The North Dakota Game and Fish Department (NDGF) held their Spring Advisory Board Meeting at Lake Elsie this past week. It is a good time to appreciate our long-time relationship with them.

      At one time, the Kidder Recreation Area consisted of a cinder road from 4th Street to the lowhead dam. It is now an outdoor recreation destination. With NDGF and Red River Area Sportsmen’s Club funding, amenities now include:

• Blacktopped road and parking lots from 4th Street to the Highway 210 bridge.

• Fish cleaning station and annual $3500 maintenance.

• Three fishing platforms and four benches.

• Lowhead dam retrofitted to rock rapids for safety and fish migration.

• Shoreline fishing areas with steps down steep banks.

• Boat ramp and dock.

• Accessible fishing pier with benches.

• Aquatic Nuisance Species cleaning station coming soon.

Local river facilities include fishing piers jutting out from shorelines in Chahinkapa Park, Golf Course and southside Bois de Sioux River. A boat landing and dock are located at Brushvale a few miles north of town.

Youth fishing support provides a rod and reel loaner program, fly fishing equipment, mini-tackle boxes and fishing equipment for four youth fishing derbies. Mooreton Pond projects include a boat landing, dock, rock piers, fishing piers and trout stocking.

Youth hunting has benefitted from $2000 grants for the annual Youth Waterfowl and Pheasant Hunts, hunter education program support and being a ND Legislature partner to provide public access for hunters.

Conservation education projects, including the Junior Wildlife Club have been:

• Outdoor Wildlife Learning Sites at the Kidder Recreation Area tree arboretum and Chahinkapa Zoo’s Watchable Wildlife exhibit.

• Coloring books of native North Dakota critters for elementary art.

• ‘Habitats of North Dakota’ for 4th grade classes studying our state.

• Birding guides and checklists.

• Funding for wood duck nest boxes.

Shooting sports have grown under the NDGF umbrella, including:

• Grants for the archery range and area trap clubs.

• Grants for National Archery in the Schools (NASP) bows, arrows and targets.

• Hosting the NASP State Archery Meet at Minot.

• A grant program for trap shooting teams.      

The Advisory Board meetings are an excellent opportunity for local sportsmen and NDGF staff to discuss the great outdoors and work together to benefit wildlife and future generations. Interesting topics this spring included:

• Proliferation of technology that challenges fair chase and hunting ethics.

• Baiting that increases the odds of Chronic Wasting Disease.

• 70 percent deer hunter satisfaction rationale to help determine number of tags.

• A new bobcat season on the eastern half of the state.

• Partnerships to develop public access on more southeastern area lakes.  

• Early blue-winged teal season discussion because of their quick exodus to South America. Central Plains Flyway Council helps govern waterfowl hunting laws.

• Emphasize 3R’s (Recruitment-Retention-Reactivation) as hunter numbers decline.

• Successful Legislative session with congenial landowner-sportsman access that allows electronic posting of land.

• It was interesting to hear that South Dakota raised the minimum age for hunting and fishing licenses from 16 to 18. North Dakota remains at 16.

So many NDGF staff have been terrific to work with. We’ve especially worked with District Game Warden Tim Phalen (hunter education presenter and Youth Waterfowl Hunt organizer), Wildlife Biologist Doug Leier (considerable outdoors marketing), Fisheries Grants – Bob Frohlich (see all the above projects), fisheries biologists – Gene VanEeckhout & B.J. Kratz (management of many southeastern lakes), Hunting Grants – Pat Lothspeich and Audio-Visual Support – Mike Anderson (filming of youth hunts, Jr. Wildlife and fishing derbies).

It is fantastic to see a local government agency – Park Board, non-profit – Red River Area Sportsmen’s Club and state government agency – ND Game and Fish Department partner together so effectively to benefit sportsmen, hunters, naturalists and fishermen of all ages. A definite win-win-win!

Wayne Beyer is the director of Wahpeton Parks and Recreation Department.

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