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brittman

DNR Stance on Walk-In Hunting Land

96 posts in this topic

The DNR stance is expected because they are forced to think outside the box. I believe their arguements are weak and some of the comments by Wildlife Association Reps was misguided too.

Walk-In access is not meant to replace land acquisition, but to add on.

Buying land is about 200 times higher in price - leasing land would pull more land at much less of a price.

Would not an added walk-in payment sway a few landowners in keeping the CRP. Money talks...

I question whether SOME current "stake-holders" have their own leases or private land access that would be in jeopardy because of a DNR plan or lease rates increased (conflict of interest).

The comment on poor quality walk-in land in ND is valid, but remember the goal was 1 million acres! Number set by Gov. The state leased ag land and also accepted poor quality land nearby to good cover. ND will replace over time now that the volume goal was obtained. The state tells this in their reports. I would suspect that atleast 25% - 50% of the land is prime pheasant land!

If KS (a very lease hungry state) can do it MN can too. There are landowners that would like to subscribe to this program just like there are landowners that want to donate their land ...

Public WMA land is not great unless managed well. The MN DNR left out the fact that they are having difficulty managing the land they already own. Prairie chicken WMAs with brush growing on it (where is the fire???), pheasant land that needs signs, woody cover management, weed control... The cost of land management on Walk-in PLOT land is paid by the private landowner.

I visit many MN WMAs and Fed WPAs. About 50% of MN WMAs are under managed or severly under managed for wildlife.

Many large block MN WMAs are far from food sources and become void of wildlife when winter sets in or requires the birds and deer move vast distances each day to feed. Grasslands need to be burned. Woody cover managed...

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Britt, you talk about the MN DNR stance on walk in programs. Can I ask where you got this information? I'm curious to read or know more about it.

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Great Point. Here is the Startribune ..

Walk-in' hunting program would be costly, DNR says

By Doug Smith, Star Tribune

Last update: January 5, 2008 - 4:57 PM

ST. CLOUD - Is a "walk-in'' hunting program, which would provide hunters access to private lands, in the cards for Minnesota?

The Department of Natural Resources will provide recommendations to the Legislature later this month on the feasibility of such a program, popular in South Dakota, North Dakota and 15 other states.

Under the program, landowners are paid to allow public hunting on their lands.

"Can that kind of program work here in Minnesota, and if so, what's it going to cost?'' asked Dave Schad, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division director.

The idea, which has been debated for years, was discussed again Saturday at the DNR's annual "roundtable'' meetings with stakeholders in St. Cloud.

Officials said the DNR likely would focus on enrolling private grasslands and wetlands, primarily for upland hunting, and might try to tie it to existing conservation programs that pay landowners to set aside lands. A landowner would get additional payments to allow public hunting, which might be more incentive for them to enroll in the conservation programs, officials said.

The problem: "It will be very expensive,'' Bill Penning, DNR farmland wildlife program manger, told about 75 attendees.

Per-acre leasing costs likely will be far higher here than in western states, Penning said. And signs would have to be erected, and additional enforcement likely would be required.

Officials are still working on the plan and didn't estimate the number of acres, total costs or funding source. The idea got a mixed response.

The Legislature asked the DNR for a report on the feasibility and costs of such a program, and debate likely will occur in the 2008 session, which begins next month.

Outdoors News has an article too.

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The DNR has difficulty managing current lands (agreed), so they should invest money in a walk-in program? Why not work to fund management of existing lands instead. Landowners would manage their lands for walk-in programs? Not necessarily. Some may, but some may look like the plots of North Dakota. Put in requirements for them to manage and the lease cost goes up. I like the statement "you can only spend the money once". I would rather see investment in purchasing lands instead of leases.

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Federal government requires CRP acres to be weed controlled and maintained to a certain extend. Landowners pay. What is the DNR per acre cost of the WMAs? Current and budget if done right?

North Dakota was discussed in my original post. Many PLOTs are "working lands" and many are CRP. Shot pheasants on both.

If land cost $2000 and acre and lease is say $10/acre. You can lease 100,000 acres or buy 500 acres with that money.

A mix of both would be good.

I like to see PF and other organizations continue to purchase land and add in big donations from landowners, etc... This cost DNR very little upfront! Just signs and a maintenance plan down the road.

Many counties reject the idea of more government owned land - this avoids this dispute.

PF guy said MN lost 72K acres of CRP this fall and more to come this spring. Would the added $10/acre help keep this land ... don't know? guess it depends on the current difference between crop rent and CRP annual payment

Side note Kent Conrad - US senator from ND has proposed a National walk-in hunter access program.

