Legislation benefits at-risk species

Calling it “by far the most important piece of wildlife legislation in the past half century,” the National Wildlife Federation’s president and CEO, Collin O’Mara, is among the conservation advocates applauding the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.

Introduced by U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the legislation would dedicate $1.4 billion annually to at-risk wildlife species. The bill annually directs $1.3 billion to state fish and wildlife agencies and an additional $97.5 million to tribal fish and wildlife managers.

“At a time when more than one-third of wildlife species are at heightened risk of extinction, this critical legislation will help recover thousands of at-risk species through proactive, collaborative efforts in every state, territory and tribal nation, creating jobs while preventing extinctions,” O’Mara said in a statement.

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The Senate version of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act largely mirrors the bipartisan House bill, while leveraging funds from penalties paid by polluters and those convicted of environmental crimes to restore and reconnect degraded habitat, remove invasive species, confront wildlife disease and bolster resilience to climate impacts.

Reps. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., and Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., introduced the House bill in April.

“For more than a century, hunters and anglers have been a vital source of funding for wildlife conservation, efforts that have produced long-term, quantifiable gains for critters important to our traditions, as well as at-risk species,” said Land Tawney, president and CEO of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, now introduced in the Senate as well as the House of Representatives, would continue that tradition.”

– Herald staff report

Peterson named interim NDGF director

BISMARCK – The deputy director of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department has been appointed as interim director to replace Terry Steinwand, who is retiring at the end of the month after more than 15 years as director and nearly 40 years with the department.

Scott Peterson, North Dakota Game and Fish Department. (Photo/ North Dakota Game and Fish Department)
Scott Peterson, North Dakota Game and Fish Department. (Photo/ North Dakota Game and Fish Department)

Gov. Doug Burgum announced Scott Peterson’s appointment on Tuesday, July 20.

Deputy director of Game and Fish since 2014, Peterson joined the department in 1986 as a Garrison Diversion habitat biologist and has also served as a wildlife resource management supervisor and wildlife resource section leader. He earned a bachelor’s degree in wildlife management and zoology from North Dakota State University.

Game and Fish has a two-year budget of approximately $92 million and is authorized for 165 full-time employees.

– Herald staff report

Low water creates boat ramp issues

The abnormally dry to drought conditions occurring across Minnesota this summer are creating challenging conditions for people trying to get their boats into or out of the water at public boat launches, the Department of Natural Resources said.

When water levels drop during extended dry periods, the concrete ramps at boat launches may no longer reach all the way into the water, and hazards such as prop-wash holes can become more problematic.

Prop-wash holes are caused by “power-loading” the boat onto the trailer instead of using the preferred method of cranking it on the trailer by winch. When water levels are low, people are more likely to back their trailer past the ramp’s end and into a prop-wash hole if one is present.

“It can be pretty difficult to get a trailer unstuck from a hole like that,” said Nancy Stewart, DNR water recreation consultant. “And just beyond the prop-wash hole, there’s often a mound of material that boats may get stuck on after launching, preventing them from getting to deeper water.”

Extending ramps can help in some places, but not when shallow water persists beyond the boat ramp.

Stewart offers the following tips for launching boats in low water:

  • Check the ramp, especially the firmness of the gravel at the ramp’s end, and the water depth.

  • Visit an alternative access site, or a different lake or river altogether, if water levels are too low to safely launch your boat.

  • Watch for obstructions in the lake, like large boulders or tree stumps.

  • Expect delays at public boat launches and be patient with boaters who are having difficulty launching. You can also #BeGoodNatured and offer assistance.

More info: mndnr.gov.

– Herald staff report

NDGF offers bow tag reminder

Bow hunters in North Dakota should plan accordingly and allow for time to receive their bow tag in the mail because they won’t not receive their tag immediately after purchase, the Game and Fish Department said in a reminder.

Bow licenses can still be purchased at license vendors, but this year, the tag will arrive by postal mail and not over the counter while the customer waits. This applies while purchasing a bow license at a license vendor or at the Game and Fish Department’s main office in Bismarck.

The bow tag will be mailed the next business day after the bow license is purchased. All archery hunters must have the bow tag in their possession before hunting.

Hunters also can buy bow licenses online by going to the My Account section of the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.

– Herald staff report

Rydell NWR offers haying opportunity

Rydell National Wildlife Refuge in Polk County is taking bids on the opportunity to hay up to 84 acres on four different fields in August on refuge lands.

The objective of haying the fields is to remove existing vegetation to reduce the litter

layer, stimulate new growth and remove young woody vegetation. This is done in an effort to maintain as much open grassland as possible for waterfowl and other ground-nesting birds, according to a refuge news release.

Bids are due Friday, July 30. Interested people can ask questions or get a copy of the bid package mailed to them by contacting refuge manager Gregg Knutsen at (218) 686-4329 or gregg_knutsen@fws.gov. The bid package also is available on the Rydell refuge website at www.fws.gov/refuge/rydell.

Interested bidders also can also schedule a visit of the four fields to be hayed before submitting a bid.

– Herald staff report

Did you know?

  • Audubon Dakota is taking applications through Aug. 6 for landowners interested in enrolling marginal croplands into the Conservation Forage Program. Supported by a $6.9 million North Dakota Industrial Commission Outdoor Heritage Fund grant – the largest awarded by the commission – the program aims to accelerate grassland restoration across the state by offsetting the costs for restoring marginal croplands back to native grasslands. Info: dakota.audubon.org or Sarah Hewitt, conservation program manager, sarah.hewitt@audubon.org or (701) 298-3373.

  • Minnesota hunters can apply through Friday, Aug. 20, for one of 125 permits available for the 2021 Minnesota prairie chicken hunting season. The nine-day prairie chicken season begins Saturday, Sept. 25, and is open only to Minnesota residents. The hunt takes place in northwestern Minnesota between St. Hilaire in the north and Breckenridge in the south. Hunters can find details about the season on the DNR website.

  • Split Rock Lighthouse State Park in northeast Minnesota has been named among the top 10 best U.S. campgrounds for 2021 by the camping app Dyrt. Located near Two Harbors, Minn., Split Rock Lighthouse State Park came in at No. 5 on the top campgrounds list. Jenny Lake in Wyoming was named as the top campground.

  • Boaters in North Dakota who have an accident that involves injury, death or disappearance of a person must report the incident to the Game and Fish Department within 48 hours. If property damage exceeds $2,000 but no deaths or injuries occur, a boat operator has five days to file a report. A boat accident form is available on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov, at any Game and Fish office or by contacting a local game warden.

– compiled by Brad Dokken

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