Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

July 8, 2002

High water takes toll on lakes

Some public lake accesses are closed, and others are in tough shape.

Flooding and high water has taken its toll on several of the public lake accesses in our area.

As of Wednesday, July 3, the access and boat landing at Lake Ann was taped off and closed. The Lions Park access on the south side of Howard Lake was closed, and on Big Waverly Lake, both public accesses were closed.

On Lake Emma, the water at the landing was very high and the access was in very tough shape.

On Dog Lake, the access also took a beating from the heavy rains, washing much of the rock on the landing down into the lake and on top of the dock, which was submerged.

Several reports also indicated that docks located at many public accesses were under water.

No-wake regulations are also in place on Howard and Big Waverly lakes. On Big Waverly, no motorized boating is allowed, and as of Wednesday, water levels were still rising and sandbagging efforts were still underway.

The public beach on Howard was also closed until further notice.

The water levels on most lakes in our area are up considerably, and anglers should pay special attention to submerged docks, debris, and other hazards created by the high water.

Anglers and boaters should be cautious of the wake they are creating and be aware of potential sewage discharges or runoff into certain lakes.

The best bet right now is to be patient, and not use accesses that are damaged. Also, remember to pay attention to postings and regulations of each specific lake.

The postings or regulations regarding fishing, boating, swimming, and wakes may change on any lake at any time, and it is each user's responsibility to know those regulations or postings and use common sense.

On a final note, when water levels do recede on our local lakes, a massive cleanup effort will probably be needed to remove debris from shorelines to restore lakes back into good shape again.

Wildlife affected by flooding

The heavy rains filled every pothole, slough, and swamp in our area to the brim.

Basically, every low spot, and almost every spot I would consider to be good wildlife habitat, has been full of water.

In our area, most wildlife cover, especially grass cover, is on low ground, and wildlife, such as ground-nesting birds, were hit hard by the storms and high water.

With young chicks and broods just appearing, pheasant hens have no choice but to move from the water to other, very limited, cover. Those that did survive the rains now have much less cover, and will be much more susceptible to predators and mowing.

Pheasant hens trying to renest will also have trouble finding ample cover on dry ground.

On a positive note, I saw my first brood of pheasant chicks last week. The hen looked in good shape, and there were seven baby chicks. I saw them crossing the road, and quickly noted that both sides of the ditch provided heavy grass cover on dry, high ground.

Wild turkey applications available

Fall wild turkey applications for 2002 are now available, with an application deadline of Friday, July 26.

This year, all resident and nonresident wild turkey hunters seeking a fall 2002 wild turkey license must apply electronically through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) computerized electronic licensing system (ELS) at point-of-sale agents, by ELS telephone at 888-665-4236, or via the Internet at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

An additional $3.50 convenience charge is required for applying by phone or Internet.

The application deadline is Friday, July 26. Applications will now be accepted at any of the ELS agents, who will have application worksheets available to assist applicants. The worksheet contains maps of open permit areas and permit quotas.

There is a $3 fee for a fall wild turkey lottery application. This nonrefundable fee must be paid at the time of application at the ELS agent.

Two separate seasons will take place in 2002 (Oct. 16-20 and Oct. 23-27), with 1,895 permits available for each season.

Information and application worksheets are available at the DNR web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us, or by calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free at 1-888-MINN-DNR (646-6367).

Firearm safety training

This 12-hour firearm safety training program will cover safe gun handling, gun safety in the home, care and storage of firearms, and hunter responsibilities.

After completing the program, students will receive a certificate and arm patch.

Boys and girls should be 12 years old by Sept. 1, 2002. Eleven year olds may take the program, but will not receive his/her certificate and arm patch until their 12th birthday.

This program is open for boys, girls, and interested parents.

The first class will be Monday, July 22 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Dr. Thoennes' lower community room across from the Winsted Community Bank. Additional dates will be given out at that time.

The fee is $5 and payable to the Winsted Sportsmen's Club.

For more information, contact Brian Wolford at (320) 485-4237 or Steve Fiecke at (320) 485-2434.

Adults who are interested in helping teach the class are needed. A training program can be put together for anyone interested. Contact Steve Fiecke at (320) 485-2434 if you are interested.

Outdoor notes

­ Look for a huge mosquito hatch to hit in the next few days. The mosquitoes are another by-product of the high water and flooding.

­ Head to the DNR's web site for boating safety information and current boating regulations. The address is www.dnr.state.mn.us

­ A few dead fish have been found on several of our area lakes. On Collinwood, carp and a few walleyes were noted. The cause of the very small fish kill was probably related to flooding.

­ Make sure your dog has been checked for heartworm and is on a heartworm preventative medication.

­ Plan your fall hunting trips now and be prepared for one of the best deer hunting seasons Minnesota has ever had.

­ Looking for a great place to camp or spend a weekend? Try one of Minnesota's state parks. For more information, go to www.dnr.state.mn.us or call (888) MINN-DNR (888-646-6967).

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