Herfindahl: DNR puts limitations on campfires and open burning

Published 12:13 pm Saturday, September 22, 2012

Column: Woods & Water

The weather just gets a little more fall-like each day and that is all right with me. The dry conditions in northwestern and north central Minnesota have prompted the Minnesota DNR to issue burning restrictions on some counties. Because fire danger is high to very high across major portions of the state due to continued drought conditions, the Department of Natural Resources is initiating burning restrictions in northwestern and north-central Minnesota, beginning at 1 a.m. today.

The counties having limitations placed on campfires and open burning include: Becker, Beltrami, Benton, Cass (north of Highway 200), Clearwater, Douglas, Hubbard, Kanabec, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, Roseau, Stearns, Todd and Wadena.

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Please use caution when camping not only in these counties but elsewhere in the state. I know that locally there are no burning permits being issued at this time due to the extremely dry conditions. Using a little common sense can go a long way toward preventing a disastrous situation.

I have to admit that the condition of some of our area lakes have made it less than appealing for me to want to fish them. I know that there are fish being caught and the northern fishing in Fountain Lake has actually been very good; even with the die-off that occurred during the hot summer. I have heard that the panfish have been a little sporadic lately. I look for bass fishing to be pretty good now through the fall for those who choose to seek them out. I am planning to do a little fishing on Fountain Lake in the next few weeks to take advantage of the anticipated good fall fishing. I really do think that the bass fishing on Fountain Lake is one of the better kept secrets of the area. It’s been said many times that when water levels are low the fishing will be better than in normal years.

The low water levels that we are experiencing in area lakes have a lot of sportsmen anticipating the worst case scenario for the upcoming winter months. I feel that if we don’t get a substantial amount of rain in the next couple of months there may be a freeze-out on many of these lakes. After all the work that has been done by the DNR and the local Watershed Board to improve the water quality of the lakes in our area it is hard to watch as the water levels go down and the threat of freeze outs loom.

On a lighter note; the thought of fall fishing always makes me feel invigorated and excited about the sport, almost as much so as the arrival of spring. I am looking forward to spending a few days on the lake just taking in the fall colors and maybe even reeling in a fish or two.

I had a good friend whose son would go bass fishing on Lake Francis as soon as the first hard frost had occurred. He would use frogs and cast them to the top of the lily pads and then “plop” them off as if the frog was jumping on its own. He caught more than one bass in the 5-pound range using this technique. I am actually talking (writing) myself into the notion that I need to hit the water as soon as possible.

When fall rolls around I no longer have my grandson Trevor to lean on as a fishing partner because he is all about waterfowl this time of year and with the opening of duck hunting he will be nowhere to be found. I have to say that he is a real sportsman and if he isn’t hunting he is out scouting for his next hunting spot.

I look at this as a good thing and can only wish that more of our youth would get involved in the outdoors. I do think that I have seen more young folks fishing our area lakes this summer than I have for quite a few years. These are the folks who will carry the torch, so to speak, for the next generations and without the younger folks getting involved and caring for the outdoors these sports as we know and enjoy them today will slowly disappear. This is why it is good to encourage our youth to go hunting and to take the firearms safety courses to learn the right way to do it.

There is an old phrase ”we’re all in this together” and when it comes to the outdoors it couldn’t be anymore true. Whether you enjoy watching waterfowl and shooting them with a camera or actually enjoy the hunt for game we need to preserve what we have.

I can’t say enough good about all of the organizations that we have locally that do what they can to support the sports of hunting and fishing. By doing fundraisers and educating future hunters and fishers about those sports they are doing their part to preserve our outdoors heritage for the future generations. If we ignore it then it will undoubtedly go away.

Until next time, take some time to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and maybe wet a line while you’re at it.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the great freedoms that we have today.


Dick Herfindahl’s column appears in the Tribune each Sunday.