State’s busiest park has been closed for six months
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reopening Fort Snelling State Park today, Sept. 17, after persistent spring flooding caused extensive damage that forced the park to close in March.
“We know how eager people have been to get back out to the park, so we’re really excited to finally be reopening,” said Fort Snelling State Park assistant supervisor Nick Bartels. “We still have a lot of work left to do and some parts of the park will remain closed until that work can be completed, but our goal has always been to reopen the park as soon as safely possible.”
Flooding damaged the park’s main roads, facilities and water supply lines, downed trees, and washed out hiking trails throughout the park.
As clean up and repairs continue, including silt removal and facility repairs, park operations are returning to normal.
“Come out this weekend to enjoy a picnic, take a hike, or attend a fun naturalist program,” said Bartels. “Just remember to check our website or call our park office for up-to-date information.”
Located at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers within the heart of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, Fort Snelling State Park averages nearly one million visitors every year and is a popular destination for hikers, bikers, birders and school groups.
Visitors can go to the Fort Snelling State Park page for more information.
9th annual event to take place at Austin Holiday Inn
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz invites all Minnesotans to join him on Friday, Oct. 11 for the 9th Annual Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener Community Banquet in Austin.
Celebrating the pheasant opener is a long-standing Minnesota tradition, and one that Walz is proudly carrying on in his first pheasant opener as governor.
“I’m excited and proud to open the pheasant season in Austin,” Walz said. “I’m grateful for the hard work and hospitality shown by our hosts in Austin, and I invite everyone to join us for this special Minnesota fall tradition.”
Tickets to the banquet are $35 each and can be purchased at Discover Austin, or by calling 507-437-4563. The banquet will feature a social hour, dinner, and program which will include Walz, Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Sarah Strommen, Explore Minnesota Director John Edman, and local presenters. Tickets are available until sold out.
The banquet is part of a weekend of festivities in Austin that will showcase the many hunting, recreational, and travel opportunities the area has to offer visitors. Austin has a population of 24,563 and is located at the junction of Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 218 just north of the Minnesota-Iowa state line in Mower County. Explore Minnesota and the DNR are assisting Discover Austin in planning the event.
WHAT: Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener Community Banquet
WHERE: Austin Holiday Inn, 1701 4th St. NW, Austin, MN 55912
WHEN: Friday, Oct. 11, — 5 p.m. social hour; 6 p.m. community banquet
TICKETS: $35 per person
In person: Discover Austin (301 North Main St., Suite 101, Austin, MN 55912)
By phone: 507-437-4563
More information and updates on the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener can be found at exploreminnesota.com/mngpho.
Minnesota offers mentors an ideal way to share hunting knowledge and traditions with youth ages 10-17 during its inaugural statewide youth deer season.
The four-day season begins Thursday, Oct. 17, and concludes Sunday, Oct. 20. It coincides with statewide teacher workshops, so many Minnesota students don’t have school during the youth season’s first two days.
“This is a hunting season just for kids,” said Barb Keller, big game program leader for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “It’s a chance for parents, relatives and trusted adults to discover, explore and practice hunting with youth in Minnesota’s fields and forests.”
Minnesota’s youth deer season began in 2004 in northwestern Minnesota. Over the years, it expanded to 28 deer permit areas in parts of southeastern and northwestern Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro area where deer were most abundant.
A 2018 statewide survey of hunters showed support for a statewide youth deer season. Deer management interest groups supported the concept, too.
Typically, temperatures in the middle of October are warmer than those during the regular November firearm deer season, snow has yet to set in for winter, and deer are moving more during the daylight hours. Those factors create an ideal opportunity for youth deer hunters.
To participate, youth must be 10-17 years old and have a deer license. An adult parent, guardian, or mentor must accompany youth ages 10-13. All youth hunters and mentors must follow blaze orange/pink clothing requirements. Adults may not hunt, unless they are in an area open during the early antlerless season.
Complete youth season details are available on the DNR website on the youth deer hunting page.
“Hunting is a pathway for understanding nature, supporting sound natural resource management and becoming a conservation advocate,” Keller said. “Creating this opportunity is one of the ways the DNR is working to preserve Minnesota’s hunting heritage.”
The 2020 Minnesota Migratory Waterfowl Stamp will feature a painting of a pair of snow geese by Rushford artist Michael Sieve, who won the annual waterfowl stamp contest sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources. It was Sieve’s first time winning this contest.
Fifteen artists submitted entries and two advanced as finalists in the Sept. 5 contest at the DNR’s Central Office in St. Paul. The other finalist was Scot Storm from Freeport. A five-member panel of judges from the DNR, Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service selected the winning design.
The $7.50 Duck Stamp is required of all Minnesota waterfowl hunters ages 18 through 64. Stamp sales generate about $700,000 per year for waterfowl habitat enhancement projects.
The DNR offers no prizes for the stamp contest winner, but the winning artist retains the right to reproduce the work. Each year the entries are limited to a predetermined species that breeds in or migrates through Minnesota. The eligible species for the 2021 stamp design will be the greater scaup.
