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Minnesota votes YES on Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment

November 10, 2008

by Chris Schultz

ST PAUL – It’s an exciting day for Pheasants Forever and the State of Minnesota as voters yesterday passed The Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. Over 1.6 million Minnesotans, or 56 percent, voted YES to positively impact the future of the outdoors in the state.

Pheasants Forever joined a coalition of 350 conservation, sportsmen, environmental and arts groups in supporting the Amendment. The measure will raise the state sales tax by three-eights of one percent - from 6.5 to 6.875 percent - beginning July 1, 2009, and will generate an estimated $300 million a year in today’s dollars, or around $11 billion over the next 25 years.

The Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment will ensure $100 million for Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund, $100 million for the Clean Water Fund, $59 million for the Cultural Heritage Fund and $43 Million for the Parks and Trails Fund - all annually. Currently, funding for wildlife habitat remains near historic lows, and over the next 25 years, over 1 million acres of farmland, wooded lands and other natural areas will be lost as Minnesota continues growing faster than any other state in the Midwest.

“Minnesotans have chosen to do what we thought they would all along,” said Joe Duggan, PF Vice President of Corporate Relations and Marketing and a staunch advocate of the Amendment during its decade-long journey to fruition, “They have chosen, through a truly remarkable one-time opportunity, to protect the Minnesota we all know and love, and to ensure future generations enjoy cleaner waters and abundant wildlife.”

Pheasants Forever also hopes the passage of The Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in Minnesota proves to be a precursor of what’s to come next year in Iowa, where the state will consider its own constitutional amendment for the sustainable funding of natural resources.

For more information on The Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, log onto www.YesForMN.org.

Minnesota’s 76 PF chapters account for over 23,000 members statewide. Those chapters have spent more than $33.7 million to complete almost 22,000 habitat projects since the first Minnesota PF chapter was formed in 1982. Those projects have benefited more than 184,000 acres for wildlife. PF applies a unique and successful model of empowering local chapters with the responsibility to determine how 100% of their locally raised conservation funds will be spent. PF is the only national conservation organizations to employ this unique locally-driven chapter model.

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are non-profit conservation organizations dedicated to the protection and enhancement of pheasant, quail, and other wildlife populations in North America through habitat improvement, land management, public awareness, and education. PF/QF has more than 129,000 members in 700 local chapters across the continent.

Karlstad resident wins first-ever walleye stamp contest

A painting by Nick Reitzel of Karlstad, Minn. of two walleye, one chasing minnows and the other hitting a jig, will be featured on Minnesota’s first-ever walleye stamp.

The winning design was chosen from among 40 entries in a contest sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Sixteen entries advanced to the second stage of judging, from which six finalists were selected during the contest conducted Oct. 30 at DNR Headquarters in St. Paul.

The 2009 Walleye Stamp Contest was the fifth DNR wildlife stamp contest Reitzel has won. He also won the 2002 and 2008 pheasant, 2001 trout and salmon and 2001 turkey stamp contests.

Contest judges were Dr. Bruce Vondracek, University of Minnesota, Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; Rob Drieslein, Outdoor News; Bob Trevis, Ideal Printing Inc.; Mitch Schulte, a walleye angler; and Ron Payer, DNR Fisheries Management Section chief.

An artist whose work is selected for a Minnesota fish or wildlife stamp receives no compensation from the DNR, but does retain reproduction and marketing rights.

The Legislature created the walleye stamp earlier this year. It will add $5 to the cost of 2009 fishing licenses for those who choose to purchase it, although it is not required to legally catch walleye.

Revenue from stamp sales is dedicated to walleye stocking and other directly related activities.

Record-breaking Camp Ripley deer harvest

Archers took a record of 516 deer during two, two-day bow hunts in October at Camp Ripley Military Reservation near Little Falls.

“This represents an 8 percent increase from last year’s take of 476 deer, and breaks the previous record take of 514 deer in 2006,” said Beau Liddell, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Little Falls Area Wildlife manager.

Despite poor weather conditions during the second hunt on Oct. 26-27, archers harvested 191 deer (compared with 245 last year), and took three bucks weighing more 200 pounds. There were 325 deer taken during the first hunt on Oct. 19-20.

