Old man winter has once again reminded us that we still live in Minnesota and cold weather is part of the deal. Just when we start to buy into the global warming thing frigid temperatures and snow are there to let us know that winter is still winter. The other morning when we were shivering in -6 degree temps with a -24 wind chill my brother-in-law Lynn called from Nome Alaska to let me know that it was 34 and raining in Nome. Now this was not unusual for him to do because when we are sweltering in high 80 or even 90 degree temperatures he will call to let me know that it is sunny and 60 in Nome.
The reality of all this is that for the past two years Nome has had above normal temperatures and that has made believers of many naysayers when the global warming thing comes up. Lynn said that last year was not a good year for trapping because of the uncertain ice conditions of the nearby rivers and this year doesn’t look to be any better.
The weather here in Minnesota has been cold but the snow depths throughout the state are less than needed for most winter outdoors activities. Ski and snowmobile trail conditions throughout the state are either in poor condition or are closed. The outdoor skating rinks have taken a real hit this year with the warmer weather we had been experiencing up until just after Christmas.
The cold then warm then cold again weather we have been experiencing have made ice fishing conditions questionable on many area lakes. If you are venturing out for some fishing on one of the lakes in our area please use caution and by all means do not be driving on the ice. It may be fairly thick in some places while other areas of the same lake may be unsafe. The weather conditions may have made the ice unstable especially along the shoreline. The best and safest way to fish these lakes is on foot and with a portable fish house. The hole and 5 gallon pail method might be old school but it is less work, usually a lot safer and can be a lot of fun if you dress warm and it’s not brutally cold outside.
DNR, partners working on 4-year plan to boost pheasant numbers
Citizen input from the Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Summit soon will be converted into a four-year action plan to increase and enhance grassland habitat on public and private lands.
Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr said agency staff and partner organizations are analyzing dozens of recommendations from the Dec. 13 summit in Marshall.
This first summit brought together Gov. Mark Dayton and 300-plus hunters, farmers and conservation experts, including those from Pheasants Forever. Together, they focused on pheasant habitat, pheasant biology and they spent much of the day identifying potential solutions to the plight of a bird whose numbers are declining at a significant rate.
“Citizens talked. We listened. The next step is to convert words into actions,” Landwehr said.
Landwehr said citizen input will be used to develop a summary of the Pheasant Summit recommendations that will be shared with the public in mid-January.
“The focus will be about increasing bird numbers not government regulations,” Landwehr said. “Realistically, that means zeroing in on the interests and needs of private landowners as they own 95 percent of the property in the pheasant range.”
Landwehr said the action plan to be completed in 2015 will include recommendations for increasing the quality and quantity of public grasslands but “the inescapable truth is what happens on private farmland is what drives pheasant numbers because of the vastly higher proportion of acres in private ownership.”
The summit was emceed by Minnesota conservationist Ron Schara, who termed the pheasant the proverbial canary in a coal mine.
“As pheasant numbers go, so go our bobolinks, butterflies, pollinators and more,” he said.
Both Schara and Dayton urged the group to focus on strategies that will increase pheasant numbers, improve habitat, and make sure future generations have the opportunity to enjoy one of the state’s most popular game birds.
“I was pleased we could have a candid conversation about habitat loss and its impact on our pheasant population,” said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. “The summit produced a good variety of strategies to consider as we work to improve the future for pheasants in Minnesota.”
I actually had a chance to speak with Ron Schara at the Governor’s deer hunting opener a few years back. He noticed where I was from and said that he had just recently been in the Albert Lea area hunting pheasants. Small world; but I guess that was back when we actually had some descent pheasant numbers in this area.
Until next time, stay warm and remember that it’s always time well spent when you spend it in cur great Minnesota outdoors.
Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers; especially during this Holiday Season. They are the reason that we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we enjoy today.