Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

April 9, 2007

DNR asks ATVers to ride with caution, care

From the DNR

Conservation officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) want to get the word out early this spring to both adult and youth all-terrain vehicle (ATV) operators to ride with caution and care.

Twenty-two people, ranging from age 9 to 86 years old, were killed in ATV accidents in Minnesota last year.

Most ATV accidents occur in the road right of way, where a valid driver’s license is required.

“The public thinks most ATV fatalities and accidents involve youths, but that’s not really the case,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Enforcement Education Program coordinator. “DNR statistics show a decline in youth-involved incidents, largely due to safety training requirements for those age 16 and under. It’s the adults, those who have not completed DNR ATV safety training, who are most at risk.”

According to a recent DNR survey, the typical Minnesota ATV rider is a white male in his mid-40s with some college or technical training.

He is most often employed full time with an income greater than $50,000 and a family size of 2.8.

It’s almost assured he has not completed a DNR ATV safety course.

“Because most adults are experienced automobile drivers, they think they possess the skills to handle a powerful, 600-pound ATV,” Hammer said. “But an ATV handles differently from other vehicles, including motorcycles, trucks and cars. A rollover can occur quickly, even during routine maneuvers such as turning and driving on hills and over obstacles, if you fail to take proper precautions.”

Hammer recommends all adults complete the ATV safety training independent study course.

Anyone born after July 1, 1987, who operates an ATV on public lands in Minnesota, must successfully complete the independent study ATV Safety Training CD course.

Persons under age 16 must complete the ATV CD course and riding component before riding on public lands.

Youth/Adult ATV Training CDs are available by calling 1-800-366-8917, (651) 296-6157 or 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

“ATVs may look like a fun toy, but they aren’t a toy,” Hammer said. “Too many times people don’t understand the safety rules and regulations that govern their use.”

Hammer said safety training is a must for anyone who rides an ATV.
Understanding a few simple safety rules and knowledge of the regulations prevents accidents and reduces damage to trails.

Conservation officers remind youngsters and adults to never view ATVs as a toy but rather as the powerful machines they are. Hammer said, “You have to know what you’re doing.”

Beginning Dec. 12, 2006, public use registration allows for the operation of Class 2 ATVs (machines weighing between 900 and 1,500 pounds) on the shoulder or extreme right side of county roads and state trunk highways and on the right side of township roads and city streets, if not prohibited by the road authority or other local laws.

Firearms safety training offered for Winsted

The Winsted Sportsmen Club is offering firearms safety classes for Winsted starting Monday, April 16.

Classes will be at the Distintive Dental office basement on Main Street Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m, and will run for three to four weeks.

No age limit is turned away, but you must be at least 11 years old for class to receive a certificate on your 12th birthday.

The cost is $10 per register. For additional information, contact Steve Fiecke at (320) 485-2434.

Crow River Chapter Ducks Unlimited banquet

The Crow River Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will host its 27th annual banquet Tuesday, April 10 at the Blue Note in Winsted.

The doors open at 5:30 p.m., with the dinner starting at 7 p.m., and the auction to follow.

Tickets are $50 per individual, or $75 for a couple.

Your ticket includes dinner, and the opportunity to participate in the auction, silent auction, and numerous drawings.

To RSVP, call (320) 543-3372.

McLeod County PF Spring Banquet April 14

The 21st annual McLeod County Pheasants Forever Spring Banquet is scheduled for Saturday, April 14 at the Commercial Buildings at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.

The banquet begins at 4 p.m. with a prime rib dinner to follow at 7 p.m. A special event will then kick off at 8 p.m.

For banquet registration or questions, call either 866-352-1270 or (320) 587-0052. If no answer, leave name and number and your call will be returned.

DNR asks ATV operators to stay out of ditches, avoid wetlands
From the DNR

Conservation officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) remind all-terrain vehicle (ATV) operators to stay out of ditches in the state’s agricultural zone this spring and avoid wetlands statewide.

Between April 1 and Aug. 1, ATVs cannot be operated within the right of way of a trunk, county or county state aid highway in the agricultural zone of Minnesota.

