By Chris Schultz
March 15, 2004
Spring is almost here
Every year without much fanfare, and often with snow, wind and cold weather, spring finally arrives.
This year, spring is set to officially begin Saturday, March 20.
Although that is the official date, I tend to associate the beginning of spring, or mark its start, when the ice finally leaves the lakes in our area.
For me, it simply doesn’t feel like spring until the ice is gone, and blustery spring winds are making waves on open water.
In our area, ice out can occur anytime from now, to late April, or even early May. An average date is about April 15.
With that said about ice out, and even with a date on the calendar, spring isn’t something that just suddenly happens. It’s a gradual occurrence of events that in south central Minnesota is noted by many things:
Canadian geese and other waterfowl have started to arrive in our area from wintering destinations farther south.
A majority of the snow that covered our landscape has melted and is gone.
March winds are, and have been, blowing at a fast and steady pace.
The days are getting longer and warmer.
Flocks of red wing blackbirds have arrived, and can be heard and at dawn and dusk.
Maple trees are giving up sap.
Bald eagles have begun their migration to nesting grounds farther north, and several have been seen in our area.
Bald eagles typically follow the ice out line on their way north and more and more eagles are seen in our area every year.
Skunks, raccoons, and other varmints are becoming more active and a familiar sight on our roadways.
Finally, in my back yard last week I saw my first robins of the year.
All of these are signs of the gradual happening of spring.
Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club banquet
The Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club will host it’s annual Father/Son-Daughter Banquet Friday, March 20 at Lester Prairie City Hall.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with the banquet meal beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Entertainment will be provided by Black Ice Dog Sledding, and many door and raffle prizes will be given away.
Tickets are available at several Lester Prairie businesses, or from club members.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the event.
Wright County Lakes and Rivers Day
Learn more about the precious water resources in Wright County at a special event Saturday, March 20, from 8:15 a.m. to noon at the Robert Ney Nature Center on Wright County Highway 8, one and a half miles north of Maple Lake.
The event includes information on many of our water quality issues, and will give those attending the opportunity to learn more about, and discuss those issues.
An interactive CD on “Rivers, A Water Course” produced by the DNR will be previewed.
Chip Welling, a leading milfoil expert from the DNR, will present the latest information on the spread and treatments of milfoil and curly leaf pondweed.
Several other programs will be reviewed, and the final hour of the event will be the first meeting of the new Lakes and Rivers Alliance of Wright County.
Anyone interested is urged to attend.
• Take some time to read the new 2004 Minnesota Fishing Regulations Handbook. New regulations are listed on page 5.
• Don’t forget to purchase your new 2004 fishing license. 2003 licenses expired February 29.
• The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently granted $21 million of funds for land acquisition in the Water Fowl Production Area Program for the prairie pothole regions of Western Minnesota, the Dakotas and Montana.
• In this week’s column I have included another article from DNR Information Officer Tom Conroy.
Conroy has a passion for the history and conservation of our areas natural resources and in this article did a great job of identifying another sign of our times.
• The ice may be leaving the lakes in our area very soon. Please remember that no ice, especially ice at this time of year is ever completely safe.
• The North DakotaMinnesota battle over non-resident hunting rights is really heating up with Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch’s lawsuit against North Dakota, saying North Dakota’s non-resident hunting restrictions violate the U.S. Constitution.
Although North Dakota’s restrictions are difficult for Minnesota hunters to bare, the issue should be discussed.
Minnesota hunters still have great opportunities to hunt on private and federal lands in North Dakota.
North Dakota laws are most restrictive on state lands and walk in areas.
Most importantly, Hatch and other state leaders involved in the suit should be putting al of those resources into improving waterfowl habitat in Minnesota.
We all have to remember that it’s the water, land and the ducks that are most important in this issue.
Hatch should be preparing to sue all of us if the 4/16ths constitutional amendment isn’t passed in this year’s Minnesota legislative session.
• For more information on DNR certified Firearms Safety Training Classes in our area please contact the various Community Education offices associated with our local schools.
• Time, for me, has been harder and harder to find to spend in the outdoors.
The battles of running a business and getting a newspaper out every week seem to chew it all up.
Along with that, my wife and I have another baby on the way this one will make three.
For me, the outdoors are important and sharing it with my family even more important.
When spring finally does get here, I plan on participating in at least one outdoor activity a week.
Be it a walk through the woods, fishing, shooting a round of trap, plinking at cans with my .22, or putting up birdhouses, and each week I plan on sharing that experience with you.
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