Falling pheasant numbers
THUMBS DOWN: The Department of Natural Resources is working to improve hunter numbers in the state, but it's an uphill battle. How uphill? Consider the recently-released pheasant numbers in Minnesota that show a 64 percent decline in the pheasant index from 2010. Last year's severe winter followed by a wet spring played a key role in the decline, the DNR said. The weather this spring did a number on nesting (the nesting period is April-June), as brood counts were 75 percent below the 10-year average. Also, hen counts were 72 percent below the 10-year average. The DNR also cited the loss of almost 120,000 acres of grass habitat in farm programs like the Conservation Reserve Program since 2007 as another contributing factor to lower pheasant numbers, and more than 500,000 acres of CRP lands are scheduled to expire in the next three years. The news isn't any better here in southwest Minnesota - which the DNR said usually provides the state's best pheasant range - where the index fell 82 percent from last year. This is not meant to discourage people from hunting pheasants in the region; it's more of a warning that finding them this fall could be more difficult than ever.
THUMBS DOWN: Onliners might have noticed the comment section on the Lynd School coverage has been removed and posting a comment or opinion specific to that story is no longer an option. While there was some constructive back-and-forth regarding the story and the outcome of the vote, a growing number of posts amounted to nothing more than a few posters throwing daggers at each other. It's good when people express their opinions, but when it starts to get ugly and spiteful, the game's over. If this discourages you because you didn't get the chance to chime in, we encourage you - and anyone else who has something to offer up on any subject - to put your thoughts, and your name, hometown and telephone number for verification, in a letter to the editor.
Silver Dollar auction
SIDEWAYS THUMBS: While we're sad to see the Silver Dollar Bar in Ghent closed, it's nice to know that many things that made the Silver Dollar the Silver Dollar have found new homes. Deutz Auctioneers oversaw the recent auction at the iconic establishment - the first licensed bar in the state after Prohibition - and everything went, from shot glasses, to beer mugs, furniture to kitchen equipment. Last Thursday was truly a bittersweet day for residents of Ghent and the area, because it's tough when true staples of a community, especially iconic ones like the Silver Dollar, come to the end of a successful run. But least the auction gave residents a chance to take home small pieces of local history and say goodbye one last time.