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Brush-cutting event set to open spaces for sharp-tailed grouse

The Minnesota Sharp-Tailed Grouse Society (MSGS) will hold its annual volunteer brush cutting event on Saturday, March 17. The group invites people to come and help celebrate the 20th anniversary of ensuring the sharp-tail's place as a native gam...

The Minnesota Sharp-Tailed Grouse Society (MSGS) will hold its annual volunteer brush cutting event on Saturday, March 17. The group invites people to come and help celebrate the 20th anniversary of ensuring the sharp-tail's place as a native game bird of open landscapes.

MSGS is one of a few conservation organizations to sponsor volunteer fieldwork events. This is year 15 of hosting the event in Minnesota's "sharp-tail country," this time near Cromwell.

"The MSGS has selected a site that is a good example of cooperation between private landowners and the DNR Private Lands Program and of using cost share programs to improve brushland wildlife habitat," said Joe Worm, DNR wildlife technician, Cloquet.

"The goal of this year's outing is to cut down invading brush and trees around a sharp-tail 'dancing ground', helping maintain its open character, a critical requirement for sharp-tails," said Worm.

As in the past, MSGS will provide a free breakfast and lunch.

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Volunteers will meet at 8:15 a.m. at the Country Inn Cafe, near the junction of Highways 73 and 210, in downtown Cromwell. After breakfast, the group will caravan to the project site, 2.7 miles west of Cromwell on Highway 210, then one mile north and east via East Mud Lake Road and Woodbury Drive.

According to Bill Berg from the Minnesota Sharp-Tailed Grouse Society, "After a brief project orientation, it's just a short walk beyond the end of the road to the brush-cutting site. Shortly after noon, the flock will gather for a bog lunch, consisting of brats, burgers, chips and beverage. Usually by 3:30 p.m., brush cutters will call it quits and head back home. These outings are good family fun, good exercise, and educational."

The public is welcome and invited for breakfast, or to join the group in the field at any point during the day. Observant folks will likely spot sharp-tails, said Berg. Last year, Natural Resources students came from Central Lakes College at Brainerd, Vermilion College at Ely, and Itasca College at Grand Rapids. All participants will receive a copy of the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer, which featured Gustave Axelson's article, "Brushland Dervishes." There will also be MSGS caps and T-shirts for sale at a special reduced price.

Although March can be pleasant, come prepared for cold, wind and snow, and bring with you some high-energy snacks and water. Snowshoes can be helpful if more snow arrives. Bow saws and pruning shears will be provided. But, Berg asks that people please bring their own brush cutting tools if they have them. No power tools are allowed. Everyone will be signed on as a "DNR Volunteer" for the day.

Questions can be directed to MSGS representative Bill Berg, 218-326-4253, or to the DNR Cloquet Area Wildlife Office, 218-879-0880.

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