GRAND FORKS -- A few random thoughts on this first weekend of March. ...

I’ve received a number of comments since my column last week about the ongoing closure of the U.S.-Canada border to nonessential travel and the need to figure out a way for people to reach the Northwest Angle by road. Because the Angle is surrounded on three sides by Canada and accessible from Minnesota only by crossing some 40 miles of Lake of the Woods, the only way to get there by road is to travel about 40 miles through a sparsely populated area of Manitoba.

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Even if the border remains closed indefinitely – which appears to be inevitable – there has to be some way of letting people drive to their own country on those remote roads.

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One reader – I’ll call him “Mike” because that’s his name – wrote that crossing Lake of the Woods last summer to reach the Angle by boat turned out to be an experience he’d just as soon not repeat.

“We placed our lives at risk when we traveled with our 19-foot Lund on Lake of the Woods back to Baudette on our trip back from Oak Island,” he wrote. “Five- to 6-foot waves developed, and we felt like we were being waterboarded. We are going to try it in June again, but it would be nice to be able to drive the 40 miles from the U.S. to the U.S.”

Every business, every resident and every property owner up there feels the same way.

I’d never thought of it in these terms, but Joe Henry, executive director of Lake of the Woods Tourism, had an interesting perspective on the plight of Northwest Angle resort owners during a recent conversation.

For resort owners on the south shore of Lake of the Woods, marketing is pretty much business as usual because people can drive there. Even in Canada, where resorts and fishing camps rely almost exclusively on American tourists, tourist operators can shift gears and market to Canadians, Henry said.

Up at the Northwest Angle, resorts and businesses really can’t market to anyone during the summer, Henry said, because no tourist can get there by road.

Talk about being hamstrung.

Elk poaching update

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department continues to seek information on the status of an elk poaching incident near Keene, N.D., an unincorporated community in McKenzie County. As Game and Fish reported last month on its Facebook page, two bull elk were shot and left sometime Feb. 17, and the head had been removed from one of the bulls.

No meat was taken from either animal.

As of Thursday, the poaching investigation remained a work in progress, according to Joe Lucas, district game warden for the Game and Fish Department in Watford City, N.D.

Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to call North Dakota’s Report All Poachers hotline at (701) 328-9921. Callers can remain anonymous if they choose and are eligible for a reward if a conviction is made based on information they provide.

This 6x6 bull elk was shot and left near Keene, N.D., in the northwest part of the state, and the head had been removed from another bull elk shot and left nearby. The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is seeking information in connection with the poaching incident. (Photo/ Joe Lucas, North Dakota Game and Fish Department)
This 6x6 bull elk was shot and left near Keene, N.D., in the northwest part of the state, and the head had been removed from another bull elk shot and left nearby. The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is seeking information in connection with the poaching incident. (Photo/ Joe Lucas, North Dakota Game and Fish Department)

On a somewhat related note, a North Carolina-based organization called Poacher Strike Force on Wednesday said it will offer a $3,500 reward for information on the North Dakota elk-poaching incident. That sounds good, but Scott Winkelman, the Game and Fish Department’s enforcement chief, said Thursday that he’d never heard of the group and wasn’t familiar with the reward. Lucas, the Watford City game warden, said he wasn’t familiar with the reward or the organization, either.

Poacher Strike Force does have a GoFundMe page showing it has raised $2,600 with a goal of $300,000. The group also has a Facebook page at facebook.com/psf.

Signs of spring

March can be a fickle month, teasing us with summerlike conditions one day only to deliver a wintry blast the next, but it certainly came in like a lamb.

With high temperatures in the upper 40s and abundant sunshine, the snow has all but disappeared from my backyard in recent days, and only faint remnants of ski trails remain along the Greenway, based on what I’ve seen during my afternoon walks.

For skiers and snowmobilers, the winter has been somewhat of a dud in this part of the world. Instead of flood concerns, a fishing guide friend is worried about lack of water, at least on the Red River where he plies his trade. If present trends continue, anglers could have boats in the Red River by April.

No guarantees, of course, but things are definitely trending in that direction. The days are getting longer, and the return of Daylight Saving Time on Sunday, March 14, will be a welcome turn of events in my world.

I’m not a morning person, so I prefer my daylight at the end of the day.

Brad Dokken
Brad Dokken