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MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #66                                                                             Aug. 29, 2013
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IN THIS ISSUE
DNR seeks applications for parks and trails grants
Zippel Bay State Park harbor to close temporarily Sept. 9 for harbor improvement project
Little things make a difference for DNR’s volunteer firearms safety instructor of the year
Public cave tours continue through Oct. 27 at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park
DNR wins pistol competition for 11th consecutive year

 

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

DNR seeks applications for parks and trails grants

The Parks and Trails Legacy grant program is soliciting applications by Oct. 25 for park and trail projects across Minnesota.

Eligible projects include acquisition, development, improvement and restoration of park- or trail-related facilities of regional or statewide significance outside the metropolitan area, as defined in Minnesota Statutes, Section 473.121. Counties, cities and townships are eligible to apply.

The program has $3.91 million available for grants and $7.39 million available for specific legislatively designated project areas. Funding comes from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, approved by voters in 2008.

Program and application information is available on the DNR’s website at www.mndnr.gov (http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/grants/recreation/pt_legacy.html). For more information, contact the grants staff listed online, call the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or email questions to info.dnr@state.mn.us.

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                         Aug. 29, 2013

Zippel Bay State Park harbor to close temporarily Sept. 9 for harbor improvement project

Visitor access to the Zippel Bay State Park harbor on Lake of the Woods will be closed to both landing and launching boats Sept. 9 through Nov. 22 as a two-phase harbor improvement project begins, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“We’re asking visitors, especially boaters, to be patient while we complete the harbor improvement project,” said Doug Easthouse, Zippel Bay State Park manager. “Once completed, we hope visitors will be pleased to find a deeper, extended harbor with additional docks and a sturdy new sea wall.”

Phase I of the project will include dredging the harbor, replacing the sea wall and adding more docks. During construction, access from land and water will be prohibited and the parking lot, boat ramp and harbor will be closed to boats landing or docking. The beach and campgrounds will remain open throughout construction. Hunting in the park will occur as planned. The road leading to the harbor and water access will be closed to visitors past Anglers Campground. All other road corridors will remain open.

Boaters accessing Lake of the Woods can use the city of Warroad public access at end of Lake Street or Wheeler’s Point public access at the end of State Highway 172 at the mouth of the Rainy River.

Planning for Phase II of the project will begin this winter and will include improvements to the parking lot and fish-cleaning building, provision of water and electricity and an area for aquatic invasive species control.

Funding for the project is being provided by the boating infrastructure grant through the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the DNR water recreation account.

For construction project updates or more information, visit park website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/zippel_bay or call Doug Easthouse at 218-647-8592.

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DNR NEWS - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           Aug. 29, 2013

Little things make a difference for DNR’s volunteer firearms safety instructor of the year

It’s the little things that do make a difference to Gary Hebler of Pierz, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) 2012 volunteer firearms instructor of the year. Hebler received the award at the recent Game Fair.

A certified instructor in the small Morrison County community of Harding since 1987, Hebler remembers a bare-bones operation at the start that now features four lasershot guns, eight .22 rifles, a trap thrower, professional looking shirts and hats for instructors and more.

“In the beginning you had to bring your own guns, but local clubs and organizations stepped up over the years since they realized hunting in the area is a family activity they wanted to support,” he said.

Today 30-40 kids and adults are DNR firearms safety certified each year, many from the surrounding area.

“We attract them from as far away as Brainerd and Little Falls due to the reputation of the staff, a team that gives 110 percent to the students and DNR’s firearms safety program,” Hebler said.

Hebler has recruited a least a dozen instructors over the years and is proud of the fact that three females are among the dedicated group.

“We’re seeing more and more females attending our classes and we felt adding female instructors would make these young ladies feel more comfortable during training,” Hebler said.

Hebler designed a unique field day that included a series of stations where students got hands-on experience before they went afield. Deer stand safety and walking in the woods and crossing fence scenarios were among the stations.

