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Howard Lake Watershed Alliance to have focus session

May 11, 2009

by Chris Schultz

The Howard Lake Watershed Alliance is sponsoring a Lake Management Focus Session Thursday, May 14.

They will be meeting in the lodge at Codger’s Cove.

A dinner will be served at 6 p.m. The Focus Session will follow at 7 p.m. with the guidance of Don Hickman from the Initiative Foundation.

“Join us to share your concerns and suggestions for the future of Howard Lake,” Curt Forst said.

Ladies only nights at the Waverly Gun Club

The Waverly Gun Club will once again be offering ladies only nights at the club starting Tuesday, May 12 and running through October.

The nights will take place the second Tuesday of the month (May 12, June 9, July 14, Aug. 11, Sept. 8, and Oct. 13).

Rifles, .22 cal. pistols, targets, and ammunition will be provided by the club.

You may bring your own centerfire handgun and ammunition, if you prefer.

Range officer will be present on the shooting line for instruction – available upon request.

Shoot from the comfort of a shelter – handguns: 7- or 25-yard range; rifles: 25- or 50-yard range. Offhand or from a bench rest.

The club is located north of Waverly just off Wright County Road 9.

For more information, contact Al Moy (612) 889-4423 or Russ Johnson (763) 675-3527.

Shooting hours are 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Lake Ann to have visioning session in June

There will be a “Visioning/Planning Session,” where the Lake Ann Improvement Association will identify key community concerns, assets, opportunities, and priorities.

Everyone who is interested in, or concerned about Lake Ann is encouraged to join us for a roll and cup of coffee Saturday, June 6 at 8:30 a.m. at the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School, located at 8700 Co. Rd. 6 SW in Howard Lake.

The planning session will be facilitated by John Sumption of Cass County Environmental Services, and is planned for 9 to 11 a.m.

The Lake Ann Improvement Association was invited to participate in the Initiative Foundation’s “Healthy Lakes and Rivers Partnership” program, along with seven other lake associations in Wright County.

For more information, contact Deb Stenberg at (320) 543-3193 ext. 102, or (612) 619-3070.

Rainbow Sportsmen’s Trap League starting

The Rainbow Sportsmen’s Club north of Cokato started its Trap Shooting League May 7.

For questions or more information, call (320) 286-5428.

Boating safety tips
From the DNR

For many Minnesotans, the opening of the inland walleye and northern fishing season on May 9 also marks the beginning of a new boating season.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recommends a pre-launch review of safety equipment and regulations for a safe start to the season.

Minnesota law requires a wearable personal flotation device for each person on any boat.

Most boats have requirements for lighting, signaling device, fire extinguisher and other equipment.

Regulations and safety recommendations are listed in the Minnesota Boating Guide, available online at /boating or by calling (651) 296-6157 or toll free 888-646-6367.

“Take a few minutes to think about safety as you’re preparing your boat and fishing equipment,” said Tim Smalley, DNR boating safety specialist. “It’s a small investment of time that could save your life or that of a family member.”

• Life jackets

Minnesota law requires a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable personal flotation device (PFD), more commonly known as a life jacket or life vest, for each person on the boat.

The vest has to be of the correct size and type for the person for whom it is intended.

Also required is a throwable flotation device (called a Type IV) like a boaters’ seat cushion on boats 16 feet or longer.

Children under 10 are now required to wear a life jacket unless they are below decks such as in a houseboat or are swimming or diving from an anchored boat.

“The number one reason people die in boating accidents is that they’re not wearing a life jacket,” Smalley said.

US Coast Guard approved inflatable life vests or foam vests with a mesh material at the shoulder area are comfortable even on the hottest Minnesota summer day.

New styles of life jackets are stylish, comfortable and easy to wear.

Even though adults aren’t required to wear a life vest on most boats, it is the one thing that could save their life, especially in a cold water situation.

Most boating fatalities involve capsizing and falls overboard, and almost all of the victims had swimming ability.

Unfortunately, that ability wasn’t enough to save them from the gasp that is brought on by cold water shock.

If your head is underwater when you experience that sudden reflexive gasp, you’re probably going to drown, unless you’re wearing your life jacket.

• Navigation lights

After sunset and before sunrise, motorboats must be illuminated by red and green bow lights and a white stern light visible from 360 degrees.

While at anchor, motorboats are required to be illuminated by the white stern light.

Lights should be placed so they aren’t blocked by passengers or equipment, such as mounted trolling motors or canopies on pontoon boats.

If you can’t be seen at night, you may get hit by another boater.

• Fire extinguiser

Many motorboats are required to carry a US Coast Guard approved fire extinguisher.

