Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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Forests crack down on permanent treestands

Associate Editor

Cass Lake, Minn. Permanent treestands used for deer and/or bear
hunting may soon become dinosaurs of the forest, according to some
public lands managers.

In fact, hunters who leave their stands within national forests
in Minnesota could face fines for the illegal activity beginning
this year. Similar action on state forest land may not be far
behind. And county forest officials say if permanent stand
prohibition isn’t already in place, it’s visible on the
horizon.

During the past three years, Paul Nordeen, law enforcement
official for Chippewa National Forest, has attempted to educate
hunters about illegal permanent stands. This year, he’s taking
action.

“Before, we just said portable stands were recommended,” he
said. “This is not a new law, it’s just a new approach to existing
laws.”

The law states permanent stands, as well as portable ones, must
be removed from the Chippewa forest by a week after the close of
the final hunting season. That imposes a Jan. 7, 2003 deadline this
season. After Jan. 7, permanent stands will be “removed,
dismantled, or disabled,” Nordeen says. He will, he said, attempt
to contact the owners of illegal stands.

All-terrain vehicles have led to the proliferation of big,
enclosed, permanent stands on public lands, including the near
700,000-acre Chippewa forest, Nordeen said.

“Because of ATVs, build-your-own permanent treestands on public
land have exploded,” he said.

What Chippewa officials considered a small problem a few years
ago has progressively become a big problem, according to Nordeen.
Small treestands in some cases gained walls, then roofs, heaters,
and an occasional reclining chair. Some now are big enough to
accommodate several individuals and host card games.

Besides illegal cross-country ATV use, big stands also lead to
“collateral” offenses such as the cutting of shooting lanes and
littering. Other issues include safety and assumed ownership of a
hunting area, Nordeen said.

“We had three goals,” Nordeen added. “One, stop new construction
(of permanent stands); two, find the owner of existing permanent
stands and have them removed; and three, deal with what we have
left.”

Nordeen said hunting stand rules were printed in this year’s
Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations booklet on Page 127.
“Only portable treestands that do not damage live trees and that
are removed at the end of the hunt are permitted on national forest
lands,” the rule states. “Portable stand anchor devices, screw-in
steps, and minimal limbing of lateral branches up to four inches in
diameter are allowed.”

Nordeen says some collateral violations associated with
permanent stands carry fines. Cutting trees can carry a fine of
$125. However, if numerous, larger trees have been cut down, either
for trails or for shooting lanes, the violator could be fined and
charged restitution for the loss of the trees.

Minnesota’s 3-million-acre Sup-erior National Forest has the
same rules regarding treestands as the Chippewa, Nordeen says.
Other holders of public lands are moving in a similar
direction.

“Cass County started cloning what we’re doing as well,” he said.
“And the state verbiage (in regulations) is moving toward it.

“Down the road, I can see the whole state (all public land)
moving toward no permanent stands,” he said. “We’re all sort of
moving toward the same thing.”

To contact Nordeen about deer stand use on the Chippewa, call
Nordeen at (218) 547-1044 or (218) 343-5469.

Portables promoted

on state forest

Nordeen said permanent stands are prohibited on most types of
state land in Minnesota. However, there are 4 million acres of
state forest land where permanent stands are discouraged, but
allowed.

The state hunting regulations booklet states that, “the use of
portable treestands is recommended.” It goes on to say personal
property must be removed from state forest lands. Furthermore, it’s
illegal to destroy state property, which includes cutting trees for
shooting lanes. And, littering and erection of permanent buildings
are prohibited.

“What we’re trying to do this year is target those stands with
walls, roofs, etc.,” said Tom Baumann, forest management supervisor
for the DNR. “If it’s clearly illegal, people may see a notice left
on the wall or the tree.”

If, per the notice, treestand owners don’t take down the illegal
structure, Baumann said Forestry officials may take them down.

“These things have gotten out of hand,” he said. “We’d like to
see just the plain platform stands, or portable stands.”

Fines for flagrant violations aren’t likely in 2002, Baumann
said, but the DNR could pursue the issue if an owner is warned but
ignores the warning.

Chuck Spoden, a Forestry regional supervisor in Grand Rapids,
said deer stands on state forest are dealt with “on a case-by-case
basis.”

It’s usually the collateral aspect of treestands that results in
orders to remove them. This includes leaving behind “nonvegetative
material like glass, plastic, carpet, metal, tarpaper, nails in
trees, sheetrock, concrete and canvas,” says a recent DNR news
release.

Spoden said he foresees use of treestands especially the more
elaborate, permanent-type ones becoming more of an “issue.”

“In the future, permanent stands may not be acceptable,” he
said.

County approaches to

treestand issues vary

County land ownership in Minnesota’s northern tier can be
extensive. In fact, St. Louis County manages about 900,000 acres of
forest. Unlike Cass County, where new construction of permanent
stands has been disallowed, St. Louis has no restriction on
permanent stands, according to county land department official,
Matt Butorac.

“There’s no policy and nothing in the works at this point,”
Butorac said. “But that’s subject to change.”

On Itasca County’s 300,000-plus acres of county forest, big
permanent stands are becoming an increasing problem, according to
officials there.

“We do have problems related to excess with permanent stands,”
said Garrett Ous, Itasca County Land Department commissioner.
“Their excessiveness makes them an eyesore and many of them are
abandoned.”

Yet, Itasca County has no restrictions on its books regarding
permanent stands; rather, officials encourage the use of
portables.

“Other things come up (with regard to permanent stands,” Ous
said. “Shooting lanes increasingly have to be addressed. Some
people are reasonable and cut down a few branches; others think
they have to cut down several trees. But there needs to be
education about these things. We can’t hire enough cops.”

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