More information about habitat stamps is available on the fish and wildlife habitat stamp program page.
Save the dates for upcoming sale
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will offer 17 parcels of land at three public oral bid auctions in October. The auctions will be held in Virginia, Wadena and St. Paul.
The properties include unimproved recreational land in Carlton, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Otter Tail, Pine, St. Louis, Wabasha and Wadena counties. More information about the parcels and can be found on the DNR’s Land Sale webpage.
The auctions are:
- Thursday, Oct. 10 at Miner’s Memorial Building, 821 S. 9th Ave., Virginia. Held in conjunction with St. Louis County’s tax forfeit land sale. The DNR will have its own bidder registration at the same time as the county, starting at 9 a.m. The county auction begins at 10 a.m., followed immediately by the DNR’s auction.
- Tuesday, Oct. 29, 10 a.m. at the DNR Central Office, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.
- Wednesday, Oct. 30, 10 a.m. at the Wadena County Courthouse, 415 Jefferson St. S. Wadena.
Getting youth outdoors in pursuit of squirrels, rabbits and other small game is the focus of Take a Kid Hunting Weekend this Saturday, Sept. 21, and Sunday, Sept. 22.
During the weekend, adult Minnesota residents accompanied by a youth younger than age 16 can hunt small game without a license, but must comply with open seasons, limits and other regulations.
“Small game hunting helps teach the basics and goes a long way toward getting ready for hunting bigger game like turkey or deer,” said James Burnham, recruitment, retention and reactivation coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Not to mention that squirrels and rabbits can provide delicious, local food.”
Hunting small game provides a lower stress environment when kids are learning how to search for game sign, proper firearms handling, and accessing hunting properties. It can be more active than some types of hunting that involve lengthier periods of time sitting still and being quiet.
“Plus, you get to get in a good walk and have a decent conversation, so it’s less time just sitting and waiting for something to happen,” Burnham said.
After small game hunting, youth can bring the skills they’ve gained to the youth deer season, Thursday, Oct. 17, through Sunday, Oct. 20. That season coincides with statewide teacher workshops, so many Minnesota students don’t have school during the youth season’s first two days.
For more information on small game hunting and hunting regulations, visit the small game hunting page.
Duck hunting is expected to be good when Minnesota’s regular waterfowl season opens a half-hour before sunrise on Saturday, Sept. 21.
“We’re continuing to see favorable counts of breeding ducks in Minnesota and North America so we hope hunters enjoy what’s shaping up to be a great season,” said Steve Cordts, Department of Natural Resources waterfowl specialist.
This past spring, biologists estimated the total breeding duck population in Minnesota at 14 percent above the long-term average and nearly identical to last year’s estimate of 693,000 ducks.
The estimated number of wetlands was 19 percent higher than last year and 23 percent above the long-term average, reflecting the wet year. Wetland numbers can vary greatly based on annual precipitation.
The spring estimate for Canada geese was 110,000 birds, down 32 percent from last year’s estimate; however, reproduction during the spring and summer affects how many birds hunters see in the fall. Reproduction was good this year, so there are still plenty of geese around for hunters.
Duck seasons and limits
The duck season structure is similar to recent years. The waterfowl seasons are based on a federal framework that applies to all states in the Mississippi Flyway. Waterfowl hunting regulations are available wherever DNR licenses are sold and available online.
Duck season will be open for 60 days in each of the three waterfowl zones:
- In the north zone, duck season is Sept. 21 through Tuesday, Nov. 19.
- In the central zone, duck season is Sept. 21 through Sunday, Sept. 29, closes for five days, then reopens Saturday, Oct. 5, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 24.
- In the south zone, duck season is Sept. 21 through Sept. 29, closes for 12 days, then reopens Saturday, Oct. 12, and runs through Sunday, Dec. 1.
The daily duck bag limit is six per day. The mallard bag limit is four per day, including no more than two hen mallards. The daily bag limits are three for wood duck and three for scaup; two for redheads, two for canvasbacks, two for black ducks and one for pintail.
The DNR will post a weekly waterfowl migration report each week during the duck season. The reports are typically posted on Thursday afternoon on the waterfowl hunting page.
Goose and sandhill crane seasons
Minnesota’s goose season will reopen in conjunction with the duck season statewide on Sept. 21, with a bag limit of three dark geese per day the entire season. Dark geese include Canada geese, white-fronted geese and brant geese. The daily bag limit for light geese is 20. Light geese include snow, blue and Ross’s geese.
The season for sandhill cranes opened Sept. 14, and remains open through Sunday, Oct. 20, in the northwest goose and sandhill crane zone only. The daily bag limit is one sandhill crane per day. A $3 sandhill crane permit is required in addition to a small game hunting license.
More information on duck, goose, sandhill crane and other migratory bird hunting is available in the 2019 Minnesota Waterfowl Hunting Regulations booklet from license vendors and online on the waterfowl hunting page.