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comment on lock and dam erosion repair project -
Department of Natural Resources is accepting public comment during a
public review period, June 22 to July 22, on an environmental
assessment worksheet (EAW) for a scour repair project on Lock and Dam
1, located on the Mississippi River between Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Scour is the removal of sediment by
swiftly moving water, causing potential damage to nearby structures.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposes to repair scour
immediately downstream of Lock and Dam 1 to ensure the lock and dam’s
structural integrity. The repair would involve placing about 14,000
cubic yards of rock below the water surface along the width of the dam
and up to 150 feet downstream. An estimated three acres south of the
dam would be impacted by the project. There would be two acres of rock
fill and about one acre of temporary disturbance.
A copy of the EAW
is available online at www.mndnr.gov/input. Under “Environmental
Review,” select “Lock and Dam 1 Scour Repair” from the scroll-down
list. A hard copy may be requested by calling 651-259-5082.
A copy is also
- DNR Library,
500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155.
- DNR Central
Region, 1200 Warner Road, St. Paul 55106.
Central Library, Government Documents, 2nd Floor, 300 Nicollet
Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1992.
The notice will be
published in the June 22 EQB Monitor. Written comments must be
submitted no later than 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 22 to the
attention of Kate Frantz, EAW project manager, Environmental Review
Unit, DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division, 500 Lafayette Road,
St. Paul, MN 55155-4025.
Electronic or email
comments may be sent to email@example.com with “Lock
and Dam 1” in the subject line. If submitting comments electronically,
include your name and mailing address. Written comments may also be
sent by fax to 651-296-1811.
Annual list of potential timber
harvest sites available for review -
The annual list of
potential timber harvest sites on state-administered forest land is
now available for public review, according to the Minnesota Department
of Natural Resources. Comments will be accepted until July 17.
The list of
potential harvest sites is for fiscal year 2016, which begins July 1
and ends June 30, 2016.
DNR field staff
will examine nearly 2,600 forest stands on 58,000 acres for potential
timber sales during the year. The DNR estimates that about 40,000 of
the 58,000 acres of forest land will be suitable for timber sales.
“The public has
two options for reviewing the list,” said Jon Nelson, DNR forest
stand locations and descriptions, along with their proposed
management, are on the DNR website at
http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/maps/forestview/index.html. Comments about
a potential timber harvest site can be submitted to the DNR using this
without Internet access or who prefer to review and discuss the site
list directly with a forester, may contact or visit their local DNR
area forestry office. Contact the office prior to a visit to ensure
the appropriate forestry staff will be available.
administers 5 million acres of forest lands that have been certified
as being well- managed by two separate third-party auditing systems.
Annual lists of potential timber harvest sites are derived from
multi-year forest management plans for state lands. The plans are
developed by interdisciplinary DNR planning teams with public input,
and based on long-term forest resource management goals.
timber harvest information, contact Jon Nelson, DNR Forestry, 500
Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN, 55155-4044; 651-259-5278;
DNR approves new deer population goals -
June 9, 2015
New deer population
goals have been approved by the Minnesota Department of Natural
Resources for large portions of northeastern, north-central and
east-central Minnesota, covering 40 of 128 deer permit areas in the
“These new goals
will result in management to increase deer numbers in relation to last
year’s levels in most of the 40 permit areas,” said Steve Merchant,
wildlife populations manager. “The new goals largely reflect the
desires shared by stakeholders who participated in the deer goal
setting process and generally reflect the public feedback we’ve heard
during the past few years.”
As a result of
this process, 85 percent of the 40 areas will be managed for
populations higher than those experienced in 2014; the remaining will
see no change.
to former goals
Of the 40 deer permit
areas with new goals, 26 will be managed for deer densities higher
than those established by the previous goals; eight will be managed at
similar densities to former goals; and six will be managed for
densities below former goals. More information about the goals for
each deer permit area can be found at www.mndnr.gov/deer.
With respect to
the four advisory team recommendations not accepted by the DNR, the
agency chose more moderate population increases to better reflect the
preferences suggested by hunter and landowner survey data and public
input; allow more deer to be harvested; and minimize anticipated deer
damage to agricultural lands and forest habitat.
Goals are intended
to be in place for three to five years. The DNR shortened the goal
timeframe to allow more frequent opportunities to revisit and adjust
goals with input from stakeholders.
This is the third
year the DNR has worked with citizens and stakeholders to re-assess
and re-establish deer population goals in portions of the state. Goals
for southwestern and portions of northern Minnesota were set in 2012.
Goals for southeastern Minnesota were set last year.
DNR will postpone
goal setting in the remaining 54 deer permit areas scheduled for
consideration in 2016 until the current legislative audit of
Minnesota’s deer population management program is complete.
about deer goal setting can be found at www.mndnr.gov/deer.
DNR studies muskie to improve fishing for anglers
- June 9, 2015
carefully hoist a huge muskellunge onto a boat. They record its
measurements, identify the sex of the fish, scan an electronic tag
implanted in the muskie and return it to the lake where, one day, it
could take an angler’s lure and provide a long-remembered thrill.
information and studying muskie populations allows the Minnesota
Department of Natural Resources to make well-informed decisions about
how to stock muskie and manage harvest.
