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Learn mountain-biking basics at Cuyuna Country SRA - July 6, 2015

bike

Experience the fun of mountain biking during introductory programs on Saturday, July 25, and Saturday, Aug. 29, at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area in Ironton, about 140 miles northwest of the Twin Cities. Three I Can Mountain Bike! sessions will take place each day, from 9 to 11:30 a.m., from noon to 2:30 p.m. and from 3 to 5:30 p.m.

During the first half of the program, participants will practice shifting, braking and body position
in a wide open setting. During the second half, they’ll take a guided ride and explore the single-track mountain bike trails.

Use of bikes and helmets will be included with the $25 per person registration fee. A Minnesota state parks vehicle permit ($5/day or $25/year) is also required to enter the park. Children must be at least 10 years old to participate and should be able to comfortably ride a bike on pavement prior to attending this program. Anyone under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Reservations are required and can be made online or by phone.

  • CLICK: www.mndnr.gov/reservations (24 hours a day).
  • CALL: 866-857-2757 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily, excluding holidays.

I Can Mountain Bike! is part of a series of skill-building programs offered by the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. Other programs in the series introduce camping, fishing, rock climbing, paddling and archery to beginners.

“If you’d like to create some unforgettable outdoor experiences with your kids but don’t know how to get started, the I Can! skill-building programs are designed for you,” said Erika Rivers, Parks and Trails Division director. “Minnesota has amazing state parks, trails and water trails, and we want to spark interest in more families to get out and enjoy them.”

The I Can! programs are made possible with support from the Parks and Trails Fund, created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008. The Parks and Trails Fund receives 14.25 percent of the three-eighths percent sales tax revenue that may only be spent to support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance.

For more information about the I Can Climb! or any of the other I Can! programs, visit www.mndnr.gov/ican or contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Zebra mussels confirmed in Fish Trap Lake in Morrison County - July 6, 2015

Zebra mussels have been confirmed in Fish Trap Lake near the city of Motley in Morrison County, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Fish Trap Lake will be designated as zebra mussel infested.

On June 30, a lake user reported a zebra mussel attached to a submerged tree branch near shore in Fish Trap Lake that was later confirmed by a DNR aquatic invasive species (AIS) specialist. DNR staff surveyed the lake Thursday and found an established population of adult zebra mussels in widespread areas of the lake. As such, this infestation would not be a candidate for treatment. Treatment methods have recently been used in other lakes with newly reported, isolated populations in shallow waters. More detailed surveys of Fish Trap Lake will be conducted this week.


“Fish Trap Lake is the first lake in Morrison County to be confirmed with zebra mussels,” said Christine Jurek, DNR invasive species specialist in Sauk Rapids. “This new infestation underscores the need for continued diligence in complying with the state’s laws to prevent and curb the spread of invasive species. Boaters and anglers need to be extra vigilant in ensuring their boat and equipment are clean before leaving a lake access, and to contact the DNR right away if they find suspicious aquatic animals or plants.”

The vast majority of Minnesota lakes are not infested by any aquatic invasive species, and less than one-quarter of one percent of Minnesota lakes are known to have zebra mussels. Likewise, most Minnesota anglers and boaters follow the aquatic invasive species laws and do their part to prevent the spread of invasive species. Under law, boaters are required to clean weeds and debris from their boats, remove drain plugs and keep them out while traveling, and dispose of unused bait in the trash.

When a report is made to the DNR, the first step is to confirm that it is an invasive species by obtaining the sample from the individual who discovered it. Once identified, DNR staff immediately survey shorelines and lake bottoms near the reported discovery site in an attempt to confirm the infestation. Sometimes divers are used to search deeper waters.

Jurek offers these suggestions to anyone who thinks they may have made a discovery:

  • Place specimen in a bag or other container to keep it intact.
  • Take a photo of the suspected invasive species.
  • Mark on a lake map or GPS the exact location where the specimen was found.
  • Contact a local DNR office immediately to arrange transport to the office. DNR regulations allow transport of vegetation and animals to field offices for identification purposes.
  • Email a photo and the location of possible discovery to a local DNR office.

Unless it is a sample being transported directly to a DNR office for identification, Minnesota law prohibits the possession or transport of any aquatic invasive species in the state.