Be sure to check that they are fully charged by looking at the dial.

• Horn or whistle

Boats 16 feet or longer must carry a whistle or horn capable of producing a sound for at least two seconds that can be heard for at least one mile.

• Spare parts and tools

Although not a legal requirement, handy equipment includes spare parts like spark plugs and shear pins (if your motor uses them), and an anchor to drop to keep you from being blown onto the rocks.

And don’t forget to put in the drain plug before you launch!

• No alcohol

Fatal errors in judgment brought on by beer and booze can cause trouble long before you reach the .08 level of intoxication.

It is expensive to make as well. If you are caught operating your boat under the influence you may incur lawyer fees, fines, civil penalties and a conviction for boating while intoxicated.

Such a conviction goes on your auto driver’s license record and may affect your insurance rates for years to come.

Just a few minutes of time and the proper precautions can make a big difference in preventing tragedies on the water.

Public water accesses are ready to go
From the DNR

Boaters will find good launch conditions at most public accesses, officials from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Division of Parks and Trails said today.

Crews have been busy this spring inspecting and repairing launch ramps at the state’s 1,690 DNR-operated public water access sites.

However, access facilities on the Red River will not be usable due to flood damage.

Also lakes in the greater metropolitan area and in the central lakes region are experiencing low water levels, which may make launching a boat difficult.

“The main concern with launching boats on lakes with low water levels is that the concrete ramp may not be long enough,” said Nancy Stewart, DNR Public Water Access Program coordinator. “It may not be possible to back far enough into the water to float the boat off the trailer. Regardless of water levels, it’s always a good idea to check the condition of the ramp prior to launching to ensure there are no hazardous conditions present that may cause damage to equipment.”

Stewart suggests that boaters be patient and prepared as they head to the public water access, use extra care when launching and loading, and have a back-up plan in case your traditional fishing opener lake is accessible.

In addition to making repairs to ramps, DNR crews have been busy installing docks and toilets at many access sites.

Boaters who encounter problems at a DNR public access site can contact their local DNR office or the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 888-646-6367.

For public water access maps and boating information go to: www.dnr.state.mn.us.water_access/index.html.

Angling contributes $4.7 billion to state economy
From the DNR

When Minnesota’s fishing season opened May 9, an estimated 1 million anglers will take to the lakes in hopes of landing a walleye or northern pike.

Nearly 1 million more will join in as the year goes on.

“Fishing and Minnesota go hand-in-hand,” said Ron Payer, fisheries chief for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “More than a million Minnesotans buy a fishing license. So do 300,000 visitors from out-of-state. Plus, we estimate a half-million kids who are not required to have a license, will fish from docks or from boats with mom and dad. Together, that’s about 2 million anglers.”

The lure of Minnesota’s fishing tradition is linked to 5,400 managed fishing lakes and thousands of miles of rivers and streams.

Minnesota is a perennial top five national angling destination; it is tied with Alaska for the highest angling participation rate in the country, which is 28 percent.

“Only Florida, Texas and California – high population coastal states – have more licensed anglers than Minnesota,” said Payer. “That statistics speaks to the quality of our fisheries and the quality experiences people enjoy when they get outdoors.”

As much as fishing contributes to family fun, it also contributes to the state’s fiscal health.

According to 2008 data from the American Sportfishing Association, fishing contributes $4.7 billion to Minnesota’s economy.

That’s the fourth-highest economic contribution in the nation.

Equipment sales alone contribute $1.2 billion and nearly 44,000 Minnesotans hold fishing-related jobs, according to a 2006 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report.

“No matter the economic times, people view a Minnesota fishing license as a good investment,” said Payer. “They know fishing memories never lose value, they only appreciate over time.”

Payer said fishing should be good again this year.

The big lakes, which provide a bulk of the state’s walleye harvest are in good shape.

The walleye limit has been increased on Upper Red Lake from three to four.

Although catch rates vary from lake-to-lake based on predator and prey ratios, walleye populations are healthy in Mille Lacs, Winnibigoshish and our other noted walleye lakes.

This year’s Governor’s Fishing Opener took place at White Bear Lake in Ramsey County.

The 2,416-acre lake is located in one of the nation’s best urban fisheries as 258 lakes are managed for fish in the seven-county metro area.

“As good as the fishing is up north and in other parts of Minnesota, it’s also darn good in the shadow of the Capitol,” said Payer. “Thirteen of Minnesota’s state record fish have been caught in the metro area.”

The statewide walleye and northern pike seasons opened Saturday.

The statewide largemouth and smallmouth bass seasons opens Saturday, May 23.

The muskellunge season opens Saturday, June 6.

The fishing season is open for sunfish, crappie and several other species.

