Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

Feb. 26, 2001

CROW is great local conservation effort

The Crow River, all three forks, the north, middle and south, hold more value as a natural resource and in recreational opportunities than most people in the area realize or understand.

For me, I understand and am well aware of the recreational opportunities the river provides. Growing up, I spent a big chunk of time on the south fork, exploring, fishing, canoeing, hunting, and just learning about nature.

As an adult, I seem to use it even more - fishing, hunting and as a place to just get away. The river and its wooded banks provide, maybe, the only wild and natural environment left in our area.

Although there are many excellent reasons to conserve and enhance the river, the thought of the river as one of the only wild and natural places left in our area is enough reason for me.

With that in mind, I'm happy to say that an effort to preserve and restore the river is underway, led and organized by the Crow River Organization of Waters.

Before I get into a brief summary of the CROW, I want you to remember what the river was like this past summer and fall. Water levels were low, the current was almost still, and the river was somewhat tranquil.

Silt bars were evident, muddy banks dry, and as the water became even more shallow, more silt and sludge from various types of run creeped to the surface.

Although the water looked clear, the damage we have done to the river was coming to the surface and easy to see. That was this summer and fall.

This spring, as the snow melts, the river will bulge with water, rising several feet or more in just a few days. The banks will change and spill over. The bottom will take a new shape and again, the river will be damaged by too much water and too much junk running into it.

The river will look much different with the high water, and after the water has dropped, it will be different again.

Banks will have washed away, silt will have gathered in new areas, and the lack of water clarity and consistency in the structure of the river will hurt its value as a natural resource, recreational site, and wild environment.

The CROW wants to, and is changing that. The mission statement of the organization is "The Crow River Joint Powers Counties seek to support and facilitate the cooperation of local governments, agriculture communities, businesses and citizens in the preservation and restoration of the Crow River."

The CROW is a joint powers organization of nine counties (Carver, Hennepin, Kandiyohi, McLeod, Meeker, Pope, Renville, Sibley and Wright) with land in the Crow River watershed. The goal, as stated in the mission statement, is to bring all the parties involved together and preserve and restore the river.

The first phase in CROW's efforts was to specifically find out what is wrong with and what is going into the river. The organization is off to a good start and definitely, a good thing happening in conservation today.

In next week's series on local conservation efforts, we'll take a closer look at the Crow River Organization of Waters and how you can get involved.

Outdoor notes

­ Hats off to the Howard Lake Sportsmen's Club putting together another successful fishing derby. Dollars raised at the event are used for local natural resources conservation and enhancement efforts.

­ The Lester Prairie Sportmen's Club will hold it's annual Father/Son-Daughter banquet at Lester Prairie city hall Friday, March 16. Entertainment for the evening will be provided by Mike Lynch of WCCO Radio.

­ For it's local conservation efforts the Mallards Over McLeod Chapter of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association was recently presented with the association's chapter of the year award.

­ Don't forget to purchase your new 2001 Minnesota fishing license. Your 2000 license expires Feb. 28.

­ On good note, the days are getting longer in a big hurry.

­ Last year on March 5, temps were in the high 50s, there was no snow and people were raking their lawns and golfing.

­ The 2001 Minnesota fishing opener is set for Saturday, May 12.

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