Hunting News

Citizens to be tapped for councils, input

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul – The commission responsible for spending money for environment and conservation projects wants to know what you think. The Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources on its website is seeking input about how the $22 million per year from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund should be spent. At the same time, Gov….

Split duck seasons, new zones possible

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul – State duck officials are discussing season framework options that could mean big changes for duck hunters. Or not. Officials are deciding between options including establishment of two hunting zones in the state, and a framework that would allow for a season split into three pieces. Their decision is due this summer. The…

Spring 2006 shaping up well for nesting critters

By Glen Schmitt Staff Writer Windom, Minn. – Although it’s still too early to count young-of-the-year pheasants, turkeys, and waterfowl, wildlife officials appear more optimistic about this spring’s hatch than in 2004 or 2005. After consecutive years of wet and cool weather conditions during the peak of the hatch, everything seems in line this spring for a good nesting season….

DNR proposes new muskie regs for some lakes, rivers

DNR Reports St. Paul — The Minnesota DNR believes its proposed new regulations could improve muskie fishing in the state. The regulations would raise the minimum size muskie that anglers could keep from 40 to 48 inches on 46 select lakes and several rivers. Signs will be posted this spring at each of the waters potentially affected by the proposed…

New strategy and a new name: LCCMR

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul — Change is afoot for the way conservation projects in the state are funded. In one of their final orders of business, lawmakers passed legislation to retool and rename the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources. “I think it’s history-making,” said Dave Zentner, who co-chaired the task force charged by last year’s Legislature with…

House trims funding for federal wetland program

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor Washington — Conservationists this week encouraged members of the U.S. Senate to consider full funding of the Wetlands Reserve Program following House action that could mean a 25-percent decrease in new enrollments this year. Dave Nomsen, vice president of governmental affairs for Pheasants Forever and co-chair of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Agriculture and Wildlife…

Wetlands Summit rolls out recommendations in report

By Joe Albert Staff Writer Bloomington, Minn. – The first Rally for Ducks, Wetlands and Clean Water, held in 2005, still is bearing fruit. That initial rally (a second one was held last April) produced the first Minnesota Wetlands Summit, held in Bloomington in early February. Last week, summit organizers released their first wetlands report. That report was authored by…

Dedicated funding: Down for the count?

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul – Another session, another defeat for dedicated funding. The idea to set aside part of the state sales tax – whether that be within the existing tax, or an increase to it – progressed as far as it ever has in the Legislature before dying in a conference committee in the early hours…

A silver lining for 2006 session: WMA funding

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul – While the 2006 legislative session is likely to be remembered as the one in which dedicated funding came within a breath of passing – only to fall apart in the closing hours – lawmakers were active in other conservation and environmental issues. Passed were a Clean Water Legacy Act and $25 million…

New records group emerges from record muskie dispute

By Dean Bortz Staff Writer Hayward, Wis. – A group of muskie enthusiasts unwilling to recognize Louis Spray as the world record holder have created a third record-keeping entity for modern-day muskies and hybrids. Called the International Muskellunge Record Review Committee, the new group will seek to verify any new catches of true muskies exceeding 60 pounds and tiger muskies…

Key bills pending as session winds down

House passes Clean Water Legacy Act By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul — Supporters of a plan to dedicate a portion of the state sales tax to natural resources were holding their collective breath earlier this week that a compromise hatched last week could propel the idea through a conference committee and onto the ballot in November. Late last…

Red Lake Band responds to ownership questions

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul — Questions raised regarding the ownership of Red Lake have drawn the ire of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe. In a letter written by Bagley resident Greg Spaulding and sent to Floyd Jourdain Jr., Red Lake tribal chairman – and printed in Native American Press/Ojibwe News – Spaulding wrote that his research…

Second drawdown planned for Pool 5 of Mississippi

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor Winona, Minn. — A larger than normal portion of Mississippi River floor will see the sun again this summer. State and federal officials say a drawdown of Pool 5 is scheduled to occur for the second year in a row. The drawdown is meant to mimic river action prior to the lock and dam system,…

From Red to Pepin, let’s fish walleyes!

Early spring bodes well for May 13 bite By Glen Schmitt Staff Writer Grand Rapids, Minn. – Optimism always run high in the days leading up to the Minnesota fishing opener. But with a warm spring, early ice-out, and spawn that’s been complete for more than two weeks, Minnesota walleye anglers should be downright giddy about the potential for catching…

Conservation bills in flux as 2006 session wraps up

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul – Supporters of dedicated funding still were crossing their fingers Tuesday that a compromise deal would be reached to send a constitutional question to the voters. A 10-member conference committee met last week to begin discussions about how to iron out the differences between dedicated funding bills passed by the House and Senate….

Latest invader found in Superior

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor Duluth, Minn. — State and federal officials say they’ve confirmed that a new foreign species has been discovered in the Duluth-Superior Harbor of Lake Superior. The Minnesota DNR reported this week that members of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found New Zealand mudsnails during a survey last fall that was part of a project aimed…

DNR going high-tech in mallard monitoring

By Joe Albert Staff Writer Bemidji, Minn. — Privacy has become a thing of the past for three mallards trapped last week in northern Minnesota. Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist in Bemidji, trapped the drake and two hens between Thief Lake and Roseau. Later, Rich Malecki, of the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Cornell University in New York,…

Pawlenty, lawmakers tout plan to decrease mercury

By Patrick Condon Associated Press St. Paul (AP) — The amount of mercury released into Minnesota’s environment by coal-fired power plants would decline by 1,200 pounds a year, under a plan Gov. Tim Pawlenty and lawmakers released last week, and that passed the House 132-to-0 on Monday. The new mercury emission standards would govern the state’s largest coal-fired power plants….

With prices of crops rising, signups for CRP are slipping

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor St. Paul — Escalating farm land values, higher cash rent payments, and a continued focus on alternative fuel like ethanol are just a few factors officials say may have led to fewer Conservation Reserve Program signups and “re-ups” in April. Landowners – some with soon-to-expire CRP contracts, others new to the program – had opportunities…

Dedicated funding reaches conferees

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul — The passage of bills in both bodies of the Legislature to dedicate funding to natural resources was hailed by outdoors leaders as something with the potential to change the state’s conservation course. The two versions passed by the House and Senate are markedly different, so, for now, the future of dedicated funding…

Dedicated funding debated in House

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul – After several hours of debate and a multitude of amendments on the House floor, the House passed on a 78-to-55 vote a dedicated funding bill late Tuesday afternoon. The House version dedicates 3/16 of 1 percent of the existing sales tax and splits it four ways. The $135 million per year would…

Rally-goers push for funding compromise

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul – For the second time in as many years, sportsmen and conservationists gathered on the steps of the state Capitol to push their legislative agenda. For the second time in as many years, legislative leaders stood in front of the crowd, telling those gathered how important clean water and habitat are to their…

States, federal government to restore Midwest trout streams

By Tori J. McCormick Contributing Writer Madison, Wis. – Saying they hope to tap federal conservation programs to improve the long-term health of the region’s watersheds, the governors of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, along with U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, signed a resolution last week that endorses a unified approach to watershed restoration in the so-called Driftless…