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Thankful for N.D. outdoors

I'm a thankful and appreciative kind of guy. I have always tried to see Lake Sakakawea, for instance, as the glass that's stillhalf full.

As we advance past Thanksgiving into the holiday season, there's reason to give thanks for hunters, anglers, trappers and all who enjoy spending more time outside than in.

After enjoying an autumn such as 2006, a good starting point is my appreciation for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and co-workers across the state in the business of managing the great natural resources of this state. I love my job and that's not out of the ordinary for Game and Fish employees.

Next, a thank you to the landowners, farmers and ranchers who have provided access so hunters can enjoy the bounties of a great fall. Hunting is a big part of managing wildlife, and years of success can be attributed to landowners providing access, and hunters making a conscious effort to respectfully enjoy their time afield.

I'm thankful for the Conservation Reserve Program and the deer, ducks, roosters and nongame birds that all benefit from this landmark program. Now is also a good time to let your elected officials know your support for continued funding for CRP.

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I couldn't be more happy living in this land of extremes, where periodic floods in the spring are replaced by occasional mid-summer droughts followed up by feet of snow.

Our outdoors is constantly changing and there's something for all to enjoy. We're blessed with sage grouse in the southwest, prairie chickens in the east and ruffed grouse in the north central. Our big game buffet is all-encompassing as we have bighorn sheep, moose, elk, antelope, white-tailed deer and mule deer.

Don't forget the furry critters, from increasing numbers of fishers and otters popping onto the prairie grass and waterways, to bobcats, coyote, beavers and muskrats and mountain lions, too. Black bears and wolves are also occasionally observed within our borders.

And I haven't even covered the multitude of aquatic reasons to give thanks. From paddlefish in Williams County to catfish in the Red River Valley, and anywhere between there's a good reason to keep a fishing rod and tackle box tucked into the trunk. No matter where you are in North Dakota, you're within casting distance of a place to wet a line and find fish.

Indeed, as 2006 wears on, there's ample reason to give thanks for living in North Dakota. If you don't believe me, take a drive, or better yet a hike or walk, and revel in the diversity that is North Dakota's outdoors. I'll see you out there.

Leier, a biologist for the North Dakota

Game and Fish Department in West Fargo,

can be reached at dleier@nd.gov

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