About Me

Twenty years ago I asked a Tarot card reader what would I be doing when I was 50. She replied, “I see you doing something so wildly creative, it defies a job title.” Only recently did I realize that was a slick way of saying, “I have no idea of what you’ll be doing.” But that prediction kept me charging ahead to the fifties with zeal and anticipation. Now that the future is today, I’m ready for anything!

Don't Bogart That WMA, Dude

Minnesotans have had it drilled into their heads by the Republican-led Legislature: Tax increases are off the table. We must live within our means. That means cutting corners, eliminating wastefulness, searching under the sofa cushions. Even combing through cornfields.

It's corn harvesting time in southeastern Minnesota. On a walk with my dog, I noticed a harvested cornfield that extended beyond a sign that designated the land as a Wildlife Management Area. WMAs are land parcels with high potential for wildlife production and are held by the DNR for public use. In this particular case, about two acres of a 20-acre WMA are being used for private corn planting.

The public land between the sign and the
stand of trees is a victim of Creeping Corn Syndrome.

How widespread is that practice, I wondered. Is the state getting rent from these farmers. If not, how much money is Minnesota losing. What could the DNR be doing with those funds.

Wildlife Management Areas in Minnesota started as a Save the Wetlands program in 1951. Today there are 1,440 WMAs in the state, comprising over 1.29 million acres of wetland, brushland, forest and prairie. Sounds like a lot, doesn't it? What harm could a couple of acres here and there do, right?

Why It Matters
Say 700 of those 1,440 WMAs are next to farmland. And say 10 percent of that 700 are losing two acres of land to the farmer next door. That means 140 acres of public land are being used for private farming. It costs a farmer anywhere from $100 to $200 to rent an acre of farmland; let's split the difference and say $150. That would mean Minnesota is losing out on $21,000 of revenue per year.

And if the practice has been going on for five years? Over $100,000 in lost revenue.

Feathers Get Ruffled
My husband Mike estimates that hunting lands in this area have decreased by about fifty percent in the past 20 years, for a number of reasons:
  • What used to be hunting land is now privately owned farmland.
  • Owners of land that sustains wildlife are less willing to let others hunt on it.
  • Private owners of farmland further diminish the wildlife habitat if they mow the ditches that abut the farmland. By doing so, they're eliminating the cover for pheasants and other wildlife. 
So if two acres are bogarted from an area that has steadily been reduced, feathers get ruffled. And not just the feathers of hunters, whose license fees help pay for the preservation of WMAs. Any wildlife enthusiast who enjoys photography or nature walks is getting cheated.

What Should Be Done
There are a number of ways that offending farmers can make this right with Minnesota:
  • Stop planting on public land.
  • Continue planting on public land but leave the crops standing for wildlife to enjoy.
  • Continue planting on public land but pay Minnesota rent for what they use.
With the added revenue, the DNR could do a number of things. Mike would like to see pheasants restocked. Or incentives offered to thin predators like coyotes that prey on livestock and pets. I'd like to see an Adopt a WMA program, similar to the Adopt a Highway program. Citizens would be responsible for picking up the beer bottles and cans and small appliances that others feel compelled to leave behind.

If there's another side to this story, I'd love to hear it. "Live within your means" should also mean "Farm within your means." In other words, don't bogart that WMA, dude.


  1. I don't have another side to the story. My heart goes out to the wildlife that are losing their homes and the whole eco system that is losing ground. Not only is farming encroaching on wildlife territory, but I wonder how far their pesticides go? Even when not encroaching on protected lands, I have to believe that the pesticides travel much further than their plots of land. And if those plots are ever widening so are the pesticides. It's a sad story all around.

  2. Minnesota is reminding me of the Dr. Seuss story "The Lorax," after the last Truffula Tree was chopped down. State Representative Steve Drazkowski once proposed plugging the budget deficit by harvesting black walnut trees in two state parks.

    And speaking of nuts, the Minnesota State House is where Michele Bachmann got her start...


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