A combined total of 5,005 permits were issued for both two-day hunts, with 4,167 hunters participating. Hunter success during the first hunt was 15 percent, and was slightly more than 9 percent for the second hunt, or about 12 percent for both hunts. This is slightly better than last year and about 4 percent higher than the long-term average of 8 percent. This year, for the fifth year running, hunters were allowed to take up to two deer and to use bonus permits to increase harvest on antlerless deer.

“We’re very pleased with the results the past two years,” Lidell said. “Although Ripley bow hunters have historically been very selective for bucks, we have seen a high proportion of does and fawns taken this year.”

In the end, the proportion of deer taken at Camp Ripley that were antlerless was similar to previous years and much higher than the long-term average of 53 percent. Does or fawns made up about 65 percent of this year’s harvest.

The largest buck shot during the second hunt weighed 230 pounds and was taken by Daniel Klimek of Alexandria. Other hunters who harvested large bucks were Peter Daniel of Eagan (213 pounds) and William Collins of Princeton (208 pounds). Reid Sander of Deerwood, harvested the largest doe, weighing in at 140 pounds.

The archery hunt at Camp Ripley is an annual event. The DNR coordinates the hunt with the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000 acre reservation.

Now is the time to complete snowmobile safety training

Those who wait until cold, snowy weather arrives before taking snowmobile safety training may find they’re too late to enjoy the season, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“Some snowmobilers wait to see how much snow is in the forecast or on the ground before taking a DNR snowmobile safety training course,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Enforcement Education Program coordinator.

“Snowmobilers who wait may find that classes are full or have concluded for the season. No Snowmobile Safety Certificate means no snowmobiling.” He added that plenty of snowmobile safety training classes are available right now.

To legally ride a snowmobile in Minnesota, residents born after Dec. 31, 1976, need a valid snowmobile safety certificate. There are two ways to obtain the certificate: take the traditional classroom course taught in communities around the state for anyone 11 or older; or request the DNR Adult Snowmobile Safety CD ROM, available to those 16 or older. To request the CD-ROM, or a copy of DNR’s 2008-2009 Minnesota Snowmobile Safety Laws, Rules, and Regulations handbook, call 651-296-6157 (toll free at 888-MINNDNR), or send an e-mail to.

“CD ROM users can learn from the comfort of home, fill out the quizzes and exam, and send their results in to be officially certified,” Hammer said.

More than 1,800 volunteer instructors teach DNR snowmobile safety courses across the state. For more information on the dates and locations of these courses, visit the DNR Web site: www.dnr.state.mn.us or call 1-800-366-8917.

Nominees sought for 16th annual Minnesota Deer Hunter Ethics Award

The actions of deer hunters who exhibit exemplary behavior will be recognized at the 2009 Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA) Habitat Banquet on Feb. 28, 2009, at the Four Points Sheraton in Minneapolis.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, MDHA and Turn In Poachers (TIP) are asking hunters to share stories of admirable hunting behavior by nominating people for the 16th Annual Minnesota Deer Hunter Ethics Award.

The award will honor a deer hunter who has exhibited conduct during the 2008 season that can serve as a positive example to all hunters. Awards for youth and adult divisions will be presented at the banquet.

“MDHA is pleased to again co-sponsor this award along with TIP and the DNR,” said MDHA Executive Director Mark Johnson. “We are proud of the ethical standards of our deer hunters. Past award winners have been excellent examples of the type of ethical hunters we hope all hunters aspire to be.”

Wayne Edgerton, DNR agriculture policy coordinator, said the award honors hunters who not only do the right thing, they go the extra mile.

“Each year we hear about hunters who have done something special that makes us proud to be hunters. This award provides public recognition and appreciation for these actions.”

Al Thomas, TIP’s director, agreed. “This award encourages ethics above and beyond legal hunting, TIP is proud to be a part of it.”

Anyone may nominate a hunter by writing a letter or e-mail explaining the actions of the nominee and why that person is worthy of this recognition. Both youth and adults are eligible, but nominees must be Minnesota residents. The incidents for which hunters are nominated must have occurred during any of the 2008 Minnesota deer hunting seasons (archery, firearm or muzzleloader).

Nominations will be accepted for the Minnesota Deer Hunter’s Ethics Award until Jan. 23, 2008.

