Waverly Ice Festival this Saturday

Jan. 21, 2008

by Chris Schultz

The somewhat annual, third Waverly ice festival and fishing derby will be Saturday, Jan. 26.

The festivities begins at 9 a.m. and will run through 3 p.m. at Waverly Legion Memorial Park.

For additional information, contact Kent at (763) 658-4471, ext. 35 or Jim at (763) 675-3121.

Registration for the fishing derby begins at 9 a.m., with weigh-ins running from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Besides the fishing derby, there will be many more fun, outdoor winter activities taking place.

Howard Lake ice fishing contest coming up

The 62nd annual Howard Lake Fishing Derby will be Saturday, Feb. 9 from 1 to 3 p.m. on Howard Lake.

Look for additional information on the derby in the upcoming weeks in this column.

Greenleaf open house is January 29

Anyone with an interest in the future of the Greenleaf Lake State Recreation Area is encouraged to attend an open house on Tuesday, January 29, from 5-7 p.m. at the Meeker County Courthouse (lower level).

Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials will be on hand to answer questions and take comments for the comprehensive plan it will soon begin to develop in conjunction with local citizens and others.

The recreation area is being planned for an area comprising approximately 1,200 acres of land between Litchfield and Hutchinson. To date, nearly 400 acres have been purchased around Greenleaf and Sioux lakes. Discussions with other possible willing sellers are on-going, according to DNR Southern Region Director Mark Matuska.

“I would classify those discussions as very positive,” Matuska said. “We are extremely excited about what we think this recreation area is going to become and we really encourage folks to come out and visit with us. It’s very important that we hear what people are thinking and any suggestions or questions they might have.”

Record number of calls shows Turn-In-Poachers hotline works
From the DNR

With help from calls of everyday residents, Minnesota’s Turn-In-Poachers (TIP) hotline has been a key asset to state conservation officers in their efforts to protect and preserve Minnesota’s natural resources.

A record 508 calls were made to the Minnesota TIP hotline in November. Of those calls, a record 479 cases were referred to conservation officers.

Those calls resulted in nine Minnesotans receiving a total of $1,100 in rewards for reporting wildlife violations to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Turn-In-Poachers was formed in September 1981 by a group of concerned citizens and conservationist to initially curb the illegal harvest of game and fish in Minnesota.

Calls today also include wetlands, all-terrain vehicle and snowmobile violations.

From 1981-2007, 27,042 TIP calls have been referred to conservation officers leading to 7,896 arrests. TIP rewards paid out since inception total $331,306.

These are some amazing numbers for an organization staffed by a 20 person volunteer board of directors, 10 TIP chapters around the state and thousands of callers who cherish Minnesota’s outdoors, according to Al Thomas, executive director of TIP.

TIP, Inc. is a non-profit, privately funded organization. Outdoor enthusiasts report violations anonymously by calling the 24-hour hotline at 1-800-652-9093 or #TIP on their cell phone.

Calls leading to an arrest are furnished cash awards ranging from $25 to $1, 000, but nearly half of the informants turn down rewards; they are more interested in protecting and preserving the resources.

The DNR and TIP are providing an online form that people can fill out for tips that are not time sensitive at www.dnr.state.mn.us/enforcement/tip.html.

“Everyone assumes we are part of the DNR or we receive state funding, but that’s not the case,” said Thomas. “As a non-profit we ask volunteers to help us raise funds through banquets and ask the outdoor community to join TIP with a membership. This is how we raise the funds to carry out our programs and supply conservation officers with more eyes and ears in the field.”

A recent TIP call to conservation officers has a Lester Prairie man facing total fine and restitution amounts of $3,000 for shooting and killing a trumpeter swan on Swan Lake, near Waconia.

“Cases such as these go to show the importance of TIP in protecting and preserving our natural resources,” said Col. Mike Hamm, DNR Enforcement Division chief. “They also show how invaluable TIP, its programs and its volunteers are to our field officers, and the importance of law-abiding outdoorsmen and women willing to make the calls.”

Hamm also praised the Minnesota State Patrol dispatchers and DNR employees who answer the TIP line.

Public can comment on management of muskie and northern pike
From the DNR

People interested in how the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages inland lakes for muskellunge and northern pike during the next 12 years have until Feb. 15 to review and comment on the agency’s draft long-range plan.

“Fisheries staff developed this plan with considerable input from anglers,” said Jason Moeckel, DNR Fisheries operations manager. “The DNR’s goal is to create more opportunities for people to catch large northern pike and trophy-sized muskellunge.”

Building on the foundation of management plans implemented in 1986 and 1994, this plan takes into consideration growing angler interest in landing large muskellunge and northern pike, Moeckel said.

A recent survey indicates that 14 percent of resident, licensed anglers target muskellunge when fishing and 60 percent of people who have not fished for muskellunge expressed interest in doing so.

“Interest in muskies and large pike is growing but the opportunities are limited,” Moeckel said. “The purpose of this plan is to guide fisheries management to increase those opportunities.”

Some of the recommendations in the draft plan include:

• adding eight new muskellunge lakes by 2020 to the existing 90 lakes that now offer the pure-strain species

• managing muskellunge populations for trophy angling opportunities through stocking, size regulations, season closures, existing spearing bans and promoting voluntary catch and release

• maintaining spearing opportunities for northern pike.

The public can review and comment on the draft plan by visiting http://mndnr.gov/fisheries/muskiepike_2020.html.

State trail permit required on state and grant-in-aid snowmobile trails.
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds snowmobilers that a Minnesota snowmobile state trail permit is required for all snowmobiles operated on any state or grant-in-aid snowmobile trail in Minnesota.

The permit has been required since Oct. 1, 2005.

“Minnesota has one of the best snowmobile trail systems in the country, with more than 20,000 miles of trail,” said Forrest Boe, director of the DNR Division of Trails and Waterways.

Most of the trails are managed and maintained by local snowmobile clubs through the grant-in-aid program.

“All revenues from the state trail permit go to help snowmobile clubs maintain and groom local grant-in-aid trails,” said Boe.

The state trail permit costs $16 for an annual and $31 for a three-year permit; the three-year permit may only be purchased in conjunction with the snowmobile registration.

The permit is valid from Nov. 1 through April 30 of each year.

Annual permits can be purchased from a deputy registrar or any of the 1,800 electronic licensing agents throughout Minnesota, by telephone at 1-888-665-4236, or on the DNR Web site at www.mndnr.gov.

The three-year permit is available at a deputy registrar office; through the mail to the DNR at 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155; or with an online renewal at www.mndnr.gov.

A $3.50 convenience fee will be added to permits purchased by telephone or online.

More information about the state trail permit, including proper placement, can be found in the 2007-2008 Minnesota Snowmobile Regulations handbook.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: How did Minnesota stack up in terms of temperature and precipitation for 2007?

A: The Minnesota mean annual temperature for 2007 finished above the long-term average.

Most communities reported above-average temperatures in eight of the 12 months.

Final data are still being evaluated, but it appears the 2007 state-averaged mean annual temperature for Minnesota will rank 12th in a modern record that extends back to 1895.

The 2007 annual precipitation totals demonstrate the caution one must use when evaluating climate statistics.

The state-averaged annual precipitation total finished well above the long-term mean.

However, this masks the fact that much of Minnesota was in the midst of a severe drought during the mid-summer.

The dry weather of the spring and summer was more than counterbalanced by extraordinarily heavy August rains in southeastern Minnesota, and a wet autumn throughout the state.

Outdoor notes

• The next monthly meeting for the McLeod Pheasants Forever Chapter will be Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m. in the backroom of the Biscay Liquor store.