It was mid-September, 1993, and I was writing an article about sharptail grouse hunting and the International Peace Gardens on the North Dakota Manitoba, Canada Border.
It was a great area to hunt and explore, other than the mosquitoes.
While on that assignment, about an hour before sunset on a hot steamy day, I started a long hike along a drainage ditch to photograph a newly constructed Ducks Unlimited dike system.
Before I started the hike, I doused myself, and my dog, with repellent and wasn’t too concerned about mosquitoes.
When the sun started to set, I was about two miles across the prairie from my truck and that’s when the biggest swarm of hungry and biting mosquitoes came out that I have ever seen.
They filled the air like I had never seen before.
I remember looking down at my dog and seeing his black coat completely covered with the pests.
Soon, they started biting me like they hadn’t eaten a thing for a month.
Not to be funny, but it was horrible and dangerous.
By the time I got to my truck, my clothes were so filled with mosquitoes I had to rip them off just for some relief.
During that run, or maybe sprint, there were times I struggled to even open my eyes.
With the dog in back of the truck, I drove to the small motel in Boisevaine, MB where I was staying, in my underwear.
The next day, I was in the local medical clinic getting treatment for hundreds of mosquito bites, and then drove back to the drainage ditch to pick up my clothes.
That was the worst experience with mosquitoes I have ever had.
Although the mosquitoes aren’t as bad as that, they have been pretty nasty in our area of late the worst I have seen in quite a few years.
If you’re heading for the great outdoors, be prepared, and don’t put young children, or the elderly in a position where they can’t get quick protection from biting mosquitoes.
For some better news, the sunfish action on many of our area lakes has been great.
Several lakes are producing fish in 6 to 10 feet of water, and some anglers are also finding some good-sized fish.
If you look at the photos in today’s column you’ll notice it takes a fish about the length of two pop cans to equal a one pound sunfish.
Over the 4th of July, I was lucky enough to land a 1-pound, 10-ounce sunfish on Diamond Lake near Atwater.
Three years ago, I landed a 2-pound, 3-ounce bluegill on Diamond.
Good luck fishing, and be prepared for biting mosquitoes.
Watertown firearms training class
Registrations for Watertown firearms training class will take place Saturday, July 31 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Watertown Rod and Gun Club.
Class size is limited, and participants must be 11 years old, or older, before class date in order to be eligible to take this class. The cost is $15.
Classes start Monday, Aug. 2, and continue Tuesday, Aug. 3, Thursday, Aug. 5, and Friday, Aug. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m.
On Saturday, Aug. 7, there will be a field day that starts at 8 a.m.
For additional information, call (612) 709-1243, or send an e-mail to watertownFST@yahoo.com.
DNR to relax Lake Mille Lacs walleye regulation July 15
From the DNR
Anglers who fish for walleye on Lake Mille Lacs will be able to keep larger walleye effective July 15 when a new mid-season regulation takes effect, according to the Minnesota Department of the Natural Resources (DNR).
The new regulation will require anglers to immediately release all walleye 20-28 inches in length.
Currently, anglers must immediately release all walleye 18-28 inches in length.
Mille Lacs’ four-walleye limit remains in place.
Only one of the four walleye an angler may keep can be longer than 28 inches.
The DNR broadened the harvest opportunity because angler harvest and hooking mortality is below the threshold necessary to maintain the current and more protective slot limit. As of June 30, angler harvest of walleyes was less than half of the state’s annual allocation of 411,500 pounds.
This year, the DNR instituted a policy on a trial basis that calls for relaxing the walleye regulation when harvest and hooking mortality is low, restricting the regulation when the harvest and hooking mortality is high, and keeping the regulation the same when the harvest is not significantly high or low.
“This new change addresses the request of the Mille Lacs Lake Fisheries Input Group,” said Dirk Peterson, DNR fisheries section chief. “It provides a good balance of resource protection and angler opportunity, while at the same time pursuing the need for consistency in regulations from year to year.”
The walleye size limit will revert back to the 18-28 inch protected slot limit on Wednesday, Dec. 1, for the winter angling season.
