A visitor is on vacation when he sees a farmer tending his sheep. He decides to stop and ask the farmer if he'll give him a sheep if he can guess exactly how many sheep are in his field. The farmer figures that's a safe bet so he agrees.
The visitor quickly scans the field, makes a mental calculation and says, "You've got 439 sheep out there." The farmer is stunned at the correct answer, but since he agreed to the proposition he tells the man to go ahead and choose a sheep.
As the visitor is trying to get his prize into the back of his car, the farmer comes over and asks if he could have a chance to win the animal back.
"If I can guess what you do for a living, will you return my fine animal?" he asks. The visitor figures it's only fair so he agrees to go along with it.
"You work for the government," the farmer says.
"You're right!" the visitor said. "How did you know that?"
"Well," the farmer responds, "you arrived uninvited and unannounced. You told me something I already knew and you charged me for the privilege. Now, can I please have my dog back?"
An old joke, of course, and one that occasionally might have had a kernel of truth in it. But, as Dorothy once discovered, "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."
Things have changed. We continue to travel down the yellow brick road. And while we have not yet reached "somewhere over the rainbow," relationships between the agricultural community and the DNR have generally improved.
That doesn't mean the future will be completely free of differences of opinion or bones to pick. But they'll be manageable disagreements, as long as we refrain from digging up old bones. After all, our goals for rural Minnesota are the same: clean water, healthy fish and wildlife, outdoor recreation opportunities, safe environments, and vibrant local economies. In short, we want future generations to have good reason to call rural Minnesota home.
Dorothy journeys down the yellow brick road in search of the Wizard of Oz, who she hopes will help her get back to Kansas, she finds herself in a strange, confusing, even frightening world. And so it can be for the landowner who travels through the sometimes-confusing maze that is the DNR -- a large, complex agency that can, at times, be puzzling even to the people who work within it.
Over time the DNR has attempted to develop new roads to help travelers navigate more easily their way around the agency. Now, thanks to the super highway known as the Internet, a smooth new route has been developed that will more quickly and easily help private landowners reach their destination: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/landownerinfo/index.html.
Clip it out write it down, save it as a bookmark. On this Web site is found valuable information for people who need answers, tips, technical or financial assistance and more. Wondering about your liability when allowing others to recreate on your land? Have questions about private lands programs? The location of the DNR office nearest to you? Curious about how you might improve your property for wildlife? Questions about Minnesota water laws?
These are just a few of the topics that are covered on this new web site, along with a calendar that shows upcoming events of interest. Aerial photos of private lands are expected to be added in the near future. And since it is still a work in progress, input on how to improve the site are encouraged.
With this announcement, you're invited to check this new site out. We hope you learn something you didn't already know. And it's free! Let us know what you think.
Tom Conroy can be reached at email@example.com.
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