“As anglers head into
the muskie season that began June 6, they are enjoying opportunities
that came about largely due to research-based management,” said Don
Pereira, fisheries section chief. “Better information can lead to
better fishing in a state that’s already a renowned muskie fishing
The DNR studies
muskie in a variety of ways, including looking into everything from
muskie ancestry using DNA analysis to how well muskie grow and survive
once they’re stocked in certain southern Minnesota lakes. The research
builds on past work that identified how to best capture and rear a
large-growing native strain of muskie, stock this strain into
appropriate waters, and manage the harvest.
strain is one reason muskie anglers are able to catch fish in the
50-plus inch trophy range,” Pereira said. “There are enough of these
fish in the population that many anglers asked for the change to a
54-inch minimum length on muskie in most waters of the state, which is
in effect this year.”
Along with a growing
interest in muskie fishing, research taking place around the state
aims to fine-tune muskie management.
fisheries: Using DNA to study muskie ancestry
With the help of DNA
analysis, researchers can trace the ancestry of individual fish,
including muskie. The work has real-world management implications.
pretty cool concept. We’re starting to do more of it now on special
projects around the state,” said Doug Schultz, Walker area fisheries
For one study, Walker
area fisheries teamed up with Loren Miller, a fisheries research
geneticist, as well as anglers who were shown how to collect muskie
scale samples for DNA analysis.
The study’s central
question: In Baby and Man lakes in the Walker area, stocking of the
less desirable Shoepack Lake strain of muskie ended in the 1970s. Now,
what is the residual effect of Shoepack strain muskie on the current
muskie population in these two lakes?
“Strain” in fish is
similar to heritage in humans: Fish from a geographic location of
origin tend to have similar physical characteristics that may differ
from those of other locations. From the 1950s to the early 1980s,
muskie from Shoepack Lake were reared and stocked in several Minnesota
lakes, even in lakes where a native muskie population already existed.
later seen that the Shoepack strain grew slower and reached smaller
maximum sizes than the Mississippi strain, which are native
populations connected to the upper Mississippi River drainage system,
including Leech Lake. The use of the Shoepack strain ended in favor of
the faster growing and larger Leech Lake-Mississippi strain.
On Baby and
Man lakes, the study found that Shoepack ancestry declined to only
nine percent, down from 13 percent in 1995. Yet, historical Shoepack
strain stockings are still having an impact on size potential of some
fish in today’s muskie populations.
“This study could set
the stage for future muskie management decisions on lakes with
residual Shoepack ancestry,” Schultz said. “A study using DNA adds a
new level of certainty about the effects of past stocking. That helps
as we take multiple factors into account when making management
decisions aimed at improving opportunities for anglers.”
area fisheries: Tagging and recapturing muskie after new stocking
Muskies were first stocked in 2011 in the Sauk River Chain of Lakes,
giving anglers in the St. Cloud area a chance to fish for muskies
close to home.
For Montrose area
fisheries staff, the stocking offers a rare chance to track the growth
of a new fish population using electronic tags.
“It’s a new fish to
the system. We don’t really know what the growth potential is out
there. It will be neat to find out,” said Joe Stewig, Montrose area
fisheries supervisor. “Some of these fish will be marked, and we will
then be able to track their growth throughout their lives.”
2013, Montrose area staff started implanting electronic tags into
muskies, work paid for through hunting and fishing license dollars and
with financial help from the Hugh C. Becker Foundation through the St.
Cloud chapter of Muskies Inc. After fish are tagged, the goal is to
recapture some of these fish during fall electrofishing, when crews
look specifically for these stocked muskies.
funding, we’ll be able to use these tags to monitor the growth of this
newly established muskie population,” Stewig said. “Using this method
goes above and beyond the standard lake survey.”
fisheries: Tagging muskie to evaluate stocking efforts
To study the
effectiveness of muskie stocking in three Twin Cities metro area
lakes, the DNR’s west metro fisheries staff is working on a muskie
tagging project in partnership with the Muskies, Inc. Twin Cities
Chapter and Hugh C. Becker Foundation.
The study taking
place on Lake Minnetonka, Bald Eagle Lake and White Bear Lake measures
the survival numbers of year-old muskie, called yearlings, and smaller
muskie less than a year old, called fingerlings.
“All three lakes have
high northern pike populations. So we normally don’t stock muskie in
the face of that kind of competition,” said Daryl Ellison, west metro
area fisheries manager. “But there’s an interest in it because they’re
The study results
will help evaluate the DNR’s standard stocking ratio of one yearling
per three fingerlings – important knowledge because yearlings cost
more to stock than fingerlings.
“Initial results seem
to support the 3:1 ratio, but more study is needed,” Ellison said.
“The study was showing some positive results for fingerlings in Lake
fisheries: Studying Fox Lake muskellunge
Fox Lake is
Minnesota’s southernmost muskie lake, and was first stocked with
muskie in 1999. Years later, electronic tags began informing an
ongoing study on muskie in that lake.
Each spring from 2011
to 2013, Windom fisheries staff counted, measured and weighed muskie
captured with nets. They also implanted muskie with electronic tags,
and recorded information about the growth of individual fish already
implanted with a tag from a previous spring.
Starting in 2012,
muskie fingerlings have received electronic tags before they are
stocked into the lake. To date, more than 1,200 muskellunge of varying
sizes have been tagged in Fox Lake.
