Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

July 23, 2007

New state park may come to Lake Vermilion

From the DNR
Gov. Tim Pawlenty today announced a proposal to create a new 2,500-acre state park on Lake Vermilion in northern Minnesota. It would be Minnesota’s first new major state park in almost 30 years.

“Minnesota is a great state in part because of our beautiful natural resources and the opportunity for our citizens to enjoy them,” Governor Pawlenty said. “Protecting and enjoying those resources is a chance to do permanent good.”

“This is a unique opportunity to create a next generation state park on one of Minnesota’s most beautiful and undeveloped lakes. Today we are outlining a vision and asking local and legislative leaders to partner with us to make this a reality. A state park in this location would provide an ‘up north, place at the lake experience’ for all Minnesotans.”
The land is currently owned by United States Steel. Following discussions with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Steel has provided a window of opportunity over the next year for the state to determine the feasibility and funding of the park.

If created, the park would provide public access to Lake Vermilion - which includes 40,000 acres of water, 365 islands and 1200 miles of shoreline.

Lake Vermillion is also adjacent to a portion of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and the Superior National Forest, considered by many to be one of the nation’s premier wilderness areas.

As the state explores plans for a new park, U.S. Steel will continue to work on their existing development plan for the property.

The plan is a proposed private development called the “Three Bays of Vermilion” including 150 home sites, roads and water/sewer services.

The proposed park would be situated on the eastern shores of Lake Vermilion adjacent to Soudan Underground Mine State Park.

If this proposal receives the approval of the Minnesota Legislature, the two parks combined would provide over 10 miles of recreation shoreline (with the new park adding 4.9 miles) and 3,700 acres of public land for citizens to explore.

Funding for purchase of the land and creation of the park could come through bonding, use of a portion of the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund or general fund money.

In early discussions with DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten and Minnesota State Park Director Courtland Nelson, Governor Pawlenty has developed a vision for this proposed park to become “everyone’s lake place.”

“Water-based recreation is a tradition in Minnesota,” Commissioner Holsten said. “Minnesotans love our waters. This area will draw people from across the entire state. Five of the top ten tourist attractions in northeastern Minnesota are state parks, and this has the potential to become a sixth.”

Minnesota State Park Director Courtland Nelson stated that in addition to the opportunities afforded by the lake, he will be working with local resorters and citizens to develop a plan for a “state of the art park, offering the varied recreation experiences sought by today’s outdoor enthusiasts and developing the park in a sustainable manner to assure that the area will be used by generations to come.”

Minnesota’s state park system currently consists of 72 state park and recreation areas, eight waysides, one state trail and 54 state forest campgrounds and day use areas that total approximately 267,000 acres or about one half of 1 percent of Minnesota’s land base.

About eight million people visit Minnesota’s state parks each year with about 16 percent of those visitors coming from other states and countries. About one in every three Minnesotans visits a state park each year.

The Vermilion proposal would be the first new major state park established since Tettegouche State Park on the north shore of Lake Superior in 1979.

Glendalough State Park near Battle Lake, which was established in 1991, was managed as a private game farm and corporate retreat for over 85 years prior to becoming a state park.

According to visitation estimates for the park, it would generate over a half million dollars in direct revenue from camping and tours and over $8.5 million in visitor spending to the area.

“These kind of numbers demonstrate the sustainable tourism base that will provide jobs and economic activity for the area,” said State Park Director Nelson

Commissioner Holsten said he is very grateful for the opportunity to seek local and legislative approval to purchase the property and develop a major state park in the Lake Vermilion area.

“U.S. Steel has generously provided a window of opportunity over the next year for DNR to seek agreement from legislators and local leaders to see if this project is viable and has merit,” Commissioner Holsten stated.

Waterfowl hunters party

The Crow River chapter of Ducks Unlimited will be hosting a waterfowl hunters’ party Thursday, Aug. 9 at the Montrose Community Center.

There will be over 60 dozen Greenhead Gear decoys, Avery blinds, and shotguns.

Wear a camo shirt or pants to be eligible to win a Benelli Nova 12-gauge Max-4 Camo Shotgun.

Doors open at 6 p.m. Advance tickets only (no tickets sold at the door). Call Mark Linder at (612) 308-5275 for tickets, which are $25.

Keg’s Bar fishing league

The Keg’s Bar fishing league was at Lake Waverly last week, its eighth week of competition.

Below are the overall standings after seven weeks of fishing:
1. Troy Gille and Scott Czanstkowski; 95 points.
2. Tim Thul and Russ Chapek; 86 points.
3. Tom Schoenfeld and Tonia Radtke; 84 points.
4. Woody Langenfeld and Dave Fiecke; 83 points.
5. Jason Kieser; 82 points.
6. Mike Moy and Kimberly Moy; 81 points.
7. Mark Kieser; 70 points.
8. Gus Schoenfeld; 56 points.
9. Brian H.; 45 points.
10. Cory Zitzloff and Marcus Halverson; 39 points.
11. Mike Rathmaner; 38 points.
12. Justin Johnson; 37 points.
13. Jon Lambrecht; 36 points.
14. Joe Detlefsen; 24 points.
15. Mike Lambrecht and Brian; 23 points.
16. Dan Kieser; 12 points.
17. Bill Fiske and Tom Schlafer; 9 points.
18. Charlie Radtke; 1 point.

