Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn.

January 31, 2000

A gentle wilderness

For several weeks, I have been searching for information and slowly digging through pieces that I have been given or found on the Crow River - all three forks: the north, middle, and south.

Since that effort began, I have also been in search of the right phrase or term that best describes the Crow River environment.

Thomas F. Waters, in his book "Steams and Rivers of Minnesota," describes a 50 or so mile western stretch of the north fork as having the character of gentle wilderness. He also goes on to describe eastern portions of the north fork and much of the south fork as a dull muddy stream. In both cases, Waters has described the river in fair terms.

From my experience of fishing, hunting, canoeing, and exploring much of the south fork, and fishing several locations of the north fork, the description of a gentle wilderness is intriguing and appropriate.

The Crow River's banks and shores are a mixture of woodlands, prairie, small swamps, small town parks and streets, and farmland.

Although I have traveled to several places that are much more wild, scenic, and out of the way when compared to the Crow River, myself and many others still consider the river to be wild.

In our area, and the areas that encompass the Crow River, opportunities of experiencing wilderness and nature without something made by man are few and far between.

When fishing on area lakes, you are surrounded by homes and cabins. In some cases, they take up every available foot of shoreline.

When hunting, you are in the wake of a tractor and plow and in the shadow of farms, country homes, and highways.

In both these cases, especially in Carver, and eastern parts of Wright, and McLeod counties, our needs for development and growth have crunched, squeezed, and purged almost every wild area.

In this mess of development is the Crow River. The river is definitely not untouched by our presence, but it is still wild.

If you get in a canoe or on a snowmobile or pair of skis, you can experience stretches of wilderness and nature where you see nothing else than that wilderness. Heavily wooded banks hide the farms, roads and houses beyond the banks. Sloughs and small pools provide stillness, sanctuaries, and wildlife habitat.

On the river, there are opportunities to experience nature in a wilderness environment. It is not a vast and unchanged wilderness like some areas still provide. As Waters described, it is more of a gentle wilderness.

Moving on, and floating farther down the river, with help from the DNR, I have collected survey and fisheries information on the north and south forks of the river.

In the next few weeks, I will dig into that information and we will take a closer look at each fork of the river.

On a final note this week, many readers and several printed sources confirm the North Fork of the Crow River starts at Grove Lake in Pope County.

Waters writes in the book mentioned above, "Originating in Grove Lake in eastern Pope County, the north fork flows as a very small stream to Lake Koronis, from which the main north fork is considered to start."

DNR snowmobile maps now available electronically

From the DNR

Just in time for the recent cold snap and snowfall hitting the state, Minnesota snowmobilers can now access the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) trail maps on the Internet.

The snowmobile maps are in a format that is easily printed at home in color or black and white.

With electronic versions of the information available, trail users can be assured that they have DNR's most current trail data. This gives snowmobilers a more powerful tool in planning, from their homes, either short trips or long-distance excursions. Also available on line are the DNR's snow depth reports and trail condition reports. When used in tandem with other electronic data, such as food and lodging information through the state's Office of Tourism Web site, winter visitors have available on the Internet all the information they need for trip planning.

This effort complements the volunteer labor contributed by many snowmobilers who have developed and currently manage approximately 16,000 miles of snowmobile trails in Minnesota through the DNR's Grant-in-Aid Program, administered by the DNR Trails and Waterways Unit.

For more information, consult the following Web sites:

DNR snowmobile page: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/trails_and_waterways/snowmobiles.html

DNR trail grant programs: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/omb/financial_assistance/recreation.html

Tourism address: http://www.exploreminnesota.com/

Outdoor notes

  • The Wright County Chapter of Pheasants Forever will have a corn giveaway for pheasants and wildlife Saturday, Feb 12 from 8 to 11 a.m. at Lampi's Auction located at Hwy. 55 and Wright Co. Rd. 6. Bring your own containers. Quantities may be limited due to demand. For more information, call 320-274-CORN (2676).
  • The Howard Lake Sportsmen's Club will host its 54th annual Fishing Derby Saturday, Feb. 12 on Howard Lake. The grand prize in this year's raffle is a deluxe King Crow fish house on wheels.
  • The fishing season for walleye, northern pike, and bass in our area closes Feb. 20.
  • Plan a camping trip to a Minnesota state park this spring.
  • Get out and enjoy the winter.

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