“Through this study
on Fox Lake, we’ll gain pertinent information on population abundance,
growth and longevity of muskie,” said Nate Hodgins, Windom area
fisheries assistant supervisor. “It will give us a good picture of
muskie populations in similar size and type lakes.”
plans to use the data to help evaluate how Fox and perhaps other lakes
are stocked in smaller, southern Minnesota lakes in the future. They
will be netting muskie and updating Fox Lake population numbers every
two years starting in 2015.
cautions boaters to avoid Upper St. Anthony Falls dam
June 9, 2015
available for paddlers after June 10 lock closure
boaters and paddlers are reminded that as of Wednesday, June 10, the
Upper St. Anthony Falls lock in downtown Minneapolis will permanently
close. Boaters and paddlers should avoid approaching the area from
upstream, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
closure by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was supported by the DNR,
as it will create an important barrier against the spread of invasive
carp in the Mississippi River watershed.
and paddlers are cautioned that the closure will affect navigation
routes and safety conditions above Upper St. Anthony Falls and dam.
In light of these
changed conditions, boaters and paddlers should avoid approaching the
lock, dam and falls area from upstream. Due to strong currents above
the upper falls and dam, paddlers especially need to avoid the area
and should go no further downstream than Flagpole Plaza, just upstream
of the Hennepin Avenue Bridge on the river’s west bank.
“The concern is
that boaters and paddlers will navigate to the area above the dam only
to discover they can no longer lock through,” said Stan Linnell, DNR
boat and water safety manager.
“With the close
proximity of the upper falls and dam to the lock, paddlers may have
extreme difficulty moving back upstream due to strong currents above
the dam, meaning they could be pulled over the dam into the dangerous
recirculating currents below – a typically fatal situation,” Linnell
At a minimum, all watercraft must stay at least 600 feet above the
dam, which is a designated restricted zone. However, Linnell
recommends that, due to the potential for motor failure, boaters
should give the upper falls area a wider berth.
Paddlers who wish to
continue downstream may access a 1.5-mile paved portage route at
Flagpole Plaza. Bohemian Flats, located below Lower St. Anthony Falls
near the University of Minnesota’s pedestrian bridge, will serve as
the downstream put-in location.
The nearest motorized
boat access below Upper St. Anthony Falls is at Hidden Falls, below
the Ford Lock and Dam 1 in St. Paul.
In addition to the
Upper St. Anthony Falls lock closure, boaters and paddlers should be
aware that starting Wednesday, June 10, the Lower St. Anthony Falls
lock and Lock and Dam 1 will operate on a reduced schedule, from 10
a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.
As with Upper St.
Anthony Falls, watercraft may not navigate within the 600-foot
restricted zone above either dam or within the 150-foot zone below the
dams. However, safety officials recommend boaters and paddlers avoid
the short stretch of river between the upper and lower falls due to
frequently turbulent conditions.
Any boaters or
paddlers who are inadvertently caught in the strong current above a
waterfall or dam should attempt to reach shore as soon as possible,
and should not try to paddle across the current. The DNR strongly
recommends that boaters and paddlers always wear a life jacket,
especially when on water with strong currents, dams, or other
inherently dangerous characteristics.
For more information
about boating and water safety on the Mississippi River, including a
map of the new portage route and the Metro Area Rivers Guide, visit
www.mndnr.gov/boatingsafety, or call the DNR’s Boat and Water Safety
Unit at 651-259-5400.
Newest state record fish hooked in Root River,
8 is turning into a red-letter date for angler Chad Wentzel.
Last year on that
day, Wentzel landed the state record golden redhorse. A year later to
the day, on the bank of the Root River in Fillmore County, he broke
his own state record by one ounce.
resident used 8-pound test line and worms as bait. He left the rig on
the bottom to catch a 4-pound, 1-ounce golden redhorse that the
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed as a new state
with a group of fellow anglers who target all sorts of fish beyond
walleye, bass and panfish,” said Mike Kurre, who coordinates the state
record fish program for the DNR.
“Indeed, there are
many types of fish to catch in Minnesota. We keep state records on
five types of redhorse alone, and in all there are state records for
62 species of fish.”
State records are
measured by weight. To certify a fish as a record:
- Take it to a
DNR fisheries office for positive identification.
- Fill out a
record fish application.
- Locate a
state-certified scale (found at most bait shops and butcher
- Weigh the
fish with two witnesses present.
- Send a clear,
full-length photo of the fish with the application to the address
listed on the application form.
form and guidelines can be found online under the list of state-record
fish at www.mndnr.gov/fishing/staterecords.html. The list is also
published on page 83 of the 2015 Minnesota Fishing Regulations
Cooke State Park celebrates 100 years with special programs -
June 4, 2015
The public is invited to
attend a special event on Saturday, June 13, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to celebrate
the 100th anniversary of Jay Cooke State Park, located south of Duluth. A formal
program will take place at 1 p.m. with DNR Parks and Trails Division Director
Erika Rivers, followed by a cake cutting and refreshments.
The event will feature a river
theme to highlight the ecological and historical importance of the St. Louis
River, which flows through the park. Visitors will have an opportunity to
participate in activity stations that explore plants, animals, history,
recreation, invasive species and water quality. Activities will be ongoing, and
visitors can visit the stations of interest to them.
