Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

March 5, 2001

Better times ahead for the Crow River

Ever open up one of the regional phone books, cruise through the yellow pages, and notice all of the businesses and organizations with Crow River in their name?

It's Crow River this, Crow River that. Even those phone directories are titled the Crow River Region.

In some cases, it seems the Crow River and the land above its banks are the center of attention.

The Crow River Organization of Waters, its staff and joint powers board members, know that the river is definitely at the center of their attention. They also know the river and its watershed are much more important than to be used just as a marketing tool or point of geographical location.

To the organization and people involved with it, the river is something that needs to be studied, enhanced, and preserved. The organization, which started in 1999, is in the process of doing just that.

Jennifer Lee of the organization told me last week things are going well and there has already been some good citizen stream monitoring work done.

"We had 16 individuals or groups with monitoring stations set up in 2000. Six of those were on the north fork very close to Howard Lake, five in the Hutchinson area, one on the middle fork, one on the Buffalo Creek, and others mixed in," stated Lee.

Stream monitors are provided with the proper equipment. Once a week through the open water season, they are asked to visit a designated spot and take a water sample with a turbidity tube to measure and record transparency, appearance, recreational suitability, and stream stage. Daily precipitation is also measured.

Lee noted results from the 2000 data have been reviewed and the report is currently being printed. She added water clarity or transparency was more profound on the lower stages of the river, like around Delano or Hanover.

In simple terms, the water in the river is more clear closer to the river's starting point.

The phase one monitoring study of the river will begin this spring and run through 2003.

Currently, the organization is looking for more citizen stream monitors and local groups that are interested in working with the organization to establish river clean-up days.

In the long run, the goal is to use the information from the study to target problem areas of the river and get government, organizations, and individuals in motion to clean up, enhance, and preserve the river.

For more information or to become a stream monitor, give Jennifer Lee a call at (763) 682-1933, ext. 3.

Other positive conservation and enhancement issues regarding the river include the City of Lester Prairie's interest in creating a walking path and canoe access to the river in conjunction with the city's park system.

The City of Lester Prairie borders the south fork of the river, and Mayor Eric Angvall has often said to me that we don't realize the benefits and potential of the river. He is correct, and someday when the cards fall into place, the south fork of the Crow River will be an integral part of Lester Prairie's park and recreational system.

Area lakes fishing and outdoor report

Although ice fishing activity has slowed and many people, including myself, are pretty much sick and tired of winter, outdoor news and activity rolls on.

Fish houses needed to be off area lakes by midnight Feb. 28.

The walleye and northern pike season in our area closed Feb. 18. A new 2001 fishing license was required as of March 1 and the cost of that license also went up. In 2000, a resident individual angling license (age 16-64) was $15. The cost for a license this season is $17.

Moving on, pheasants in our area have been hit fairly hard by the long winter, deep snow, and occasional ice and rain.

Pheasants are very susceptible to long stretches of deep snow and icy weather. The deep snow and crust of ice eliminate cover and make food almost unreachable. The birds can't dig through the crust and snow to find food and are then forced into open areas where they are very vulnerable to predators.

In recent weeks, I've seen many dead pheasants on roadsides and expect to see more as winter drags on.

Pheasants, along with many other forms of wildlife, need a meltdown soon, or winter mortality rates in our area could be very high.

Coyote sightings in our area are becoming more and more common. Bald eagles will start migrating through as the ice melts, and if you're a goose hunter, don't forget about spring light goose hunting opportunities in Minnesota and the Dakota's.

Top 10 reasons why I'm sick and tired of winter

1. Hammering the ice out of my dog's water pan since mid-November.

2. Sand, gravel, salt, and muck on my garage floor.

3. Looking at vacation photos and listening to stories of how great the weather was in Florida, Mexico, and the Carribean.

4. Looking at vacation photos and listening to stories of how great the fishing was in Florida, Mexico, and the Carribean.

5. Putting boots, gloves, snow pants, scarf, cap, and jacket on my two-year-old daughter.

6. Taking boots, gloves, snow pants, scarf, cap, and jacket off of my two-year-old daughter.

7. Receiving articles, press releases, and e-mails on global warming and a possible drought.

8. Ice-packed driveway.

9. Ice-packed roads.

10. Ice-packed attitudes!

Outdoor notes

­ The Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club will host its annual father/son-daughter banquet at the Lester Prairie City Hall Friday, March 16. Entertainment will be provided by Mike Lynch of WCCO Radio. Lynch will be giving a show on astronomy and star gazing. Tickets for the event are available from club members, and all proceeds from the event are earmarked for local conservation efforts.

­ Get a copy and review the new 2001 Minnesota Fishing Regulations Handbook. New regulations for 2001 are listed on page five.

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

­ The Minnesota Twins played their first spring training game of the season last week.

­ On another bright note, the days are getting longer in a big hurry and soon average daytime temps will be in the 40s.

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