Stepping Outdoors With Craig Blog Stepping Outdoors With Craig

  • National Bike Month-New Trail?

    Posted by Craig

    Since it is National Bike month and I have a team riding in the National Bike Challenge I brought my bike to International Falls the other day. Knowing my business there wouldn't take all afternoon, I decided to check out the Rainy Lake Bike Trail. What little information I could find out about it on the web said it was a 12 mile long bike trail. And in some places I did find a trail:

    Rainy Lake Bike Trail

    However much of the 12 miles in reported length, is more of a bike route following Highway 11 out to the Rainy Lake Visitor's Center. While it still is a very scenic place to pedal I much prefer riding on the trail where there is less traffic to be concerned about. The portion of the trail that runs between International Falls and Ranier crosses several driveways and is not all that special, except for the nice view from the bridge:

    Rainy Lake Bike Bridge

    Even though it was not exactly what I was expecting to find, it is awlay great to get out and explore some new areas by bike. Enjoy your next pedal!

  • Higher License Fees-How Much?

    Posted by Craig

    This week Governor Dayton signed legislation that will increase the cost of your hunting and fishing. The bill also includes a wolf hunting season which has been more controversial then the hike in fees. You will see the increase in license fees kick in March of next year. The wolf hunting season is on track to be established this fall, and would run at the same time as deer season. A wolf license would be 30 dollars for a resident and 250 dollars for non-residents.

    Adult fishing licenses would increase by $5, from $17 to $22. Small-game licenses would increase by $3, from $12.50 to $15.50. Deer hunting licenses would go to 30 dollars for the season. See a complete list of the new fees here.

  • Forget the Invasive Sticker...You don't need it!

    Posted by Craig

    You DON'T need this anymore......

    A slate of new laws designed to curb the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) was approved in a recent bill passed by the Minnesota Legislature and signed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

    A program requiring watercraft owners to place an AIS rules sticker on their boats is being discontinued and replaced with an online education program. Watercraft owners will no longer be required to place on their boats the rectangular, silver and black decals, which include a summary of the state's AIS laws.

    The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) began distributing the decals earlier this year and will continue to give them to interested boat owners for informational purposes only.

    A new law, which goes into effect 2015, will require anyone who transports watercraft or water-related equipment with a trailer to complete an online education course. After completing the course, the person will receive a decal that must be placed on their trailer, certifying they have taken the course. People taking the course can receive extra stickers if they own or use multiple trailers for watercraft or water-related equipment.

    "The black and silver decal is no longer mandatory for boaters, but it is still a good informational tool to help boaters know the AIS laws," said Luke Skinner, aquatic invasive species program supervisor. Boaters who have decals can still place them on their boats or trailers as a reminder.

    He said the DNR will begin developing the online AIS course soon to implement the new decal requirement for 2015. The penalty for not displaying the decal will be a warning, not a citation.

    Other new AIS laws will be instituted July 1, 2012, as a result of the new legislation:

    • Civil penalties for violating the state's AIS laws will double. Fines that currently range from $50 to $250 will increase to $100 to $500, depending on the type of violation. For example, failure to remove a drain plug while transporting a watercraft will mean a $100 fine, instead of a $50 penalty. The fine for unlawfully possessing and transporting prohibited aquatic invasive species will increase from $250 to $500.
    • Boat lifts, docks, swim rafts and other water-related equipment (except boats and other watercraft) that are removed from any water body may not be placed in another water body for at least 21 days. The drying out period is designed to kill any AIS that might be attached to the equipment that are high risk and difficult to clean. Two zebra mussel introductions occurred last year as a result of water equipment being sold and moved from one water body to another.
    • Boat clubs, yacht clubs, marinas and other similar organizations are now considered lake-service providers, requiring permits for the clubs and staff working there to take AIS certification training.
    • Portable bait containers used while fishing through the ice do not need to be drained before leaving a water body, unless the water body has been declared to have viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), a virus that is deadly to fish.

    The DNR was given additional authority to require mandatory inspections of water-related equipment before a person places or removes equipment into or out of a water body and to set up inspection stations at a centralized location to cover multiple lakes. The new legislation also allows the DNR to delegate this authority to local governments that have an approved inspection plan

  • Yes you can Fish for FREE!

    Posted by Craig

    A change in state law a couple of years ago, does allow you to fish for free, as long as you're at one of the several state parks that offer free fishing. And as you can see that includes several parks in our area, but keep in mind you do need to have a State Park Vehicle permit.

    Free MN Fishing Map

    A Minnesota resident may fish in a state park without a fishing license when:

    1. the body of water does not require a trout stamp.
    2. fishing from shore or wading in water within the state park
    3. fishing through the ice, from a boat or a float on a designated lake within a Minnesota state park

    All park rules must be followed as usual, along with any rules and regulations relating to the taking of game and fish. Good Luck!

  • What should the Deer Population Be?

    Posted by Craig

    The Department of Natural Resources has extended the comment period for deer populations in several local permit areas.

    DNR is revisiting population goals statewide to strike the right balance between hunter, landowner and other societal and resource interests. The entire process will take more than a year.

    Assessment in the three areas on the map below will be completed and goals adjusted in time for this fall's deer hunt.