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 Originally Posted By: brittman
Many large block MN WMAs are far from food sources and become void of wildlife when winter sets in or requires the birds and deer move vast distances each day to feed.

If you think the WMA's are bad, take a look at some of the Waterfowl Production Areas. With the way they're cutting trees on them all you have is big grassy wastelands this time of year, there is no cover for pheasants or deer, unless there are some cattails. Fires are good to beat the brush back but when there is an old tree grove thick evergreen patch, leave it for cover. Right now all they're doing is creating grassy wastelands. I challenge you to go find a pheasant on most of them. I live in NW Kandiyohi county where the Fish and Wildlife Service is doing a lot of there dirty work, I don't even bother to hunt any of their lands because with out winter cover the pheasants don't survive.

If every plot of public land, WMA's and WPA's, had 5% of their land in food plots and winter cover, we'd have TWICE as many pheasants in MN.

Done with my rant. Back to Walk-in lands, I'm against them. 1) I'd rather see the money spent on permanently buying land and 2) I think it sets a bad, bad prededent for farmers wanting money from hunters. When they see farmer Jones down the road getting money for Walkin lands, when you come and ask for permission to hunt, they'll be asking for money. Hunting will become a sport for only the rich that can afford to pay.

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Yes ND briefly hit 1 million PLOTS acres but have now said hunters should expect dramatic drops in acres (refrence current ND Outdoors Mag). In 2007 ND lost 420,000 acres of CRP and by 2012 will lose 1.2 million more. See http://www.kxmc.com/getArticle.asp?ArticleId=198958 scroll down to Eye on AG. Land rent in ND was (generalization) $40-50 so CRP paid $35 and PLOTS $10. Now rent in MN in pheasant country is $150-$350+ CRP pays $65-$170 so how much would MN PLOTS have to kick in $85 to $180 an acre? If DNR was buying 40 acres @ $2500 an acre they would pay $175 an acre a year for 30 years @ 5.75% interest. Easy way to say it, right now it's a much better deal to buy the land than lease especially if CRP isn't going to pay competitive rates. Sure $175 sounds high but in ten years how much would it cost to lease that land? Probably three times what it does now so $300-$450 an acre, in the 80's land was $500-700 an acre now it's $2100++++ we should have bought it then, let's not be saying that ten years from now when that land is gone(developed).

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Sorry about the #'s and ranting.

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 Originally Posted By: BLACKJACK
all you have is big grassy wastelands

I think the term is Prairie!

Food plots = weeds

Trees = predators

Large blocks of Prairie = Prime habitat for everything that once called the Prairies home (pheasants once called China home)

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 Originally Posted By: BLACKJACK

If you think the WMA's are bad, take a look at some of the Waterfowl Production Areas. With the way they're cutting trees on them all you have is big grassy wastelands this time of year, there is no cover for pheasants or deer,

wpa: WATERFOWL production area. this is the primary management emphasis on these lands. removing the trees is removing the avian predators (in theory), which in turn takes less pressure off nesting birds, including the pheasants. and if there isnt successful nesting, then whats the point in having winter cover of any type anyways? not bagging on your discussion of removing trees; i myself havent seen a difference in the number of hawks on the wpa near where i grew up; but hey at least they are trying something.

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It never ceases to amaze me as to what kind of misinformation the anti access people think we will believe......

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I would like to think a walk-in access program would work but I am a little pesimistic. With the pressure that I see on our public hunting lands I have some doubt as to whether landowners would want to put up with that kind of hunter pressure on their own land. I am guessing that it would have to be mostly be funded by pheasant hunters.

I think that MN's public hunting lands could be so much better if some work was put into them. Some of the grass that is thick and waist high that grows on the CRP land in the Dakotas would be a good start along with some food plots.

I grew up in the Kandiyohi County area and get back there once in a while. At times I may end up on a road that I don't think I have been on in 20 years and just from what I remember things used to look like, there are definitly more trees/brush around than there used to be. The cutting of some of the WPA's is just trying to restore the prairie habitat that had succeeded to brush due to lack of fire or other disturbances. I also think that the woody cover also provides cover for skunks, racoons and other predators. I have also seen possums in the area and wonder what effect they might be having on bird populations.

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Will have to agree to disagree on some of your points. Weed control on CRP does not meet my idea of managed land. A lease is short term, ownership is permanent. There is a limited amount of funding. Spending money on a walk-in does not address problems with management of existing public lands or gaining new ones. Prices are only going up. Purchasing now is an investment in our future. A lease is a lease, it eventually ends just like you are seeing with CRP contracts. Walk-ins work in some states. I believe land issues in those states to be different than ours.

