Lake George’s new conservation officer is busy exploring every trail, forest and lake.

Michael Cross, originally from the Duluth-Two Harbors area, received the permanent station. He, his wife and two sons moved to Lake George in early December

“This was something I’ve always wanted to do and the opportunity came about, so I took it,” Cross said. “It’s what makes me who I am, my love for the outdoors.”

Previously, Cross was a full-time, career firefighter for Sioux Falls, S.D.; St. Paul and Duluth. He currently serves with the Minnesota Air National Guard 148th Fighter Wing out of Duluth.

Conservation officer training was extensive, he said. First, he spent six months becoming Minnesota Peace Officer certified. Cross then attended the DNR Conservation Officer Academy at Camp Ripley for four-and-a-half months, followed by four months of field training with experienced veteran conservation officers all around the state.

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“I like, really, everything about it. It’s really fun, so far,” he said of his new post.

Cross grew up “in the woods and the outdoors,” but said one of the most difficult challenges is becoming acquainted with the Lake George terrain.

“It’s my responsibility to get familiar with this whole area and the geography,” he said, “because people look to conservation officers when they tell you they’re ‘down this dirt road.’”

Cross said he’s mapping the area via snowmobile daily.

With the pandemic, Cross said there’s a significant increase of ice angling. Trout opener was Jan. 16, so that “opened up opportunities for designated trout lakes,” he said.

Anglers are traveling to this region to hit fishing holes, Cross said, noting the hundreds of fish houses being towed on trailers up and down U.S. Hwy. 71 this winter. Popular lakes, like Red and Mille Lacs, are so overcrowded that anglers are seeking quieter locations.

Cross reports area snowmobile trails are in pretty rough shape with the lack of recent snow.

He encourages people to go to the DNR website (www.dnr.state.mn.us) and download a PDF of state regulations. “And then it’s saved on their phone because everyone always has a smartphone,” Cross said.

For example, a lot of folks aren’t familiar with trout regulations or ATV regulations, Cross said, so keeping a PDF copy of the state handbook will make it easier to look up answers.