Field reports: Fond du Lac Band offers free seminar

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is hosting a free seminar aimed at non-tribal members to better explain the treaty rights under which tribal members use to hunt, fish and gather across much of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. The ...

A bald eagle carries an American coot it had just caught. Steve Kuchera /
A new single day record eagle migration for any North American observing station was set March 21 in Duluth when Hawk Ridge Observatory experts counted 1,076 eagles flying north. News Tribune file photo

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is hosting a free seminar aimed at non-tribal members to better explain the treaty rights under which tribal members use to hunt, fish and gather across much of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The event is free and open to the public, set for 2:30-4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth (parking at the aquarium is $5.) It's aimed at anyone who wants to know more about treaty rights.

The event comes just as tribal members, much as their ancestors did in centuries past, are preparing to spear and net fish after ice leaves Northland lakes. Those rights were affirmed by federal court rulings decades ago covering areas ceded to the U.S, government under treaties with the Lake Superior Chippewa bands.

Ann McCammon-Soltis, director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, will be the moderator, and the program will include Jon Gilbert, the commission's biological services director, laying out the treaty fishing management framework, followed by Brian Borkholder, Fond du Lac fisheries biologist, speaking about how the band implements its off-reservation fisheries management, including population surveys, seasons, stocking/radio tracking, etc.

Several tribal leaders and members will speak about what the exercise of treaty fishing rights means to them and their ability to feed their families and communities. There will also be a time for audience questions.


For more information contact Nancy Schuldt, Fond du Lac water projects coordinator, at .

Tribal member fined for abandoned net

Two Fond du Lac band members have appeared in tribal court for their role in leaving a gill net abandoned in Mille Lacs Lake last spring.

The net was found floating in the big central Minnesota lake last May. There were 67 walleyes in the net - dead and wasted because the net hadn't been retrieved in a timely manner.

As reported last week in the News Tribune, Fond du Lac tribal officials conducted an investigation and confirmed Wednesday that the case was closed last July without any public notice. They said the two people - a father and minor daughter - appeared in tribal court to face tribal charges in the case. The father accepted responsibility and was fined for the violation which a tribal official described as an unfortunate oversight and not intentional. Tribal officials did not release the band members names.

The lake's famous walleye population is divided between tribal netting/speaking harvest and recreational fishing harvest under joint management for lakes within ceded territories in Minnesota.

Speaking of Mille Lacs Lake

That's how the News Tribune will refer to the big body of water after our online poll conducted last week. More than 3,100 people weighed in and 53.22 percent favored Mille Lacs Lake with 46.77 percent favoring Lake Mille Lacs.


Record eagle count as migration moves north

The folks at Hawk Ridge Observatory in Duluth don't just count birds heading south in the fall, they also count them heading north in the spring, and so far March has been a banner month for eagles.

On March 21 expert counters tallied 1,076 bald eagles flying north from their spring counting spot, usually near Enger Tower. (Another 800 bald eagles followed over the next three days.) That is apparently a single-day record for any site in North America, said John Richrdson, fall count director at Hawk Ridge. The abundance of eagles moving north is another testament of the amazing recovery of the species under the Endangered Species Act.

As of Wednesday, more than 4,200 bald eagles had flown north over Duluth as the big birds head toward their nesting grounds for summer. There's also been nearly 200 golden eagles and over 150 red-tailed hawks, along with assorted other migrators counted so far this spring. Eagle migration is peaking now, with hawk migration set to peak in April.

Hawk Ridge Observatory is hosting its first-ever Spring Migration Celebration April 26-28, with a free bird watching event at one of their West Skyline Parkway counting locations. During east or northeast winds the counters and best viewing are at Thomson Hill. During all other winds the best viewing is near Enger Tower. There are also several other workshops and seminars with expert presenters with various fees. For more information go to

Learn to do fun outdoors stuff

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will have another summer of "I can!"' learn to do stuff events, including mountain biking, fishing, an overnight canoe camping event on the St. Croix River and sea kayaking on Lake Superior.

Participants on the overnight trip will paddle down the St. Croix River to a riverside campsite, learning canoeing skills along the way.
In addition to the canoe trip here are also I Can! events planned for camping, mountain biking, fishing and sea kayaking on Lake Superior.


"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."

Registration is now open for the events that start in June and continue through August:

• 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.


For more information or to register go to or contact the DNR Information Center at or (888) 646-6367. Nearly 18,000 people have participated in these programs since they were first offered in 2010.

Bong Center offers veterans free BWCAW trip

The Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center in Superior is hosting a free trip for veterans to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness July 9-14.

The Center will be taking a small group of veterans up to Ely MN, where they will spend a night at Veterans on the Lake resort before heading into the BWCA on July 10. The trip is being outfitted by Canadian Waters. The group will return from their trip on July 13 and spend another night at the resort before heading back into civilization. Interested veterans can apply for the trip on the Center's website or call (715) 392-7151.

This will be the second year that the center has offered the trip for veterans who are disabled or dealing with PTSD and other traumas.

"Last year's trip was amazing, it was one of the best trips I have ever been a part of" said Hayes Scriven, executive director of the Center. "We wanted to give back in another way to the veteran community and we were able to do that in a unique way."

By bringing veterans into the wilderness away from noises and stress, we hope it will help them heal, recover and just relax. In order to educate the public, the center relies on veterans to provide their stories and artifacts. We appreciate the trust veterans place in us to tell their stories and want to give back to the veteran community.

Capt. Duane Lasley, U.S. Army-ret., from Duluth went on the trip last year and is now volunteering his time for the trip.


"I was fortunate enough to go on last year's trip and it was an amazing experience. I am doing what I can to help others enjoy a similar experience," he said.

Ikes talk bees

Pat Thomas, an expert on gardening for bees and other pollinators, will be the keynote speaker at this week's Izaak Walton League meeting Wednesday in Duluth.

Thomas will be presenting an illustrated talk on how to get started making your garden and yard more friendly for beneficial insects. It's free to the public starting at 7 p.m. in room S-2964 at Lake Superior College, 2101 Trinity Road.

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at
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