The possession limit will remain at four fish.
Minnesota’s largest land conservation deal complete
From the DNR
The Conservation Fund, The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Blandin Paper Company (UPM) announced today the completion of a working forest conservation easement that forever protects 187,876 acres of Northwoods forests, wetlands and shoreline currently owned by UPM.
“This is a historic opportunity to protect and sustain our natural resources on a vast scale for generations to come,” said DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten. “Easements such as this have always been an ideal approach to conservation work in Minnesota. Citizens can hike, bike, camp and snowmobile on some of the most beautiful acreage in the state, timber harvests can continue to bolster the economy, and yet the ownership and management of the land remains in private hands.”
A conservation easement is a voluntary, legal agreement a landowner makes that permanently restricts the type and amount of development that occurs on the property, regardless of who may own the land in the future.
The easement on the UPM lands will provide public access for hunting, fishing, birdwatching and other recreational activities, and will preserve existing hiking, snowmobile and other trails.
It also prevents development and subdivision of the lands and prohibits alteration of water channels, wetlands, streams and rivers.
UPM will be required to follow internationally accepted sustainable forest management practices by being certified through the Forest Stewardship Council or Sustainable Forestry Initiative, with auditing by the DNR for compliance.
“UPM is a global leader in the management and protection of forest resources for multiple uses,” said Joe Maher, general manager of UPM’s Blandin paper mill in Grand Rapids, MN. “This landmark agreement fits the company’s vision for vibrant forests that not only contribute to the economic well being of the region, but also are a source of pleasure and recreation for all.”
Tom Duffus, upper Midwest director of The Conservation Fund, which helped negotiate the easement and secure private funding for the project, added: “This project has been over 10 years in the making. Thanks to private donors, who contributed the largest private gift to conservation in state history, and to Minnesota voters who approved the Legacy Amendment, the dream of many to permanently conserve this amazing landscape has been realized.”
Of the $44 million purchase price, $34.25 million came from state appropriations to DNR’s Minnesota Forests for the Future program, generated from the additional sales tax authorized by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy constitutional amendment approved by Minnesota voters in 2008.
The Conservation Fund provided $9.75 million of private funding through a $7 million grant from the Blandin Foundation, a $2 million grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation and a $750,000 grant from Walmart’s Acres for America program with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
The project complements the goals of DNR’s Minnesota Forests for the Future program and is supported by more than 60 local, statewide and national conservation, local government and economic development organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Minnesota Land Trust, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, Minnesota Forest Industries and Minnesota Forest Resources Council.
The Upper Mississippi Forest project conserves over 60,000 acres of wetlands, 280 miles of stream, lake and river frontage and stitches together over 4,000 square miles of public and private forests.
The land will provide jobs as a working forest and recreation destination.
In addition to the easement, the purchase includes 1,300 acres acquired by the DNR to help consolidate existing state forests.
DNR urges caution on Minnesota Rivers
From the DNR
Boaters and anglers may encounter high water, high current and potentially hazardous debris on a number of rivers throughout the state, according the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The rivers include the Mississippi, Minnesota, Lower St. Croix and the Red near Hallock.
“With recent heavy rainfall in some areas of the state, high water has inundated river banks on some rivers, resulting in hazardous debris in the water,” said Tim Smalley, DNR water safety specialist. “Both natural and man-made objects have been swept into the rivers.”
Debris often floats just at or below the surface of the water, which means boaters may not be able to see the obstruction until it is too late.
“Current is another threat,” Smalley added. “There is a lot of water flowing through many river systems now. This increases both the speed of the river and strength of the current, which makes it more difficult for even an experienced swimmer to stay afloat. This means it is important to wear your life jacket at all times, now and throughout the year.”
Smalley suggest boaters let others know where they are going and when they expect to return, and to exercise extreme caution when swimming in any sort of current.
Also, boaters should be aware of the wake their boat creates and the effect it may have on the shoreline, docks or other boats.
