Pheasants Forever's annual Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic and 30th anniversary celebration held over the weekend at the Minneapolis Convention Center drew 28,855 visitors, nearly reaching the 30,000 the organization had predicted.

At a banquet Saturday evening held at the convention center and attended by 1,300 Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever members and supporters, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the government's 45th Conservation Reserve Program general sign-up, beginning this spring. CRP pays farmers to idle marginally tillable lands and plant them in multiyear cover crops to reduce erosion and farmland run-off and create wildlife habitat.

High commodity prices have prompted producers to flee the program because they can make more money growing corn, soybeans and other crops on the lands.

U.S. senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken also attended the banquet, as did Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn.

Pheasants Forever has more than 130,000 members and about 700 local chapters nationwide. Its budget last year was $58 million.

The group was founded in St. Paul in 1982 and is headquartered in White Bear Lake.

The Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic moves from city to city each year and next year will be held at the Delta Center in Milwaukee, Feb. 14-16.


Tiebreakers settle MIAC hockey seeds

St. Thomas and St. John's earned a share of the MIAC regular-season championship in men's hockey, but the Tommies' season sweep of the Johnnies earned them the top seed and first-round bye for the MIAC tournament, which begins Friday.

Both teams finished with 21 points. The Tommies (13-10-2, 10-5-1) completed a two-game sweep of Augsburg with a 3-0 victory Saturday night. The Johnnies (14-7-4, 9-4-3) finished a sweep of Bethel with a 4-1 victory.


• The Gophers baseball team (1-2) spotted second-ranked UCLA six first-inning runs and lost 14-1 in Los Angeles.

• Phoenix native Kaitlin Richardson had the Gophers' lone hit against Arizona State ace Dallas Escobedo in an 8-0 victory for the No. 3 Sun Devils in the final game of the Littlewood Classic softball tournament in Tempe, Ariz.