Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

April 25, 2005

Getting your boat on the water

It is a thing of, and about, fishing, and a right of spring.

In reality, a boat can only do so much for its owner, while it’s sitting in a garage.

That’s right, in the spring the time spent in a boat, while it is firmly anchored to the cement floor in the family garage is an important time, and actually a fun time.

But, the boat can only do so much for an angler’s state of mind, until it hits the water.

Getting the gear ready, checking the tires on the trailer, changing line on the reels, cleaning out and organizing the tackle box, and even turning the motor over once or twice, are all fun, and a part of all the anticipation that goes along with another fishing season.

Needless to say, my boat has been out of storage, and in the garage for a week, and is still waiting to hit the water.

Thankfully, the weather turned cold over the weekend, and many of the landings aren’t ready to go yet.

The adventure started like this – a week ago I went to the storage unit to get my boat out, and haul her home.

After moving piles of junk, and some awfully heavy stuff so I could get at the boat, I figured out that because of mud and wet conditions around the storage unit I couldn’t get my truck in place to hook up the boat.

At least not until I pushed the 17-footer out of the storage unit by hand.

With more work done, and the rig hooked up to the truck, I went to trim the motor up so I could hit the road.

I’ll end this week’s column with this – I couldn’t trim the motor because there was no power due to a wiring problem I found hours later, and it had just started raining.

Lakeshore clean-up planned May 7

The Winsted Lake Watershed Association will sponsor a clean-up of Winsted Lake shoreline Saturday, May 7 beginning at 8:30 a.m. at Mill Reserve Park in Winsted.

Everyone is welcome, rain or shine.

Participants are asked to dress appropriately wearing long sleeves, long pants, sturdy shoes or boots, and gloves.

Lunch will be provided after the clean-up.

Handgun league to start in Waverly

Handgun league will begin at the Waverly Gun Club Wednesday, May 4. League will run for four weeks from 5 to 8 p.m.

Contact Russ Johnson at (763) 675-3527 for more information.

DNR asking for reports of Blanding’s Turtle sightings
From the DNR

They’re just now beginning to emerge from the mucky depths, hungry and on the move after a long winter of hibernation.

They’re Blanding’s turtles, one of Minnesota’s larger turtle species. And if you happen to spot one, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would love to hear about it.

Lisa Gelvin-Innvaer, Regional Nongame Wildlife Specialist for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) at New Ulm, explained that a special project is currently underway to investigate the Blanding’s turtle’s distribution, abundance, habitat use, and conservation needs in southwestern Minnesota. Why?

“Blanding’s turtles are listed as ‘threatened’ in Minnesota,” Gelvin-Innvaer said. “There are several reasons for why they have declined in numbers. Unlike rabbits, for instance, the Blanding’s turtle is a late maturing, long-lived species that is unable to recover quickly from losses in population numbers. Most Blanding’s turtle populations are small and their habitats fragmented.”

Road mortality, along with the loss or degradation of wetlands, streams and upland buffers are the greatest threats to Blanding’s turtles in Minnesota.

“We really know little about the turtles’ current distribution and abundance in southwestern Minnesota,” Gelvin-Innvaer noted. “Preliminary studies indicate their specific habitat needs in this area are different from other parts of Minnesota. More in-depth investigation is needed to develop a conservation plan that will help Blanding’s turtles survive and thrive.”

Last year, a total of 66 nest sites and 124 adult Blanding’s turtles were found in study areas. To date, data has been collected from 110 turtles fitted with radio transmitters in five localities.

Blanding’s turtles can be found in both prairie and forested regions of northeastern and central North America.

They prefer calm, shallow water, including wetlands and slow moving rivers and streams with rich vegetation.

In southwestern Minnesota, streams, fens, grasslands/prairies marshes, and bottomlands are important aquatic habitats.

However, nesting generally takes place in the uplands on lighter, often sandy, soils ---generally in grasslands and agricultural fields.

The biology and habitat use of the Blanding’s turtle vary considerably from region to region.

Habitat types, land use patterns and ownership, and specific threats also are markedly different.

“As a result, what we know about the needs of this turtle in one area is of limited value in developing long-term management strategies in another area,” Gelvin-Innvaer noted. “We’re just beginning to learn about its’ needs in southwestern Minnesota.”

Because the Blanding’s turtle is cold-tolerant and among the first to become active in the spring, Gelvin-Innvaer is urging people to be on the lookout for them.

“We’ve been getting great cooperation from farmers and other landowners who have been keeping an eye out and reporting any sightings to us. But we could certainly use more help.”

