Scott Rall

Reclaimed cropland named 'Sweetie Marie' holds special memories

The Outdoors

It was back in the spring of 2016 that I was able to participate in one of the most memorable wildlife projects of my life. Nobles County Pheasants Forever had recently purchased an 80-acre tract as an addition to Lambert Prairie Wildlife Management Area. This was only a few months after I lost my wife to breast cancer, and as a living memorial to her, I made a contribution to the habitat organization and the Minnesota DNR and we named this parcel the Sweetie Marie Rall Memorial Tract of Lambert Prairie.

This site was part pasture and part tillable land, and the property had been used as a dumping ground for at least 100 years. Old cars, washing machines, bed springs and every other kind of junk you can think of was located somewhere on this property. I put out a call for help with a cleanup day to ready this site for habitat restoration work.

The most memorable part of this project was who came to help. We had volunteers both young and old from the metro, South Dakota and all over the regional area that turned out to help. There were 41 volunteers in all. In addition to elbow grease and sweat, they also brought skid steers and tractors to make the job quicker and a ton easier.

At the end of the day this group worked from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m. and removed over two miles of barbed wire fence and loaded over 16,000 pounds of scrap steel into two overloaded 16-yard dumpsters. When they emptied those two, they needed to bring a third to pick up the remaining scrap material. They worked, talked, laughed a lot, shared stories about their diverse backgrounds and their love of wildlife and the habitats that sustain it.

These were writers, professors, nurses, farmers, roofers and many other occupations represented. Many participants had never worked on a habitat project before. When we were done, we sat around and ate bison hot dogs and drank a few beers. It truly was a special day on a special piece of property.

Today the habitat restoration work is complete, and without the efforts of these volunteers it would have taken many years longer to complete. Drive west a half mile from the corner of Nobles County 9 and 270th Street and see just how well it turned out. It has a Pheasant Run 33 sign on it.

Nobles County Pheasants Forever has scheduled another project just like the one I described on another new tract. This spot is located at the intersection of 290th Street and Knauf Avenue south of Rushmore. It is an addition to the Ransom Ridge Wildlife Management Area and needs a lot of help.

There is fence to be removed, tires to be loaded, and scrap metal to be collected. There are also a large number of invasive volunteer trees that will need to be removed. As the saying goes, many hands make light work. All you need to do to participate is show up at the event on Saturday, April 18, at 9 a.m. with a pair of safety glasses and some work gloves. A quick call to Scott Rall at 507-360-6027 to let us know you’re coming would be helpful to estimate the number of helpers we will have.

You can spend an hour or the entire day … it is up to you. We will appreciate any time you can commit. If you  have some equipment that could help us out, like a skid steer, trailer or side by side that you would consider bringing along, please contact me so I can include that in my event planning process and make sure you are in the group that could best use your talent and equipment.

I am certainly looking forward to this spring day and with all the social distancing and shutdowns this will be a great day outside, and there is virtually no congregating of people.  They will be spread out over 295 acres. Please check your calendars and mark April 18 on it.

When this day is over and you are sitting on the tailgate of a truck with a few worked muscles and a little sweat, you will achieve a sense of satisfaction like no other. How do I know this? Because every volunteer last year told me so. Lend a helping hand. Call to volunteer today. The pheasants, deer and songbirds will thank you for it.




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