From fishers to fishing trips, July offers outdoors possibilities
A few items to ponder as mid-July rapidly approaches: - The ongoing quest to provide hunting and fishing access got a huge boost this week when Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be releasing $50 m...
A few items to ponder as mid-July rapidly approaches:
- The ongoing quest to provide hunting and fishing access got a huge boost this week when Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be releasing $50 million for the federal "Open Fields" public access and habitat program.
The federal initiative results from legislation authored by Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., back in 2003 and will provide incentive payments to landowners who provide public access for outdoor recreation such as hunting, fishing and hiking. Individual states would manage their respective access programs.
Congress authorized Open Fields in the 2008 farm bill, but USDA delays in finalizing the regulations kept the program on the shelf until Thursday.
With the program finally in place, look for the federal funding to augment established programs such as North Dakota's popular and highly successful Private Lands Open to Sportsmen (PLOTS) program that has been in place for several years.
The federal funding also stands to help establish a private-lands access program in Minnesota. Mark Holsten, commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources, said in an interview with outdoor writer Dennis Anderson of the Star Tribune that the state has a good shot at receiving some of the federal money.
"Hunters might not see much of a difference this year because it's getting going pretty late," Holsten told Anderson. "We'll do what we can."
Randy Kreil, wildlife division chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, said Game and Fish also plans to apply for a share of the federal funding. Stay tuned.
- Fisher sightings continue to pop up across northeastern North Dakota, another sign the furbearer species is gaining a foothold west of the Red River. Members of the weasel family, fishers traditionally are associated with forested areas such as northern Minnesota. But in recent years, they've also become increasingly common along rivers such as the Turtle, the Red and the Pembina.
The most recent report came July 2, when a Grand Forks reader said she saw a critter dash across the road into a wheat field about five miles northwest of McCanna, N.D.
Initially, the reader wrote, she thought she'd seen a pine marten. But when she got home, she looked up mammal possibilities. "When I looked up 'fisher,' the picture matched exactly what I remembered seeing," she said.
Graduate students from Frostburg State University in Maryland wrapped up a two-year research project on fishers last year. Using tools such as trail cameras and baited "track plate" boxes, the students detected fishers at 54 of 184 sites along the Red River and several tributaries, mainly north of Grand Forks.
- Summer might be rocketing by, but it's not too late to book a fishing trip north of the border. A reader from Montana e-mailed the other day to say he'd booked a fly-in fishing trip to northern Manitoba. Reading between the lines, it sounded as if he was able to negotiate a discount in the traditional rate.
"For folks wanting to go to Canada fishing, they should not overlook July and August," he wrote. "These resorts have a bunch of vacancies and are willing to make deals."
I've crossed the border at Emerson, Man., several times in the past year and have been struck by the relative scarcity of American license plates waiting in line. Whether it's the U.S. passport requirement, the economy or the stronger Canadian dollar, it definitely seems fewer Americans are going to Canada, so the reader's tip on making a deal doesn't surprise me.
The Manitoba Lodge and Outfitters Association even posts a listing of discounts for both hunting and fishing trips on its website. If you're looking for a deal, check out the site at www.mloa.com and click the "Internet Auctions and Trip Sales" link.
Dokken reports on outdoors. Reach him at (701) 780-1148; (800) 477-6572, ext. 148; or send e-mail to email@example.com .