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Outdoors Notebook: Bill introduced in U.S. Senate would benefit grasslands conservation

The North American Grasslands Conservation Act proposes to invest $290 million in voluntary initiatives to collaboratively conserve and restore native grasslands.

Prairie habitat.jpg
Grasslands and prairies represent some of the most threatened habitat in the world.
Jim Ringelman/Ducks Unlimited
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Bill would benefit grasslands conservation

WASHINGTON – Legislation introduced Wednesday, July 27, in the U.S. Senate would help farmers, ranchers, tribal nations and others work to collaboratively address the immense challenges facing America’s grasslands and prairies – one of the fastest disappearing ecosystems in the world.

The North American Grasslands Conservation Act, introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, and co-sponsored by Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, proposes to invest $290 million in voluntary initiatives to collaboratively conserve and restore native grasslands to support working ranch lands and to help recover wildlife such as the Western meadowlark and monarch butterflies and safeguard the habitat for future generations.

“Grasslands are North America’s most imperiled ecosystem and without urgent, collaborative conservation efforts, this essential habitat and the lives and livelihoods it supports are at risk,” Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said in a statement. “Just as we’ve restored millions of acres of wetlands through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Duck Stamp, the North American Grasslands Act will mark a sea change in how we conserve, restore and revitalize our prairies for ranchers, hunters and wildlife alike.”

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Grasslands and sagebrush shrub-steppe are some of the most threatened ecosystems in the world. More than 70% of America’s tallgrass, mixed grass and shortgrass prairies have vanished. According to recent research, the U.S. lost 1.1 million acres of grasslands every year from 2008 through 2016. Additionally, on average, about 1.2 million acres of sagebrush burn each year due to invasive annual grasses that fuel catastrophic wildfires.

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Because of this habitat loss, grassland bird populations have declined by more than 40% since 1966. Some species, such as the Western meadowlark, teeter at the edge of extinction.

The bill would create, for the first time, a North American Grasslands Conservation Strategy to identify key areas of grasslands at risk of degradation, establish goals for increasing grasslands acreage and develop baseline inventories of wildlife species throughout grasslands habitat.

More than two dozen of North America’s leading conservation groups heralded the proposal, including Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever , Backcountry Hunters & Anglers , Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership , National Wildlife Federation , North American Grouse Partnership , World Wildlife Fund , Izaak Walton League of America , Wildlife Mississippi , National Deer Association , Land Trust Alliance , Native American Fish and Wildlife Society , National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative , American Bird Conservancy and the Buffalo Nations Grasslands Alliance .

More info: www.ActforGrasslands.Org .

– Herald staff report

NDGF taking swan license applications

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is taking applications for the 2022 swan season. Hunters can apply for a license on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.

North Dakota residents and nonresidents are eligible to apply. The resident swan license is $10, while the nonresident fee is $30. The deadline to apply is Aug. 17.

The statewide tundra swan hunting season opens Oct. 1. A total of 2,200 licenses are available. Successful applicants will receive a tag to take one swan during the season. Since swans are classified as waterfowl, nonresidents may hunt them only during the period their nonresident waterfowl license is valid.

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All swan hunters, regardless of age, are required to have a general game and habitat license when applying. In addition, nonresidents must have a waterfowl license, and residents 16 and older need a small game or combination license.

– Herald staff report

DNR sets confiscated equipment auctions

ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will hold two confiscated equipment auctions this fall. The auctions, which will be held online at www.hillerauction.com , are scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 27, and Saturday, Oct. 1.

A list of items being offered for sale will be available about one month before each individual auction date at www.hillerauction.com . The list will include the DNR Enforcement seizure receipt number, if applicable. This preliminary list is subject to change by the DNR.

The bidding catalogs for each auction will be available online Aug. 24 and Sept. 28. This will include a written description and photos of each item.

Onsite inspection will be available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26, and Friday, Sept. 30, at Hiller Auction Service, 10785 261st Ave., Zimmerman, Minn.

More info: www.hillerauction.com .

– Herald staff report

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Did you know?

  • Staff from the Grand Forks Greenway are seeking information about two trail cameras that recently were stolen from the Whopper John and Lincoln Drive Park boat ramps. The North Dakota Game and Fish Department installed the Cabela’s-brand trail cameras at the two sites as part of their Red River creel survey to monitor boat angler usage and gather information about fishing and river access needs. Anyone with information about the stolen cameras should call the city of Grand Forks office at (701) 738-8746.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 3, is the deadline to apply for North Dakota’s pronghorn season. The Game and Fish Department is offering 1,970 licenses in 17 units this year, up slightly from 1,720 licenses last year. The pronghorn license fee is $30 for ages 16 and older and $10 for under age 16. Applicants must be at least 12 years old on or before Dec. 31. Apply online at gf.nd.gov.
  • The Minnesota DNR is launching a planning process to learn more about existing ATV use and the statewide economic impact from the recreational use of public land, particularly in areas with established motorized recreation opportunities. As part of the process for developing the Minnesota All-Terrain Vehicle Statewide Strategic Master Plan, a virtual stakeholder session is set for 3 p.m. Monday, Aug. 15, via Zoom, to share information about the planning process and learn more about other relevant projects, marketing and economic development initiatives, and visitation patterns and needs. To register, email Annaka Eagan at aegan@segroup.com.
  • The Minnesota DNR will take input on its draft wolf management plan through 4:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8. More info: mndnr.gov/WolfPlan .

– compiled by Brad Dokken

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