Payer offered the following advice to anglers:

• Review new fishing regulations. A notable change is that walleye and northern pike “one over” limits now apply to both daily and possession limits.

• If you are traveling to a distant location, call ahead to make sure the boat landing is in good shape. Late ice-out or other factors can temporarily damage access sites.

• Help stop the spread of exotic invasive species. Drain water from livewells. Remove vegetation from boats and trailers. Empty bait buckets if traveling from one lake to another. Regrettably, zebra mussels have showed up in a Twin Cities lake and are abundant in Lake Mille Lacs. Every angler has a responsibility to help stop or slow down the spread of these unwanted species.

• Introduce someone new to fishing. Most people would gladly go fishing if they were asked. so share the fun.

• Wear your life jacket. Accidents happen. Most angling and boat fatalities when someone falls into water without a life jacket.

• Support local water quality and conservation efforts in your area. Be involved. Good fishing starts with clean water and is sustained by healthy spawning, nursery and cover areas.

Consider purchasing the new walleye stamp. Though the $5 stamp validation is not needed to catch and keep walleye, proceeds are used to support walleye stocking.

For $7 the DNR will mail the actual stamp to your door.

Boaters reminded to help stop aquatic hitchhikers
From the DNR

With the onset of the 2009 boating and fishing season, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking boaters and anglers to keep up their good work in minimizing the spread of aquatic invasive species.

By taking a few simple steps when leaving a lake or river, boaters and anglers can do their part to help stop the spread in Minnesota waters of several aquatic hitchhikers, such as Eurasian watermilfoil and zebra mussels.

The key steps are to clean, drain, and dry boats and equipment:

• Clean all aquatic plants, zebra mussels, and other aquatic animals from boats and trailers before leaving the water access.

• Drain water from bilges, live wells, and bait containers before leaving the water access.

• Dry boats and equipment for five days, or spray with high pressure and hot water before transporting to another lake or river.

Boaters leaving lakes and rivers that the DNR has listed as infested waters need to be especially careful.

Anglers who have live bait and want to keep it for another time should drain any infested water from the bait container and replace it with tap or spring water.

Signs are posted at public access points to identify infested waters.

The list of infested waters is available at www.dnr.mn.state.us/eco/invasive/index.html.

Boaters should also remember to dispose of unwanted live bait including worms and minnows in the trash rather than dump them in the lakes and woods.

“Actions to reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species should now be part of the routine for boaters,” according to Jay Rendall, DNR invasive species prevention coordinator. “These simple steps help boaters comply with state laws that prohibit the transport of aquatic plants, zebra mussels and water from infested waters.”

“The recent discovery of zebra mussels in Prior Lake and the expanding population in Lake Mille Lacs are new potential sources of spread,” said Luke Skinner, DNR invasive species unit supervisor. “The potential to spread aquatic invasive species increases each year. We need Minnesotans to continue with their high level of action.”

Last year, DNR biologists found 12 additional waters infested with Eurasian watermilfoil, bringing the total number of infested water bodies in the state to 215.

Inland waters known to be infested with zebra mussels include Lake Ossawinnamakee and Rice Lake near Brainerd; Lake Mille Lacs; Prior Lake; Charlie, Pleasant, Sucker, Vadnais in Ramsey County; and Lake Zumbro north of Rochester.

The Mississippi River from its confluence with the Pine River down to the Iowa border is also on the infested waters list.

Spiny waterfleas are in most of the waters along the Canadian border, from Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River east to Lake Superior.

The DNR continues to conduct the “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!” campaign statewide to remind boaters and anglers to take precautions.

People will likely see the icon and messages in a variety of places this year, including billboards, newspapers and on outdoor banners.

Signs at public accesses, reminders from DNR watercraft inspectors, radio and television ads, and public service announcements will also be used to reach boaters this summer.

More information about aquatic invasive species and a list of infested waters can be found in the 2009 Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet.

Questions of the week
From the DNR

Q: Spring is the time when wildlife babies are born. What should people do, if anything, if they find what appears to be an abandoned wildlife baby, or a baby bird that fell out of its nest?

A: The arrival of spring also means the arrival of newborns and just-hatched wildlife.

These youngsters soon venture into the world on shaky legs or fragile wings.

All too often, well-meaning people pick up animals, particularly white-tailed deer fawns and young birds, believing that these animals have been orphaned or abandoned and need to be saved.

This is almost never the case because the parents are usually waiting nearby.

In fact, a would-be rescuer is causing more harm than good to the young animal.

Those early unsteady steps and flights are part of normal development, helping the young learn how to care for themselves.

So, it’s important for people to remember that wild animals belong in the wild.