By Chris Schultz
Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn.
Feb. 10, 2003
It's been a busy winter
The phone never seems to stop ringing. There's been meeting after meeting, or event after event.
All kinds of things to do with, and for, the kids, the passing away of my father, and then all the loose ends that need to be cleaned up afterwards.
Throw in ownership of a small business, in a very competitive industry, that needs to grow to survive needless to say, things have been a bit hectic this winter.
There's been little time to fish (I've only made it out twice this winter), little time to snowmobile, and of course, a lot less time to put into this column.
Definitely not enough to make this column what I'd like it to be, a column that carried important local events, happenings, news, and cool things about the outdoors and the people that love it.
I never intended it to be a how-to feature, because I'm basically not an expert on the outdoors. However, I do like to tell stories, especially about experiences I've had and places I've been.
My number one reason for the column has been, and still is, to help people understand why guys like me love the outdoors so much and why it is important to develop a personal relationship with the outdoors and our natural resources. And then, to share that relationship.
With all of that said, first of all, I want to straighten out the headline over last week's column. It said "Bear harvest limited by a lack of food." Actually, last year's bear harvest was limited by an over abundance of food in the forests, like hazelnuts and acorns.
When there is a lot of natural food out there for black bears, the bears don't use or go to bait stations placed out by hunters as much. That it in turn relates to a lower bear harvest.
Although it wasn't mentioned in the DNR press release, I also believe the bear harvest was down or at least affected by a huge mosquito population last year. Mosquitos do a very good job of keeping hunters from maintaining their bait stations, and from spending long hours in the woods.
Regarding the headline, I'm sorry. Mistakes happen.
Secondly, this year has been a tough year of ice angling for myself and many other anglers. Ice conditions seemed to put a big damper on the season especially if you had young children to take with.
All in all, I hope that things will settle down a bit in the upcoming weeks, and I'll get a chance to give this column and the outdoors the time they deserve.
Turkey lottery winner notifications coming Feb. 18
From the DNR
Minnesota 2003 spring wild turkey hunting license permit notifications will be in the mail by Tuesday, Feb. 18, and on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) web site by noon that day, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Hunters who are notified that they received a permit can purchase their licenses at any Electronic Licensing System license agent beginning Saturday, March 1, which is the beginning of the 2003 license year.
Licenses and wild turkey stamps must be purchased by the start of a person's hunting season. There are eight five-day seasons, with the first season beginning Wednesday, April 16, and the final one ending Sunday, May 25.
The DNR web site will provide a quick and easy alternative to waiting for mail notification. Beginning at noon Tuesday, Feb. 18, turkey lottery winners will be posted at www.dnr.state.mn.us under "2003 Spring Turkey Lottery Results." Hunters will need to have their driver's license number or state ID number to check the results.
Hunters without Internet access can obtain lottery results beginning at noon Tuesday, Feb. 18 by calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157, or toll free 888-MINN-DNR (646-6367).
Those not selected in the lottery may purchase a surplus permit beginning at 5 p.m. Monday, March 17. Only applicants who applied for the permit lottery, but who were not successful, are eligible for a surplus permit.
Details about the numbers and locations of surplus permits and how to obtain them will be announced through the media and posted on the DNR web site by Saturday, March 1.
Wildlife checkoff donations showing as refunds on tax report
From the DNR
Donations to the Non-game Wildlife Checkoff on 2001 Minnesota state tax forms are showing up as refunds, not as tax-deductible charitable contributions, on the 2002 Minnesota revenue record of income tax refund (form 1099-G). Department of Natural Resources officials are receiving calls from concerned taxpayers who have received the 1099-G postcards.
The year 2002 was the first year that donations to the Non-game Wildlife Fund have been listed as refunds on Minnesota's 1099-G form, according to Nancy Huonder, information officer for the DNR Non-game Wildlife Program.
"It happens when a generous taxpayer, who owes taxes, makes a charitable contribution to the wildlife fund checkoff and increases the tax payment," Huonder said.
Donations to the wildlife checkoff are used by the DNR Non-game Wildlife Program to fund more than 80 activities each year to protect, manage, and restore Minnesota's wildlife.
Huonder said that the Department of Revenue computer system views any overpayment of taxes as a refund, including donations to the Non-game Wildlife Checkoff fund. It automatically issues the 1099-G form for IRS reporting.
Minnesotans are still able to use their donations to the Non-game Wildlife Checkoff as a charitable contribution on their 2002 federal returns because they made the contribution in 2002, according to Department of Revenue officials.
"The Department of Revenue tax information line staff was very helpful," Huonder said. "They assured me that donations given to the Non-game Wildlife Checkoff are tax-deductible charitable contributions and may be claimed on Minnesotans' federal returns."
Last year more than 76,000 Minnesotans donated to the Non-game Checkoff to help wildlife. In difficult economic times, sustaining charitable giving is a concern for many causes, including conservation.
"Any decline in donations could create serious reductions in non-game wildlife conservation work, because about 80 percent of the program is funded by the donations on state tax forms," Huonder said. "Minnesota's Non-game Wildlife Program is one of the best in the nation, but it must continue to improve and adapt as threats to Minnesota's wildlife change with time.
"We're asking Minnesotans to help keep this a special place to live by remembering to donate to the Non-game Wildlife Checkoff during tax time," Huonder urged. "Every dollar donated is an important gift to all wildlife and it is tax deductible."
Congratulations to the lucky winner of the fish house given away at the Howard Lake Sportsmen's Club Fishing Derby.
The Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club will conduct its annual father/son/daughter banquet Friday, March 21, at the Lester Prairie City Hall. Tickets are available from club members and various Lester Prairie businesses.
Your 2002 Minnesota fishing license expires Friday, Feb. 28, 2003. After that date you will need a new 2003 license.
Now that there is enough snow on the ground to snowmobile, remember the basic elements of snowmobile safety and please obey all snowmobile rules and regulations.
Also, the people who have worked so hard to develop and maintain our local trails deserve your appreciation. The best way to do that is by not abusing the trails and by staying on them.
The 2003 Minnesota fishing opener is set for Saturday, May 10.
Take some time, even if you don't have it, to enjoy the outdoors and share it with someone else.
Howard Lake-Waverly Herald & Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal
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