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Hunting

Alexandria named hunting hot spot

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When it comes to hunting and fishing, Alexandria residents know they're living in an outdoor paradise.

Now a lot more people will know it, too.

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Alexandria was named the 107th "Best Town for Sportsmen" in the United States in the June/July 2009 issue of Outdoor Life magazine.

The magazine ranked 200 cities across the nation using extensive research and data to determine the top cities and towns for hunters and anglers to live in.

Eight cities in Minnesota made the list - Rochester (10th), Roseau (21st), Bemidji (32nd), Red Wing (80th), Duluth (93rd), Virginia (97th), Alexandria (107th) and Marshall (168th).

"Outdoorsmen want world-class hunting and fishing, but like everyone else, they also want to have a high quality of life," noted Todd Smith, editor-in-chief of Outdoor Life. "The towns on this list offer the best of the outdoors as well as decent homes and schools and good-paying jobs. They are truly dream towns for sportsmen."

Last year's second-place finisher, Lewiston, Idaho, population 31,794, moved up one place to score the top spot on Outdoor Life's 2009 list.

To determine the 2009 "Best Places to Live," Outdoor Life started with the 200 towns from the previous year's list and added 50 additional locations from readers and colleague suggestions.

Towns were ranked based on more than 20 criteria, with outdoor-related factors given slightly heavier emphasis in computing the results than quality-of-life factors.

Outdoor factors considered included "gun-friendliness" of each town's state, huntable and fishable species nearby, the town's proximity to public hunting land and fishable waters, and the potential for taking a trophy-caliber game animal or fish nearby.

Quality-of-life factors considered included population growth since 2000, median household income, median home value, cost of living, unemployment rate, mean commute time and amenities (schools, hospitals).

Certain socio-economic categories were weighted more than others to determine the overall quality-of-life score, which was combined with the overall outdoor score to reach each town's rank, according to the magazine.

A number of factors helped Alexandria crack the 200 list.

On a scale of 1 to 10, Alexandria received an 8 for gun-friendly laws (as did all the Minnesota cities that made the list); a 7 for offering good public access to hunting and fishing opportunities; a 6 for trophy potential; a 6 for huntable species; a 5 for fishable species; and a 5 for amenities.

Although its population is relatively small - listed as 9,666 in the magazine (more recent figures estimate it at 11,481), its growth rate is strong at 9.6 percent since 2000, the magazine noted.

Alexandria's median household income was listed at $31,141, the lowest among the eight Minnesota cities to make the list. Its median home was valued at $146,866, the fifth highest of the Minnesota cities on the list.

Alexandria's cost of living index was at 83.7, well below the national U.S. average of 100.

The city's unemployment rate was listed at 4.8 percent.

The mean commute time to get to work in Alexandria was 13.8 minutes, the third quickest drive of the eight Minnesota cities that made the list.

For complete details on all 200 towns, visit www.OutdoorLife.com. The website also includes a comment section for sportsmen and women to sound off on their favorite outdoors paradise and thoughts on the rankings.

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