Joe Albert

Positive experiences

Spent a day last week with DNR Conservation Officer Shane Osborne, who patrols the Evansville area in western Minnesota. We were out on Lake Ida near Alexandria, where Osborne was taking his turn patrolling the vacant station. I’m sure Osborne has had more exciting days on the job, which isn’t to say that busting someone for something is part and parcel…

A mixed picture in North Dakota’s waterfowl survey results

The results of North Dakota’s annual breeding duck population study are a study in opposites. And an interesting one, indeed. Consider: The total duck breeding population, nearly 4.8 million, is the third-highest since the state surveys began in 1948. That’s up 16 percent from last year and exceeded the long-term average by 112 percent. On the other hand: The water…

The conversion of a bass fisherman

So last Saturday marked the Minnesota bass-fishing opener. For as long as I can remember, I’ve considered that Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend the real fishing opener. Sure, I hit the water on the walleye opener, but often as not, I’m fishing rainbow trout on Bad Medicine Lake near Park Rapids. It’s been the bass opener that’s always been the…

Opening weekend

Well, that was a good fishing opener. Couldn’t have asked for better weather, and the fishing was pretty darn good, too. Part of our group spent Saturday on a rather small lake north of Detroit Lakes. The three of them caught and released in the neighborhood of 20 walleyes and kept a few for the pan, too. My wife would…

Sad news, good news

Lots happening on the state’s outdoors scene. First, the sad: Don McMillan, president of the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance and all-around good guy, passed away last Thursday. He was 74 years old. You can read tributes to Don elsewhere, but I think the turnout at his visitation and funeral on Tuesday was a testament to the difference he made. The…

Fee increase moving

A plan to hike fishing and hunting license fees, which hasn’t been done on a general scale since 2001, won unanimous approval from a key Senate committee on Tuesday. The Environment and Natural Resources Committee approved of the plan, offered by committee chair Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, that, among other things, would increase the annual cost for a resident fishing license…

$15 to access walk-in lands?

It’s put up or shut up time for the state’s young walk-in hunting access program. Originally intended as a three-year, federally funded pilot, it appears the program either is going to have to stand on its own, or go down the road. This is why: That third year of federal funds isn’t coming. DNR officials hope to enroll 25,000 acres of…

Trip reflection

If this is what global warming looks like, I’ll take it.I’ve just returned from an annual ice-fishing trip that I’ve taken now for 13 years with the same group of college buddies. In other years, we’ve rented sleeper houses at Lake of the Woods, Mille Lacs, Upper Red, and Cass.This year, we bucked tradition and went to Alexandria. My family’s…

How much is too much?

How far are we willing to go in the fight against invasive species such as zebra mussels?I’ve been pondering that question a lot lately.The DNR already has announced that, beginning with this spring’s ice-out, simply pulling a boat is sufficient grounds to get pulled over and checked.And now, in its latest proposal to the Legislature, the DNR seeks to make…

Susan Thornton: Unfired

The details surrounding the Susan Thornton saga have been murky since the Monday before Christmas. That’s the day word of her termination was leaked to the press. Thornton since 2008 has been head of the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, which recommends about $50 million in spending each biennium from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.Now, Thornton – in…

A quick check on deer

Another firearms deer season is in the bag. My little group had a pretty darn good year, but that, of course, is a small sample size. Statewide, the numbers show a deer season that was – from a harvest perspective, anyway – a little worse than last year. Firearms hunters last year killed about 174,000 deer. This year's take of…

Deer harvest down, but success to report

The firearms deer kill remains down from last year, when firearms hunters killed a total of more than 174,000 deer. Through Tuesday, hunters have killed 83,500 whitetails, compared with about 101,000 at the same time last year. Many hunters report heavy wind during the first three days of the season was the primary factor that reduced harvest. Deer simply don't…

It’s not that hard!

A DNR press release earlier this week illustrated what’s apparently becoming a growing problem: People transporting zebra mussels from one body of water to another via boat lifts. To which I ask: How on Earth could that happen? I don’t pretend to know exactly what happened in either case – on Rose Lake in Otter Tail County and on Lake…

An outdoors grab-bag

A grab-bag of items from the outdoors world: • Despite massive changes to this year’s duck season, the DNR likely will sell fewer state duck stamps than ever before. Agency officials hoped the changes, including an earlier opener and earlier shooting hours, would prompt more people to pick up a shotgun and head to the marsh. But, so far at…

State shutdown ends

The shutdown is over. Fishing and hunting licenses are for sale again, and state parks are in various stages of opening. DNR and other state employees are back on the job, and state conservation officers are back to their regular routines.While people, rightfully, gnash their teeth about the agreement that got things rolling again – borrowed money, essentially – there’s…

Outdoor casualties of a state government shutdown

I went the other day to renew my license plate tabs. This was after the state government shutdown. Ahead of me in line was a woman who had tried in vain to buy a fishing license at a retail store and then a bait shop. She was certain if she found an open government center she could get a license….

Remembering, and Memorializing, Slain Game Wardens

The Minnesota DNR on Monday formally dedicated a memorial to three Minnesota game wardens killed more than 70 years ago. The memorial is at the DNR’s regional office in New Ulm.More than 80 conservation officers from around the state attended the dedication, and at least that many other people did, too. Family members of two of the three slain wardens…

Fishing cranks up; legislative logjam continues

Well, this should be a slow time of year, now that the legislative session has ended. But the reality is that lawmakers spent five months without accomplishing a whole lot on the natural resources front. What didn’t get done?• A budget for agencies like the Board of Water and Soil Resources, DNR, and Pollution Control Agency. If lawmakers and Gov….

Anglers taking their sweet time buying fishing licenses

Minnesota fishing license sales through the Monday after opening weekend are lagging behind previous years. As of Monday this week, the DNR had sold 344,189 fishing licenses, compared with 435,270 at the same time last year and 381,194 at the same time in 2009. This year’s sales are slightly more than at the same time in 2008.Between 2000 and 2007, sales…

Zone 3 deer regs under fire

However you feel about the deer regulations in Zone 3 – antler-point restrictions and no cross-tagging of bucks – this much is clear: It was no secret what was happening. In Outdoor News and elsewhere, the five-year project, and the surveys of thousands of hunters, was reported ad nauseum. DNR officials were quoted constantly about what was going on, and…

A quick rundown of Minnesota Outdoor News bits

As always, there’s lots going on in the state’s outdoor realm. Here are some of the highlights, and things to watch for: • It seems clear that a study of what’s killing moose in northeastern Minnesota will go forward. The study was one of 17 projects for which the previous Legislative-Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources recommended funding, but that the…

A tough winter? Yup

The Minnesota DNR winter severity data released today show what the vast majority of Minnesotans would tell you: It’s been a much more severe winter than last year. For the week ending Feb. 20, the winter severity index – the combined number of days with snow deeper than 15 inches and temperatures below 0 – in most parts of the…

Dayton fills Lessard council vacancies

The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council is complete. Gov. Mark Dayton yesterday made his two citizen appointments, bringing the council to full strength at 12 members. Dayton’s two appointments were Scott Rall, who lives in Worthington and has been on the council since its inception. Gov. Tim Pawlenty first appointed Rall.His other appointment was Jane Kingston, who lives in Eveleth. She’s…

Zebra mussels, property values, and Chicken Little

A story in the Park Rapids, Minn., newspaper last week caught my attention. The topic was zebra mussels, and the main person quoted was a county commissioner from Kandiyohi County. That county, and the Green Lake association – for good reason – has been especially worried about zebra mussels getting into that lake.Early in the story, he was quoted as…