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Kevin Nelson: Think of giving a Friends membership

Are you still looking for a gift for that person who has everything? You might wish to consider giving a one-year membership to join the Friends of the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center!

Gifting a membership, or joining yourself, would be helping to preserve the incredible Jay C. Hormel Nature Center for future generations! Check online at www.hormelnaturecenter.org; click on “get involved,” and then “Friends of Hormel Nature Center.” It is as easy as that to begin enjoying the benefits!

Are you considering a location for a family gathering for the holidays or for a milestone birthday or anniversary? Check out Izaak Walton Cabin in Todd Park at www.ci.austin.mn.us or the venues at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center on their website at www.hormelnaturecenter.org. We hope to have all facilities open and available over the holiday get-together time-frame from Christmas through New Year’s Day.

Making ice

We’re still several weeks away from making outdoor ice. Once near-zero temperatures have materialized for several days, frost will begin to drive into the ground a bit further, and we’ll then be that much closer to making ice for the rinks.

Indoor ice? The current governor’s executive order indicates arenas are to be closed through Dec. 18. Thus, we’re hopeful to re-open the arenas beginning Dec. 19. Stay tuned.

Deer hunt

The City Archery Deer Hunt will continue through Dec. 31. A total of 41 deer have been harvested in Austin to date this season, mostly on parcels located north of I-90. Ideally, we’d like to be able to better address the deer population in the south and west portions of the city as well.

However, ‘hunting parcels’ in these quadrants of the city are limited, as spaces need to be large enough for hunters to be able to comply with all hunting regulations. That being said, parcels for approved hunting, whether combined (contiguously) or individually, should be a minimum of two acres with ample space to ensure that hunters will be at least 100 feet from any inhabited structure whilst hunting from an elevated stand.

Also important in deer population control are residents who are cognizant of the facts that a healthy deer population is one which is kept in check and which is relegated to thrive on the area vegetation, not food which people might be tempted to place out for deer. Remember: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources regulations render feeding of deer to be illegal in many Minnesota counties, including Mower County. Feeding deer makes them more dependent upon humans for their food, and it also attracts deer to be in larger groups where the spread of animal illnesses, such as the deadly (to deer) Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), is more likely.

Winter conditions already drive deer to group to the areas of their natural food sources, but the DNR aims to avoid exacerbating this problem by eliminating unnatural sources for their forage. Thus, feel free to feed the birds, but not the deer.

Trees

As has been discussed at numerous recent public meetings, trees work for parks and boulevards will be contracted out in 2021. In preparation for such, a pre-bid meeting (for potential contractors) was held this week, and a number of regional contractors were present, asking relevant questions.

As a reminder, outsourcing the tree work is one of the avenues which Austin’s city council chose to help keep (City) property tax increases at a minimum for 2021.