Field & Stream names N.D. man ‘Conservation Hero of the Year’

A North Dakota man has been named “Conservation Hero of the Year” by Field & Stream magazine.

The national magazine announced this morning that it had bestowed the honor on Ryan Krapp of Bismarck. The Heroes of Conservation program, now in its ninth year, is dedicated to honoring volunteers involved in grassroots projects that protect and maintain fish and wildlife habitat across the country.

Krapp is a 2000 graduate of UND and also did his graduate work at the school. As state chairman of the North Dakota Mule Deer Foundation for two years and a leader of his local chapter for six years before that, Krapp has been instrumental in raising the funds to enroll landowners in the state’s Private Land Open to Sportsmen (PLOTS) program.

In a news release, Field & Stream also cited Krapp’s efforts to spearhead a $75,000 prescribed burn project, which should take place this spring. Krapp, who has his master’s in wildlife and fisheries biology from UND, also is working with his contacts in the energy industry to lobby for a more balanced approach to oil and gas development.

Krapp was awarded the honor Wednesday night at a gala event in Washington, D.C., where he was one of six finalists in the running for the title. Each of the finalists was presented with a $5,000 grant, and Krapp was also awarded a new Toyota Tundra, courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. Inc.

The honorees are all featured in the October issue of Field & Stream, on newsstands now, and are also profiled in a twelve-part video series online.

“Ryan’s volunteerism has the potential to positively impact conservation for generations to come,” Anthony Licata, editorial dDirector of Field & Stream, said in a news release. “North Dakota is in the midst of an energy boom making Ryan’s work to ensure the state’s wildlife heritage all the more essential.”

Also among the finalists was Scott Rall, Worthington, Minn. Rall helped facilitate the acquisition of 2,500 acres of land for conservation where habitat improvement projects are now underway.

Bears, berries and birds

I just talked to Gretchen Mehmel, manager of Red Lake Wildlife Management Area, for a story about the Minnesota ruffed grouse season, which opens Sept. 13. Hard to believe it’s that time already, but the bite in the air the past few mornings and evenings is proof that fall is just around the corner.

Despite the approaching change of seasons, Mehmel says the WMA and adjacent Beltrami Island State Forest still offer pretty good blueberry picking opportunities. This has been a banner year for blueberries, and open areas adjacent to jackpine stands are good places to look.

The bumper berry crop appears to be a detriment to bear hunters, though. Bear season only opened Monday, but Mehmel says usually a few hunters by this time have stopped by WMA headquarters at Norris Camp to report or register bears, but there hasn’t been a single hunter so far.

As for upland birds, without giving away too many details, there’s cause for optimism if you like to hunt ruffed grouse. Ditto for sharptails and woodcock, it appears. Check out Sunday’s section of Northland Outdoors for a closer look at upland prospects in Minnesota  and North Dakota.

NDGF PLOTS Guide now available online

For those of you like me who are counting the days until fall, a sure sign that hunting seasons are just around the corner now is online:

The PLOTS guide will feature about 735,000 acres of walk-in access land enrolled in the program. (N.D. Game and Fish Department photo)

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s 2014 Private Land Open to Sportsmen Guide.

One of the most useful tools North Dakota hunters have at their  disposal, the PLOTS guide will feature about 735,000 acres of walk-in access land enrolled in the program. The guide is available on the Game and Fish website by clicking here.

Hard copies of the guide will be available at most license vendors throughout the state in early September.

Because the guide is printed in mid-August, some PLOTS tracts highlighted in the guide may have been removed from the program since the time of printing. On the downside — and unfortunately, a sign of things to come — there also will be some PLOTS tracts where the habitat and condition of the land has changed significantly. At the same time, Game and Fish may have added new tracts to the program after the guide went to press.

To minimize possible confusion, Game and Fish will update PLOTS map sheets weekly on its website.

The PLOTS Guide features maps highlighting these walk-in areas, identified in the field by inverted triangular yellow signs, as well as other public lands.

The guides are free, and will be available in early September at county auditor offices and license vendors in the state; by walk-in at the Game and Fish Department’s Bismarck office; and at district offices in Riverdale, Harvey (Lonetree), Williston, Dickinson, Jamestown and Devils Lake.

The guides are not available to mail, so hunters will have to pick one up at a local vendor, or print individual maps from the website.