    Deer Population Map

    The comment period has been extended until Thursday May 10th, and you can comment online right here.

  • It's NBC Time!

    Posted by Craig

    No, not time to tune your television into a well known chanel. It's time to get out and ride in the National bike Challenge. The challenge officially kicked off today at midnight, but you can still get in on the fun.

    Biking the Greenway in North Dakota, along the Mighty Red.

    The idea is to get as many people out on bikes this summer as possible. As of this morning there were 14,163 riders in the nation, but that number has been growing throughout the day. It's FREE and easy to sign up here. You can bike by yourself or better yet get together a team. And then all summer long take your bike out, especially on those short trips. And watch those miles add up!

  • Getting a Fishing License Soon? Print it yourself

    Posted by Craig

    A couple of years ago the DNR allowed you to get your hunting and fishing licenses online, with having to pay an extra charge. (Okay you still pay a little more, but it usually less than a dollar for most licenses). The one thing I really like about this system is you can download your license right to your computer and print it out. So I keep my fishing license saved to my desktop, and then print multiple copies to keep where I need them.

    One for the wallet, one for the boat, the kayak, tackle box, etc. I know I don't always fish out of my boat, nor do I always carry my wallet, but with several copies I'm sure to have my license with me.

    Give it a try, it's easy to and you will avoid lines at the store where you will only get one copy. Here is the link.

  • You can Stick the New DNR Sticker elsewhere...for now.

    Posted by Craig

    All of sudden there is a lot of hype for ALL boaters (canoes, kayaks and paddle boats are included) to get their new free Aquatic Invasive Species sticker. However you are still free to tell them to stick the sticker elsewhere at least for a few boating seasons. Keep in mind you might get a warning. See below for all the details of the new sticker...

    A new law that was passed in 2011 (Minnesota Statues 86B.508) requires a watercraft owner or operator to obtain and attach an aquatic invasive species rules decal to all types of watercraft prior to launching on, entering into, or operating on any waters of the state. The FREE decals are available at DNR offices, Deputy Registrar offices where licenses are sold, and large sport shops, as well from DNR Watercraft Inspectors and conservation officers.

     Aquatic Sticker

    The top part of the sticker must be placed inside the watercraft where it can be read, and shown to a conservation officer, and the bottom part refering to the drain plug goes by the winch. In the cases of boats without drain plugs, I think you can discard that portion.

    If the owner does not want to stick the decal on the boat because it is an antique wooden boat or other unique boat, they may attach the decal to an object or laminate it and attach it like a luggage tag.

    Now if you're not wild about sticking a new sticker on your boat, canoe, kayak you can wait. It is not until August 1st of 2014, that you can be charged with a petty misdemeanor. I'll think I'll wait to add one to my kayak. I'll get one for my boat because sometimes I need a reminder about the drain plug!! 


  • One More Ski

    Posted by Craig

    Of course I had to take advantage of this week's snow and take out the rock skis one more time. I headed to the Carey Lake trails and attempted to make my way down the Black Forest Trail. Well, that didn't get me very far as I soon encountered a large downed pine tree and a lot of water over the trail just beyond the tree. Now most normal people would have gone home at this point, but I headed to the Southern Lights Loop. What ensued could be best described as 65% snow skiing, 10% water skiing, 5% trail clearing, and 20% walking with long skis across leaves. Which adds up to 100% fun! While some of the trail looked like this.....

    Other parts of the trail looked like this....

    Not for most people, but it did feed my appitite for skiing one more, and probably one more last time for the season. Today it looks like I can get out biking.

  • Don't plan to Fish Early this Season

    Posted by Craig

    Word out the State Capital this week is not looking good for those who were hoping to get out fishing early.

    Lake Pokegama Walleye

    It appears the idea of moving the fishing opener forward by a week is losing steam at the Legislature. DFL members in our area first floated the idea earlier this month, and it appeared to be gaining momentum. However, the DNR appartently was not in the same boat, saying it could effect harvest levels on some lakes and spawning on others. An informal meeting was held at the capital yesterday to discuss the idea, and the general feeling afterwards was don't look to wet a line until May 12th. Which is when the opener was orginially scheduled for. The proposal is part of a larger fish and game bill that is expected to be debated next week. But if I were you I would keep your plans to go walleye fishing on the 12th.

  • Bike the Munger!

    Posted by Craig

    Well before winter made it's return, I was able to get out and bike and explore a new part of the Munger Trail. I have done some biking and hiking along the Munger in the Duluth area, but this weekend I was at the south end of the trail. We started in Hinckley and biking and geocached our way up to North of Finlayson. Once again I was impressed with how good of shape this trail is kept in.

    Munger Bike Trail

    We were also surprised to find a horse out enjoying the trail too! Not a common sight on the trail, especially with no people around. However he appeared to be enjoying the grass too much to be concerned with a couple of bike riders.

    Grazing Horse

    Other than a few other bikers and one skater, the trail was pretty quiet for an early sunny Saturday. However later in the day the parking area was filling up as more bikers, and walkers got out to enjoy the day. One of these days I will have to bike the entire stretch from Duluth to Hinckley. You can find out more about the Munger trail here.