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memyself@I

MN WMAs open to grazing

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I am wondering what you think of Dayton and the DNR opening WMAs to grazing-23 counties in MN under an emergency order. Its a program DNR has wanted to implement and the emergency order just primed the pump.

Dan

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Ryan_V

I believe they can't graze anytime close to hunting season. I have a friend who was approached by the state to graze some land by us. he has to put up and maintain the fence, has to have a gate to allow hunter access, and can only graze in the spring I believe, and can only graze so many acres per spring. I believe it is a good land management tool, and not harming the sportsman interest in any way shape or form.

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ETH310

There was cattle in a WPA southwest of Sauk Centre last October and many other wma/wpas had obviously been grazed. In SD last year, it was hard to find public land or WIAs that hadn't been grazed. As a hunter, its disapointing, but I understand farmers gotta do what they gotta do to get by.

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B. Amish

i think the emergency grazing acre total on wma's is around 900.

yes, grazing can be a great tool for grassland management, but at the same time, if there is such a shortage of grass for grazing, then plant more grass for grazing!!

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mechanictim

Just to clarify the new proposal is for 900+ acres of state lands to be Hayed not Grazed.

news release

DNR offers livestock producers emergency haying on 43 WMAs

(Released August 1, 2013)

A severe livestock forage shortage has prompted state wildlife managers to identify 922 acres on 43 wildlife management areas (WMA) in 22 Minnesota counties where emergency haying will benefit wildlife, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.

“Haying opportunities on state wildlife management areas will only occur where habitat enhancement plans already are in place to disturb grasslands through burning, mowing or grazing,” said Bob Welsh, DNR wildlife habitat program manager. “The DNR is glad to help livestock producers during a time of need while long-term wildlife habitat conservation and improvement remains the primary goal.”

Because of a forage shortage due to winter kill of alfalfa and the late spring, Gov. Mark Dayton in June sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack asking that all federal conservation lands in Minnesota be considered as potential sources of emergency forage. He also asked state officials to identify similar grazing and haying opportunities on state conservation lands where consistent with the purpose of those lands.

The conservation grazing opportunities are located throughout Minnesota where haying could be allowed and would accomplish habitat conservation management objectives. Identified sites include areas in need of prescribed fire where burns were not accomplished; areas where haying or mowing can be done sooner than originally planned; and areas where haying can replace or enhance other planned grassland disturbances such as mowing or grazing.

Welsh said wildlife managers were not able to identify any other conservation grazing opportunities beyond those already planned because of the limited time and lack of existing infrastructure such as fencing and water supplies.

Only Minnesota livestock producers who need forage for their own livestock are eligible to cut hay on WMAs. Counties with potential sites include Blue Earth, Clearwater, Cottonwood, Faribault, Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Jackson, Kittson, Le Sueur, Marshall, Martin, McLeod, Mille Lacs, Nicollet, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Roseau, Sibley, Wabasha, Wilkin and Winona.

Availability of haying opportunities was delayed to August to get beyond the peak wildlife nesting season. Specific conditions will vary depending on conservation needs of a site but, generally, sites will not be hayed after Sept. 13; areas hayed will not contain tree plantings, food plots, water control structures, wetland basins or stream banks; and cutting should begin in the center of the area to be hayed so animals have an escape route.

Livestock producers have until Friday, Aug. 9, to contact area wildlife managers about emergency haying opportunities. Contact information for area wildlife

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Wanderer

Every time I hear or see this I think of the Dakota's and cringe. I hope they keep this as a management tool and this emergency order doesn't last 10 years. I see this as a potential Kahn-like debacle just waiting to happen.

Just sayin'.

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Scott M

Yes, I think the OP meant emergency haying. Like Wanderer, I too cringe when I read this. Public roads are hayed to the detriment of ground nesting birds (August 1 is a generally accepted safe date, so we've cleared that timeframe at least). Road ditches are taken because privately tilled acres are dedicated to corn and beans. Mostly gone are the small grains and alfalfa across our landscape. The market can't supply enough hay and public lands get mowed in the meantime. Call it a haying bailout I guess.

Grazing on the other hand seems a better tradeoff. Here's an article on WMA Grazing

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candiru

This may very well become an entitlement that never ends. At the root of this once again are ethanol mandates.

