COs head to Louisiana flood zone
By Tim Spielman
St. Paul - The Minnesota DNR's Enforcement Division announced this week that 20 of its officers have been deployed to a hurricane-ravaged area of Louisiana to do "anything and everything that can be done," said Rich Sprouse, public information officer.
Ten squads (two officers each) and 10 boats headed for Baton Rouge, La., on Sunday. The officers were expected to be gone from the state a total of 13 days, according to the DNR.
Sprouse said the group will be based in Baton Rouge, the state's capital, but will be helping in the New Orleans area with any number of possibilities, he said.
Earlier, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries put out a request for 500 "game warden/conservation officer-types" with flat-bottom boats, Sprouse said. That information was relayed to DNR Enforcement via the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Home Security and Emergency Management Division.
"Even with the current (CO) academy, we're short officers, so it's not new for us to work short-handed," Sprouse said. "We don't turn down requests for help."
He said Minnesota COs have had past experience working in flood-damaged areas because of events with flooding in the Fargo area (Red River) a few years ago.
The contingent of COs includes Stuart Bensen, Mike Lawrence, Lt. Phil Meier, Mike Hruza, Sgt. Chris Johnson, Dale Ebel, Lt. Tom Provost, Lt. Traci Hanson, Jim Tischler, Neil Henriksen, Lt. Tim Knellwolf, Dan Starr, Lt. Steve Jacobson, Keith Backer, Lt. John Hunt, Jason Jensen, Dan Book, Tim Gray, Lt. Joel Mikle, and Kathy Larson. The team leader is Phil Meier.
No injuries when DNR pilot makes emergency landing
What was to be an extended flight became a short trip into a nearby soybean field for a DNR pilot and his passenger last Wednesday, Aug. 31.
At about 9:45 a.m., Lt. Tom Buker and his passenger left the New Ulm Airport in a Cessna 182, a single-engine aircraft, according to the DNR. Shortly after takeoff, at about 200 feet, the aircraft experienced engine failure and was forced to land, said Mike Trenholm, chief pilot for the DNR's Enforcement Division. Neither Buker nor the passenger, a civilian from Missouri who was on an approved ride-along, was injured, he said.
"He did everything right," Trenholm said. When a plane is that low, the pilot shouldn't attempt to return to the runway; rather, he should attempt a safe landing, he said.
Unfortunately, in this case it was a soft southern Minnesota bean field. According to the DNR, the landing resulted in the collapse of the nose gear and damage to the left wing of the plane. The aircraft was valued at $160,000. "It's probably a total loss," Trenholm said. Insurance likely will cover part, but not all, of the cost of the plane.
The National Traffic Safety Board is examining the plane's lone engine in an attempt to determine the cause of the failure. The Federal Aviation Administration also is involved in the investigation.
The 182 was one of six planes and two helicopters in the DNR's fleet.
Trenholm said Buker, who has experience flying in the Armed Forces and who's been with the DNR for about a year and a half, was on a flight that would've included the shooting of aerial photographs. The CO was to examine a wetland project and investigate an illegal "mud-truck" area along the Zumbro River.