Nomination letters should be sent to Ethical Hunter Award, MDHA, 460 Peterson Road, Grand Rapids, MN 55744-8413, faxed to 218-327-1349, or e-mailed to bri@mndeerhunters.com.

Deer drive safety must be top priority

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is urging all hunters heading afield for the firearm deer season beginning Nov. 8 to hunt safely this fall, especially during deer drives.

“Many times, the victim and offender know one another. In fact, they’re hunting together,” Capt. Mike Hammer, Education Program coordinator, DNR Enforcement Division. “The excitement of the hunt can quickly cloud a hunter’s judgment and perception, and make him or her momentarily forget about surroundings, even hunting partners.”

To ensure safety, deer hunters should establish hunting plans that define who will shoot and when during drives. Each hunting party member should have a predetermined zone of fire and always know where fellow hunters are located in the field. Deer drives are when hunters walk through a field hoping to flush out deer.

“Every hunter assumes an incredible responsibility when he or she picks up a firearm and heads afield,” Hammer emphasized. “It’s up to the hunter to make sound shooting decisions. If there’s even the slightest hint that something isn’t right, please don’t shoot. There will be other opportunities. Wait for the next chance and take pride in knowing that you made the right choice.”

Hammer reminds hunters to hunt defensively, and to assume every movement or sound that they hear is another hunter until they can prove unquestionably otherwise.

They should also remember to scan the area behind the target, positively identify their target and be absolutely sure it is a legal deer before taking the safety off and pulling the trigger.

In addition, wearing blaze orange clothing is required in areas open to deer hunting with firearms.

“Know the location of your partners and others, know your zones of fire, make your position known to other hunters, be sure of your target and what’s beyond it, and wear blaze orange clothing,” Hammer said.

“It’s not only a common sense thing to do, it’s the law.”

DNR, Boston Scientific pick up 1,940 pounds of trash from St. Paul colonial waterbird nesting area

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Adopt-a-River program and Boston Scientific, along with 37 volunteers, cleaned up 1,940 pounds of trash from along the banks of the Mississippi River on Saturday, Oct. 18. The event took place at Pig’s Eye Scientific and Natural Area (SNA) south of downtown St. Paul.

The two organizations have hosted cleanups since 1999 and have worked together on cleaning up the Pig’s Eye SNA since 2005. In four years, 148 volunteers have collected 9,860 pounds of garbage from the island.

“Trash accumulates around the island,” explained Paul Nordell, Adopt-a-River Program coordinator. “The garbage floats in with flood events and becomes trapped by the island’s dense vegetation, keeping the garbage from re-entering the river.”

The cleanup was daunting for volunteers because much of the trash was food and beverage containers targeted for recycling.

“There was so much trash lying around, it was like seeing candy on a parade route,” said Alyssa Whiting of Boston Scientific. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t candy, it was plastic debris.”

Pig’s Eye Island is a vital wildlife habitat, which is why it was designated as a SNA. With an estimated peak of 1,600 pairs of nesting colonial waterbirds, it is believed to be one of the largest nesting sites in Minnesota. Visits to the island between April 1 and July 15 are limited to researchers under SNA permit in order to protect the birds and their young during nesting time.

Boston Scientific employees put a lot of time and effort into the cleanup and provided breakfast, lunch, and a t-shirt to all the volunteers who participated. To learn about organizing cleanups, visit the Adopt-a-River Web site at www.mndnr.gov/adoptariver.

DNR QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Q: Now is the time of year when animals start looking for winter shelter. What is the best way to keep bats out of my house?

A: The first step in excluding bats is to locate the entry points to your house. One way to do this is to watch at dusk to see where they are exiting. Bats can enter and exit through holes as small as three-quarter inches, the diameter of a dime. Typical entry points include chimneys, louver fans, air intakes, exhaust vents, openings around plumbing, power or cable lines, spaces around doors and windows, and where exterior siding has shrank, warped or loosened. Close inspection during the day will help determine the exact location of these entry points. Caulk, weatherstripping, expanding foam products, insulation materials, screening, steel wool, or even duct tape can be used to close these and other entry points. Efforts to bat-proof your home will also often improve its energy efficiency. Another good way to keep bats out of the interior of your home is to make sure doors to attics and basements are well sealed, and that dampers are kept closed when the chimney is not in use.