OUTDOORS NOTEBOOK: Deer gun tags; river access; area canoe events; CRP

NDGF increases deer gun tags North Dakota's 2016 deer season is set, with 49,000 licenses available to hunters this fall--an increase of 5,725 from last year. According to Jeb Williams, wildlife chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department...

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NDGF increases deer gun tags

North Dakota's 2016 deer season is set, with 49,000 licenses available to hunters this fall-an increase of 5,725 from last year.

According to Jeb Williams, wildlife chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, population and harvest data indicate the state's deer population is stable to increasing after seven years of reduced gun licenses and consecutive mild winters.

"Consequently, a small increase in deer licenses will provide increased hunting opportunities while continuing to encourage population growth," Williams said. "Most of the additional licenses are for antlered deer."

The mule deer population in the Badlands increased for the fourth consecutive year, with numbers showing the spring mule deer index is up 21 percent from last year.


For the fifth consecutive year, Game and Fish will not issue any antlerless mule deer licenses in units 4A, 4B and 4C. But for the first time since 2011, mule deer doe licenses are available in units 3B1, 3B2, 4D, 4E and 4F.

"Mule deer numbers are above the population objective and long-term average in certain areas," Williams said. "Therefore, a limited number of antlerless mule deer licenses are available in these units."

The number of licenses available for 2016 includes 2,550 for antlered mule deer, an increase of 675 from last year; 928 for muzzleloader, an increase of 100 from last year; and 225 restricted youth antlered mule deer, an increase of 38 from last year.

In northeast North Dakota, Unit 2B, which extends from Grand Forks south to Fargo, has 990 resident any-antlered tags and 693 resident any-antlerless tags available for rifle and muzzleloader; 2C north of U.S. Highway 2 has 693 resident any-antlered tags and 297 resident any-antlerless tags available; Unit 2D to the north along the Canadian border has 396 resident any-antlered tags and 99 resident any-antlerless tags.

Online applications for the regular deer gun, youth, muzzleloader and resident gratis and nonresident landowner licenses are available on the Game and Fish Department's website at Paper applications will be at vendors throughout the state by mid-May. The deadline for applying is June 1.

North Dakota's 2016 deer gun season opens at noon Nov. 4 and continues through Nov. 20.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

GF, EGF meetings to focus on river access


Greenway staff and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have scheduled two public meetings to get input on developing a master plan for river access on the Red River in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.

The meetings are scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. May 16 in the East Grand Forks City Hall, 600 Demers Ave., and 6 to 8 p.m. May 19 in the Grand Forks City Hall, 255 N. Fourth St.

Kim Greendahl, Greenway specialist for the city of Grand Forks, said having a master plan in place would simplify the process for adding access as opportunities and funding arise.

"We want to hear from people-both motorized and nonmotorized (users) and shore anglers," Greendahl said. "Where would they like to see more access? What kinds of amenities would they like to see?

"People definitely want to see more access to the shore, especially for shore fishing and also for getting canoes and kayaks out of the water."

Attending from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will be Tim Williamson and Lance Crandall, Greendahl said.

"They've done this before," she said. "We could have hired a consultant, but (DNR) is owners of the Greenway, as well, so it's a collaborative project between both cities and both states."

The meetings will be set up as open house sessions so participants don't have to be on hand the full two hours. The key, Greendahl said, is hearing from Greenway users.


"Sometimes, we get very removed from what users want, and we want to hear what users want," Greendahl said.

She said the goal is to have a master plan available by the end of the year.

-- Brad Dokken

Area paddling events on tap

The International Water Institute, in partnership with Wilderness Inquiry and Ground Up Adventures, is offering a series of paddling events in June on the Red and Red Lake rivers in Crookston, Thief River Falls and Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.

Andy Ulven, monitoring and education specialist for the International Water Institute, said the free events are open to the public and are intended to get people on-and talking about-their rivers.

Participants will paddle six, 24-foot voyageur canoes that hold 10 passengers, Ulven said. Organizers will host elementary and high school students in the mornings and afternoons, he said, with evenings set aside for anyone from the community.

Food and refreshments will be available for the evening events, Ulven said, and each paddling session will last about 20 minutes out and back to accommodate as many people as possible.


Evening canoe sessions are as follows:

• June 8: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Crookston, Red Lake River in Central Park.

• June 9: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Thief River Falls, Red Lake and Thief rivers at Centennial Park.

• June 10: 4 to 7 p.m., East Grand Forks, LaFave Park boat launch below Cabela's.

For more information, contact Ulven at (701) 429-4518 or by email at .

-- Herald staff report

Vilsack sees need to expand CRP acreage

The Conservation Reserve Program generated more than 1.8 million acres in offers during the general signup that ended in February, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture only was able to accept 23 percent of the 26,000 landowner applications because of the program's 24 million-acre cap.


As a result, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says there's a need for a larger CRP cap to meet landowner demand and natural resource benefits.

Vilsack this week announced that 800,000 acres will be enrolled through three different CRP components. In addition to the general sign-up, Vilsack said 4,600 additional offers were made for 1 million acres in the new CRP Grasslands program. Only 100,000 acres were accepted for a meager 10 percent acceptance rate.

Finally, an additional 330,000 acres were enrolled through continuous CRP sign-up, which is in addition to last year's record-setting 860,000 continuous acres enrolled.

"When Congress begins to deliberate the 2018 farm bill, they're going to be faced I think with a demand to rethink the cap on CRP," Vilsack told Agri-Pulse, a Missouri-based weekly newsletter. "The deliberation should not begin with 'You have to save an artificial dollar amount,' but it should really look at what the demand and need is."

Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever vice president of government affairs, said 800,000 acres is good news, but the larger message is one of missed opportunity.

"We had landowners come out in droves to voluntarily make a commitment to wildlife, water and soil," Nomsen said. "Instead, America's most successful conservation program-one with a 30-year track record of wildlife and natural resource benefits-was neutered by a 24 million-acre cap."

-- Pheasants Forever

Did you know?


• Randy Sorenson of East Grand Forks has been appointed to the DNR's Parks and Trails Legacy Advisory Committee, a panel that offers input on the use of state Legacy Amendment funds for Minnesota state and regional parks and trails. Sorenson is executive director of the Options Resource Center for Independent Living in East Grand Forks. The Parks and Trails Fund receives 14.25 percent of the three-eighths percent sales tax Minnesota voters approved in 2008 for outdoors, parks and the arts. More info:

• Moms who are residents of Minnesota can fish without a license today as part of Take a Mom Fishing Weekend, which began Saturday. The opportunity only applies to species that have open seasons.

• Minnesota residents do not need a license to shore fish at most lakes within state parks. More info is available at

• Staff from Cabela's in East Grand Forks will be sponsoring an Outdoor Day for third-graders at J. Nelson Kelly Elementary School in Grand Forks next week. Brad Olson of Cabela's said the program will feature classroom activities May 17 and fishing opportunities May 20 at Ryan Pond in King's Walk Golf Course.

• Ten Minnesota conservation officer candidates began training April 20 as part of the 14-week Conservation Officer Academy at Camp Ripley near Little Falls, Minn. Joseph Braun, a Detroit Lakes, Minn., native who attended North Dakota State University, will be stationed in Thief River Falls.

-- compiled by Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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