Good issue to discuss, think we all want similar things but have some different views of how to achieve. To that end, anyone attending Pheasantfest this weekend consider kicking in $20 to the Build a Wildlife area campaign (it turns into $60 through matching funds) and if you want a walk-in program, let the DNR and legislature know.

Augusta - I am not shoveling anything and support access to public lands in more ways than you know, but not through Walk-ins in MN. Just expressing my opinion, just like you and Brittman

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Forget wasting money on leases for walk-in program and buy more WMA's. Ownership is forever, as stated before.

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Actually the WPAs traditionally hold more pheasants because of they are maintained. Better grass and sloughs, less predators, ... WPAs do tend to target nesting ducks first, but this works well for pheasants too.

WMAs that I have observed tend to be less maintained or target multi-species. What is good for whitetails may or may not be good for pheasants (total numbers anyways.)

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Brittman, your points are right on the money. I used to work for a state wildlife manager and he would readily admit the feds managed their land better. And obviously the goals of Waterfowl Production Areas are self explanatory. When I worked as a habitat coordinator for Pheasants Forever in McLeod County after college, I discovered in the process that if at all possible we would donate our land to the feds whenever possible.

They do a good job. The only problem was different view points. One time McLeod Co. Chpt. sunk lots of time and money into a bunch of trees for shelter belts. When the feds (they probably originally thought the land was for a state project) got ahold of it they cut down all the trees and seeded it for native grasses. That was a PF goof in my eyes for not exploring thoroughly who the land would go to first.

Personally I'd rather see more well managed federal lands with beautiful big bluestem stands and cattail sloughs than poorly managed state lands with buckthorn, thistle, and brom grass. This is just good skunk, raccoon, and raptor habitat. The limited good portions of the land get overhunted in a hurry. Not to mention the hatching/nesting capabilties of the fed land usually produce excellent brood of ducks, pheasants, sharptails, prairie chickens, etc.

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I would love to see a MN walk-in program... but I have to admit that I'd rather see intensive management of our existing land 1st. The conditon of our public lands when it comes to duck rearing or pheasant production is no where near up to snuff. With the lands we have, if they instituted the same rules on themselves as they do on CRP contracts, it would increse numbers of birds (and deer and song birds) exponentially.

Most WMAs in western Minnesota are a mix of brome grass and box elders and are marginal quality at best. Get some good mix in there ie: Big bluestem, intermediate wheatgrass, indian grass along with some forbes, the occasssional overgrown alfalfa plot and a 20-40 food plot for each quarter section and you have a chance. Seems as though we seen more food plots 10-20 years ago than we do now... why is that? I know it costs money, but we are talking about another program that costs money....

The walk-in programs I think for the most part are a boon to hunting, it seems to do well in the 3 states that I have hunted them on, but my fear is in Minnesota that they will want to re-design the wheel and not use other state agencies know-how and it will take a decade of pain and throwing money away to get a working program in place.

Good Luck!

Ken

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you can't buy everything.

How many counties have no net gain of government land? Does enrollment in CRP include access for the public? How can we finance habitat programs when were losing hunters?

A walk-in program makes sense were losing access and opportunity across the state. Its not easy for the average idiot to fund a place to hunt. They have a poll on walk-in at:

Outdoor News

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 Originally Posted By: carpshooterdeluxe
 Originally Posted By: BLACKJACK

If you think the WMA's are bad, take a look at some of the Waterfowl Production Areas. With the way they're cutting trees on them all you have is big grassy wastelands this time of year, there is no cover for pheasants or deer,

wpa: WATERFOWL production area. this is the primary management emphasis on these lands. removing the trees is removing the avian predators (in theory), which in turn takes less pressure off nesting birds, including the pheasants. and if there isnt successful nesting, then whats the point in having winter cover of any type anyways? not bagging on your discussion of removing trees; i myself havent seen a difference in the number of hawks on the wpa near where i grew up; but hey at least they are trying something.

Are they really cutting down on predators when they wack all the trees off a 200 acre spot?? Most of the studies on predator control have been done on big swathes of prairie in NoDak and Canada, miles of prairie, not little 200 acre spots. I can stand on a hill on one of these grassy deserts and rotate 360 degrees and you see farm groves, sloughs, woodlots. Skunks, coons, coyotes, etc will still be going thru that area.

My point is that hunters are desperately looking for good hunting areas for deer and pheasants. Look at any WMA on the opener of pheasant hunting, its surrounded by pickups. Last year I drove over to a big WMA in Swift county on the opener of muzzleloader season to do some pheasant hunting, every approach had a deer hunter in it. Drove back to Kandiyohi county, past a couple of these denuded WPA's, only one pickup. I think their should be a balance on these PUBLIC hunting lands, if it has a old farm grove or planted windbreak for gosh sakes leave that for the deer and pheasants and hunters!! Burn off the rest of the area, kill off the encroaching brush, plant some native prairie, but leave the spots where a pheasantt might fly into for winter cover or where a deer might hang out and a person could deer hunt.