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LandDr

This topic comes up every year prior to the hunting season when people start scouting and see what's going on. I have private land and don't hunt public land, but it still is frustrating to see this activity and I feel for the people that show up to these public areas just to find them grazed to the ground...no habitat!

I personally believe these activities are part of their "working lands" initiative, not "ethanol based". DNR believes they obtain more "diversity" within the vegetation with grazing...more flowers and more flower species as well as grasses. It is supposed to be simulating the "buffalo".

Why are the managing for more species of flowers...do we eat them?

"I seen only a couple of pheasants on the WMA I hunted today...but boy were the diversity of the flowers great!"

People who graze will argue that proper grazing improves the cover...I disagree. Prescribed burning improves the cover. Prescribed burning is hands down the best management tool that compliments BOTH cover development and diversity. If anyone has seen a stand of natives after a spring burn...it is awesome...best upland cover you can find!

I have watched the DNR manage a DNR not far from me for 4 or 5 years now. Each year the cows have grazed it down to nothing and there is no cover in the fall. This year they did not have the cows out there...it still looks poor...I wouldn't hunt in it.

The other issue is that they graze 100% of the WMA from what I have seen. Unlike "emergency haying or grazing" on CRP where they only allow something like 25% of the CRP to be hayed or grazed.

The grazing of WMAs is not only restricted to "emergency" haying or grazing...they are doing this in counties not on the list noted above. Also...Federal WPAs are also being grazed now.

The only way to have a chance at changing this is to voice your concern to your Senator, Representative and also to the DNR and USFW. Get your local clubs to rally behind this as well. A great impact is to have a phone (or more) set out at your local banquet or meetings with contact information to your Senators, Reps, DNR and USFW...have everyone call and leave a message along with their name and address. They will hear your concerns loud and clear with all of the messages they receive.

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B. Amish

as a management tool, i'm all for it.

as an emergency helping hand to the ag industry, not so much.

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rundrave

I made this post almost a year ago funny how things haven't changed....

One of the issues I have in all of this is that there really isnt any balance. Last year through out many areas farmers could not farm enough land so a lot of money was spent increasing crop acres by destroying or removing conservations areas using practices that have been debated about on here before.

Now here we all sit in the midst of a major drought that will more than likely get worse before it gets better, and the very thing that is being eliminated hay/crp(conservation) is now in extreme demand and people are going to great lengths to utilize it.

So, down the road, when all of conservation is gone, and this drought happens again or continues, what is going to happen? There doesn't seem to be a happy median, its all or nothing. I know its pivotal to help farmers out with insurance, subsidies, etc etc etc, but when conservation is only good in years when we are drying up, it just doesn't seem right?

How about we stop tilling, removing, destroying the conservation areas to utilize it for row crops then ask for assistance when you run out of hay.

I am all for grazing to maintain and help improve WMA's etc, but it has to be part of a maintenance plan, not an emergency effort.

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candiru

"I am all for grazing to maintain and help improve WMA's etc, but it has to be part of a maintenance plan, not an emergency effort."

Is this an emergency measure or a foot in the door to turn WMA's into hayfields?

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rundrave

Is this an emergency measure or a foot in the door to turn WMA's into hayfields?

I don't think they are changing the WMA's into anything they currently aren't already today.

They are simply opening them up to grazing as an emergency effort.

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LandDr

I believe they are basing it off their research that grazing increases diversity of the forbes. It more simulates what the buffalo where doing with their grazing and hoof action.

I could probably go along with that research...but are WMA\WPA units for creating more diverse prairies or are they for hunting? Do you want to see more flowers when you go out hunting or do you want to see more pheasants and deer?

Some will argue that more forbes creates better nesting and brooding cover.

I argue what good is the nesting and brooding cover if we can't get hens thru the winter to utilize the nesting cover..."Dead Hens Don't Lay Eggs".

WPAs were purchased with duck stamp money, so USFW will stand tough that WPAs are for ducks and ducks only and manage for ducks only...no food plots and no winter tree plantings (in fact USFW is cutting down all of the trees on their units).

WMAs are very close to that. Food is the biggest limiting factor on these units...the fridge is empty...but very very few WMA units have food plots or feeders. The focus is so much on increasing diversity of the forbes.

And these management\maintenance plans they are doing are expensive when you take into consideration all of the time they put into these.

