Joe Henry, executive director of Lake of the Woods Tourism, testified before a Senate panel on Tuesday, June 15, during a hearing on “The State of Outdoor Tourism, Recreation and Ecotourism.”
The US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Tourism, Commerce, and Export Promotion conducted the hearing. Henry testified from afar, addressing tourism and recreational issues throughout Minnesota, according to a press release from Lake of the Woods Tourism.
“The outdoor tourism and leisure industries, including the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and communities, have created both challenges and opportunities for the industry,” said Henry. “Many outdoor recreation destinations and companies are booming. Others are not. However, there are inherent challenges across the state, and in many cases across the country, that need to be addressed. “
One of the challenges Henry identified was the situation facing businesses in the Northwest, which has been cut off from the rest of the US on the roads since the US-Canada border closed in March 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic are . He mentioned the Remote Recreational Small Business Interruption Program Act, which was instituted by Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, both D-Minn., Which would provide credit to small businesses in enclaves in the neighboring United States near the Canadian border, such as the Northwest Angle.
Opening the 40-mile Canadian road to visitors and seasonal property owners to access the Northwest Corner is a priority, Henry said, along with securing a forgivable loan program.
“With America out of the pandemic and with things opening up again, resorts and businesses in the Northwest are once again ‘cut off’ from their customers,” said Henry. “You are now facing your second summer with little to no business and your customers cannot reach you. Customers can take a boat across the great lake and stay in Minnesota waters. However, 40 miles (traveling) across a huge lake with waves sometimes over eight feet is unrealistic for most. There are many creepy stories in which different groups, including families with young children, were closely connected. “
Colin Robertson, administrator of the Nevada Department of Outdoor Recreation, also testified during Tuesday’s hearing; Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association; and Zachary Hartman, Ducks Unlimited’s chief policy officer.
More information about the hearing, including a link to the video recording, can be found here. For a prepared copy of Henry’s testimony, click here.
– Herald employee’s report
Forest fires in ND from 2020
Widespread drought conditions in North Dakota this year have resulted in a dramatic increase in forest fires compared to last year. According to the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services and the North Dakota Forest Service, nearly 1,400 fires have burned more than 100,000 acres across the state, which is roughly 156 square miles, since January.
For comparison: Last year, about 921 fires burned 11,956 hectares, most of which were man-made. That year, however, North Dakota saw some of the driest winter and spring months in 127 years on record, feeling the effects of a devastating cycle of drought. Limited humidity along with warm temperatures have increased the intensity and size of wildfires this year, according to State Forester Tom Claeys.
“This year it is imperative that we all know how to mitigate forest fires, especially if we plan to enjoy the summer months by relaxing outside with friends and family,” said Claeys. “With Independence Day just around the corner, we now need to raise awareness to reduce the risk of forest fires. We can all do our part to practice fire protection and to protect property and life. “
Some North Dakota Forest Service fire tips include:
Avoid or postpone the burning.
Make sure you dispose of cigarettes properly.
Be careful with outdoor gear. When towing an RV, boat, or trailer, remember to cross your drag chains and never park on tall, dry grass.
If you are in an area where recreational fires are possible, never leave them unattended and extinguish them completely.
Remember to obey all burn bans. Additionally, fires should not be started on red flag days when warm temperatures, low humidity, and stronger winds are predicted to create an increased risk of fire.
More information: ndresponse.gov.
– Herald employee’s report
CRP registrations are now running
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has evaluated the Conservation Reserve program and landowners who sign up will receive higher payment rates and new incentives as part of a renewed focus on CRP’s role in improving soil health and water quality, and creating wildlife habitats and the binding of carbon.
Farmers and landowners can now apply to USDA Service Centers for a variety of programs:
Continuous CRP filing 55 (all previously unapproved contracts) with an application deadline of August 6th.
General CRP registration 56 with application deadline July 23.
In the states of the Prairie Pothole region, acres are still available under the Soil Health and Income Protection Program; The closing date for entries is July 16.
– Herald employee’s report
Sound target tournaments in progress
High school athletes and teams representing schools from across the country will also participate in state tournaments and championship events hosted by the USA Clay Target League this month. A total of 47 events with a total of 62 days of individual and team competitions will be held nationwide in June.
Events include the Minnesota Trap Shooting Championship in Alexandria Minn., Which began Monday June 14th and continues through Tuesday June 22nd, the nine-day competition. The 2021 National Championship, scheduled July 7-11 in Mason, Michigan, will see more than 3,000 student athletes from more than 240 high school teams compete for the national title.
With over 38,000 athletes participating in the 2020-2021 school year, the USA Clay Target League is the nation’s largest youth shooting sports program. The league offers trap, skeet, sportton, and five-bleacher leagues across the country. The league is the only 100% school-approved sports program for sand targeting in America.
More information: usaclaytargetchampionship.com.
– Herald employee’s report
Did you know already?
Henry Drewes, Fisheries Manager for the Northwest Region of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Bemidji since 1998, is retiring in early August after a 35-year career in fishing.
North Dakota state law requires 12-15 year olds who wish to self-operate a boat or personal watercraft with at least a 10-horsepower engine must complete the state’s basic boating course. The course can be offered for self-study in the Bismarck office of the Department for Game and Fish on 100 N. Bismarck Expressway. Two commercial providers also offer the course online. Links to these websites can be found on the department’s website at gf.nd.gov.
Minnesota DNR has named Conservation Commissioner Hannah Mishler Conservation Commissioner of the Year, an annual award given to an officer for excellence in an overall career. Mishler, who is stationed in Bemidji, has been nature conservation officer since 2014. She and her K9 partner Storm are part of the K9 unit of the Enforcement Division Little Falls, Minn. She is also an arson investigator and, as part of the Enforcement Division’s peer support team, devotes time to assisting other law enforcement personnel.
Baby animals should be left alone, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department said in an annual reminder. A baby animal should only be picked up if it is in an unnatural situation, such as a young songbird found on a doorstep. In this case, the young bird can be moved to the nearest suitable habitat. People should also stay away from adult wildlife such as deer or elk that may migrate to urban areas. Overcrowding stresses the animals and can lead to a potentially dangerous situation. Motorists should also keep an eye out for deer along the roads at this time of year as young animals move away from their home areas and become more active.
– compiled by Brad Dokken