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Dick Herfindahl: Spring has officially sprung, so get out and enjoy it

Woods & Water by Dick Herfindahl

 

There have been quite few changes in our lives since my last column went to press. You can’t turn on the radio, TV or check your phone without hearing about the coronavirus. We all need to be informed and take the necessary precautions to assure that we do not contact this virus. As far as I can gather from all of the news reports, this is a respiratory virus, so I do not understand why folks are stocking up on toilet paper unless it is cheaper to blow your nose in TP than it is to buy Kleenex. I was at Hy-Vee the other morning and the man in front of me was asking for a raincheck for toilet paper. He said that he is out and there is no place in town that has any. That is just sad but I guess that is what this pandemic has done to our country.

With that being said, I will try to move on and talk about the outdoors and what is going on with that. I see that the commercial fishermen are netting Fountain Lake for carp. I believe that I also spotted their truck down by the access on the channel by Frank Hall Park. This is a good thing; the more carp they can rid our lakes of the better it is for fishing for us folks fishing for the good stuff.

I am getting “the fever” and more cowbell will not fix it. I am really anxious for some open water and doing a little fishing for some perch or panfish. Taking a drive around the lake usually gets me excited to do what I have been yearning all winter to do. I can’t wait to enjoy the taste of those fish fresh out of the lake and into the frying pan; there’s just nothing better.

I have been seeing more birds at my feeders this past week, which is a good thing. I had the pleasure of having my two granddaughters hang out with me for a couple of days. Emma, the oldest, noticed there was a gray bird on top of the feeder and asked what kind it was. I told her it was a female cardinal. The next day the male appeared in all of its color and the girls were excited to see how pretty it was. I have hopes of having these birds hang around for the months ahead. In my younger days I always marveled at those colorful birds, but never took the time to stop and watch them. Now that I have grown older, I have learned to appreciate my feathered little friends. Some parts of my world have slowed down with age, but I always appreciate the beauty of wildlife. When I was younger I never thought I’d get much satisfaction out of having bird feeders and watching as birds come and go. I have numerous feeders at the cabin and a couple here at home and the birds offer up a lot of entertainment in both places.

At home I only have to figure out ways to keep the squirrels from raiding my feeders and the neighborhood cats away from the birds. When I am at the cabin, things are a little trickier. I have to worry about raccoons at night and bears just about any time of the day or night. Putting feeders out in the spring is an open invitation to a bear, as they emerge from hibernation and let their appetites overcome their fear of man. I learned this lesson the hard way, and that’s why I no longer leave the feeders hanging out if I go to town or when I turn in for the night. Once spring has sprung, as my dad would often say, then I am more likely to at least leave the feeders out when I leave the place during the day. It’s all good and watching animals in their own element is always a satisfying adventure.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has closed some activities at all of their state parks.

State parks, recreation areas, campgrounds, and other public lands remain open to the public for people to enjoy. However, visitors will experience some changes in services available. State park visitor centers, contact stations and other ancillary buildings will be closed until further notice. With contact stations closed, visitors will pay through self-pay and informational kiosks at each facility. Visitors are also encouraged to purchase daily and annual park passes through the online portal before they visit.

For the time being, state parks naturalist programs are canceled. The DNR is working to determine which of these programs are compatible with social distancing and will resume naturalist programing to the extent possible.

State park bathrooms, vault toilets and shower buildings that are currently open will remain open, with increased cleaning protocols.
The DNR also is encouraging the public to use social distancing options for doing business with the agency, such as buying or renewing licenses online, calling rather than stopping by your local DNR office and using email or phone to request information from the DNR’s Information Center.

The DNR has adopted Minnesota Department of Health social distancing guidelines, such as maintaining 6- to 10-foot distances, at front-counter operations with the public.

Contact the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888- 646-6367. Email the center at info.dnr@state.mn.us. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Until next time, enjoy the spring and get outdoors when you can. Stay healthy, stay safe.

Please take a few moments to also honor those who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms we enjoy today. Also, take a little extra time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who have served and those troops serving today.