Ask Bridget Landsverk, of Fosston, when she started volunteering as a firearms safety instructor and there’s a brief pause. She starts to count the years, then remembers: Last year she received a plaque for 10 years of service, which means 2019 marks the beginning of her second decade of instruction.
Now 35 years old, she’s been teaching firearms safety in Winger-Erskine-McIntosh for much of her adult life, a way to give back borne from a friendship struck with retired conservation officer Stuart Bensen.
And it’s a family affair, too, as her father – the person who nurtured her interest in hunting – helps her teach, and her kids often attend the classes she teaches. Her oldest son, in fact, has scored 100 percent on a firearms safety test, though he’s still too young to be certified.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if someday he teaches firearms safety as well,” Landsverk said. “His dream right now at 9 years old is to have his own hunting and fishing show.”
That was never Bridget Landsverk’s dream, though her father took her into the field as soon as she showed interest. She’s hunted deer and bear. And Canada geese are the species of choice when it comes to trips with her husband and sons.
She likes the idea of female students learning from a female instructor – Landsverk figures about half the students in her classes are girls and women – and enjoys teaching kids and then hearing about their successes in the field.
“They see you out in public and recognize you from class and they want to tell you all about their first deer-hunting experience that year – or whatever they hunted,” she said. “There are quite a few kids around here who get a nice deer during their first hunt. I tell them, ‘I’m happy for you, but I hope you don’t have this expectation every year!’”
While the majority of her students attend firearms safety with the intention of going hunting, some simply want to learn about firearms so they feel more comfortable when they’re around. Whatever the case, Landsverk believes anyone – of any age – will benefit from taking a firearms safety course.
Landsverk is among 4,000 volunteer instructors across the state who constitute the backbone of the DNR Enforcement Division’s firearms safety program. The dedication of these volunteers is instrumental to the program when you consider more than 1.3 million students have received firearms safety certification since the program began in 1955. The results of the program have been dramatic, with decreasing numbers of firearms-related hunting incidents since its inception. Firearms safety training is required for anyone born after Dec. 31, 1979 who wants to buy a hunting license.
For more information on firearms safety in Minnesota, including a list of available courses, see mndnr.gov/safety/firearms/index.html (for youths) or mndnr.gov/safety/firearms_isa/index.html (for adults). Note that courses fill up quickly.
A new “I Can!”program offers participants the chance to learn the outdoor skills necessary to take an overnight canoe camping trip. The overnight adventure trip is one of many summer programs Minnesota state parks and trails has available for beginners of all ages who want to learn to camp, paddle, mountain bike and fish.
Participants on the overnight trip will paddle down the St. Croix River to a riverside campsite, learning canoeing skills along the way. After a night of camping on the river, participants will paddle a few miles downriver to St. Croix State Park where the outdoor adventure will come to an end.
“Our goal is to make it easy for busy families to discover the fun of spending time outdoors together,” said Erika Rivers, director of the Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails Division. “We provide all the gear, along with friendly instructors who can show you how to use it.”
Registrations for the “I Can Paddle! Canoe Camping” program and other classes are being taken now. Programs start in June and continue through August. They include:
- I Can Paddle! Canoe Camping – Learn how to plan for an overnight canoe camping trip. Meals and the use of canoeing and camping equipment are included. Participants must be at least 10 years of age; children under age 18 need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian ($85 for the overnight program; up to two people per canoe).
- I Can Camp! – Develop or refine fire starting and camp cooking skills. Sleep on comfortable air mattresses in tents large enough to accommodate two adults and up to three children ($60 for one-night programs or $85 for two-night programs).
- I Can Paddle! – Get out on the water for a sea kayaking adventure on Lake Superior ($35 for ages 12-18, $45 for adults) or a guided canoeing or kayaking trip on a Minnesota lake or river (prices vary).
- I Can Mountain Bike! – Learn riding techniques and explore mountain bike trails with guides from the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Club ($15 for ages 10-15, $25/adults).
- I Can Fish! – Experience the fun of casting into the water and the excitement when there’s a tug on the line ($7/person, children under age 12 are free).
The “I Can!” series also includes the Archery in the Parks programs, which are free. No reservations are needed.
