Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

March 20, 2006

OHV users to check trail conditions

From the DNR
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds riders that Minnesota law prohibits ditch riding south of the agriculture line between April 1 and Aug. 1.

The agriculture line runs roughly from Moorhead to Taylors Falls along Highway 10 and Highway 95.

The purpose of this prohibition is to minimize disturbance of nesting birds and to protect the cover that ditches provide.

With warm weather on the way, many off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders are anxious to hit the trails.

But because state forest roads and trails are typically wet during the spring, the DNR will need to temporarily close some areas.

The DNR asks riders to check on trail conditions and temporary closures before planning riding trips.

OHV riders are reminded that Minnesota Rules state in part, “No person shall operate a motor vehicle or snowmobile on forest lands in a manner that causes erosion or rutting.”

“Spring is hard on trails,” said Keith Simar, State Forest Recreation Program coordinator. “The spring thaw produces soft soils that are susceptible to rutting. Temporary closings will begin immediately in some areas. Even though the DNR will temporarily close some roads and trails, we also want to give riders as many riding opportunities as possible, and provide a convenient way users can check on which roads and trails are still open. We urge riders to check with the DNR about trail conditions and temporary closings,” Simar said.

Temporary road/trail closure information is available on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Closure information is also available by calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINN-DNR (646-6367).

The DNR will also post signs at entry points and at parking lots in state forests.

“The DNR will work to let users know when and where they can ride,” Simar said. “We will lift road and trail closures as soon as possible. In turn, we ask users to check before riding to avoid areas that are temporarily closed and to ride responsibly wherever they are.”

McLeod County PF Chapter spends three million

The McLeod County Pheasants Forever (PF) Chapter is the first chapter in the nation to have spent over three million dollars on habitat and conservation education projects.

Those chapter dollars have helped complete 484 habitat projects benefiting over 7,000 acres within McLeod County.

The chapter was recognized for this historic achievement at the annual Minnesota PF State Convention in Mankato earlier this month.

“McLeod County Pheasants Forever is providing a great example to other chapters here in Minnesota and across the pheasant range,” said Aaron Kuehl, PF regional wildlife biologist.

“At last year’s convention, they were recognized for $2 million in conservation excellence and earned the title Chapter of the Year. One year later, they put another $1 million to work for habitat in McLeod County and took home the first $3 million Conservation Excellence Award – something no other chapter in the nation can claim.”

Under the unique PF model, local chapter leaders determine how best to spend 100 percent of funds raised locally.

Public land acquisition has been a high priority for the McLeod County PF chapter, who has participated in 31 projects totaling 1,925 acres.

Last year, the chapter participated in a 310-acre, $994,000 land acquisition. These projects become open to public hunting as

Minnesota DNR Wildlife Management Areas (WMSs) or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs).

Since becoming the seventh PF chapter in the nation in 1986, the chapter has planted 93,152 trees in 115 winter cover areas and created nearly 650 acres of associated food plots.

The chapter has also worked to improve 2,400 acres of nesting habitat and restored 180 acres of critical wetlands on 24 different projects.

In addition to habitat projects, the chapter also plays a key role in a Youth Conservation Day held at Gopher Campground impacting hundreds of local kids every year.

“These are great accomplishments, but there is still much more to do,” reported Mark Reinert, habitat co-chair for the chapter. “In addition to local projects, we need all Minnesotans to speak with their legislators about the importance of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to Minnesota’s water quality, soil resources, and wildlife populations.”

The chapter will hold its 20th annual habitat fundraising banquet Saturday, April 8 in the Exhibition Building at the county fairgrounds in Hutchinson.

All are welcome to attend and celebrate past accomplishments and future goals.

For more information on tickets, or to get involved with McLeod County PF, call Mark Reinert at (320) 864-6325.

PF was founded in St. Paul in 1982 and is still home to the organization’s national headquarters.

Of the organization’s 110,000 members, Minnesota accounts for 23,000 of them, making Minnesota the largest membership state.

There are 68 chapters across the state, covering most counties within Minnesota’s pheasant range.

For information on PF in Minnesota, or on how you can get involved, check out the state web site at www.minnesotapf.org.

Winsted Sportsmen’s Club hog roast April 8

The Winsted Sportsmen’s Club will have a hog roast Saturday, April 8 at the Winsted Legion from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Besides the hog roast, there will also be a meat raffle and a membership drive.

Tickets are $7 in advance, or $8 at the door.

Advance tickets can be purchased at the Winsted Co-op, Winsted Floral, Kegs, Tommy’s Corner Bar, or from sportsmen’s club members.

DU banquet set for April 11

The Crow River Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will host its 26th annual banquet Tuesday, April 11 at the Blue Note in Winsted.

Social hour begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m.

For more information, contact Ken Durdahl at (320) 543-3372 or Howard Barth at (320) 543-3526.

Pheasants Forever Banquet

The 21st annual Wright County Pheasants Forever (WCPF) banquet is scheduled for Monday, March 27, at the Buffalo Civic Center.

The doors open at 5:30 p.m. with dinner scheduled at 7:00 p.m. In addition to many prizes, the chapter will also auction off a big game hunt (Black Bear) donated by Michel Guy Hunting of Quebec, Canada.

All proceeds raised at the banquet are used to purchase, restore, and enhance wildlife habitat for local and regional projects, as well as fostering conservation education for our youth.

Over the past 21 years, the WCPF chapter has raised over $462,000, that has been dedicated to acquiring and preserving habitat in the state of Minnesota and conservation education.

If you would like to attend the banquet, please contact Walt Barlow at (320) 543-3660 or Brad Hayes at (763) 682-3117.

Survey finds majority oppose antler restrictions
From the DNR

Based on a survey of 1,000 deer hunters, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will not pursue regulations that would restrict the harvest of bucks in four west-central counties.

Nearly 60 percent of deer hunters who responded opposed regulations aimed at increasing the number of mature bucks by restricting the harvest of bucks with fewer than four antler points on one side.

“Given that the regulation would be largely social in nature, it would be difficult to pursue without majority support from deer hunters,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator. “We will continue to look at different ways of managing deer populations that incorporate biological and social aspects of deer management.”

Hunters returned about 77 percent of the surveys, which were mailed to a random sample of hunters in Lac Qui Parle, Yellow Medicine, Lyon and Lincoln counties. The University of Minnesota coordinated the survey.

Mike DonCarlos, DNR wildlife programs manager, said the high rate of return for the survey indicates that deer hunting and regulation changes are very important to hunters.

“Because deer hunters care deeply about their sport, they’re more likely to respond to surveys,” he said. “In turn the surveys provide an accurate reflection of opinions and are generally well accepted by the hunting public.”

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