“It’s not every year that a
state park turns 100, so we’ve been celebrating with special programs
throughout the year,” said Kris Hiller, park naturalist. “More activities are
planned for July and September, and for the park’s actual birthday on October
18, the date when the land acquisition was finalized.”
Jay Cooke State Park was
originally established in 1915 when a group of local citizens spearheaded the
effort to secure a land donation of 2,350 acres from the Great Northern Power
Company, now known as Minnesota Power. Today the park is 8,818 acres and is
widely known for its iconic Swinging Bridge, unique river rock formations,
trails and campground.
The 100th anniversary event is
being held in conjunction with National Get Outdoors Day, a day when vehicle
permit fees ($5) are waived at all Minnesota state parks and recreation areas.
For more information about
the park, visit www.mndnr.gov/jaycooke.
For more about the free
activities taking place at Jay Cooke State Park and other Minnesota state parks
and recreation areas on National Get Outdoors Day, contact the DNR Information
Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Monday through Friday.
maple trees showing signs of stress -
June 4, 2015
Minnesota Department of
Natural Resources foresters are seeing many silver maples and some elms with
stunted or no leaves and an abundance of seeds this spring. These trees are not
dead and will rebound over the next couple of years. The DNR encourages proper
tree care and patience.
“Silver maples from Minnesota
to Ohio are experiencing this phenomenon,” said Brian Schwingle, DNR forest
health specialist. “Environmental stressors and natural cycles of large seed
production are factors in this situation.”
The large production of seeds
means less energy is available for leaf development, causing stunted and sparse
patches of leaves. Such conditions happen periodically with elms, maples, ashes
Watering trees during periods of drought is important. The best way to water an
established tree is to slowly apply water once a week for four to eight hours in
the tree’s dripline (area underneath the canopy). This can be done by moving
around a hose that is trickling water under the tree’s canopy or laying drip
tubing on the ground under the tree’s canopy.
Fertilizing stressed trees is
To learn more about tree care,
visit the DNR’s tree care Web page at
will attempt to travel entire Minnesota River in 1 day -
June 4, 2015
hope to see an unprecedented number of canoes and kayaks on the Minnesota River
on Saturday, June 13 (National Get Outdoors Day).
“The goal will be to paddle
every navigable river mile of the Minnesota River,” said Alex Watson, a regional
naturalist for the Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails Division and
one of the event’s organizers. “The Minnesota River is 318 miles long, though,
so we will need as many paddlers as we can get.”
Participants can paddle a
section of the river on their own that day or join one of the following
organized paddles that will take place all along the river, from the headwaters
at Big Stone Lake State Park in Ortonville to its confluence with the
Mississippi River at Fort Snelling State Park in St. Paul:
County Park to Vicksburg County Park (13 miles or about 5 hours).
and kayaks available, or bring your own.
o Group leader: Peg
Furshong, Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) Events and Adventures
o How to register: Call 1-877-269-2873 or email
- Memorial Park
to Upper Sioux Agency State Park (8 miles or about 2.5 hours).
Bring your own canoe or
kayak (no wooden canoes).
o Group leader: Brian
Wojtalewicz, CURE board member.
o How to register: Call
1-877-269-2873 or email
- Judson to Land
of Memories Park (11.5 miles or about 3 hours).
Bring your own canoe or
leader: Brad Nawrocki, Mankato Paddling and Outing Club.
o How to register: Call
- Mack Lake
County Park to Fort Ridgley State Park (8.5 miles or about 5
canoes available, or bring your own canoe or kayak.
o Group leader: Scott
Kudelka, naturalist, Minneopa State Park.
o How to register: Call
507-384-8890 or email
- 35W Bridge to
downtown St. Paul (email for trip details).
Limited canoes available,
or bring your own canoe or kayak.
o Group leader: Natalie
Warren, Wild River Academy.
o How to register: Email
- Big Stone
National Wildlife Refuge (3 miles or about 4 hours).
Bring your own canoe or
leader: Alice Hanley, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
o How to register: Call
320-273-2500 or email
Watson asks anyone planning
to paddle a different section of the river to let him know in advance by sending
an email to email@example.com or by leaving a message at
507-359-6062. That will help organizers keep track of which sections of the
river are “spoken for,” and which sections are still in need of paddlers.
Participants should also email or call at the end of the day on June 13 to
confirm how many miles they paddled, along with their put-in and take-out
For more information,
contact the group leaders, visit www.mndnr.gov/riverinaday or call the DNR
Information Center at 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through
Roadsides are important
habitat for pollinators and pheasants -
June 4, 2015
People who own or manage land
along Minnesota roads and highways are urged to delay roadside mowing until the
beginning of August, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
“A quarter to a third
of all the pheasants in the state are hatched in roadsides,” said Nicole Davros,
DNR upland game project leader. “Roadsides provide more than 500,000 acres of
nesting and chick-rearing habitat in southern and western Minnesota.”
This year, pheasants
will be hatching mostly in early- to mid-June. Chicks need at least two to three
weeks to have any chance of escape from mowers. While mowing can delay or
prevent nesting, so can other disturbances including burning, tilling, grazing
and spraying herbicides.
“People can influence the
abundance of local wildlife populations by protecting roadside habitat in the
summer months,” Davros said. “Roadside vegetation is especially important in
intensively row cropped regions where there is little other undisturbed
grassland habitat available.”
