Conservation Skills Park expands
The green space at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department's Conservation and Outdoor Skills Park at the state fairgrounds in Minot turned brown last summer following the Mouse River flood. However, it's coming back nicely this summer and will once again welcome visitors at the state's biggest outdoor gathering July 20-28 at the North Dakota State Fair.
"We've basically had to redo our entire area," said Greg Gullickson, the Game and Fish Department's outreach biologist in Minot, "and we've even added some new space for educational displays."
Construction of a new dock is just one of the improvements, Gullickson said, while mentioning major repairs to structures, landscaping and the fishing pond.
"Our conservation area is a great place to take a break from other fair activity," Gullickson said. "Our pond is stocked with fish and we invite anyone headed to the fair to stop by and try to catch one."
Walleye stockings at lakes complete
North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel, along with staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fish hatcheries, recently completed stocking 9.8 million walleye fingerlings in 113 lakes across the state. Jerry Weigel, fisheries production and development section leader for the Game and Fish Department, said this year's walleye goal required exceptional production from nearly every hatchery pond in the state.
"Overall, we were able to meet every request with Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery contributing 8.7 million fingerlings and Valley City National Fish Hatchery 1.1 million fingerlings. On average the fish were some of the largest in recent years," Weigel said.
Stocking goals for each water body can differ depending on need. Some of the notable stockings include: Lake Sakakawea - 4 million; Stump Lake - 577,000; Lake Darling - 450,000; Devils Lake - 367,000; Heart Butte Reservoir - 325,000; and Lake Ashtabula - 262,000.
Pheasant crowing counts up
North Dakota's spring pheasant crowing count survey revealed a 10 percent increase statewide compared to last year. All four pheasant districts showed an increase compared to last year. The number of crows heard in the southeast increased by 12 percent, northwest by 8 percent, northeast by 6 percent and southwest by 4 percent.
Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor for the State Game and Fish Department, said hens were in better shape this spring because of less winter stress. In addition, he said nesting habitat looked to be in pretty good condition in all areas of the state, and nesting and brooding weather this spring has been almost ideal.
"I expect much better upland game production this summer," Kohn added. "Pheasant hens are finding better quality nesting and brooding cover on the uplands this spring, and with the good weather, more hens were successful with first clutches, a positive sign of a good production year."
However, Kohn noted, the loss of CRP is going to decrease nesting and brooding cover in the future, and will negatively affect the pheasant population.
Spring crowing count data is not always a good indicator of the fall population. It does not measure population density, but provides an index of the spring rooster population based on a trend of number of crows heard. Brood surveys, which begin in mid-July and are completed by September, are a better indicator of the summer's pheasant production and provide insight into what to expect for a fall pheasant population.
Refuge haying permits available
The Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge will open several areas for haying this year. A public drawing will be held on Wednesday, July 25, at 3 p.m. to select permittees for haying. You must be 18 years of age or older and a bona fide rancher or farmer in need of hay for your own livestock to be eligible for the drawing. The cost for the hay is $17 per acre. The hay may not be traded, sold or given away.
For additional information, please contact Tom Pabian, Refuge Manager, at 468-5467 or stop by the refuge headquarters between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The refuge headquarters is located seven miles north of Foxholm and two miles east of the Lake Darling Dam on Ward County Highway 6.