Story Opportunities

A Large Lake Leader
Leech Lake is famous amongst outdoors enthusiasts for its walleye and muskie fisheries. Amongst conservationists, it holds another esteem: With about half of its massive shoreline in public ownership, Leech is Minnesota's large-lake leader in protecting habitat for fish and shoreline wildlife species. The lake is also something of a gem in the Governor's North Central Minnesota Lakes pilot project (part of Minnesota's Clean Water Initiative), emulating the best in public-private partnerships to preserve and protect the Leech Lake Watershed. Story Contact: Jerry McCauley, Leech Lake Association Board Member, icecrack@eot.com or (218) 836-2076.

Over 100 year old National Park
In 1908 President Theodore Roosevelt signed the papers making Chippewa national Forest the first National Forest established east of the Mississippi. Forest lands surrounding Leech and Winnibigoshish lakes were set aside for what would eventually become the 666,524-acre Chippewa National Forest. Uniquely situated at the intersection of three major biomes-hardwood, coniferous and prairie- the park has changed little in the 100 years. Story Contact: Mary Nordeen, Public Affairs Officer, Chippewa National Forest, (218) 335-8658 or mnordeen@fs.fed.us.

Access the Outdoors: Leech-Area Hiking, Biking & Motorized Recreation
The Leech Lake area a major crossroads for Minnesota's amazing recreational trail system. Multiple recreational trails converge in the Leech Lake area, providing outdoor recreation opportunities for everyone, hikers, bikers, horseback riders, snowmobilers and off-highway vehicle riders alike. Along with other, smaller trails and footpaths, the area features trail access for the national North Country Scenic Hiking Trail, the Chippewa National Forest's Shingobee Hiking Trail System, and two state trails-the 108-mile Paul Bunyan Trail and the 47-mile Heartland Trail. Story Contact: Dick Kimball, Minnesota DNR Trails & Waterways Supervisor, (218) 755-3972 or dick.kimball@dnr.state.mn.us.

Walker Women: Northwoods Entrepreneurial Spirit
In the days of the town's origin, the men came to Walker to log the area's abundant forests. Today, they come to fish for Leech Lake's famed walleye and muskie, and it's the women of Walker who have carved out a tourism-based business climate and fashioned Walker as a quaint little northwoods shopping destination. The "feminine touch" is evident: a large percent of Leech Lake area businesses are owned or co-owned by women. Story Contact: Cindy Wannarka, Executive Director of the Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, (218) 547-1313 or cwannarka@arvig.net.

Fishing from the Cradle
In Walker, they like to start them young--fishing that is. Walker's Marine Max hosts the annual kids crappie fishing event for the community, where nearly 200 kids--some in strollers--enter their first casting and catching contests. The kids walk away with fishing lures, door prizes, full bellies and--the sponsors hope--the start of a lifelong love of fishing. The event is held the Saturday before the walleye opener each year. Story Contact: Jennifer Benik, Marine Max events coordinator, (763) 428-4126 or jennifer.benik@marinemax.com.

A Town Eager for a Party: Celebration of an Ugly Fish
Always looking for a reason to host a celebration, the community of Walker, MN has been celebrating one of Minnesota's ugliest fish, the eelpout, for 28 years. The annual Eelpout Festival claims to be Minnesota's biggest party on ice. This year, the festivities include a five-mile run, rugby tournament, snowmobile and auto races, a polar plunge, and the ceremonial lighting of the hibachi (of course). Story Contact: Cindy Wanarka, Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, 800.833.1118cwanarka@leech-lake.comwww.leech-lake.com

Leech Lake Area Provides R&R for National Guard Families 
Walker makes its American Pride felt throughout Minnesota. The Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce is kicking off its fourth year of the "Vacations for National Guard Families Program." The program donates weeklong stays at local resorts to Minnesota National Guard members and their families when they return from active duty in the Middle East. Over the years, the committee has provided hundreds of vacations to returning Guard families. In addition to free lodging, the families are given gift packages with vouchers for local restaurants, businesses and activities. Story Contact: Cindy Wanarka, Leech Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. 800.833.1118, 800.833.1118 cwanarka@leech-lake.comwww.leech-lake.com

Lakes Country Biking
Fill your limit fishing? Hop on your bike and explore the area’s other natural resource treasures—forests, bogs, rolling hills and the Mighty Mississippi. The Leech Lake area a major crossroads for two of Minnesota's finest biking trails—the 108-mile Paul Bunyan Trail and the 47-mile Heartland Trail. Multiple recreational trails converge in the Leech Lake area, providing outdoor recreation opportunities for everyone, hikers, bikers, horseback riders, snowmobilers and off-highway vehicle riders alike. Story Contact: Dick Kimball, Minnesota DNR Trails & Waterways Supervisor, (218) 755-3972 or dick.kimball@dnr.state.mn.us.

 

Skier smile

Photo Opportunities for Journalists

Best Public Boat Launches – Lake access for the public West Side of the Lake
Erickson’s Landing: North out of Walker on Hwy 371/200; about three miles out of town on the East side of the road. Popular for those fishing the northern Walker Bay.

Walker City Park: On the North side of the road as you’re head to the East out of downtown Walker.

East Side of the Lake 
Whipholt: Traveling East of Walker on Hwy 200 (13 miles East of town), this access is located East of Whipholt and is easily visible on the North side of the road.

Stoney Point: Located in the heart of the lake (but off the beaten path a bit), this is a popular access site. Traveling East of Walker on Hwy 200, turn north on Cty. Rd 13 (Onigum Road). Past Rice Lake, follow the water access signs East to the landing.

Local Flavor
Bait Shops/Sporting Goods

Reeds Sporting Goods: Walker’s Sport Shop, still a small-town, family-run sporting goods store. Staffed by those who know Leech Lake. Corner of Hwy 200 and 6th Street.

Walker Bait Shop: Fresh minnows, leeches and fish tales. Next to Subway, at Minnesota Ave (Hwy 200).

Fishing Tales
Joc’s Barbershop: Fishing tales and Walker-area nostalgia come free with a haircut (as long as you don’t get Joc started talking about his golf game). Corner of Hwy. 200 and Hwy. 34—across the street from the Holiday Gas Station.

Outdoorsman Café: Eggs any way you like them. Leech Lake fishing stories—mouthwatering. On Hwy 200, mid-way down the block between 5th and 6th streets.

Village Inn: See if the "Old Coots" (local philanthropic coffee klatch) are having coffee! Corner of Hwy 200 and 5th Street—Walker’s only downtown stoplight.