Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

March 29, 2004

ATVs: controversy and conflict

A few weeks ago, the weather warmed, the snow melted, the ground softened, and I’m sure, more than a few ATV or four-wheeler riders hit the local road ditches in search of soft, muddy ground, any place they could find it.

When that happened, my phone at the office started ringing with complaints about four wheelers tearing up lawns, road ditches, fields, and even parks.

The number of calls totaled 19, and most asked me to get something in the paper about the issue.

The callers wanted a message sent to those ATV riders, telling them to stay off other peoples’ property, and out of the road ditches, at least until the ground is dry.

Heck, our sign and graphics department even sold a few “No ATVs” signs.

Most of the callers were upset, and only a few understood that it was probably just a few bad apples, and not the whole barrel, that was doing the damage.

No matter, the soft muddy ground of spring is here, and once again the ATV riding public, even if it was only a few doing the damage, has again started off on the wrong foot.

For me, it’s simple, with out question, four wheelers leave tracks and damage the ground, especially when the ground is soft.

Today, property owners, along with a growing majority of the non-ATV riding public, are sick of it.

Take a look at some of the road ditches, ATV tracks stand out like the center yellow line on a highway, and every year those tracks get deeper.

In reality, the ATV issue is much more complex than that.

More and more ATVs are being sold.

More trails, on public and private lands, are being created, and ATV users are becoming much more organized, and effective, at steering legislation.

Like the knobby tires of a four wheeler, the issue, with conflicts and complaints, will continue to roll on.

For myself, and those who called, we only ask this: Be courteous, respect the land, drive safe, and only where you are supposed to, and please follow the regulations.

In the 2003-2004 Minnesota Off-Highway Vehicle Regulations Handbook it states, “you may not drive an ATV with in the right of way (ditch) on a state or county road from April 1 to August 1 in the agricultural zone.

The 2003-2004 Minnesota Off Highway Vehicle Regulations Handbook can be found at county offices, some license vendors, and on line at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Much more information about four wheelers and other OHVs can also be found at www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/ohv/index.html.

Ice Out

The ice left several of our smaller lakes late last week.

On Saturday, the ice was pretty much gone on Silver Lake.

A combination of warm weather, rain, and wind, left only a few small rafts of slushy ice on the west side of the lake.

On Sunday, Lake Mary had about a 10’ circle of open water around the ice, and other lakes in the area were in about the same condition.

By this time next week, the ice on lakes in our area should be gone for another year.

Hog Roast

The Winsted Sportsmen’s Club will host its annual Hog Roast Saturday, April 3, at the Winsted American Legion Club, serving from 5 to 8 p.m.

Tickets are $7 in advance, and $7.50 at the door, and are available at Keg’s Bar, Tom’s Corner Bar, Winsted Co-op, and from club members.

There will also be live entertainment and a euchre tournament.

DNR to buy more walleye for stocking

From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is contacting operators of large and small private aquaculture facilities in hopes of purchasing about 40,000 additional pounds of walleye fingerlings this fall to help increase stocking in the state’s lakes.

“We are glad to be able to partner with the private sector to help meet our stocking goals,” said DNR Fisheries Chief Ron Payer. “We have been very pleased with the quality of fish obtained from the private sector.”

Since the Accelerated Walleye Program, designed to increase walleye stocking efforts, was fully funded in 2000, the DNR has stocked an average of about 134,000 pounds of fingerlings each year, including 113,000 pounds in 2000, 161,000 pounds in 2001, 98,000 pounds in 2002 and 165,000 pounds in 2003.

An average of 2.3 million walleye were stocked per year during this period.

Beginning this year, the goal for walleye fingerling stocking will be increased to 160,000 pounds or approximately 3 to 3.5 million fish per year as part of the Accelerated Walleye Program.

To provide opportunities for smaller hatcheries to submit bids, the DNR will break the 40,000-pound walleye order into 16 smaller bids. Walleye fingerlings will need to be 4 to 10 inches long and be delivered from September. 20 through Dec. 20.

The DNR will also purchase 8,000 muskie fingerlings, 2,000 tiger muskie fingerlings and 5,000 sturgeon fingerlings.

Only private fish hatcheries or aquatic farms licensed by the Minnesota DNR are eligible to bid.

Persons interested in bidding on DNR fish purchases should contact Roy Johannes at (651) 296-3325 for more information.

Question of the Week

From the DNR

Q: Spring is the time of year when the threat of wildfire is usually high.

What can homeowners in rural and urban areas do to protect their property?

A: Homes in both rural and urban areas near wild lands such as a forest, field or swamp are at the highest risk of wildfire, especially during the spring.

In fact, now is an excellent time for all property owners to prepare for the potential of wildfires.

The key is to remove anything on or near buildings that is flammable.

This includes: trimming back branches that hang over buildings before mid-April; cleaning rooftops and gutters of leaves, needles and other debris; removing dead vegetation from foundation shrubbery and flower beds; relocating the firewood pile, lumber pile or other flammable materials at least 30 feet away from any buildings; and raking the lawn to remove dry thatch and leaves that could carry a fire from the woods to your home.

Rather than burning this debris, start a compost pile or take it to a community compost site.

Most wildfires in Minnesota are caused when the burning of debris piles escape control.

For more information on making your home safe from wildfire, visit the DNR Firewise Web Site.

Outdoor notes

• With much of the ice gone on our area lakes, we can officially say that spring is here.

• The Prairie Archery Club will host a grilled pork chop dinner Saturday, April 3 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Porthole in Lester Prairie.

Tickets are $6.50 for adults, and $4.50 for kids under 12.

• I saw my first great blue heron of the spring last week.

Wood ducks have also returned in good numbers, and are using nesting houses.

• Look for the open water fishing season to get rolling very soon.

It usually starts with spring crappie bite in shallow water.

• It’s also time to get your boat ready, and your open water fishing gear tuned up.

Start by putting new line on all of your reels.

Then check the tips and guides on your rods.

One bad line guide can ruin an awful lot of fishing line, and create tangles.

• With a fairly dry and warm spring, pheasant numbers could boom again.

Reports say pheasants and other wildlife made in through the winter in great shape.

• Look for the landscape to start greening up very soon, and if you don’t pay attention to it, you may not even realize it happened.

• The first of eight 2004 Minnesota spring turkey hunting seasons kicks off Wednesday, April 14.

Good luck to all the local turkey hunters that got permits this season.

• Right now, northern pike are spawning in our area lakes, and cottontail rabbits are mating.

• The days are getting longer in a big hurry, today, March 29, the sun will rise at 5:59 a.m. and set at 6:38 p.m.

• Daylight savings time begins Sunday, April 4.

• Take some time to get outside and watch spring happen.

Last week, my time in the outdoors was spent walking some of the weight off myself and my dog, biking with my two daughters, and putting my snowmobile in storage.

• This week, I’m looking forward to getting my boat out and ready to go.

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