Minnesota's Pine County Bear Hunters May Deal With Blowdown Changes

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When bear hunters head to the woods to set baits in Pine County, they are likely to see changes in their usual hunting grounds. Two large storms in July led to blowdowns in St. Croix, Nemadji and Chengwatana state forests. Some areas have little change, but a large part of the forests have experienced high-impact blowdown, meaning 50 percent or more of the trees have been affected. Bear baiting began Aug. 12.

“We urge hunters to go out to hunting grounds prior to the season opener to check on things,” said Dave Johnson, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) assistant area wildlife manager. “Many hunting areas have experienced major blowdown that will make access to or through portions of these state forests challenging. In some areas workers are clearing roads and trails.”

A crew of sawyers and equipment operators is opening roads and trails and providing access to shelters in the St. Croix Valley blowdown complex. Approximately 50 workers are operating in teams of three to five people with chain saws and with assistance from excavators. In some areas with the heaviest blowdown, access is so limited that teams are working without excavators.

The July 1 storm impacted 161,000 acres. Of that, 73,200 acres are state park and state forest lands. The heaviest impact starts west of St. Croix State Park headquarters and runs through Markville. The July 19 storm damaged 25,000 acres, mostly in the Nemadji state forest. From the two storms, 185,000 acres have been impacted in Pine County.

The DNR reminds hunters to use caution around downed and twisted trees, and hanging and leaning trees and limbs.  Pine County is a popular bear hunting area because the county (except for the northeast corner) is in a no quota area where hunters may take up to two bears during the Sept. 1 though Oct. 16 season.

To see a map of the blowdown area, please use link below:

http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/features/storms/7-1-19-2011-blowdown.pdf