Blanding’s turtles are easily distinguished by their bright yellow chin and underside of the neck.

The upper shell is dome-shaped, very smooth, and is dull black with specks and streaks of yellow throughout.

The adult is relatively large, about the size of a football.

Anyone who spots a Blanding’s turtle in southwestern Minnesota is asked to report the sighting to Gelvin-Innvaer at (507) 359-6033 or lisa.gelvin-innvaer@dnr.state.mn.us.

Include the name, phone number or e-mail address of the person reporting the sighting along with the date of sighting, specific location, and the number of turtles sighted. Photos are especially helpful.

“The sooner we learn of a sighting, the more useful the information will be for our study,” Gelvin-Innvaer said.

Although the public is not permitted to trap or possess Blanding’s turtles, the turtles sometimes are rescued while crossing roads or discovered in people’s yards.

Gelvin-Innvaer urges anyone who finds such a turtle to contact the DNR promptly so that the turtle can be marked before releasing it.

“There is really quite a lot we can learn by studying this turtle,” Gelvin-Innvaer stated.

Habitat that is good for Blanding’s turtles is also good for many other wildlife species, such as waterbirds, waterfowl, pheasants, songbirds and others that have adapted to the prairie pothole region.

“They’re a good indicator of what’s happening on the landscape,” Gelvin-Innvaer said. “If the Blanding’s turtle is struggling to make it, you can bet there are probably key land and water issues that are impacting other wildlife species as well as humans. It’s important to understand these factors for our own benefit and to promote conservation for healthy landscapes.”

Wildlife watching is big business in Minnesota
From the DNR

Bird watchers and other wildlife viewers contribute more than half a billion dollars per year to Minnesota’s tourist economy.

More money is spent in Minnesota for wildlife watching activities than the amount spent on hunting.

According to a recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey, wildlife watchers spent $531 million in 2000 for wildlife viewing, nature photography and bird feeding, compared with $480 million for hunting.

Carrol Henderson, Department of Natural Resources, (DNR) Nongame Wildlife Program supervisor, gave a presentation recently in Grand Rapids on wildlife tourism and how local communities can attract national attention for wildlife viewing.

His presentation was part of a one-day workshop titled, “Making the Most of Mother Nature, a how-to guide for wildlife tourism.”

More than 50 resort and motel owners, tourism developers, wildlife biologists, chambers of commerce, convention and visitors bureaus, representatives of the Mille Lac Indian Band and others attended the workshop.

The DNR Nongame Wildlife Program, the Explore Minnesota Office of Tourism and the University of Minnesota Tourism Center sponsored the workshop.

Many resorts and lodging establishments have plenty of business during the fishing season and summer months, but are always looking for new ways to attract tourists during the early fall, winter and spring, when there is less tourism activity, said Henderson.

The recent owl invasion experienced in northern Minnesota generated an estimated $800,000 to $1 million for the area’s tourism industry this past winter, according to Henderson.

This boom to the tourist industry during their slow season brought awareness of the tremendous wealth of wildlife in the area, and the possibilities for creating memorable wildlife viewing experiences, Henderson said.

The abundance of public lands in northern Minnesota provides wonderful opportunities that can be beneficial as well as sustainable for area resort and lodging businesses.

This is in addition to the economic benefit already provided by hunting and fishing activities.

“Simple services can be offered and promoted to attract wildlife watchers, such as web-sites, birding trails, interpretive field trips, and wildlife viewing boat rides,” Henderson said. “This can provide income for local communities and businesses by capturing a few more months of tourist activity.”

More information on wildlife watching is available in the book, “Traveler’s Guide to Wildlife in Minnesota” authored by Henderson, naturalist Andrea Lee Lambrecht, and the DNR’s regional nongame wildlife biologists.

This traveler’s guide was published by the DNR Nongame Wildlife Program and is available for sale at Minnesota’s Bookstore by calling toll free 1-800-657-3757 or in the Twin Cities area (651) 297-3000.

Outdoor notes

• I’ll continue my boat preparation story in next week’s column.
• The crappies are hitting hard and heavy on several lakes in our area including Winsted and Dutch.
• The 2005 Minnesota fishing opener is set for Saturday, May 14. Make your plans now.
• Check the water levels in your marine batteries.
• The trapshooting season at the Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s club is off and rolling.
• The club is open for practice rounds Wednesday evenings through early September.
• Today the sun will rise at 6:11 a.m. and set at 8:11 p.m.
• Take a kid fishing, he or she will have fun and so will you.

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