The majority of the users and people that paid for the purchase of these units are hunters...but the people that are controlling them are people that are trying to restore the prairie rather than restore pheasant, deer and other game species. If we were truely managing these units for game species, we would have clover plots, brassicas, corn plots, tall thick native grasses, winter woody cover and feeders. But who wants more pheasants and better deer anyway?

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B. Amish

If we were truely managing these units for game species, we would have clover plots, brassicas, corn plots, tall thick native grasses, winter woody cover and feeders. But who wants more pheasants and better deer anyway?

extremely expensive.

we don't need more corn. that is a 100% for sure fact. if i see a wma with a corn food plot, i want to throw up.

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LandDr

Extremely expensive?

Any idea how much these grazing plans cost? Meetings in St. Paul, meetings at the Area offices, meeting with staff, site visits, tracking down grazers, setting up agreements, numerous more meetings, travel, fuel, site checks, more site checks...etc.

They are also already spending a lot on the prairie restorations with the high end forbe components.

But...much of it is funded by grants such as the Dedicated Funding. Which could also be used for a less expensive but thicker wildlife prairie cover. I do this for a living...I know what the costs are and the plan I proposed is cheaper or at least the same...but with A LOT greater results.

No corn plots? Since all of the corn, beans and other food sources are harvested in the fall from adjacent fields...should the pheasants and deer eat the prairie flowers? smile

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B. Amish

sounds like you're sour that the dedicated funding isn't dedicated to you.

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LandDr

Pretty sure the topic was about how many people don't like seeing WMAa and WPAs look like pastures when they come out hunting in the fall. Those were my points as well.

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mwal

I hate the grazing in SD. Pull upto public area to hunt and zero cover left grazed to nothing.

Mwal

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rundrave

I hate the grazing in SD. Pull upto public area to hunt and zero cover left grazed to nothing.

I know in spring of 2011 a lot of the CREP areas and walk in areas didn't get planted because it was simply too wet to get the grasses in.

Last year, we got no snow over the winter, and no rain over the summer. It literally went from one extreme to the next.2 years ago what used to be grassy habitat was under water and flooded. Last year those same areas that were flooded finally dried up.

I am sure in ideal situations these areas of conservation fair much better but unfortunately the weather has been anything but normal.

Its frustrating, trust me but unfortunately we cannot control mother nature.

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BobT

Quote:
I am all for grazing to maintain and help improve WMA's etc, but it has to be part of a maintenance plan, not an emergency effort.

This I can agree with.

My understanding, from a conservation and environment perspective, grazing is a good thing and highly beneficial. I was watching a program not too long ago that seemed to reiterate this view with regard to keeping and restoring natural grasslands and prairie. Returning it to be more like it was when herds of large grazing animals such as bison roamed the land.

My guess is though that as usual on this site, if it can somehow work to the advantage of a farmer, you guys are against it regardless whether it is environmentally beneficial or not.

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The DNR has been pushing this for a few years. The emergency order has kicked open the WMA doors to agricultures interest. Don't think for a minute that high crop prices and pasture/hay land conversion on private lands didn't factor into ags push and misleading ads pontificating its benefits.

Who benefits the most? Farmers and cattlemen. Do I like that? heck no I don't and I will tell you why-I am sick and tired on lands and waters being trashed for short term gain, and having to pay and indirectly support these lousy policies. I am sick of ags ads about farmers being stewards of the land and the original environmentalists-thats misleading at best and flat out lies at the worst. I am sick of everyone tiling tiling tiling, of small patches of cover upland and lowland being destroyed. YES THERE ARE FARMERS WHO CARE and do the right thing but alas they are the minority.

And I am appalled at MN DNR supporting the baloney about the benefits of haying and grazing-its not the same as buffalo grazing-last time I checked free roaming buffalo didn't need fences, to be trucked to site, or spread invasive species-yet cattle will need to be trucked in, fenced in, spread invasive species, and haying equipment and transportation will spread invasive species. Who will pay for that control?? Take a guess.

Its easy for the DNR to say lets let ag manage our prairie WMAs so we don't have to bear the costs. Its great for the Twp Boards, State Senators and Reps, county boards, Farm Bureau, Cattlemens assn and so forth spew their talk about how great this is for everyone-after all, its just worthless public lands, isn't it?

Think about this: How about opening up SNAs, Nature Conservancy Lands in W and S MN to hunting? And then requiring every farmer-cattleman that gets to graze or hay public land to open their lands up for public hunting?

Oh wait that would only benefit us hunters so nevermind.