Some aquatic invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. Along with the clean, drain, dispose steps required by law, spraying or drying a boat helps prevent the spread of small species. To remove or kill them before moving to another body of water, especially after leaving zebra mussel or spiny waterflea infested waters, the DNR recommends that boaters either:

  • Spray boat with high-pressure water;
  • Rinse boat with hot water (120 degrees for two minutes, or 140 degrees for 10 seconds); or
  • Dry boat and equipment for at least five days.

More information about zebra mussels, how to inspect boats and other water-related equipment, and a current list of designated infested waters is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/ais.


Wildlife Drive opening July 18 at Roseau River Wildlife Management Area - July 6, 2015

The 27-mile “Wildlife Drive” through the Roseau River Wildlife Management Area (WMA), 20 miles northwest of Roseau, will be open to vehicular travel July 18-26 and the following weekends through Aug. 16. The drive traverses wetland, woodland, brushland and farmland habitats, providing visitors ample opportunity to see wildlife.

Roseau River WMA is one of the viewing stops along the Pine to Prairie Birding Trail, which consists of 45 sites spanning a 223-mile corridor from pine to prairie in the northwestern part of the state. These sites offer some of the most spectacular birding in the state, along with scenic beauty and friendly communities.

The viewing route also cuts through the northern reaches of the Juneberry 3 wildfire, which burned an area in excess of 30,000 acres in October 2011.
The fire opened up stands of woody vegetation, creating new foraging sites for birds and mammals and improving nesting cover for a wide array of birds for years to come.

Approximately 149 bird species breed within the Roseau River WMA. Yellow rails, horned grebes and Western grebes are a few of the rare breeding species found within the area’s vast wetlands. Along the drive you may also encounter trumpeter swans, loons, white pelicans, sandhill cranes, great blue herons, eagles, a variety of ducks and other water birds, sedge wrens, yellow warblers, Nelson’s sharp-tailed sparrows, black bears, deer, beaver, otter, muskrat, red fox, gray wolf and the occasional moose.

Aside from excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, the WMA “pools” offer spectacular year-round northern pike fishing opportunities. Visitors typically fish along the dike roads or near the water control structures. When the dike roads are closed to motorists, visitors can bike to Pool 1 West or Pool 2 from the parking areas. During the waterfowl hunting season only, motorboats of 10 horsepower or less may be used on the Roseau River WMA.

The Wildlife Drive can be easily accessed at the main dike road, located one and three-quarter miles south of the WMA headquarters on Roseau County Road 3. Only motor vehicles licensed for use on public highways are legally permitted to operate on this road. Motorists are urged to use caution due to narrow roads, soft shoulders, deep ditches and two-way traffic. The speed limit on all WMA roads is 20 mph. Note that the wildlife drive may be closed due to inclement weather or road construction.

For more information, contact or stop by the Roseau River WMA office to pick up a bird list, maps, fishing regulations and additional information before your visit: 218-463-1130, 27952 400th St., Roseau, MN 56751, or visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/wmas/.
                                                                    


Apply for mentored youth waterfowl hunts by Aug. 10 - July 6, 2015

Youth ages 12 to 15 can apply for the chance to hunt waterfowl under the guidance of experienced mentors on Minnesota Youth Waterfowl Day, Saturday, Sept. 12.

“Mentored hunts teach youth the skills needed for safe and enjoyable hunting, and they gain an appreciation of the interconnection between land, water and wildlife,” said Mike Kurre, mentoring program coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR has teamed up with Ducks Unlimited, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Minnesota Horse & Hunt Club to offer the hunts, which will take place in six areas:

  • Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge near Detroit Lakes.
  • Southern Twin Cities metro area locations.
  • Morris Wildlife Production Area near Morris.
  • Sherburne County private land between Fairmont and Windom.
  • Private land in Fergus Falls.
  • Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge near Zimmerman.

Application forms must be received at the DNR central office by Monday, Aug. 10. Applicants will be drawn in a lottery, with preference given to novice hunters. Applicants will be notified within two weeks of the hunt, and those chosen must attend an orientation on Friday, Sept. 11.

More information and an application form can be found at www.mndnr.gov/discover by clicking on “Mentored Youth Waterfowl Hunt.”


DNR seeks comment on Solid Bottom Creek Restoration Project - July 6, 2015

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is accepting public comment on an environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) prepared for the Solid Bottom Creek Restoration Project in Becker County.

Solid Bottom Creek is a trout stream in Becker County that is eroding a steep hillside, contributing sediment to the stream and Elbow Lake. The DNR is proposing to move the stream away from the hillside to reduce erosion and improve habitat conditions for brook trout and other species. The agency will take comments during a 30-day public review from July 6 to Aug. 5.

