Legislation aimed at getting more kids outdoors in more ways — dubbed the No Child Left Inside bill — was included in the final natural resources package approved by Minnesota lawmakers in May with $1.2 million in grants now available.

The legislation earmarks $182,000 in fiscal 2020 (starting July 1) from the state’s general tax fund and $318,000 from the Game and Fish Fund stocked by license fees “for grants for natural-resource-based education and recreation programs.”

There’s also specific money earmarked to promote youth participation in for traditional outdoor endeavors — archery trapshooting, hunting firearms safety and fishing — in schools across the state. The one-time $500,000 allotment will be in the form of state grants to school districts and American Indian schools to encourage more participation in school-based outdoor sports.

And there’s more: Lawmakers made another $200,000 specifically available for high school fishing teams which are growing rapidly across the state.

Under the No Child Left Inside grant program, lawmakers have ordered the DNR commissioner to “establish and administer a program to provide grants for outdoor environmental, ecological, and other natural-resource-based education and recreation programs serving youth.” The commissioner “may award grants under this section to public entities or private nonprofit organizations: with priorities to programs that “provide students with opportunities to directly experience and understand nature and the natural world; use a research-based, effective environmental, ecological, agricultural, or other natural-resource-based educational curriculum; maximize the number of participants that can be served; serve children with limited opportunities to participate in natural-resource-based outdoor activities; use public park and other natural resource venues and personnel as a resource; and commit matching funds or in-kind resources.”

Feds set Brainerd public hearing on wolf delisting

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is hosting a public hearing to take comments on the agency’s proposal to remove the gray wolf from the federal endangered species list June 25 in Brainerd.

The hearing will be held from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Franklin Arts Center Auditorium, 1001 Kingwood St. It’s the only regional meeting on the proposed delisting.

The public has until July 15 to comment on the plan to remove federal protections for wolves across the Great Lakes and other areas where they might roam.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says wolves have recovered enough to be taken off the endangered list, leaving management to individual states and tribes. Critics say state resource agencies are too aggressive at allowing wolves to be trapped and hunted.

Meanwhile, as reported in the News Tribune last week, a panel of five wildlife experts who independently reviewed the federal wolf plan for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service widely panned the proposal, saying it is not based in science and downplays potential illegal killing of wolves.

For more information, or to comment on the plan, go to www.fws.gov/home/wolfrecovery/.

Stress fracture ends hiking trail record attempt

Michael Koppy fell a bit short of his attempt to run the Superior Hiking Trail in record time last week when he had to drop out due to a stress fracture in his shin.

Koppy had run about 130 miles of the 310-mile route between the Ontario border and Jay Cooke State Park west of Duluth. He was raising money for the Superior Hiking Trail Association.

Koppy was running supported, with no pack on his back. So far, the record run of the trail is 7 days, 20 hours, and 56 minutes with the hiker carrying his own supplies. Koppy had hoped to run it in less than four days.

Silver Bay police chief is 2018 ATV safety instructor of the year

Doug Frericks of Silver Bay has been named statewide “ATV Instructor of the Year” by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

A life-long ATV rider, Frericks has a keen understanding of the ATV trails and riding opportunities around Silver Bay. He grew up in the area, but when he returned five years ago to serve as the city’s police chief, Frericks realized quickly there wasn’t a program to teach riders about safe ATV operation. So he recruited other volunteer instructors and worked with his local DNR Enforcement Division conservation officer and regional training officer to make classes available.

Frericks leads much of the instruction during ATV safety classes and also provides his personal ATVs for use during the field-exercise portion of safety training. In addition, he leads the snowmobile safety program in the area and has encouraged other law enforcement officers to become instructors.

DNR conservation officers work closely with the nearly 1,000 volunteer ATV safety instructors throughout the state who deliver ATV safety training certification. For details on safety courses and training, see mndnr.gov/safety/vehicle/atv/index.html.

Clean bird feeders keep birds healthy

Moldy birdseed and unclean bird feeders can make birds sick, and homeowners who enjoy feeding birds should take steps now to help birds stay healthy, according to the DNR.

In spring and in warm, humid weather, it is common for mold to form on wet birdseed. The mold can cause an avian disease called aspergillosis, which affects the birds’ respiratory systems. Salmonella is another disease that affects birds and is associated with unclean feeders. Both diseases can be fatal to birds.

To clean a feeder, use a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water, and scrub the entire surface. Always allow the cleaned feeder to dry out in the sun, as the sunlight will help kill bacteria on the feeder. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned about every week to 10 days during the summer, to keep the sugar water from producing mold. Also rake or sweep up any fallen seeds and seed hulls under their feeder to prevent moldy conditions from occurring on the ground. Seeds left on the ground can also attract meadow voles, house mice, other rodents, raccoons, deer and even bears.

More information about bird feeding is available at mndnr.gov/birdfeeding.