At sites where noxious weeds
are a problem, the DNR recommends that landowners use spot mowing or spraying
for treatment. If landowners are worried about traffic safety, mowing should be
limited to a narrow strip adjacent to their mailbox or driveway to reduce the
likelihood of disturbing a nest or brood.
Pheasant hens will make from
one to four attempts at nesting during the spring nesting season, but will only
hatch one brood per year. The majority of nests (about 60 percent) hatch in
June, but re-nesting attempts can stretch the nesting season out through July.
By Aug. 1, the reproductive season is over for most pheasants with the exception
of a few late re-nesting attempts.
A nesting hen lays eggs at a
rate of about one per day. Nests contain an average of 10 to 12 eggs. The
incubation period is 23 to 28 days and starts after all eggs have been laid. The
hen remains on the nest, leaving only briefly to feed.
of roadside habitat
Roadsides also provide
important habitat for mallards, teal, gray partridge, grassland songbirds,
pollinators, frogs and turtles.
Roadsides with native
wildflowers benefit native bees. Research has shown that the width of the
roadside and the proximity to traffic does not matter to bees. Minnesota bee
keepers place a high value on roadside wildflowers. Loss of habitat is a
critical cause of the decline in both wild bees and honeybees.
For more information see
www.mndnr.gov/roadsidesforwildlife or contact the DNR Information Center at
651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.
June 6-14 is
All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Week -
June 4, 2015
The Minnesota Department of
Natural Resources reminds all-terrain vehicle (ATV) operators about safety
training opportunities. June 6-14 is All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Week in
Over 600,000 ATVs are used
in Minnesota by men, women and children for outdoor recreation and work. State
law requires that anyone born after July 1, 1987, complete ATV safety training
if they are 12 or older and want to ride on public land, trails, and frozen
waters. Safety training is also available for adults.
In the last five years, 85
Minnesotans have lost their lives in ATV accidents.
Many fatalities could be
avoided if people followed safety guidelines and took safety training, said
Acting Capt. Jon Paurus, DNR education program coordinator.
“ATVs require special
knowledge and training to be operated safely," Paurus said. He emphasized the
importance of safety training for everyone, regardless of age.
Anyone born after July 1,
1987, and who is 16 years of age or older who wants to operate an ATV on public
lands in Minnesota, must successfully complete the independent study ATV Safety
Training CD. Youth ages 12-15 must complete the ATV Safety Training CD and
attend a safety class before riding on public lands. Youth and adult ATV
training CDs are available by calling 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.
The DNR offers the
following guidelines for reducing risks involved with ATVs:
- ATV operators less than
18 years old must wear an approved safety helmet, except when operating on
private property. To prevent head injuries, everyone should wear a helmet.
- ATVs are not toys and
can be hazardous to operate. Supervise young riders at all times.
- An ATV handles
differently from other vehicles. Even routine maneuvers, such as turning and
driving on hills and over obstacles, can lead to serious injury if the
driver fails to take proper precautions. With preparation and practice,
operators can safely develop and expand their riding skills.
- Youth need to “fit” the
machine. A 60- to- 120 pound youth and a 400-pound ATV are a mismatch.
- More information can be
found in the 2014-2015 Off-Highway Vehicle Regulations booklet at
DNR seeks to expand dialogue about state’s
pike problems -
June 1, 2015
Excited to catch a
big northern pike at the cabin near Brainerd, an angler casts a lure
all week, yet, day after day, only has success in reeling in skinny,
In the Boundary
Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a large pike strikes bait not far from
the rocky shore of an island. With the fish landed, the angler
debates whether to keep it for dinner.
On a lake bordered
by farm fields, a teenager hooked on fishing has constant action
from largemouth bass and panfish but long-ago gave up on casting
fruitlessly for pike that are few and far between.
illustrate pike problems in different parts of Minnesota. In hopes
of improving northern pike fishing, the Minnesota Department of
Natural Resources wants to expand the dialogue with anglers and
darkhouse spearers about the problems.
One concept the DNR
will discuss entails creating three pike fishing zones that could
solve unique challenges with pike in northeastern, north-central and
“There is no
one-size-fits-all when it comes to effective pike regulations,” said
Don Pereira, DNR fisheries section chief. “However, a zone concept,
if enacted, could protect large pike in the northeast, increase pike
populations in the south and eventually solve the problem of an
over-abundance of small pike in north-central Minnesota.”
In hopes of
engaging anglers and spearers about the zone concept, the DNR has
developed a Web page at www.mndnr.gov/pike that includes a video
outlining the concept, frequently asked questions, a comment form
and a space where people can sign up to receive information via
During the coming
summer months, the pike page will expand to include presentations on
the idea and include times and places of meetings where people can
hear more, ask questions and offer informal comments.
people who spear fish from a darkhouse is an important consideration,
Pereira said. DNR has started dialog with leaders of the Minnesota
Darkhouse & Angling Association to determine what regulations may work
to conserve and improve their sport as well.
“The DNR manages pike
fisheries in more than 3,000 lakes,” Pereria said. “With good dialogue
and support from anglers, spearers and all of our stakeholders, we
should be able to improve pike fishing for those who are
harvest-oriented as well as those keen about pursuing trophy northern
So what is the pike
problem in Minnesota? There isn’t just one problem – or one solution –
because pike populations differ in various regions of the state.
objective is to manage pike as a fish for harvest. We’re asking
anglers and spearers to consider a change in direction from the
regulations we now have in hopes of making pike populations healthier
and improving fishing in the future,” Pereira said.