The agricultural zone is the area south of Highway 10 from the North Dakota border to St. Cloud; and from there eastward, the area south of Highway 23 to the junction of Highway 95 and east to the Wisconsin border.

“Basically, during these four months, you need to stay out of the road ditches completely in the agricultural zone,” said Capt. Randy Evans, DNR Southern Region Enforcement supervisor at New Ulm. “This is nesting season for wildlife and those road ditches provide some of the best nesting habitat available in many places.”

The only exception is if the ATV is being used exclusively as transportation to and from work on agricultural lands.

In addition to damage done to wildlife, ATVs in road ditches can cause erosion problems and even, in some cases, damage the roadbed itself.

DNR Enforcement Wetlands Team leader, Capt. Perry Bollum, said wetlands, rivers, lakes and bogs, and their adjacent shorelines are also at risk to motorized recreational damage.

“State law prohibits ATVs, dirt bikes and other off-road vehicles from traveling anywhere below the high-water mark of unfrozen lakes and rivers,” Bollum said. “In those areas the ground is soft, spongy and damp this time of year and can be easily damaged by illegal operation.”
Bollum added that all wetlands in the state are afforded protection from damage due to any off-highway vehicles (OHV).

OHVs include ATVs, off-highway motorcycles and off-road vehicles.

According to Bollum low water levels exist across the state, exposing stretches of dry, sandy shoreline that normally would be underwater.

He said these conditions are tempting to off-road enthusiasts.

Legislation passed in 2003 restricts OHV use of public land that is designated for nonmotorized use, and specifically restricts operating in unfrozen lakes and rivers listed in the state’s Public Waters Inventory.

There are about 200,000 OHVs registered in the state, up from just 12,000 in 1984.

Conservation officers say grant-in-aid snowmobile and ski trails are closed to ATVs unless specifically allowed.

Check the DNR Web site www.findthetrails.com for a list of trail closings in state forests.

Beginning Dec. 12, 2006, public use registration allows for the operation of Class 2 ATVs (machines weighing between 900 and 1,500 pounds) on the shoulder or extreme right side of county roads and state trunk highways and on the right side of township roads and city streets, if not prohibited by the road authority or other local laws.

DNR wants people to say no to buying or selling bullfrogs
From the DNR

Bullfrog populations in Minnesota are spreading rapidly due to the popularity of bullfrog tadpoles being used in backyard water gardens.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is concerned about the impact this species can have when released outside of its natural range.

“The adult bullfrog will eat anything that it can fit into its mouth,” said Rich Baker, acting supervisor of the DNR Natural Heritage and Nongame Wildlife Research Program. “In southern states, bullfrogs even eat hatchling alligators. Recent research has also found that introduced bullfrogs frequently carry a fungus that is deadly to other frog species. The presence of bullfrogs in a water body will often result in the death of all other frog species in that water body.”

In Minnesota, bullfrogs are native only to backwaters of the Mississippi River in the southeastern corner of the state.

They are considered an invasive species outside of this native range.

If left unchecked, the American bullfrog could eventually displace native species throughout Minnesota, according to the DNR.

Baker said some pet shops, aquariums and garden centers are currently selling American bullfrogs illegally.

Bullfrogs (adults or tadpoles) cannot be possessed, imported, transported or sold for any purpose other than as fishing bait without a DNR permit.

To date, no such permits have been issued and the DNR has no intention of granting such permits in the future.

Bullfrogs and bullfrog tadpoles are being sold under various names including Texas bullfrogs, Louisiana bullfrogs, and Florida bullfrogs, but they are all one species, the American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana).

State law also prohibits homeowners from possessing bullfrogs.

To keep track of the status of Minnesota’s frog species, nearly 1,000 volunteers carry out the annual DNR Frog and Toad Calling Survey each April.

These volunteers have identified a growing number of bullfrog colonies throughout the state.

Populations of bullfrogs are now found in 18 counties outside of their natural range, which is Houston and Winona counties.

Fourteen species of frogs and toads are native to Minnesota, including the northern cricket frog, which is listed as an endangered species in Minnesota.

