The Outdoors

By Scott Rall, Outdoors Columnist

I went on one heck of a road trip recently. I decided to go see the world, or more precisely, a large part of the state of Minnesota. It was part adventure and part volunteer work and part a small paying side hustle. I am a very passionate supporter of public lands. These are often referred to as state or federal lands. I call them citizen-owned lands. This means that every acre of Wildlife Management Areas or Federal Waterfowl Poduction Areas in Minnesota is owned by each and every one of you.

Over the past 14 years or so with the introduction of the Minnesota Land and Legacy Amendment, which was a voter approved tax increase of 3/8ths of one percent passed back in 2009, there has been substantial amounts of money available for the care, management and acquisition of additional acres for public recreation.

Across the state many different organizations have been acquiring additional acres for people to use in a variety of ways. You can hike, bird watch, photograph and hunt on these acres. Almost any use is allowed as long as it does not interfere with the natural reproduction of wildlife.

The list of organizations receiving dollars from the fund to do this kind of work is a long one. My list does not include them all but here are a few. Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, Minnesota DNR, watershed districts, certain counties, soil and water conservation districts and, last but not least, Pheasants Forever.

Each of the new properties purchased, and all of the existing ones that have had infusions of money from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, have to be signed to show that this particular fund paid for those improvements. Whether it is an acquisition, restoration or enhancement, they need to identify the parcel with a sign that has the Outdoor Heritage Fund logo on it.

My road trip was to erect 68 signs across 53 counties on each of the properties that have benefited. I started out on day one heading up the western border of Minnesota. I made all the way to within 100 miles of the Canada border and then worked my way back down south and east and ended up back in Worthington Minnesota 1,450 miles later.

It was so cool to see all of the different kinds of habitat that Minnesota has to offer. I saw great sharp-tail grouse habitat. I viewed some great prairie chicken habitat along with great deer, turkey and pheasant habitat. Each of these habitats were distinctly different from the others.

Up north most of the properties I signed were Waterfowl Production Areas managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Their habitat management efforts are far different from the prairie grasslands management of southwest Minnesota.

Up in these northern areas there were lots of areas with trees and shrubs lands. In my neck of the woods, trees are an evil enemy to be dealt with accordingly. Grasslands are supposed to be just that. Ground nesting birds like pheasants and ducks suffer in their reproductive efforts when isolated volunteer trees are allowed to exist. Trees attract nest raiding mammals like raccoon and skunks. Areas with no trees make it much harder for these nest predators to be successful.

Looking at the difference between habitats that were planted 15 years ago compared to what is planted today is like night and day. Seedings today have many more forbs and flowers compared to the only grass species seedings done decades ago. Science has proven that forbs and flowers and the resulting broadleaf species they include raises more wildlife and have a higher wildlife holding capacity then grass only habitat plantings of the past.

I can say that pounding posts with a 40-pound post pounder by hand in pretty much pouring rain for three days was far from the ideal conditions. I was soaked from sunrise to sunset for the entire project period but when you schedule your vacation around your day job you can’t just up and change it because conditions are not ideal.

It was a great few days, and seeing as much of Minnesota as I did made me even more appreciative of the work being done and vast array of different habitats Minnesota has to offer.

We are the land of great natural resources and as a state we are the envy of many. Minnesota is home to me and when it comes to hunting and wildlife it certainly is the land of plenty. Look for a Land and Legacy sign and know for the most part that each of these acres are owned by you. Each and every person who pays sales tax in Minnesota is dong a small part to keep our natural places as good as they can possible be.

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If you have any questions, reach out to me at