be action,” said Joe Henry, Executive Director of Lake of the Woods Tourism. “We want to see a safe and practical end to these restrictions so people will come and enjoy our incredible part of the country once again.”
The delegation made stops at Sportsman’s Lodge on the Rainy River, Sunset Lodge on Oak Island, Flag Island Resort on Flag Island, and Young’s Bay Resort and Angle Inlet Elementary School in Angle Inlet. The delegation also participated in a meeting at Ballard’s Resort on the Rainy River with the Lake of the Woods Tourism Board of Directors and Lake of the Woods County Commissioners Ed Arnesen and Jon Waibel.
Minnesota’s Northwest Angle, a functional exclave, is the only portion of the contiguous United States located above the 49th parallel. It is geographically separated from the rest of the state by Lake of the Woods and is accessible by land only through a remote Canadian highway. Due to COVID-19 restrictions by the United States and Canadian governments, the border has remained closed to non-essential travel since March 21, 2020. The current restrictions are set to expire on July 21, 2021.
Since taking office in January, Congresswoman Fischbach has led the call to end the punitive border restrictions. She and her staff have held more than a dozen meetings with elected officials from both governments, community members, and business owners. In April, she and Congressman Pete Stauber (MN-08) held a roundtable meeting with two members of the Canadian Parliament to discuss the impacts of the border closure. Congresswoman Fischbach also introduced the Assistance Needed for Great Losses Experienced in Isolated Northern Lakes Economic Territory Act, known as the ANGLE Act, to create a forgivable loan program for “remote recreational businesses” impacted by the border closure, as well as legislation to create an international travel corridor for individuals seeking to visit areas like the Northwest Angle.
Michelle Fischbach is a wife, mom, grandma, attorney, and the U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s Seventh Congressional District. Get updates from Rep. Fischbach’s congressional office on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.