Dan

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BobT

I agree with you, which is quite a change from what I would have said in the not so distant past.

I have been a farmer for the past 20+ years, although I don’t make my entire living off my farming. Until about 2008, it was a real challenge to keep doing it for the poor crop prices. I remember trying to pencil out going full time and I just could not do it. If there was a time when it would have been reasonable to consider turning as much marginal land into cropland as I could, that would have been the time because it would have been the most beneficial with the least investment.

Since about 2008 however, prices have improved dramatically. Despite the rise in input costs, it is still easier for me to turn a fair profit today than it was then. In other words, there is no need to expand into marginal land and yet all around me I’m seeing exactly that being done. It makes no sense to me except for one thing….greed.

It sickens me to see trees being ripped out, tile being installed, and the land put to plow. The worst is we won’t even admit it to ourselves. This morning I was reading in “The Farmer” magazine an article about the excessive nitrates in the southern half of MN. The article said that 70% of the nitrates come from cropland runoff and most of which is the result of tiling. With the exception of about 2% coming from natural sources, all the rest comes from metropolitan and industrial sources.

I am not seeing evidence of the conservationist farmer around my neck of the woods. We continue to install drain tile despite the evidence that what we do is harmful, not only to the water supply but to fish, wildlife, other people, and ourselves. We have dollars on the brain and blind to anything else.

This is not only conducive to nitrates. I recently read an article about how the water level in the aquifer that lies under MN has continually dropped. We tap into this with our wells, city wells, and farm irrigators. There is a limited supply and what will we do when it finally runs out?

So what is the solution? How do we go about fixing the problem not only with regard to farming but also with our municipal and industrial sources as well?

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BobT

Quote:
Oh wait that would only benefit us hunters so nevermind.

Since you brought this up, let me also make comment here in like manner. As much as farmers are doing what they are doing with dollars being the primary motivator, I contend that we fishermen and hunters are no better. We like to sound like conservation is our primary motivator when the real truth is the motivation for our actions is to improve the harvest we enjoy. Those of us that are interested in catching numbers of fish or seeing lots of deer don't really care about whether or not there is a balance in the size structure. bringing home a limit is their goal. Those that chase trophies are motivated by the trophy and nothing little else.

My point is we have to be careful about pointing our fingers all the time and consider looking in the mirror.

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graingrower

Sportsmen & Hunters & Shooters: Buy your own land and manage it the way you please.

If you feel this is not an economical solution to your idealistic views, reality is still within your grasp. Grab hold.

Agriculture is ultimately more important than recreation. Neither money, nor mandates, enviro activism, or consumption can sway the fact.

Can't get a grip? Be prepared to find a new hobby when the farmer you've been lobbying against denies your request to hunt.

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smnduck

They have bought it. They are called WMA's

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rundrave

Sportsmen & Hunters & Shooters: Buy your own land and manage it the way you please.

If you feel this is not an economical solution to your idealistic views, reality is still within your grasp.

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BobT

In all honesty I have to side with you guys on this. Allowing farmers to graze their livestock on public land is not fair at all especially when it isn't about doing something for the benefit of the land. It is purely a political statement. If the state wants to open the land to grazing the least they could do is charge a fee for the privilege. As a hunter, I am charged a fee for the privilege of harvesting game off that land. As a ricer, I am charged a fee for harvesting wild rice off that land. As a farmer it is only right that I should be charged a fee for harvesting forage off that land. If properly managed, this could be a good money-maker for the state and at the same time a tool to help manage the land. Doing it the way they are, it only serves to promote discontent.

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Grain Grower

Nice pat answer. I am an average schmuck and while you may think $3000 per acre is a good deal for SDak hunting land so I can control my own destiny, no way can I afford that. Unless, I imagine, I put my palms open for ag subsidies and trash it. I've been turned down plenty to hunt over the years in MN and the Dakotas and its getting worse. A lot of us see firsthand whats going on the lands and waters due to ag and guess what ag is losing its support with many folks as well.

Bob T-I don't hunt elk and mule deer BUT I do understand the value of wild places and ALL of the benefits it brings with it to all of us and the flora and fauna-and thats more than enough for me.

Dan

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AND............................

Went fishing on Lake of the Woods yesterday. Between Williams and Long Point I saw 4 big piles of drain tile waiting to be installed.

The trashing continues.

Dan

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