Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

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

July 31, 2000

How about that light show?

The cloud to cloud lightning in the southern sky and the length of time it lasted were completely amazing.

As severe thunderstorms pushed through our area Tuesday evening, July 25, Mother Nature displayed a light and fireworks show that was completely brilliant, amazing and, I'm sure, dangerous for those in it's path.

In Lester Prairie, a very dark storm front passed to the north around 8 p.m. Then, just after it turned dark, another storm front passed just to the south. As the front passed, the tail end of it began exploding with an array of cloud to cloud lightning that was like nothing I had ever seen before.

Being an outdoor and nature lover, plus having a long history of storm watching as a kid from my family's dairy barn, I had to get a better look.

Minutes later, my daughter and I were in the truck headed for the south edge of town, near Lester Prairie's city park. There, with an excellent view of the southern sky, we watched in total wonder.

My daughter, who is just a few months passed her second birthday, was thrilled. She thought we were watching another Fourth of July fireworks show and was wondering where all the other people were.

As the storm tracked off to the southeast, we watched the show for more than a half-hour. During that half-hour, the intensity of lightning was dramatic and never eased.

Watching and having our faces light up from the flashes, I tried to explain storms, clouds and lightning to my daughter. At the age of two, it was a little difficult. But, when we got home she told her Mom we were watching God's fireworks.

I hope she never forgets it.

I was born in 1966. In 1965 a tornado passed just west of our dairy farm, leaving a path of devastation that included the total destruction of a country school and church that were just up the hill from the farm.

Growing up, stories of the '65 tornado were common, especially during spring storms, and I can still remember picking up an occasional gravestone off a field while picking rocks.

Those stories forced me to take a position on top of the hill above the milkhouse every time a severe storm was rolling in from the southwest. Our storm shelter was in the milkhouse, so my Dad was usually on the hill with me, ready to head in if things got too bad. According to stories, he watched the '65 tornado from underneath an Allis Chalmers WD 45.

Watching those storms in awe as a kid, helped develop my love, passion and respect of nature. When I think about it, the sight of a silage box rolling and tipping across the yard stands out. I'm glad no one I know ever got hurt, and I can imagine nothing more powerful and awesome than nature.

If storms and the destruction they can cause teach us anything, it is respect.

Fireworks on Tuesday evening reconfirmed my respect and, hopefully, set my daughter on the right path.

Public accesses becoming a dumping ground

From Tom Conroy

Dept. of Natural Resources

Tim Jenniges cruises into the parking lot of a public water access in his pick-up truck. Two men have just come off the lake and are parked off to the side of the lot. They're wandering about, peering inside the boat, fiddling with the tie-downs, looking around.

Jenniges drives over and pulls up alongside the men. After checking their fishing licenses and evening's catch, Jenniges thanks them for their time and leaves. After 18 years as a DNR conservation officer, however, Jenniges has something of a sixth sense for smelling fishy situations.

On nothing more than a hunch, Jenniges returns thirty minutes later. His suspicion was right. On the ground, near where the men were parked lies a pile of garbage: empty cans, plastic wrapping, fishing line. Jenniges picks up the garbage, puts it into a plastic bag and places it in the bed of his truck. It's hardly the first time he's hauled out garbage from public land.

"I think my kids are more disgusted with people like that than I am," Jenniges said.

"It's the kids' job to clean out the back of my truck and sort the garbage for re-cycling when I get home."

Trash discarded at public water accesses and other public lands is becoming a bigger and bigger problem.

"I don't understand why it doesn't seem to bother some people to dump garbage at an access site or along a road," Jenniges said. "For whatever reason, it's happening more often, especially at public water access sites. It's really kind of depressing."

Jenniges added that anglers who discard monofilament fishing line "are in some ways even more guilty than those who dump cans and other garbage. That line is really bad news for birds."

Jenniges noted that anglers fishing from shore seem to litter more often than those fishing from boats. "And then, there are those who aren't fishing at all. They just pull into an access site to look around or whatever and then dump their garbage before they leave," Jenniges said.

Jenniges is handcuffed to some extent in trying to catch such people. "If I don't actually see them do it, it's hard to make a case. But I don't have time to sit at public water access sites all day waiting for someone to litter."

Dave Wolff, DNR Trails and Waterways Supervisor at New Ulm, said the DNR used to place garbage cans at public accesses. "It actually made the problem worse," Wolff said. "You'd have people driving by who'd see the cans and pull over and dump whatever junk they had with them. And people who lived in the area would drive over and drop off garbage. The cans would be over-flowing on an almost daily basis and we were spending a lot of time just hauling out garbage."

One time, Wolff said, he came upon several people in a car at an access site who seemed to be doing nothing more than enjoying the scenery. "But when I came back later, I found a big pile of dirty diapers laying there," Wolff said. "The people of Minnesota pay for these public water sites and we really make an effort to take care of them and keep them looking nice. But when people do things like dump dirty diapers on them, well, it makes you wonder about people."

Bruce Eliason, manager at Lake Shetek State Park, said he has also noticed an increase in the problem. "We have a carry in, carry out policy at state parks, but there seems to be more abuse of that policy recently. Sometimes, it just boggles your mind the way people throw stuff on the ground and then, just walk away."

On several occasions, Jenniges has confronted people who left garbage behind. "I'll ask them, 'How would you like it if I came along and threw a bunch of empty cans and trash on your front yard?' You wouldn't believe how indignant they get!"

The problem became particularly vexing to Jenniges after DNR funding shortfalls forced the DNR Division of Enforcement to leave some CO stations open and cut back on the miles officers were allotted for patrol. However, recent appropriations from the legislature will allow DNR Enforcement to fill some vacant stations and increase mileage in some cases.

"With the funding help the legislature provided us, we'll be able to do a better job enforcing the laws the people of Minnesota want us to enforce," Jenniges said. "I just wish it wasn't necessary to expend so much time and energy on litterbug patrol."

So do his kids.

Outdoor notes:

  • Plan now for your fall hunting trips. This column includes a listing of Minnesota's opening dates for fall hunting seasons.
  • The opening date for the early Canada goose season in only about a month away.
  • In the past week, I've seen a good number of young pheasant broods, and because of poor nesting weather in other parts of our state's pheasant range, our area could provide some of the best hunting this fall.
  • I haven't received anymore reports of black bear sightings in our area.
  • Raccoon numbers seem to be at very high levels with raccoon sightings from area farmers very common and numbers seen on the roads also very high.
  • According to reports from local anglers, fishing on our area lakes has slowed a bit, but continues to be good. Sunfish are hitting on Minnetonka and Clearwater and the largemouth bass action on several lakes as been good. In next week's column, we'll get some more indepth fishing reports and find out what the action may be like in August.
  • Take a kid fishing-you will have fun and so will they.

Outdoors Columns Menu

Outdoors: Home | Honor Roll | Library | Links

Howard Lake-Waverly Herald & Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal
Stories | Columns | Classifieds | Obituaries
Community Guides | Special Topics | Cool Stuff | Search | Home Page