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OUTDOOR NOTES: Dalrymple denies DU land purchase

BISMARCK — Ducks Unlimited officials in say they’re exploring ways to help North Dakota fulfill mitigation requirements for the state’s growing infrastructure needs after Gov. Jack Dalrymple recently denied DU’s request to buy 47 acres of drained wetlands from a landowner in Foster County. The wetlands would have been restored and protected to provide credits for private businesses and state agencies to fulfill federal requirements for replacing wetlands impacted in the process of building such things as new rail lines, highways or buildings.

In a letter to DU, Dalrymple said his decision was based on the Natural Areas Acquisition Advisory Committee’s 4-2 decision recommending he deny the request and on the Foster County Board of Commissioners not being able to reach a decision on the proposal.

“We appreciate the governor expressing a willingness to work with us towards a solution, but we are concerned about the NAAAC’s decision to interfere with the private property rights of a willing seller and a willing buyer,” said Steve Adair, director of DU’s Great Plains Regional Office in Bismarck. “Mitigation needs are tied to infrastructure projects, and Ducks Unlimited wants to help meet these requirements while providing additional habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife.”

Adair said wetlands restored on the property also would improve water quality by removing harmful chemicals from being transported downstream. They would store water from spring snow melt, reducing flooding downstream.

“We will continue to look at our options for working with this willing landowner and others around the state,” he said.

— Herald staff report

Walleye stocking set for record in N.D.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel are gearing up to stock a record number of walleye lakes this year.

According to Jerry Weigel, fisheries production and development supervisor for Game and Fish, the department 20 years ago stocked about 50 to 70 waters were stocked annually with walleye fingerlings. That number grew to 100 by the early 2000s, and this year, Game and Fish is scheduled to stock 156 waters with a share of 9 million fingerlings.

“The growth in walleye waters is directly correlated to the number of public fishing waters we manage,” Weigel said.

In 1988, Game and Fish managed 160 public fishing waters totaling 99,098 acres, not including the Missouri River System. Today, Weigel said the department manages 415 waters and 345,988 acres, excluding the Missouri River System.

“This has put a lot of pressure on the two federal hatcheries in the state, Garrison Dam and Valley City,” Weigel said. “We need every available pond to meet a 9 million walleye fingerling request. In the last four years, we have stocked more than 38 million walleyes in the state, in addition to salmon, trout, pike, bass and panfish.”

Weigel said the flood of 2011 caused the 40 east unit hatchery ponds at Garrison to lose their water supply. In order to fill the 40 1.5-acre ponds, he said Game and Fish had to rent pumps in 2012 and 2013. The department recently completed a permanent fix at a cost of $500,000, thus eliminating the need to rent pumps in the future.

To help offset the reduced role the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has with recreational fish production in recent years, Game and Fish provides seasonal staffing at both hatcheries and pays for half the operational costs at Garrison Dam. According to Weigel, this is in addition to both collecting all the eggs each spring and transporting all fish from both hatcheries.

“There is no question the hatcheries play a vital role in the growth of the state’s fisheries and will continue to be needed to sustain this growth,” Weigel said. “The federal hatchery staff strives to operate at 100 percent efficiency, and thankfully that has been the case. Even at that, there is growing demand, thus Game and Fish has increased its assistance when possible.”

— N.D. Game and Fish Department

Openings remain for Cats Incredible

Organizers of this year’s Cats Incredible Catfish Tournament say plenty of openings remain for the event.

This year’s Cats Incredible is set for Aug. 2-3, with tournament headquarters at LaFave Park below Cabela’s in East Grand Forks.

According to Ryan Swang of the East Grand Forks Association of Firefighters, 81 two-person teams had entered the tournament as of Friday, and 44 openings are available. The entry fee is $230 per two-person team.

The East Grand Forks firefighters union took over the tournament last year.

Prizes this year are $5,000 for first place, $3,000 for second, $2,000 for third and organizers are paying out to 15th place this year. Also, Swang said, organizers are giving away cash for biggest fish and two “mystery fish,” along with as much as $2,000 in door prizes.

Entry and rules forms are available at Cabela’s.

— Brad Dokken

Refuges evaluate usage plans

Staffers at Rydell and Glacial Ridge national wildlife refuges in Polk County are in the process of evaluating proposed uses and completing a required periodic review of existing uses on refuge lands. The process is required on all refuge lands.

Uses under review at the two refuges include livestock grazing, environmental education and interpretation, research, haying and grazing, wildlife observation and photography, hunting, woodcutting, recreational fishing, fish rearing, use of the trail system and cooperative farming.

For more informationor to comment on the refuges’ uses, contact Trina Brennan at, by phone at (218) 687-2229 ext. 16, or mail to Trina Brennan at 17788 349th St. SE, Erskine, MN 56535.

— Herald staff report