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Walk-In Access adds 6,000 acres

July 29, 2013

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Hunters heading to western and south-central Minnesota will have access to an additional 6,083 acres of hunting land this fall as the Walk-In Access program grows to more than 20,000 acres and the number of counties increases from 19 to 28.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) crews are in the field marking boundaries on new Walk-In Access land with bright yellow-green signs.

Beginning Sunday, Sept. 1, hunters will have access to 194 Walk-In Access sites.

This fall hunters must purchase a $3 Walk-In Access validation on their small game or deer license to legally access land enrolled in the program.

The DNR added the validation so it can learn how many hunters use Walk-In Access lands as well as where and how those lands are used.

“Local soil and water conservation district offices are a key part of the Walk-In program,” said Marybeth Block, DNR Walk-In Access coordinator. “Because of their work directly with landowners, we’ve added almost 2,000 new acres in Wilkin County as well as many new sites in Becker, Douglas and Otter Tail counties.”

Walk-In Access provides public access to private land and pays landowners by the acre to allow hunting access from Sept. 1 to May 31.

Most Walk-In Access lands also are enrolled in a federal or state conservation program or have natural cover. Small areas of cropland or hay land may be present.

Revenue generated by the new validation fee will be used to survey hunters and gather other information as the DNR develops a long-term, financially sustainable program.

Additional revenue to support Walk-In Access comes from a surcharge on nonresident hunting licenses and through donations of $1, $3 or $5 from anyone purchasing a hunting license.

“We have gotten positive feedback from both hunters and landowners since the program kicked off in 2011,” said Mike Tenney, DNR acting prairie habitat team leader. “We look forward to that success carrying into 2013.”

Maps of all sites will be available for viewing at www.mndnr.gov/walkin by mid-August. Printed atlases of Walk-In Access sites will be distributed across the Walk-In Access area or will be available by calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367.

“Hunter support is key to this program,” Block said. “Using the land, respecting the land and donating to Walk-In Access program will help build the program for future hunters.”

Apply by Aug. 16 for fall special youth deer hunts
From the DNR

Minnesota youth have until Friday, Aug. 16, to apply for 18 mentored deer hunts this fall, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Youth ages 12-15 may apply for one of 15 special firearms youth deer hunts at selected state parks and refuges.

Youth ages 12-17 may apply for three special archery youth deer hunts.

Participating in a youth deer hunt does not preclude the youth from participating in the regular firearms deer season, but any deer harvested do count against the youth’s season bag limit.

A limited number of either-sex permits are available for each hunt. New hunts are available at Twin Lakes Scientific and Natural Area, Blue Mounds State Park, Camden State Park and Lake Shetek State Park.

Archery

• Camp Ripley (open to youth 12-17), Morrison County, Oct. 11-13, 175 permits.

• Lake Alexander Preserve (open to youth 12-17), Morrison County, Oct. 11-13, 20 permits.

• Twin Lakes SNA (open to youth 12-17), Isanti County, Oct. 19-20, three permits.

Firearms

• Afton State Park, Washington County, Nov. 9-10, 20 permits.

• Banning State Park, Pine County, Nov. 2-3, 6 permits.

• Blue Mounds State Park, Rock County, Dec. 7-8, 5 permits.

• Buffalo River State Park, Clay County, Nov. 9-10, 14 permits.

• Camden State Park, Lyon County, Nov. 2 -3, 10 permits.

• Great River State Park, Winona County, Oct. 26-27, 30 permits.

• Itasca State Park, Clearwater County, Oct. 12-13, 75 permits.

• Lake Bemidji State Park, Beltrami County, Oct. 19-20, 20 permits.

• Lake Shetek State Park, Murray County, Oct. 19-20, 10 permits.

• Rydell National Wildlife Refuge, Polk County, Oct. 19-20, 20 permits.

• St. Croix State Park, Pine County, Nov. 2-3, 100 permits.

• Savanna Portage State Park, Aitkin County, Oct. 26-27, 20 permits.

• Sibley State Park, Kandiyohi County, Oct. 26-27, 10 permits.

• Tettegouche State Park, Lake County, Oct. 19-20, 10 permits.

• Zippel Bay State Park, Lake of the Woods County, Oct. 12-13, 20 permits.

A youth must apply for the hunt of his or her choice, which costs $1 and can be done at any DNR license agent; the DNR License Center, 500 Lafayette Road, in St. Paul; or online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense.

If the number of applications exceeds the number of permits, a lottery will be conducted.

Youth may only apply for one archery hunt and one firearms hunt.

An adult parent or guardian must accompany the youth at all times while hunting but only the youth may hunt.

Youth and their mentor must attend a mandatory pre-hunt orientation session.

Successful applicants also must meet all firearms safety requirements, purchase all appropriate licenses and follow hunting regulations.

More information on these hunts is available by following the youth deer hunt link at www.mndnr.gov/discover.

Applications for Sept mentored waterfowl hunt due Aug. 12
From the DNR

Youth who want to experience waterfowl hunting for the first time can apply to be one of 65 participants in this year’s mentored youth waterfowl hunt on Saturday, Sept. 7. Application deadline is Monday, Aug. 12.

The hunts will be conducted at Hamden Slough near Detroit Lakes, the Morris Wildlife Production Area near Morris and on private lands in the Prior Lake, Windom and the Fergus Falls areas.

The hunts are coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in cooperation with Ducks Unlimited, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Minnesota Horse and Hunt Club. Partners provide mentors and areas to hunt.