A copy of the EAW is available online at www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/index.html. Under “Environmental Review,” select “Solid Bottom Creek Restoration Project” from the scroll-down list. A hard copy may be requested by calling 651-259-5082.
The EAW is available for public review at:

  • DNR Library, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.
  • DNR Northwest Region, 2220 Bemidji Ave. Bemidji, MN 56601.
  • Minneapolis Central Library, Government Documents, 2nd Floor, 300 Nicollet Mall.

The EAW notice will be published in the July 6 EQB Monitor. Written comments must be submitted no later than 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 5, to the attention of Kate Frantz, EAW project manager, Environmental Policy and Review Unit, Ecological and Water Resources Division, DNR, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4025.

Electronic or email comments may be sent to environmentalrev.dnr@state.mn.us with “Solid Bottom Creek Restoration Project EAW” in the subject line. If submitting comments electronically, include name and mailing address. Written comments may also be sent by fax to 651-296-1811.


DNR seeks comment on lock and dam erosion repair project - June 19

The Minnesota 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 available at:

  • DNR Library, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155.
  • DNR Central Region, 1200 Warner Road, St. Paul 55106.
  • Minneapolis 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 environmentalrev.dnr@state.mn.us 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 - June 19

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 planning supervisor.

First, 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 website.

Second, those 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.

The DNR 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.

For statewide timber harvest information, contact Jon Nelson, DNR Forestry, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN, 55155-4044; 651-259-5278; jon.nelson@state.mn.us.


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 state.

“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.

Comparison 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.

Goal-setting process
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.

More information about deer goal setting can be found at www.mndnr.gov/deer.


DNR studies muskie to improve fishing for anglers - June 9, 2015

muskie

Researchers 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.

Collecting 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 destination.”

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.

“This large-growing 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.

Walker area 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.

“It’s a pretty cool concept. We’re starting to do more of it now on special projects around the state,” said Doug Schultz, Walker area fisheries supervisor.

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.

It was 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.”

Montrose 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.”

Beginning in 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.

“With continued 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.”

West metro 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 metro lakes.”
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 Minnetonka.”

Windom area 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.”

Windom fisheries 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.


DNR cautions boaters to avoid Upper St. Anthony Falls dam - June 9, 2015
Portage route available for paddlers after June 10 lock closure

Mississippi River 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.

The lock 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.

However, boaters 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 said.

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, again - June 9, 2015
state record

May 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.

The Minneapolis 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 record.

“Wentzel fishes 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 shops).
  • 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.

The record-fish 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 booklet.


Jay Cooke State Park celebrates 100 years with special programs - June 4, 2015

Jay Cooke State Park

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 info.dnr@state.mn.us or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Silver maple trees showing signs of stress - June 4, 2015

silver maple

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 and oaks.

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 not recommended.

To learn more about tree care, visit the DNR’s tree care Web page at www.dnr.state.mn.us/treecare/caring-pruning.html.


Paddlers will attempt to travel entire Minnesota River in 1 day - June 4, 2015

Minnesota River

Paddling enthusiasts 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:

  • Skalbekken County Park to Vicksburg County Park (13 miles or about 5 hours).
    Limited canoes and kayaks available, or bring your own.
    o Group leader: Peg Furshong, Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) Events and Adventures coordinator.
    o How to register: Call 1-877-269-2873 or email peg@cureriver.org.
  • 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 peg@cureriver.org.
  • Judson to Land of Memories Park (11.5 miles or about 3 hours).
    Bring your own canoe or kayak.
    o Group leader: Brad Nawrocki, Mankato Paddling and Outing Club.
    o How to register: Call 507-340-4459.
  • Mack Lake County Park to Fort Ridgley State Park (8.5 miles or about 5 hours).
    Limited 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 scott.kudelka@state.mn.us.
  • 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 paddle@wildriveracademy.com.
  • Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge (3 miles or about 4 hours).
    Bring your own canoe or kayak.
    o Group leader: Alice Hanley, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
    o How to register: Call 320-273-2500 or email alice.hanley@fws.gov.

Watson asks anyone planning to paddle a different section of the river to let him know in advance by sending an email to alexander.watson@state.mn.us 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 points. 

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 Friday.


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.

Wide-ranging benefits 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 Minnesota.

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 www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/ohv/index.html.


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