To learn more, visit the DNR’s Web site www.dnr.state.mn.us.

“Don’t let bullfrogs become the next zebra mussel, buckthorn, or Eurasian watermilfoil,” Baker said. “People can help prevent the further spread of this problem species. Help Minnesota’s frogs and toads by saying ‘No’ to buying or selling bullfrogs.”

Kids’ fishing opportunity dependent on adult participation
From the DNR

A unique opportunity for parents and kids to experience the excitement of fly-fishing in an acclaimed trout stream in southeastern Minnesota is being offered through the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) MinnAqua program, Trout Unlimited and the Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center May 4-6.

The opportunity, however, will need the participation of willing parents or other adults, according to DNR Southern Region MinnAqua Program Director Kathy Beaulieu at New Ulm.

“We need a ratio of one parent for each one or two kids,” Beaulieu said.

Youth should be between the ages of 12 and 15 at the time of the event and the parent does not need to be an experienced fly-fisher in order to participate.

Beaulieu said the goal is for parents and their kids to become involved in an outdoor activity they can enjoy together for years to come.

Participants will learn how to fly-cast, tie fishing flies, and study aquatic invertebrates and trout habitats prior to going on a guided fly-fishing trip to a bluffland stream, Beaulieu said.

The event will take place at the Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center near Lanesboro and run from 6 p.m. Friday until 2 p.m. Sunday.
Cost for the weekend is $100 per youth and $120 per adult and includes activities, food, and lodging.

Registration is required and can be made through Eagle Bluff by calling (507) 467-2437 or 1-888-800-9558 or going to groups@eagle-bluff.org.

Additional information on the event or on becoming a volunteer fishing guide is available by contacting Beaulieu at (507) 359-6049 or kathy.beaulieu@dnr.state.mn.us.

Anglers take the pledge to take someone fishing
From the DNR

More than 1,400 anglers so far have joined Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Mark Holsten in a pledge to introduce at least one acquaintance to fishing each year.

Holsten and the anglers signed an Anglers’ Legacy pledge at the recent Northwest Sportshow in Minneapolis.

The pledge is part of a DNR effort to help first-time anglers understand and appreciate fishing as a healthy, fun life-long activity.

“Today, kids and young adults aren’t fishing at the levels of previous generations,” said Holsten. “And yet, research shows that most kids and adults would gladly go fishing if only someone would ask them. This year, I will introduce someone new to fishing and I hope other avid anglers will do the same.”

Among anglers who signed the pledge at the Sportshow were noted sportsman Ron Schara, Gary “Mr. Walleye” Roach, outdoor media personalities Tim Lesmeister, Mike Kurre, Billy Hildebrand and northern Minnesota guide Tom Neustrom.

Schara explained why he signed the pledge. “It may sound corny, but fishing has been important to my life,” said Schara. “So what better thing for me to do than to pass on that joy to other people. That’s why I believe and support the Anglers’ Legacy program.”

Schara also said he had never met a child who didn’t have an inherent fascination with fish and the idea of fishing. “It’s inate,” he said, “but sadly, kids for one reason or another don’t get the chance to explore that fascination.”

Neustrom shared a similar sentiment. “Fishing is such a great way to have positive experiences with kids. As anglers, it just makes sense to support a program that combines fishing, friendship and the joys of the out of doors.”

Though Minnesota maintains a strong fishing tradition, fewer young people are picking up the sport.

In the 1970s, about 40 percent of Minnesota’s population age 16 and over held a fishing license.

Today, angling participation for that same age group has dropped to 29 percent.

Ron Payer, DNR fisheries chief, encourages avid anglers to take the pledge to pass on the tradition of fishing. “The pledge approach asks anglers to give back what they have been given,” said Payer. “It’s simple. Still, it has the potential to be life-changing for those who are extended an invitation to go fishing.”

To take the pledge, visit the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation Web site at www.anglerslegacy.org.

Outdoors Columns Menu

Outdoors: Home | Honor Roll | Library | Links

Herald Journal
Stories | Columns | Obituaries | Classifieds
Guides | Sitemap | Search | Home Page