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Outdoors Notebook: Youth OHV safety courses open for registration in North Dakota

In the Grand Forks area, the nearest courses are set for Tuesday, June 6, in Park River, North Dakota, and Thursday, June 8, in Lakota, North Dakota.


BISMARCK – Over two dozen Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) youth safety courses are open for registration across North Dakota, the state Parks and Recreation Department said.

Youth ages 12 to 15 are eligible for the free, in-person OHV certification courses that begin on May 31 and run through July 27. Classes are capped at eight students, so interested participants are encouraged to view the registration page and register soon. 

In the Grand Forks area, the nearest courses are set for Tuesday, June 6, in Park River, North Dakota, and Thursday, June 8, in Lakota, North Dakota. Courses will be offered from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. in both locations.

Youth-sized ATVs will be provided for the course, but students should come wearing long sleeves, long pants, over-ankle boots, gloves and their helmet, if they have one. A free helmet will be provided at the beginning of the course for students to keep.

“Big’’ in this case is the pileated woodpecker, a crow-sized bird. The “small” refers to the chipping sparrow, a mere mite in comparison to the mighty woodpecker.

North Dakota law requires youth ages 12 to 15 who do not have a valid driver's license or learner’s permit to take a safety certification class. The certification is needed in order to legally operate OHVs on land other than their parent's, which includes designated OHV trails and ditches.


Children who are 11 but turn 12 within six months of a class date may take the safety certification test but will not receive their certification card until they turn 12.

Courses are funded by the JakeStar foundation. While the classes are aimed at certifying young riders, anyone who wishes to learn more about OHV safety (such as parents or children under 12) is encouraged to attend; no fee is charged.

– Staff report

Cramer co-authors LAKES recreation act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., have introduced the Lake Access Keeping Economies Strong (LAKES) Act. The bipartisan bill would improve outdoor recreation facilities in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-managed areas, provide new opportunities for public-private investments and give local districts more flexibility to reinvest their resources.

Kevin Cramer
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota)

Cramer is a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Heinrich is a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“Because of discrepancies in federal law, managers of some of North Dakotans’ favorite outdoor recreation sites have to get approval from Washington to initiate operations and maintenance projects,” Cramer said in a statement. “And, unlike every other federal land management agency, the Army Corps cannot retain recreation fees at the sites where they’re collected.

“This makes no sense,” he added. “Our bipartisan bill would keep resources and decision-making closer to home, while providing new opportunities for private investment in our recreation facilities.”

The Corps is one of the nation’s largest federal outdoor recreation providers, managing nearly 257,000 facilities across 43 states. Under existing law, local Corps managers cannot retain recreation fee revenues collected onsite, an authority afforded to the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Parks Service.


The Challenge Cost Sharing Cooperative Management Program was created for participating agencies to split operation and management (O&M) expenses and responsibilities with eligible outside groups. However, the Corps is limited to partnering with non-federal public entities, despite most interest coming from private and nonprofit organizations.

To correct these issues, the LAKES Act would allow the Corps to:

  • Retain 80% of recreation fees collected onsite for O&M at that location.
  • Enter into cooperative agreements with local nonprofits.
  • Handle partner-collected fees and return them to the partner jointly managing the recreation facility to reinvest onsite.

– Staff report

Register for N.D. game warden exam by June 6

BISMARCK – Anyone interested in taking the exam to select candidates for a full-time temporary district game warden position in North Dakota must register by June 6, the Game and Fish Department said in a news release. The test is set for 10 a.m. June 9 at the Game and Fish Department's main office, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, in Bismarck.

Applicants must register by submitting an online application through the North Dakota State Job Openings website.

Applicants must be at least 21, have a bachelor’s degree at time of hire or an associate degree with either two years of law enforcement or wildlife experience, have a valid driver’s license and a current North Dakota peace officer license or be eligible to be licensed. Candidates must successfully complete a comprehensive background check and must not have a record of any felony convictions.

Salary through training is $4,500 per month. For more information, see the district game warden job announcement on the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.

– Staff report


Applications for bear hunt lottery close May 5

ST. PAUL – Prospective bear hunters have until Friday, May 5, to apply for a bear hunting license from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the DNR said this week. Applications for the 2023 season can be submitted online, at any license agent or by telephone at (888) 665-4236.

The DNR is offering 4,035 licenses in 14 permit areas for the 2023 season, which opens Friday, Sept. 1, and closes Sunday, Oct. 15.

Lottery winners will be notified by Thursday, June 1. The deadline to purchase bear hunting licenses awarded by lottery is Tuesday, Aug. 1. Any remaining licenses that haven’t been purchased will be available over the counter starting at noon Friday, Aug. 4.

An unlimited number of bear licenses also will be sold over the counter for the no-quota area that includes east-central and far northwestern Minnesota. No-quota licenses are valid only in the no-quota area.

Hunters with either a quota or no-quota license who are interested in taking a problem bear should contact the area DNR wildlife manager in the area(s) of interest – mndnr.gov/areas/wildlife – to be added to the hunter contact list for any potential opportunities.

Complete instructions about how to apply for a license, maps of permit areas and a listing of permit availability for each area are available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/hunting/bear .

– Staff report

DNR selects new e-licensing vendor

ST. PAUL – The Minnesota DNR and Minnesota IT Services have selected conservation technology company S3 as the vendor to build a modern electronic licensing system to serve the state’s anglers, boaters, hunters and recreational vehicle owners, the agency said this week.


“This is an important and exciting milestone toward making it easier for all Minnesotans who already buy licenses for their outdoor pursuits and those who would like to try something new,” DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said in a statement. “The new licensing system will modernize DNR’s ability to connect Minnesotans with the information and services they need so they can get outside and enjoy our exceptional lands and waters.”

S3 has built licensing systems for a number of other states including Arkansas, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio.

“We are one step closer to modernizing the way you can access licensing services from the DNR,” said Tarek Tomes, commissioner of Minnesota IT Services. “The new system will make it faster and easier for Minnesotans to buy licenses and ultimately, experience Minnesota’s natural resources.”

Minnesotans will still be able to buy licenses at a bait shop or sporting goods store, but the new system will provide much improved online capabilities, including the ability to buy and store licenses on mobile devices. Recreational vehicle and boat license and registration services will continue to be provided by mail, online or in-person at deputy registrar offices. Licenses and registrations will also continue to be available at the DNR license center in St. Paul.

The new system’s construction and testing are expected to take about two years to complete, with a public launch expected in early 2025. For more information, and to sign up to receive email updates about the new license system, visit the DNR website at mndnr.gov/rlp/els.html .

– Staff report

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