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Dec. 16 Outdoor Notes

■ Walleye pro to speak

Thursday at Pizza Ranch

Walleye pro angler Tommy Skarlis will speak about his experiences at the Fellowship of Christian Anglers fishing club meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at Pizza Ranch in Baxter.

Many club members show up at 6 p.m. for dinner and to share stories. Non-members are welcome to learn more about the fishing club and attend Skarlis’ presentation. The FOCAS club spends warm-weather months on the water and gets together monthly in winter months for educational and informational meetings.

Skarlis has won four Professional Walleye Trail tournaments, the 2008 FLW Championship, the 2012 Red Wing FLW tournament, Ranger Cups in 2004 and 2005, the inaugural AIM tournament on Saginaw Bay and numerous other walleye events, team-of-year titles and a PWT Angler of the Year title. He is a sought-after seminar speaker and has been a full-time fishing promoter for 15 years.

■ Snow does not mean safe ice

With the recent snowfall and cold weather, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reminding everyone, the ice in many parts of the state is still not thick enough for most recreational activities.

“We know people want to get out and enjoy the snow, but they shouldn’t put themself or anyone else in danger by going out on the ice,” said Capt. Greg Salo, DNR Regional Enforcement supervisor.

Currently, layers of snow are insulating already brittle ice making it even more dangerous.

“The ice was not safe before Sunday’s snow and now it’s going to take even longer for it to become thick enough for travel,” said Salo.

Snowmobilers need to be extremely cautious, Salo said, because riders might not realize several trails take them over ponds, wetlands and lakes.

Last winter, four people died after falling through thin ice.

DNR clear ice thickness recommendations are:

• 4 inches for walking.

• 5 inches for a snowmobile or ATV.

• 8-12 inches for a car.

• 12-15 inches for a medium-sized truck.

More information is available at

■ DNR designates first scientific and

natural area in Crow Wing County

GARRISON — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), with help from The Nature Conservancy, recently acquired and designated 318 acres in Crow Wing County as the new Mille Lacs Moraine Scientific and Natural Area (SNA), the first in the county.

Located near Garrison and Lake Mille Lacs, the SNA is comprised of picturesque steep hills dotted with small lakes and wetlands.

The SNA supports a variety of native plant communities from red oak-basswood forest to northern poor fen — a type of wetland. Red-shouldered hawk and cerulean warbler, two species of special concern in Minnesota, nest in the vicinity.

A large area around the SNA was evaluated as having outstanding biodiversity, the highest rank given by the Minnesota Biological Survey. It was considered such high-quality due to the overall size and lack of fragmentation of its native plant communities.

The new SNA was a top priority for acquisition and protection by the SNA program and The Nature Conservancy due to the property’s quality habitat as well as the presence of rare species and native plant communities.

The DNR purchased this SNA with unanimous approval from the county’s board of commissioners.

“I heard a great deal of support for the SNA after a very informative public meeting,” said Phil Trusty, Crow Wing County commissioner. “There was a great turnout with a lot of good, open-minded questions asked.”

Peggy Booth, SNA program supervisor, said the new SNA is exceptional. “We don’t have anything like it protected in this area. The SNA is at the heart of a much larger area of significant habitat worthy of stewardship.”

The DNR established the SNA in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy. Funds for the purchase came from the Reinvest in Minnesota Critical Habitat Match Program through credits provided by The Nature Conservancy, which also worked with the land’s owners, the Hormel family, to ensure the land would be protected. Funding was also provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).

Jamie Hormel of Paradise Valley, Ariz., said her late husband Geordie Hormel, who grew up in Austin, Minn., would certainly have been pleased. “Geordie always had a special place in his heart for his home state and took our family there many times. He would be proud to know that the land he loved will be preserved.”

Peggy Ladner, director of The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota, said, “this land includes rare forests and wetlands and more than 1.2 miles of shoreline along four wild lakes that we identified as top priorities for conservation.”

She added that the SNA not only is in the watershed of Lake Mille Lacs, but that it also drains into the Rum River, a tributary of the Mississippi River, which provides drinking water to the Twin Cities and local communities.

“Strategically protecting our forests, lakes and rivers is key to the good life in Minnesota,” Ladner said.

SNAs are lands open to the public, like state parks or wildlife management areas, but with a different emphasis. SNAs protect the best of Minnesota’s remaining rare species, native prairies, old-growth forests, geologic features and other exceptional features of our natural heritage. Recreational activities consistent with the protection of natural conditions are allowed. SNAs are open for photography, nature observation, education, and scientific research.

Visitors are encouraged to hike-in to this site, or snowshoe-in during winter months. Mille Lacs Moraine SNA is also open to fishing, hunting and dogs under control. Activities not allowed include camping, campfires, trapping and motorized recreation.

For more information, including a map, directions and a listing of known plants visit, or send an email to

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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