The reports, which are updated weekly from April through October, are based on automated river level gauges and gauge readings recorded by volunteers.
The DNR cautioned boaters that river levels could change dramatically over a short period of time due to inclement weather conditions.
State Fair volunteer opportunities
From the DNR
The State Fair is coming to St Paul, Aug 26 Sept 6 , and you can be a part of it!
Admission tickets to the fair will be provided for each day volunteering with the DNR!
Each year thousands visit the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Building and Park to see fish, birds, to learn more about their favorite lakes, parks, trails, and to see exhibits on various DNR Programs.
The volunteer time commitment is at least one day for 4-6 hours depending on the job.
Admission tickets for each day along with instructions and fair information will be sent about one week prior to the fair.
Parking and meals will be the responsibility of the person volunteering.
Contact the person listed at the end of each position for more information.
Lake Data Assistant
Help the Division of Fisheries process requests from fair goers for information on their favorite lakes.
You will enter the name of the lake and its location into a computer and generate reports on the size, depth, and clarity of lakes along with the species of fish found there.
Computer training will be held Wednesday, Aug. 18, at noon at the DNR Building, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, 2nd floor conference room.
Volunteers are needed 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., noon 4 p.m., or 3:30 - 7:30 p.m. daily at the fair.
Contact Renée Vail, DNR Volunteer Programs, at (651) 259-5249, or e-mail email@example.com to help in the lake data booth.
Smokey Bear and his Voice
For three hours each day of the fair one person will play the costumed character Smokey Bear. Smokey will be required to move among the crowds in and around the DNR building and to pose with people wanting to have their picture taken with him.
Smokey does not speak, so another person must be on hand to be his voice and to help him walk as visibility is partially limited with the costume.
The Voice of Smokey must be able to introduce the costumed character to people.
QUALIFICATIONS: The person playing Smokey must be 17 years of age or older, be at least 5’7” or taller and have a chest or waist no larger than 46” to best fit the costume.
Wearing the costume can get terribly hot so people affected by the heat need to take this under consideration.
Volunteers are needed 11a.m. - noon and 1p.m. 2 p.m. daily.
This Smokey cannot volunteer for the parade on the same day.
At least two sets of Smokeys and Voices are needed on Friday, Aug. 27, for shifts every other hour from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Fire Prevention Day of the fair. Contact Renée Vail, DNR Volunteer Programs, at (651) 259-5249, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to play Smokey or his Voice.
Volunteers are needed to staff an outdoor tent booth and explain DNR’s Adopt-a-River Program to fair goers.
The Adopt-a-River Program encourages Minnesota volunteers to adopt a section of a lake, river, pond, wetland, ditch or ravine to ensure its long-term health through annual cleanups.
Training materials will be mailed to volunteers prior to the fair followed up with a phone call from Adopt-a-River staff.
Volunteers must enjoy meeting people, have some natural resource experience or education, and must be able to physically set-up and take down display materials.
Volunteers are needed all 12 days of the fair. Shifts are 9 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. or 1 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
No morning shifts will be available on Sundays during the fair.
Contact Paul Nordell at (651) 259-5630, Eva Johnson at (651) 259-5620 or e-mail Adoptariver.email@example.com.
Camper Cabin Host
Feel like you’re in a north woods cabin as you greet visitors to the Minnesota DNR State Parks and Trails camper cabin.
The cabin was a big hit last year and this year we will again display an actual camper cabin for fair-goers to explore.
Greet guests, answer simple questions, and hand out literature.
If you are great at customer service and enjoy meeting people, come “spend time at the cabin.”
No training is needed. You’ll be provided with a fact sheet to help answer questions.
Volunteer for a half-day and spend the rest of the day enjoying the fair!
Shifts are 9 AM 3 PM and 2:308 PM each day of the fair.
Contact Gloria Bjornsen at (651) 259-5607 or email Gloria.Bjornsen@state.mn.us to volunteer.
We will send your admissions ticket, parking instructions, and a fact sheet two weeks prior to the fair.
Thank you from Minnesota DNR State Parks and Trails!