Cook County seeking a citizen representative for Parks & Trails Commission

Cook County Land Services is seeking applicants for an At-Large vacancy on the Parks and Trails Commission. This appointment is for a 2-year term.

The Commission holds six regular meetings per calendar year, with special meetings if needed. Meeting dates, times, and locations are determined at the beginning of each year.

The Parks and Trails Commission advises and provides recommendations to the Cook County Board of Commissioners on all matters relating to the planning, development, implementation, and maintenance of parks, trails, recreational programs and facilities on public lands within Cook County in cooperation with other local, state, and federal public entities for the benefit and enjoyment of the residents and visitors of Cook County.

To submit an application, visit the Current Board and Commission Openings page on the county’s website: www.co.cook.mn.us.

Gunflint Mail Run to continue under new leadership

Although the North Shore has had only the briefest of snow flurries, it is time to start thinking of sled dog racing and the Gunflint Mail Run to be held January 7-8, 2016.

A new group of people has stepped forward to ensure the Gunflint Mail Run sled dog race continues. Sarah Hamilton will take over as race director, replacing Jack Stone, who successfully resurrected the race and kept it running for six years.

Under Sarah, a new board has been formed, but continuing will be Arleigh Jorgenson as race marshal and Rick Johnson as trail boss. Odin Jorgenson and Mary Manning will continue to provide organizational input from a musher’s perspective, and Cathy Quinn has agreed to step forward as volunteer coordinator. As always, volunteers are critical to running a successful race.

And, for the 2017 race there will be a guaranteed minimum purse of $10,000.

Mark your calendars now for the start of sled dog season with the Gunflint Mail Run!

DNR to offer new license plate benefitting parks and trails

A specialty license plate benefitting Minnesota state parks and trails will be available starting Thursday, Dec. 1, at Driver and Vehicle Services offices statewide.

The plates provide their owners with unlimited access to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas for the year, replacing the need for a vehicle permit (a $25 value). Proceeds from license plate sales will benefit Minnesota state parks and trails.

The cost of the new plates will start at $60, plus tax. This total includes a one-time $10 fee for the plate itself and a minimum $50 contribution (renewable annually).

“Purchasing the new license plates will be a great way to show everyone on the road that you ‘go the extra mile’ to support Minnesota state parks and trails,” said DNR Parks and Trails Division Director Erika Rivers.

The plate features an image of a canoe on the water, surrounded by Minnesota’s four seasons. Designed by Michelle Vesaas of Coon Rapids, it was chosen from among 80 entries as the winning entry in a contest that took place earlier this year in conjunction with the 125th anniversary of Minnesota state parks and trails. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and the DNR unveiled the winning design on July 6. 

This plate is one of several specialty license plates available from the DNR. There are also nine critical habitat license plates that Minnesotans can purchase – including a loon, moose, deer, and more – to support conservation.

new-license-plate-govdelivery_originalFor more information, visit www.mndnr.gov/plates or 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.

DNR expands information center hours

The Information Center at the Department of Natural Resources is piloting a permanent move to longer phone hours and days. Starting Nov. 2, outdoor enthusiasts can call for information in the evenings and Saturdays.

The move, which provides better customer service, represents a more than 60 percent increase in availability over the usual weekday business hours of 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

“We are very excited to offer this expanded service to the citizens of Minnesota and all our callers,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr.“We want to be available when people may be off work and perhaps even out hunting, fishing, camping or snowmobiling.”

People can get answers to their natural resources questions by dialing 888-MINNDNR (888-646-6367) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

The change is the first phase of a three-year DNR project to tailor information services to customer needs.

“We think better government means more convenient government services and this is a good start,” added Landwehr.

The DNR Information Center has been taking calls since 1982 and receives about 100,000 calls and 25,000 emails every year.

The Information Center, located in the DNR Central Office building at 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, will take phone calls only during the new hours, not in-person visits or license sale requests. The Information Center continues to be open for walk-in visits from 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

 

Deer Hunter License Center open longer
The DNR License Center, at the Central Office building, will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5, for deer opener only, but is otherwise open for calls and in-person visits from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Annual Lake Superior Storm Festival Nov. 11-13

Storm lovers will brave the November gales at the fourth annual Lake Superior Storm Festival to witness the power and beauty of the big lake in Lutsen and Grand Marais, Friday, Nov. 11 through Sunday, Nov. 13.

The family-friendly festival has cool weather events, including a history lesson on shipwrecks on the Big Lake, a fashion show, wave dash, musical performances and more.

“There’s nothing quite like a November gale — wind howling, icy waves lashing the rocks, a shiver of awe running down your spine,” said Linda Kratt director of Visit Cook County. “Whether the lake is stormy or serene, Storm Fest offers plenty of excitement and one last nature’s getaway before holiday activities begin.”

Those who have visited the North Shore during the fall months know that it requires weather-appropriate clothing, as the North Shore’s storm season can get a bit chilly. “Weather-appropriate doesn’t mean boring, it can still be fun and stylish,” says Jack Stone, owner of Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply. Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply in Grand Marais is hosting “Taking Fashion by Storm,” featuring the latest fall inspired outdoor and lifestyle fashion trends on Nov. 11 at 5:30 p.m. The event is free, and donations for the Cook County Food Shelf (canned goods/ non-perishables/money) will be accepted. Stone Harbor’s doors will remain open until 8 p.m. for post-show shopping.

Visitors sip wine and take home a painting with a stormy Lake Superior theme on Friday evening at the Kah- Nee-tah Gallery in Lutsen. The event will be led by local artist Kathy Fox-Weinberg.

The following day, watch as a few brave souls shed their fall clothes before the annual “Wave Dash,” which takes place at noon at Lutsen Resort. This quick and chilly dash into Lake Superior supports the YMCA Member Scholarship Fund and rewards its participants with bragging rights and a logo fleece beanie.

Join local historian Jim Shinners in Lutsen at the Caribou Highlands Mountain View Conference Room at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, as he speaks about theEdmund Fitzgerald and the loss of its 29 crew members during the 1975 storm that claimed it.

Also, author Peter Geye will read a stormy section of his new novel Wintering.He’ll discuss why he chose the North Shore as the setting for all three of his books, and conclude with a Q&A session. The presentation will be held at the Voyageur Brewing Company in Grand Marais, