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Group to offer input on Lake of the Woods five-year management plan

Boats anchor up along the edge of the channel in Four-Mile Bay of Lake of the Woods in May 2013. A volunteer fisheries input group will begin meeting this month to provide input to the Department of Natural Resources as they draft a new five-year management plan for Lake of the Woods. (Photo/ Brad Dokken, Grand Forks herald)

A fisheries input group is set to begin meeting this month to provide feedback to the Department of Natural Resources on the next five-year fisheries management plan being drafted for the Minnesota side of Lake of the Woods.

Nearly 30 people applied to serve on the 14-person volunteer committee, which includes representatives from county government, area businesses, resorts on the Minnesota side of Lake of the Woods and anglers from outside the area, said Phil Talmage, area fisheries supervisor for the DNR in Baudette, Minn.

The existing plan has been in place for the past five years, he said.

The group will meet monthly for five to six months in Baudette to offer input to DNR staff on the plan, which will guide fisheries management on Lake of the Woods from 2018 through 2023, Talmage said.

A draft plan will go out for public review hopefully sometime next summer, he said. After the new plan is in place, the DNR will meet annually with the fisheries input group to provide updates and get feedback on how thing are going on the lake, as well, he said.

"I think it's going to be a good group, and I'm very excited to have their input into our management process here on Lake of the Woods," Talmage said. "It allows our stakeholders and anglers to provide their input while we're thinking about all different aspects of the management plan, which has goals and details specific to walleye, sturgeon, pike, saugers—you name it, it's all in there."

The DNR has incorporated fisheries input groups into management strategies for other lakes, including some where problems within the fishery have been occurring, Talmage said.

That's not the case on Lake of the Woods, he said.

"Things are moving along pretty well on Lake of the Woods," Talmage said. "I think it's going to foster a good relationship between everybody. While I'm sure everybody has their ideas on things they'd like to see, I think it should go very smooth not having a big issue burning out there that's causing a lot of concern."

Neither the plan nor the input process are in place with the goal of changing regulations on Lake of the Woods, Talmage said.

"It would be premature for me to suggest we're even looking at regulation changes," he said. "The bigger thing for us right now is just making sure that our stakeholders are in line with what our management goals are for the fishery."

Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is a reporter and editor of the Herald's Sunday Northland Outdoors pages. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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