To participate, youth must be 12-15 years old and completed firearms safety training.

A parent or guardian must accompany the youth during the orientation, education and field sessions that begin Friday, Sept. 6, and the Saturday hunt.

“The upcoming hunts are an excellent way for youth and parents to learn waterfowling skills in a supportive and high quality environment,” said Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring program coordinator. “The intent of these hunts is to create skills, confidence, social connections and other understandings so that youth and their families will hunt on their own in the future.”

Kurre said if the number of applications exceeds the number of available spaces, participants will be selected via lottery.

Applying for hunts farther from the Twin Cities increases the likelihood of being selected.

The mentored youth waterfowl hunt occurs on Youth Waterfowl Day, a special day prior to the general waterfowl season than enables youth age 15 and younger to hunt waterfowl when accompanied by a non-hunting adult.

Visit www.mndnr.gov/discover for an application or call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 for more information.

Plans move forward for 2013 MN Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener in Madelia
From the DNR

The south-central Minnesota city of Madelia will be the home of the 2013 Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener, to be held Friday, Oct. 11 and Saturday, Oct. 12, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.

“We’re excited and honored to be home of this year’s celebration,” said Dan Madsen, Madelia city administrator. “We are proud to be the ‘Pheasant Capitol of Minnesota’ and look forward to showcasing all that our city and area have to offer.”

Madsen pointed out there are 8,600 acres of public hunting land within 20 miles of Madelia.

Pheasant research for the DNR is also headquartered in the community.

This is the third annual Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener, initiated by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2011.

Previous host communities were Montevideo and Marshall.

The event highlights the many hunting, recreational, travel and local opportunities that host communities have to offer visitors.

Dayton plans to again lead elected officials, dignitaries and celebrity hunters who will participate in the event.

The public will also be invited to take part in activities throughout the weekend.

The event is being coordinated by the city of Madelia, Madelia Chamber of Commerce, Explore Minnesota Tourism and the DNR.

Madelia has a population of 2,319 and is 20 minutes west of Mankato and about an hour and a half southwest of Minneapolis.

More information and updates can be found at www.mnpheasant.com.

Purchase bear licenses by Aug. 1; youth licenses free until then
From the DNR

Hunters selected in this year’s bear lottery must purchase their licenses by Thursday, Aug. 1, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.

Licenses not purchased by the deadline will become available first-come, first-served at noon Wednesday, Aug. 7.

Youths age 10-12 can receive a free no-quota bear license until Aug. 1.

No-quota licenses will be available for purchase after Aug.1 but youth younger than 13 will have to pay the full price of $44 because of an inadvertent change in state law that eliminated the 10-12 year old exemption from this fee.

Youths who purchase leftover licenses in regular bear permit areas also will have to pay the adult price.

The free 10-12 youth bear licenses were not addressed when youth license simplification changes were approved during the last Legislative session.

The DNR will propose changes to reinstate youth fee exemptions in 2014.

DNR introduces ‘clean-and-drain’ areas at boat launches to curb spread of aquatic invasive species
From the DNR

To help boaters prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS), the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is adding more than 200 “clean-and-drain” areas to statewide public water access sites this summer.

The special areas will act as visual reminders to boaters to clean and drain their boats properly and provide safe and convenient places to do this.

Installing components of the “clean and drain” areas at high-use sites on infested waters is a priority.

“Minnesota is the first state in the nation to implement this type of modification at multiple water access sites,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “The boat ‘clean-and-drain’ areas are a part of the DNR’s ongoing efforts to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Everyone who has a boat on a trailer has the personal responsibility to prevent the spread of invasive species; these areas will make it easier.”

The new areas should make it easy for boaters to understand what they need to do and where to do it.

The aim is to put an end to the unsightly piles of discarded aquatic vegetation and bait that are sometimes left behind on ramps or in parking areas because there weren’t designated places for these materials after they were removed from boats.

Sometimes boaters stop on ramps to pull their boat’s plug.

This is unsafe and causes delays and can release harmful species or chemicals into the water.

Components include compost bins (to dispose of aquatic vegetation, unwanted bait, bait bucket water and zebra mussels), and pavement stencils and signs (to delineate activity areas and inform boaters).

The new areas should be used whether or not a watercraft inspector is present.

The following routine should become new protocol for boaters:

• Load boat onto trailer safely and pull forward to boat “clean-and-drain” area.

• Clean boat by removing plants, zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species from watercraft, trailer, anchor and all water-related equipment.

• Dispose of plants and animals in disposal bin.

• Dump bait bucket water (and unwanted minnows and leeches) into disposal bin. Plan ahead to save minnows and leeches by transferring them to containers prefilled with well, bottled, distilled or otherwise purified tap water. Take unwanted worms and garbage to trash, which is often offsite (wanted worms can be saved).

• Drain water from boat, ballast tanks and motor. Drain bilge, livewell and baitwell by removing drain plugs. Keep drain plugs out and all water-draining devices open for travel.

• Finish tying down the boat and securing equipment for travel.

More information about AIS best management practices for boat launch administrators can be found at www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/water_access.html or requested from the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: I just bought a personal watercraft. Are there restrictions on the hours I can operate it?

A: Yes, operation of personal watercraft is allowed only from 9:30 a.m. to one hour before sunset.

For more rules and regulations regarding personal watercraft, go to www.mndnr.gov/regulations/boatwater.