In the northeast,
pike are present in relatively low numbers. They reproduce naturally.
Although they grow slowly, they can grow quite large because
relatively few anglers scatter limited fishing pressure across a large
number of lakes.
In this area,
overharvest of large fish would be detrimental to pike populations.
northeast, there are large fish in the population,” Pereira said. “A
zone concept could aim to protect these fish while continuing to allow
opportunity to harvest smaller pike. A change such as this would not
increase the pike population.”
In the southern area
of the state, pike are less abundant and don’t reproduce as well as in
the north. Southern Minnesota has high fishing pressure and a high
harvest rate relative to the number of pike; however, these fish grow
Minnesota, we could increase pike numbers and harvest opportunities
through supplemental stocking, a minimum size limit and a two-fish bag
limit,” Pereira said. “Anglers in such a scenario would harvest fewer
fish but they would be larger, and the total pounds of pike harvested
would remain about the same. Anglers would be catching larger fish
within a year or two.”
area is plagued by too many small pike, also known as the
hammer-handle problem. There is moderate to high fishing pressure and
high harvest of large and medium size pike. Pike grow slowly here. An
over-abundance of small pike is the result.
small pike eat large numbers of perch, which may have a negative
effect on panfish populations. Overabundant pike also eat stocked
walleyes, reducing the effectiveness of walleye stocking. And small
pike eat proportionately more than big pike – for example, 10
one-pound pike eat significantly more than one 10-pound pike.
Minnesota has the hammer-handle pike problem to the detriment of not
only pike but also stocked walleye, perch and panfish,” Pereira said.
“With any new regulations, we would hope to see a gradual but moderate
increase in the average size of pike.”
A zone concept,
depending on what shape it takes, would be unlikely to create more
trophy pike, as there are already special regulations that achieve
that goal on individual lakes. The zone concept would leave existing
special and experimental regulations in place.
“We want to improve
northern pike fishing in the entire state, but pike populations are
vastly different in different areas of the state. DNR technical
experts are working to determine which regulations may work best and
will be talking with anglers and stakeholders this summer and fall,”
www.mndnr.gov/pike for updated information about the proposal,
including frequently asked questions, maps with zone locations and
pike densities and information on how to comment.
seeks input on 3 proposed hunting regulations changes -
June 1, 2015
Anyone interested in
small-game hunting can give input on three hunting topics to the
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources through Friday, June 19,
www.mndnr.gov/wildlifeinput, or in writing.
The survey covers
the following proposals:
- Reducing the
bag limit for white-tailed jack rabbits from the current daily
combined limit of 10 to one. This change would only affect the bag
limit on jack rabbits and would not affect the bag limit on
cottontail rabbits or snowshoe hares.
the small game possession limit on all species (except turkeys) to
three times the daily limit. Currently some species are two times
the daily limit while others are three times.
electric trolling motors on three migratory waterfowl feeding and
resting areas in Le Sueur County.
Take a Kid Fishing Weekend is June 5-7 -
June 1, 2015
It’s Take a Kid
Fishing Weekend in Minnesota, June 5-7, according to the Department of
three-day period, Minnesotans age 16 or older do not need a fishing
license while taking a child age 15 or younger fishing.
information on how, when and where to fish, see the DNR’s Fish
Minnesota page at www.mndnr.gov/fishmn.
shallow lakes program supervisor gets national recognition -
June 1, 2015
to manage shallow lakes received national attention in May when
Department of Natural Resources employee Nicole Hansel-Welch received
the Blue-winged Teal Award from the North American Waterfowl
Management Plan Committee.
“This award is a big
deal, and Hansel-Welch is very deserving for her work guiding the
shallow lakes program, which provides better habitat for ducks and
other wildlife,” said Ricky Lien, wetland habitat team supervisor for
the Minnesota DNR . “She not only undertakes ground-level work on
complex habitat projects, but she is able to formulate effective and
common sense policy that continues to make the program a model among
Minnesota has more
than 5,000 shallow lakes greater than 50 acres in size. These lakes,
generally less than 15 feet deep, contain abundant aquatic plants and
provide the most important wildlife habitat. Hansel-Welch, DNR shallow
lakes program supervisor, and her staff manage these lakes to provide
wildlife habitat, clear murky waters, increase aquatic vegetation and
provide food and cover for wildlife.
The committee, an
international body that provides leadership on waterfowl conservation
and management, annually selects award recipients based on activities
that substantially benefit waterfowl, other wetland-associated
migratory bird populations or wetland habitats.
fortunate to have Hansel-Welch and her broad knowledge of enhancement
of permanent wetlands guiding the shallow lakes program,” said Ed
Boggess, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division director. “She approaches her
work in a highly professional manner and succeeds on multiple levels
in a program that often manages more than 200,000 acres of permanent
wetlands each year.”
The North American
Waterfowl Management Plan is an international strategy for conserving
migratory waterfowl throughout the continent. Canada and the United
States signed the plan in 1986; Mexico joined in 1994.
The success of the
plan is directly related to the contributions of dedicated partners –
both individuals and groups. The Blue-winged Teal award is meant to
give recognition to their work.
