COs head to Louisiana flood zone

By Tim
Spielman

Associate Editor

Enforcement

airplane crashes

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.

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