Registration and more information
For more information about the programs—including dates, times, locations, and minimum age requirements—visit mndnr.gov/ican or contact the DNR Information Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).
To register for an event, visit mndnr.gov/reservations or call 866-857-2757 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily, except holidays).
The “I Can!” series is made possible with funding from the Parks and Trails Fund, created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008. The Parks and Trails Fund receives 14.25 percent of the three-eighths of one percent sales tax revenue from the Legacy Amendment. Revenue to the Parks and Trails Fund may only be spent to support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance.
The I Can! programs received a Government Innovation Award in 2015. Nearly 18,000 people have participated in these programs since they were first offered in 2010.
Heavy rain and flooding mean some roads and trails in state forests, state parks, recreation areas, and wildlife management areas will close temporarily, according to the Department of Natural Resources. This is because they are not firm enough to support vehicle traffic without causing damage. The closures could remain in effect until sometime in May, depending on weather conditions.
“These are normal spring closures that happen when roads and trails become wet and fragile,” said Dave Schuller, state land programs supervisor for the DNR’s Forestry Division. “We ask that people use good judgment, obey the closures, and check the DNR website for updates. This is important for personal safety as well as avoiding damage to these roads and trails.”
Road and trail users should pay particular attention to state forest closures. Generally, all roads and trails in a particular forest will be closed, but not always. Those that can handle motor vehicle traffic will remain open but may be restricted by gross vehicle weight. Signs will be posted at entry points and parking lots.
For information on road closures, log on to mndnr.gov/closures. Information on this page is updated on Thursdays by 2 p.m. However, closure signs may be in place before the website is updated.
Road and trail closure information also is available by contacting the DNR Information Center at email@example.com, 888-646-6367 or 651-296-6157, (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).
For information on roads and trails on county land, contact the county directly.
The Department of Natural Resources seeks the public’s help in identifying the person or people responsible for dumping the bodies of eight white-tailed deer near the Zumbro River in Wabasha County.
A state conservation officer received a call Monday, March 18, reporting the carcasses had been dumped sometime the night before on County Road 81 near the Zumbro River just outside of Kellogg. At least seven of the animals were bucks; all had their antlers or their antlers and skull plates removed.
“At the very least, this is a waste of Minnesota’s precious natural resources,” said Greg Salo, assistant director of the DNR Enforcement Division. “We urge anyone with information related to this ongoing investigation to call the Turn in Poachers hotline.”
The TIP hotline is 800-652-9093. All of the deer have been collected and will be tested for disease.
Anglers and others interested in learning about or commenting on Minnesota Department of Natural Resources strategies for managing Tower area lakes and streams are invited to ask questions and submit comments on lake management plans through Monday, April 1.
Management plans describe the past, present and desired future conditions of the fishery and identify specific management activities planned for that lake in the next five to 20 years. The plans include background on the water body including water chemistry, temperature, habitat quality and species present, and are important in understanding the potential of a fishery.
“Our management plans are the basis of how we make fishery decisions for individual lakes and streams,” said Edie Evarts, area fisheries supervisor. “Public comment is important as goals are created or revised in a plan. It is important in complex management where we have special regulations, but can also be incorporated into a simple plan for a small lake by adding information not collected by survey crews. The call for comments also gives the public an opportunity to see the latest plans for area lakes and streams.”
Every year, DNR fisheries staff prepares or revises individual lake management plans for several waters in each management area. In the Tower area, plans for the following lakes will be reviewed.
St. Louis County lakes:
- Bear Island.
- Deep – increase in walleye stocking frequency.
- Johnson – change to walleye fry stocking instead of fingerlings.
- Little Armstrong (Camp)
- Miner’s Pit.
Lake County lakes:
- Birch (Ontario border)
- Ella Hall – initial management plan.
- Lake Four.
- Lake Three.
People can review current plans for lakes as well as recent fish survey information at the DNR’s Tower fisheries office, 650 Highway 169 in Tower. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To request a draft copy of any lake management plan listed above email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 218-300-7802.
Questions or comments about the plans may be sent by email to Tower area fisheries supervisor, Edie Evarts, at email@example.com. Suggestions for management of other lakes and streams in the Tower area are welcome at any time and will be considered when those plans are reviewed.