More information on
the awards and previous winners is available on the U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Service website at
Information about the DNR’s shallow lakes program is available online
now crossing roads to find a place to nest -
June 1, 2015
Department of Natural Resources is reminding people that turtles
crossing roads now are often moving to familiar nesting locations.
Allowing turtles to cross the roads is vital to the preservation of
“Many turtles and
other species are killed on Minnesota roads each year, especially
during the nesting season,” said Carol Hall, DNR herpetologist. “In
fact, roadway mortality is believed to be a major factor in turtle
population declines throughout the United States.”
where all turtles are mainly aquatic, overland journeys usually occur:
in connection with seasonal movements between different wetland
habitats; during the annual early summer nesting migration of egg
laden females; or when newly hatched youngsters seek out the
backwaters and ponds for their permanent home. Turtles can travel many
miles during a single year, and may even be found far from water.
Giving turtles a
The following points should be remembered:
- Think safety.
Simply pulling off the road and turning on hazard lights may alert
other drivers to slow down. Be aware of surroundings and traffic.
excessive handling. While wanting to inspect turtles closely is
understandable, excessive handling can disrupt normal behavior.
Prolonged examination of turtles should be limited to only one or
two individuals of each species.
unassisted road crossings. When turtles can safely cross roads
unaided due to a lack of oncoming traffic, allow them to do so.
Observe from a distance and avoid rapid movements, as doing
otherwise will often cause turtles to change direction, stop, or
seek shelter within their shells.
turtles gently. If necessary to pick them up, all turtles except
Snappers and Softshells ("leatherbacks" - see link for more
information on these species that may bite when picked up) should
be grasped gently along the shell edge near the mid-point of the
body. Many turtles empty their bladder when lifted off the ground,
so be careful not to drop them if they should suddenly expel
direction of travel. Always move turtles in the same direction
they were traveling in when encountered. Turtles should always be
moved across roadways in as direct a line as possible. It may seem
helpful to "assist" the turtle in its journey by moving them to a
nearby waterbody, but it is important to remember the phrase, "If
you care, leave it there."
- Document the
find. Help document turtle crossing and mortality areas by
participating in the Minnesota Turtle Crossing Tally & Count
parks departments can help turtles by not mowing ditches during peak
nesting season (typically late May to early July in Minnesota), as
many turtles like to nest on the elevated roadway shoulders. If mowing
is absolutely necessary, an 8-inch deck-height is recommended. For
more information, visit
Grand opening for
Brown’s Creek State Trail will include a week-long celebration
- May 28, 2015
A week of events will
celebrate the grand opening of Brown’s Creek State Trail, starting with a
ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 6 (National Trails Day) in the parking
lot east of Highway 95 and Elm Street in Stillwater, according to the
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Kids are invited to decorate
their bikes with provided supplies at 9:30 a.m. and then line up to be the first
to ride the trail after the ribbon-cutting. Refreshments and naturalist
activities will follow the ribbon-cutting.
“Brown’s Creek State Trail is a
beautiful 6-mile addition to the Minnesota state parks and trails system,” said
Erika Rivers, the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division director. “We expect it to be
popular with walkers, bikers, in-line skaters and cross-country skiers.”
Rivers and Assistant
Commissioner Sarah Strommen will represent the Minnesota Department of Natural
Resources at the ribbon-cutting. Joining them will be Gary Kriesel, chairman,
Washington County Board of Commissioners; Ted Kozlowski, mayor, city of
Stillwater; Craig Leiser, president of Brown’s Creek Watershed District; Bob
Hagstrom, director, Gateway-Brown’s Creek Trail Association; and others.
Special events later in the
- Sunday, June 7, 1 p.m.:
- Monday, June 8, 1 p.m.:
Nature Through a Camera Lens.
- Tuesday, June 9, 7
a.m.: Birds of Brown’s Creek State Trail.
- Wednesday, June 10, 10
a.m.: Wildflower/Plant Walk.
- Thursday, June 11, 6:30
p.m.: Brown’s Creek Watershed District Ice Cream Social and Trail Ride.
To participate in any of
these events, meet at the Brown’s Creek Nature Preserve, south of McKusick Road
on Neal Avenue in Stillwater.
Brown’s Creek State Trail is
paved from Stillwater to the Gateway State Trail, which continues all the way to
St. Paul. It is part of Minnesota’s extensive state trail system, which includes
nearly 600 miles of paved trails.
For a trail map or more
information, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_trails/browns_creek/index.html or
call the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m.
and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
kid fishing and fish free June 5-7 -
May 28, 2015
Minnesotans age 16 or older
don’t need a fishing license to take a child age 15 or younger fishing on
Friday, June 5, to Sunday, June 7, during Take a Kid Fishing Weekend.
“This is an annual
opportunity to introduce a child to fishing without the prior purchase of a
fishing license,” said Mike Kurre, mentoring program coordinator with the
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “It’s a great weekend to make some
memories and go fishing with family and friends.”
For those new to fishing, the
DNR’s Fish Minnesota Web page at www.mndnr.gov/fishmn answers basic fishing
questions and explains fishing terminology. The site also includes links to a
beginner’s guide to fishing, fishing regulations and information on where to
incredibly rewarding to watch a kid smile ear-to-ear while they reel in a fish,”
Kurre said. “Kids love fishing, and at your fingertips there are resources that
make it easier to learn how to fish and teach others.”
