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Case Study: Spicer Area Fisheries

The Spicer fisheries crew takes eggs from a walleye for use at the New London hatchery.
The Spicer fisheries crew takes eggs from a walleye for use at the New London hatchery.

Spicer area fisheries manager Dave Coahran knows how to make an impression on the younger set. For the past 20 years, the live fish displays and hands-on learning activities his crew provides have been the hit of the annual Kandiyohi County 6th Grade Conservation Days held at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center. But the engaging lessons local youngsters have been learning about clean water and healthy lakes could soon end due to tightening budgets.

Unless additional funding is secured, Coahran says, the Spicer fisheries station won't be able to continue participating in the multi-day environmental education event. That could spell the end of the event itself, impacting 400-600 area sixth graders, and what they're able learn about aquatic ecosystems.

The Spicer fisheries station also may be unable to continue offering tours of the New London fish hatchery, a popular attraction for campers at nearby Sibley State Park. Recent staff reductions have made it difficult to continue the Friday tours and still complete the necessary field sampling tasks associated with lake and stream management and fish rearing activities. Further reductions would make it impossible.

"Outreach has been key to many of our efforts, and it's a big reason for the public support we receive," Coahran says. "But I don't see how it can survive another round of budget cuts."

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The bottom line?

Without a license fee increase, the Spicer Area Fisheries office will need to significantly curtail its public outreach and educational efforts.


What We Do: Highlights

Spicer fisheries work area map
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The Minnesota DNR's Spicer Fisheries Area includes Kandiyohi County and portions of Stearns, Lyon, Chippewa, Lac Qui Parle, Swift and Yellow Medicine. Land types vary from agricultural dominated watersheds with shallow, aerated lakes in the southern portion to hardwood/residential dominated watersheds with deeper, clearer prairie-forest transition lakes in the northern portion.