I know WPA stands for Waterfowl Production Area but where is their funding coming from? Not just duck stamps, its coming from funds that all hunters contribute to via Pittman Robinson funds and therefore they can at least strike a balance for all hunters.

You know what the real topper is? When you talk to them and mention preserving some winter cover for pheasants, their response is "you know pheasants are a non-native". Does that make any sense? They'd rather have hunters shoot 100 prairie chickens vrs shooting 1000 pheasants on land that is properly managed for pheasants. There is the old saying 'if you have lots of grapes make wine'. If you have land that is good for pheasants (and thats what the public wants) then manage it for pheasants (and deer).

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one thing that people often don't think about when they see those old farm groves is tree seeds. one farm grove can cause management nightmares for the rest of the property. especially if those trees are prairie invaders like boxelder, ash, or cedar. if you leave the trees standing then you are constantly fighting the new growth from their seeds.

and yes, hawks and owls are much more effective hunters when they have a nice roosting spot to sit and watch where those ducks and pheasants return to their nests. so when the farm grove stays, you're not just giving a deer hunter a place to hunt; you're also giving hawks and owls a place to hunt too.

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Great dialog. This site was pretty slow. Now is the time to discuss these types of issues.

Maybe county PF chapters could help (labor or $) with replanting local MN WMAs with the right mix of grasses, etc... The local chapters should be able to prioritize which local acres would offer the best return.

I also like permanant WMAs and again the county based PF chapters do a very good job identifying areas to be obtained. These are the flagship lands - at least until habitat degrades. I like the idea that sportsman are purchasing the land with their dollars !!!

Land acquired via tax defaults, etc... probably provide MN DNR with a net land gain, but never fully develop to the potential they can be.

I suspect the MN WMA land managers know their land is less than ideal, but have no resources ($$s) to fix.

Final note - not all WPAs, WMAs, and walk-in lands are created equal. This is hunting not - shooting - thus getting out there and either scouting or hunting public access properties allows one to narrow down which lands should be hunted again.

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This is easy if the DNR is against it - - then you know it’s a good idea.

What the last big dnr meeting they were pushing ethanol and alternative energy et al. If buying every thing is such a good idea then why is our wma’s practically worthless. They have terrible habitat and are predator attractors.

What’s the math on a comparison between walk-in verses purchase?

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There are three sections to the report the DNR has prepared. You can download all of them at

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/walkin/index.html

The comparison data from other states give their costs, acres covered etc. I haven't read the entire report but suggest others read the information before strong opinions are formed.

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Comments on people in SD and MI using walk-in program as a scouting guide to new leases is bothersome to say the least.

It is a good read.

There is only about 2 million acres of conservation program land in Minnesota. The walk-in lease payment ontop of the CRP payments make this the most feasible. How much of this acreage is in pheasant country?

Based on leases I have seen in MN ag country. The $5 - $10 acre range seems pretty accurate for pheasant country.

I would bet that only 300,000 acres would be achieavable in MN pheasant country. Cost of the program based on 5 - 10 dollars/acre and added ad min cost is $2 - $3.5 million, respectively for the 300K acres.

Based on 115K MN pheasant hunters - about $18 - $30 per licensed hunter.

Make it sell funding via a $20 access habitat stamp?

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Brittman:

The report is a good read, especially the focus it has on developing a new/unique funding source, as well as the emphasis it places on making use of existing set-aside. This is simply much more realistic IMO with $4 corn and $11 beans. It also would hopefully ensure some longevity into the program sign-ups.

I would propose a required access habitat sticker as you mentioned, but require only for those folks making use of these walk-in areas. Cost per stamp may raise dramatically, and there will be obvious enforcement issues, but you'll have a hard time convincing rural sportsmen, esp. landowning rural sportsman to foot the bill or signup land, when they either own or have access to land that this program does not benefit.

This is similar to before there were landowner deer tags, when a farmer or landowner would raise and support deer and their habitat for 363 days a year, only so the DNR could sell them back a deer tag for $28. \:\) Thankfully, that problem has been addressed, although the landowner is required to allow public hunting to take advantage of this one, free deer tag.

I hate to be a hardliner, and I'm about as willing as anybody to promote more hunting opportunities and creative land management situations. My point isn't to beguile this program!!! I simply think hunting and fishing should be pay-to-play. Otherwise, work harder at the permission game.

Joel

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