MN’s August heats up with Pheasants Forever
From Pheasants Forever

Hunting seasons are still weeks away, but Pheasants Forever (PF) has a host of events this August sure to get you thinking about the outdoors this fall:

• August 3rd, 2006 Build a Wildlife Area Campaign ˆ Dedication of New WMA.

Since its inception in 2003, Minnesota’s Build a Wildlife Area partnership has generated over $760,000 and acquired six new Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in Minnesota.

Those acquisitions now total over 1,500 new acres open to public recreation; including hunting.

Most recently, the partnership acquired a 159-acre parcel of land in Goodhue County.

It will be officially dedicated the Buck Family Memorial WMA on Aug. 3rd, 2007 at 10 AM in Goodhue County.

In 2006, PF National Board member Toby Buck contributed $100,000 to Minnesota’s Build a Wildlife Area partnership, which helped fund the acquisition of the land in his native Goodhue County.

The new WMA will be dedicated in memory of his father, Wayne Willis Buck.

In total, the 2006 Build A Wildlife Area campaign raised over $450,000.

These funds will be tripled by matching grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and other partners.

• August 4th, WMA Honoring 25th Anniversary of Minnesota Pheasant Stamp.

PF has teamed up with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and all who purchase Minnesota pheasant stamps to acquire 167 acres of new habitat and public hunting opportunity in Lac qui Parle County.

This project was completed in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Minnesota Pheasant Stamp, and to celebrate Pheasants Forever’s incorporation 25 years ago (August 5, 1982).

The dedication ceremony will take place Saturday, August 4th at 11:30 AM in Lac qui Parle County.

PF purchased the parcel, located two miles southeast of Madison, and completed a bargain sale to the DNR last November.

Named the 25th Anniversary Wildlife Management Area (WMA), the tract contains about 100 acres of rolling grassland and a 50-acre partially drained wetland. The majority of the purchase was funded with proceeds from Pheasant Habitat Stamp sales with the Lac Qui Parle County Chapter of PF and critical habitat license plate funds making up the balance.

The $7.50 Pheasant Stamp is required of all Minnesota pheasant hunters ages 18 through 64.

Stamp sales generate money for habitat enhancement efforts on both public and private lands in the pheasant range of Minnesota.

PF’s first goal as an organization in 1982 was passing the Minnesota pheasant stamp.

All who attended PF‚s first banquet on April 15, 1983 in St. Paul witnessed Governor Rudy Perpich sign the Pheasant Stamp into law as passed by the Minnesota Legislature.

• August 5th, Pheasants Forever’s 25th Anniversary.

PF was officially incorporated on Aug. 5, 1982.

“The Habitat Organization” now celebrates 25 years as one of the leading and most efficient non-profit conservation organizations in the country.

Over 650 PF chapters have spent nearly $200 million on wildlife habitat projects and education, benefiting wildlife on 4.4 million acres across the continent.

Here in Minnesota, the state is home to 73 chapters and over 23,000 members.

Those chapters have spent more than $23.8 million to complete over 20,000 habitat projects since the first Minnesota chapter formed in 1982.

Those projects have benefited wildlife on more than 170,000 acres.

Pheasants Forever will be celebrating these accomplishments this coming January 18-20, 2008 at National Pheasant Fest.

The Fest is expected to draw over 25,000 attendees from across the continent to Saint Paul’s RiverCentre for three days filled with puppies, tractors, shotguns, habitat tips, seminars, and art.

In fact, National Pheasant Fest promises to be the country’s largest event for upland hunters, sport dog owners, and wildlife habitat conservationists.

For a breakdown of habitat accomplishments, chapters, members, National Pheasant Fest, or PF information specific to your county or local area, please contact: Anthony Hauck, PF’s Public Relations Specialist at (651) 209-4972.

• Beginning August 10th, Pheasants Forever Day at Game Fair - The 26th annual Game Fair.

The nation’s largest outdoors, pre-hunting, family event - takes place August 10th, 11th and 12th and 17th, 18th and 19th in Ramsey, Minnesota, from 9 AM to 6 PM daily.

Saturday, August 18th has been designated Pheasants Forever Day and will feature a host of seminars and youth events.

Game Fair is held at Armstrong Kennels Ranch, six miles northwest of Anoka.

For additional information about Pheasants Forever, please visit www.pheasantsforever.org.