Instructors, assisted by DNR conservation officers, have made the field day a family event, inviting parents and siblings of the students to come join in the fun, including lunch on the range.

Going the extra mile for students is the norm for Hebler. When a physically challenged youth arrived for class, Hebler went to work.

“The student was bright and enthusiastic, but would have problems navigating the stations on crutches, so I coordinated with a fellow instructor to find a golf cart to chauffeur the student around the stations. Lots of smiles that day,” Hebler said.

An avid hunter and trapper, Hebler loves taking kids along whether in the deer stand, duck blind or target shooting in his backyard. His knowledge of the outdoors and wildlife is great and he’s always willing to share it.

“If I can help one child prevent an accident while hunting it’s been well worth it.”

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                               Aug. 29, 2013

Public cave tours continue through Oct. 27 at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park

An expanded fall tour schedule at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park in southeastern Minnesota will provide numerous opportunities to explore Mystery Cave before it closes for the season, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said.

“Fall is one of the best times to visit Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park,” said Kery Erickson, interpretive naturalist. “The hiking is beautiful this time of year, and while you’re out enjoying the fall colors, why not stop in for a cave tour?”

The guided, one-hour tours follow concrete trails about three-quarters of a mile through dramatically lit cave formations along with pools, lakes and long, linear corridors. Tours are accessible to wheelchairs and strollers and are suitable for all ages.

The tours will be offered every day in September, on weekends in October and on Thursday, Oct. 17, and Friday, Oct. 18, when school is out for annual Education Minnesota conference.

The fall tour schedule is:

  • SEPTEMBER - Monday through Friday: 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
    Saturdays and Sundays: every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • OCTOBER - Saturdays and Sundays (through Oct. 27): every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, and Friday, Oct. 18: every hour on the hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Other weekday tours are available by reservation only. 


Although the park is open year-round, the cave closes after the last weekend in October and won’t resume public tours until April.

Admission to the cave is $10 for ages 13 and older, $6 for ages 5-12, and no charge for ages
4 and under (ticket required). A vehicle permit ($5/one-day or $25/year-round) is also required for entrance to the park and cave. Permits can be purchased at the cave or main park office.

Groups of 10 or more and teachers who would like to schedule educational tours at reduced rates may call main park at 507-352-5111 to make arrangements. For more information about tours, call the cave at 507-937-3251.

The park is 40 miles southeast of Rochester. For directions and more information, visit www.mndnr.gov (http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/forestville_mystery_cave/index.html), call the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or email questions to info.dnr@state.mn.us.

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DNR NEWS - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           Aug. 29, 2013

DNR wins pistol competition for 11th consecutive year

For the 11th consecutive year, the pistol team from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) won the Basil Irwin Memorial Pistol Match held Aug. 21-22 in Fennimore, Wis.

“We're very proud of the accomplishments of our pistol team,” said Col. Ken Soring, DNR Enforcement director. “These awards are both an honor and a validation of the commitment of all of our officers.”

Minnesota team members included conservation officers Greg Oldakowski, Wadena; Brian Holt, Bemidji; Kevin Neitzke, Fort Snelling; Mitch Boyum, Rushford; Brent Ihnen, Waseca; and 2nd Lt. Aaron Kahre, assistant training coordinator, Camp Ripley.

The team also included retired conservation officers Greg Abraham, Fred Peterson, and Larry Webinger. Abraham, Neitzke, and Webinger finished one, two, and three in the competition. Team Minnesota finished ahead of DNR teams from Iowa and Wisconsin, and a team from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

Basil Irwin was a Minnesota “game warden” in the Sandstone area for decades. In 1967, he challenged some Wisconsin wardens to a team pistol match. The inaugural event was called the "Minnesota-Wisconsin Wardens Pistol Match," but renamed “The Basil Irwin Memorial Game Warden Pistol Shoot” after Irwin’s death in 1970. Since then, natural resources enforcement officers from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have participated in the event.

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