There are several bookmarked sites that sit atop the menu bar on my iMac, but none is clicked on more year-round than the St. Louis County Land Explorer app.
If you’re a hunter — or hiker, an ATVer, or even a shed hunter — and haven’t seen or used this awesome tool you’re missing out.
Found on the St. Louis County website — a quick query on your favorite search engine will bring up the link quicker — the app is great for finding just about any information you want about a parcel of land anywhere in the county along with a host of other features.
Once I found the, my plat book became a dust collector.
Want to know who owns a certain 40 acres? The info is there with a click of the button. Want to explore some state or federal land up close and personal without leaving the house?
A birds-eye view button allows you to get a somewhat 3D look at the territory using satellite imagery.
Want to plot out deer stand locations or measure the distance from one spot to the next on your own land? Easy to do in miles, feet, kilometers, yards — just about every standard of measurement you can think of.
Not only can you measure distances and study elevations, you can also add markers or lines or circles or just about any shape to the map and then print out a copy of your work to take with you to the woods.
And you can find the coordinates of any spot, latitude and longitude, just by hovering your mouse over the position. The borders shown on the app aren’t exactly perfect, but they are darn close, and a person can pull up pin information on the map, click on the pin and get survey info.
A click here and click there will also take you down a rabbit hole of information you wouldn’t expect to find or, in some cases, ever know you needed — like the original survey of a back 40 from 1893 that I stumbled upon a few weeks back.
There’s just a ton of stuff you can do with the County Land Explorer — more than I could possibly get into in this space and some beyond my skill level. The bottom line is I can’t recommend it enough. I don’t know if other counties in the state or country use the same or similar technology. I haven’t come across anything similar yet.
The only negative is sometimes you will run across a parcel that is covered in clouds so you can’t get a good look at it unless you do the birds-eye view.
There are some apps out there for the iPhone and Android that do similar things but most of them only do the basic stuff for free. If you want to find out who owns a piece of property or if you are standing on public or private land while out in the woods, you either have a limited-number opportunities available until that kind of information costs money.
I’ve been using an application on my phone called Hunt Stand for years that allows me to do similar things as the Land Explorer and it does work better in the woods. Land Explorer is sometimes hard to load when you’re in the thick stuff and the mobile version of it has some glitches.
But when I’m at home studying nothing beats Explorer.
Check it out for yourself.
Fall is a great time to make your home and property ‘Firewise’
Fall is a good time to reduce the risks of wildfires to cabins and homes as property owners in rural and wooded areas clear woodlots, cut firewood or remove downed or dying trees.
“If property owners reduce the likelihood that an ember finds a suitable fuel bed, they greatly reduce the likelihood that their home or cabin will ignite, ” said Dan Carroll, northwest region Firewise specialist with the Department of Natural Resources.
The DNR offers guidance to homeowners to reduce the risks of wildfires to their homes and cabins through its Firewise program. The goal is to reduce losses from wildfire by identifying high fire risk areas for homeowners, and by mitigating hazards through planning, education and funding.
Carroll said there are four factors homeowners can control that affect whether a home will survive a wildfire. They are access, site, structure and burning practices.
• Access: Firefighters and emergency vehicles need to be able to find and access a home. Without good access and escape routes, firefighters will not endanger themselves to save a home.
• Defensible zone: To lessen chances of a structure catching fire, establish at least a 30-foot “defensible zone” around structures, within which flammables such as excess vegetation, firewood, and fallen leaves and needles have been removed. Further reducing potential fuels in the wooded area 100 feet around the home by thinning and pruning trees and reducing underbrush will reduce the intensity of an approaching wildfire.
• Structure: Home modifications that further reduce wildfire risk include re-siding with brick, stone, stucco or steel, replacing shake roofing with class A shingles or steel, and enclosing foundations, decks and overhangs with steel, masonry or other flame-resistant sheeting.
• Burning practices: The number one cause of wildfires in Minnesota is escaped debris from intentional fires. Instead of burning leaves and debris, consider alternatives like composting. Recreational fires should be in a fire-safe pit or container and completely extinguished before left unattended.
The DNR Firewise program is part of a national Firewise program initiated and funded in part by the USDA Forest Service.
Dock removal slated for state public water accesses
Late fall can be a great time to fish in Minnesota and you may even have your favorite fishing spot to yourself. It’s also a time for seasonal dock removal at many public water accesses.
Seasonal dock removal at DNR-managed public water accesses generally begins after the third weekend of October and is usually completed by early November. Late season anglers may want to bring along a pair of hip boots or waders to stay dry when launching their boats, if the dock at their access point has been removed for winter.
“We do try to leave some of the more frequently used docks in place as long as we can, but we also need to manage that work across a large geographic area, and get it all done before the water begins to freeze, ” said Ward Wallin, DNR Parks and Trails Two Harbors area assistant supervisor.
More information and public water access maps are available on the DNR’s website at mndnr.gov/wateraccess. Contact the nearest DNR Parks and Trails area office to check current conditions for specific accesses.