Regulation changes makes bowhunting more accessible
From the DNR

Beginning this fall, the minimum draw weight for hunting bows will be 30 pounds, a reduction from 40 pounds required in previous years by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The move is aimed at making bowhunting more accessible to younger hunters and others who might have difficulty drawing a 40-pound bow.
It shouldn’t affect the effectiveness of archery equipment for harvesting deer.

“The 40-pound minimum draw weight was put in place when most bows and arrows were made of wood, and compound bows were just becoming an option for hunters,” said Ryan Bronson, DNR hunter recruitment and retention supervisor. “Technology has vastly improved the efficiency of archery tackle. Modern compound bows, carbon and aluminum arrows, and high tech broad heads are capable of delivering more kinetic energy than traditional gear.”

Bronson said he became interested in changing the draw-weight regulation when he learned of Wisconsin’s 30-pound draw weight restriction from a colleague.

“She pointed out that Wisconsin had more bowhunters per capita than Minnesota, and they didn’t seem to have any problems with the more permissive regulation.”

After taking public input on the topic and consulting with archery engineers and bowhunting leaders in the state, the DNR supported legislation to alter the minimum draw weight.

The provision passed into law as part of a larger environment and natural resources bill.

Bronson predicts that the primary beneficiaries of the regulation change will be younger hunters and women, both demographic groups that are under-represented in the bowhunting ranks.

“The physical strength required to draw a bow can hinder some people from participating,” Bronson said. “Our license data supports what a lot of archery instructors tell us, that many smaller shooters can’t quite handle a 40-pound bow.”

The DNR estimates that more than 80,000 Minnesotans now hunt deer with a bow and arrow every year, compared to 70,000 as recently as 2000.

Regulatory changes, including the creation of the All-Season Deer License and allowing hunters to take deer with both firearms and archery gear have contributed to the increase.

Expanding urban hunting opportunities have also provided additional access for bowhunters.

Archery license sales to youth have increased 25 percent since 2002, from 6,000 to 7,500 annually.

“There is no doubt that bowhunting has more growth potential,” Bronson said. “As urban areas and their firearms discharge ordinances expand, more areas are becoming de-facto deer refuges. Bowhunters are the best deer management tools we have available in these areas.”

Programs like the Archery in Schools Program are also fueling the growing interest in archery, but the popular DNR school archery program provides only basic instruction.

Moving new shooters to the next level, either as target shooters or bowhunters, requires at least two things: places for archers to shoot, and instruction to teach them how to shoot better.

The DNR and the Archery Trade Association (ATA) have teamed up on an effort to identify archery facilities in Minnesota, and to put them on a searchable website so new and existing archers can find them.

The Web site www.archerysearch.com is maintained by the ATA, but DNR staff has been submitting data to make it as complete as possible.

“We found that Minnesota has a lot more archery ranges than many archers realize,” Bronson said. “Most people in the metro area have a shooting range within 30 minutes of their homes, so we are trying to help them find the most convenient location.”

Finding instructors can be more problematic than finding ranges.

Some retailers offer instruction, but other highly skilled archery instructors can be difficult to locate.

The DNR is working with archery organizations in Minnesota to post their instructor information on the www.archerysearch.com Web site, and the DNR’s Shooting Sports Education Center facilitates training to increase the supply of certified instructors.

Young people interested in developing their archery skills have more options than adults. Several programs, including the 4-H Shooting Sports and Wildlife Program, Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) cubs, and After School Archery Programs (ASAP) already exist in Minnesota.

Additionally, many parks and recreation departments, summer camps, and schools offer summer archery programs as well.

The Minnesota bowhunting season opens Sept. 15. For more information, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us.

For information about becoming a certified archery instructor, contact the Minnesota Shooting Sports Education Center at (218) 327-0583.

Outdoor notes

• Now is the time to start getting your dog in shape for the fall hunting seasons.

Gradually change the dogs diet to add more protein, and make sure you don’t overwork the pooch in warm weather.

• Last week, the Hutchinson Leader reported on a significant fish kill in the south fork of the Crow River near, or just below, the dam in Hutchinson.

The fish, mostly carp, bullheads, and a some walleye, are dying because of low water levels in the river

• Many of the lakes in our area are also experiencing lower than normal water levels.

Boaters and anglers should be aware, and pay special attention to, structures, like rock piles, that may be a hazard.

• The pheasant hatch in our area looks like it was a good one.
In other areas of the pheasant range, like the Dakotas and far western Minnesota, it could be a different story.

In many parts of the Dakotas, heavy spring rains may have hurt spring nesting success.

• Habisch Outdoors, located a few miles south of Winsted on McLeod County Road 1, is planning the grand opening of their building Sat., Aug. 25. Look for more info in upcoming weeks.

• In next week’s column I’ll continue the series on Lake Ann.

• My new pup Copper, 11 weeks old now, is growing like weed.

• Take a kid fishing; he or she will have fun and so will you.

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