Public input meetings on Greenway river access, paddling events on tap

A chance to weigh in on river access in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks and opportunities to paddle 24-foot voyageur canoes are on tap in the coming weeks.

First up, Greenway staff and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have scheduled two public meetings to get input on developing a master plan for river access on the Red River in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.

The meetings are scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. May 16 in the East Grand Forks City Hall, 600 Demers Ave., and 6 to 8 p.m. May 19 in the Grand Forks City Hall, 255 N. Fourth St.

Kim Greendahl, Greenway specialist for the city of Grand Forks, said having a master plan in place would simplify the process for adding access as opportunities and funding arise.

“We want to hear from people both motorized and nonmotorized (users) and shore anglers,” Greendahl said. “Where would they like to see more access? What kinds of amenities would they like to see?

“People definitely want to see more access to the shore, especially for shore fishing and also for getting canoes and kayaks out of the water.”

The meetings will be set up as open house sessions so participants don’t have to be on hand the full two hours. The key, Greendahl said, is hearing from constituents. 

“Sometimes, we get very removed from what users want, and we want to hear what users want,” she said.

Upcoming canoeing events on the Red and Red Lake rivers will offer the opportunity to paddle 10-passenger, 24-foot Voyageur canoes.

Upcoming canoeing events on the Red and Red Lake rivers will offer the opportunity to paddle 10-passenger, 24-foot Voyageur canoes.

Canoeing events set
Coming up in early June, the International Water Institute, in partnership with Wilderness Inquiry and Ground Up Adventures, is offering a series of paddling events  on the Red and Red Lake rivers in Crookston, Thief River Falls and Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.

Andy Ulven, monitoring and education specialist for the International Water Institute, said the free events are open to the public and are intended to get people on — and talking about — their rivers.

Participants will paddle six, 24-foot canoes that hold 10 passengers, Ulven said. Organizers will host elementary and high school students in the mornings and afternoons, he said, with evenings set aside for anyone from the community.

Food and refreshments will be available for the evening events, Ulven said, and each paddling session will last about 20 minutes out and back to accommodate as many people as possible.

Evening canoe sessions are as follows:

  • June 8: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Crookston on the Red Lake River in Central. Park.
  • June 9: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Thief River Falls on the Red Lake and Thief rivers at Centennial Park.
  • June 10: 4 to 7 p.m., Grand Forks-East Grand Forks on the Red River at Lincoln Park (boat launch).

For more information, contact Ulven at (701) 429-4518 or by email at andy@iwinst.org.

N.D. to offer more deer gun licenses this fall

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department this week announced it is offering 49,000 deer gun licenses this fall, an increase of 5,725 from last year. In addition, for the first time since 2011, mule deer doe licenses will be available in units 3B1, 3B2, 4D, 4E and 4F. No antlerless mule deer tags will be offered in units 4A, 4B and 4C.

North Dakota hunters with antlerless whitetail tags had a success rate of about 64 percent during last fall's deer gun season, the Game and Fish Department said. (N.D. Game and Fish Department photo)

After seven years of license reductions, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department is increasing the number of available tags for this year’s deer gun season. Applications now are available at gf.nd.gov. (N.D. Game and Fish Department photo)

In a news release, Game and Fish said the statewide increase in deer tags is based on population and harvest data, which show a stable to increasing deer population after seven years of reduced gun tags and consecutive mild winters.

Online applications for regular deer gun, youth, muzzleloader, and resident gratis and nonresident landowner licenses are available today here. Paper applications will be at vendors throughout the state by mid-May. The deadline for applying is June 1.

Lake of the Woods mostly ice-free

Here’s my assessment of ice conditions on Lake of the Woods:

Here's today's satellite view of Lake of the Woods, which shows open water dominating massive Big Traverse Bay.

Here’s today’s satellite view of Lake of the Woods, which shows open water dominating massive Big Traverse Bay. Upper and Lower Red Lakes at the bottom of the photo also are wide open. Upper Red was declared ice-free April 18 and Lower Red on April 19.

It’s disappearing fast.

Clouds have obscured a good view of satellite imagery most of the week, but today’s photo of Lake of the Woods shows most of Big Traverse Bay in U.S. waters is open, and the ice that remains has drifted into Muskeg Bay on the west side of the Lake near Warroad, Minn., and the southwest half of Buffalo Bay in Manitoba waters.

There’s also a small patch of lingering ice near Long Point, but right now, I’d say the stars are aligning for the big lake to be ice-free early this coming week, if not yet this weekend.

Ice-out on Lake of the Woods was in a holding pattern after unseasonably warm March temperatures triggered an early end to ice fishing. At that point, I was predicting an ice-out similar to 2012, when the U.S. portion of Lake of the Woods was declared ice-free April 8, according to historical records the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources publishes on its website.

I remember that spring especially well, because we were boat fishing north of Pine Island on April 14, the last weekend of the spring walleye season on Minnesota-Ontario border waters.

I also remember the fishing, which bordered on spectacular.

A similar scenario seemed to be taking shape this spring, but that all changed in April, and cool, dreary weather dominated the month and put the ice-out on hold.

Now, it appears, ice-out on Lake of the Woods is on track with the median ice-out date of May 2. According to DNR records, the earliest ice-out on Lake of the Woods since 1985 occurred in 2012, and the latest ice-out was recorded in 2014, when the DNR said the lake wasn’t ice-free until May 21.

The DNR’s page on lake ice-out dates contains a wealth of information on lakes throughout the state. You’ll find the page here. The MODIS Today, website, which  provides daily satellite images of the entire U.S., is available here.