Fishing classes from the DNR’s
I Can Fish! program run throughout the summer at state parks. And even when it’s
not Take a Kid Fishing Weekend, Minnesota residents generally can fish in state
parks without a fishing license if the body of water doesn’t require a trout
to state park fishing information, the beginner’s guide to fishing and more, see
the DNR’s Take a Kid Fishing page at www.mndnr.gov/takeakidfishing.
ATV riders can explore Minnesota trails free June 5-7
- May 28, 2015
Minnesotans with an
all-terrain vehicle (ATV) registered for private or agricultural use won’t need
to pay the additional registration fee ($53.50 for three years) to ride the
state’s public ATV trails June 5-7, according to the Minnesota Department of
Out-of-state riders can explore
Minnesota ATV trails that weekend as well, without the need for a nonresident
trail pass ($21 annually). This is the second year that Minnesota is providing
ATV riders with free access to more than 3,000 miles of state forest and
grant-in-aid trails during “No Registration Weekend.”
“We see this weekend as a great
opportunity to showcase the wide variety of state and grant-in-aid trails across
Minnesota,” said Mary Straka, off-highway vehicle (OHV) program consultant.
“There are a large number of privately registered ATVs across the state that,
during this weekend, can give the public trails a try for free.”
Some places to start, according
to Straka, include:
- The Iron Range
Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area, a 1,200-acre OHV park in Gilbert
with 36 miles of scenic trails for riders of all abilities.
- The 100-mile trail
system in Nemadji State Forest, which connects to the Matthew Lourey State
Trail and the Gandy Dancer Trail for more riding opportunities.
- The 29-mile Spider Lake
trail system in Foot Hills State Forest, where riders will curve around
lakes and ponds, go up and down a variety of hills, and view overlooks from
the ridges throughout the forest.
- The 200-mile Northwoods
Regional Trail System in Aitkin and Itasca counties, where riders will use
the Soo Line Trail to connect to great communities and trail loops.
These and other riding
destinations are featured in an OHV Trail Atlas available for free from the DNR.
The atlas includes maps, descriptions, parking and other information for 54
state and GIA trails for ATVs, off-highway motorcycles and off-road vehicles.
Minnesota DNR and
National Guard combat wildfires - May 28,
With a Department of Natural
Resources Air Attack operator in a helicopter pointing out the targets, two
Minnesota Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopters assaulted a series of
controlled grass fires this month at Camp Ripley.
The DNR and the National
Guard have been training together with live fires since 2001, but for the first
time a DNR Enforcement helicopter is being used to direct the Black Hawks to
their targets. The DNR helicopter is ideal for serving as an aerial supervision
platform, guiding the Black Hawks.
“This cooperative effort is an
excellent example of a partnership designed to improve firefighting
efficiencies, as well as contain air support costs,” said Capt. Tom Buker, DNR
Enforcement Division chief pilot.
The fires were deliberately
set to increase proficiency in delivering water to a fireline, to use proper
communication procedures for airspace coordination around a fire traffic area or
dip site, and to practice air/ground coordination, according to Darren Neuman,
acting DNR Forestry Division helicopter operations specialist.
Guard helicopters use
buckets, known by the trademarked name of Bambi Buckets, to scoop up water from
lakes, ponds, and rivers that are deep enough for the bucket to be submerged.
The collapsible buckets,
which are hung underneath the Black Hawk helicopters, can dump 640 gallons or
5,120 pounds of water on a fire each time they are used, a boon to DNR
“The National Guard
helicopters can be mobilized within hours,” Neuman said. “The next helicopters
that can deliver that amount of water are at least one or two days travel time
Two National Guard Black
Hawks were used in April for water bucket missions at the Palsburg wildfire in
Beltrami Island State Forest near Warroad.
At the controls of the DNR
helicopter was Brad Maas, a retired chief warrant officer with the Guard who
deployed to Iraq in 2007. Also onboard was DNR Forestry Air Attack operator who
coordinated the drops and locations for the National Guard aircraft. Maas was in
charge of positioning the helicopter so the Air Attack could view the operation.
“Air Attack helps advise the
ground folks of incoming drops, where to hit the fire next, plus handle any
problems if the fire unexpectedly takes off in a different direction,” said
Each spring, Minnesota Army
National Guard helicopter crews retrain and recertify on how to attach the
buckets to Black Hawk helicopters, and then practice picking up and dumping
“The objective is to
integrate the Minnesota Guard air assets into a fire scenario in a training
environment, so when they are mobilized for an actual fire they are better
prepared,” said Col. Shawn Manke, the Guard’s state aviation officer. “It also
allows us to understand expectations and integrate with our interagency
partners, allowing us to more efficiently and effectively respond to civil
Manke said that all Guard
crews must be of the highest readiness level before they are allowed to respond
to a fire. This training entails all flight modes with mission tasks that
include sling loads and water bucket training, with an emphasis on crew
coordination. Additionally, required classroom training is taught by the DNR,
Guard instructor pilots, or through online independent study.
“Once prerequisite field and
classroom training is completed, we conduct hands-on training with the DNR,”
Minnesota National Guard
aviators have a good working relationship with the DNR.
“The training we facilitate
through collaboration increases the readiness of the Minnesota National Guard,
and it provides a capable force for the DNR to respond to fire threats when
required,” Manke said.
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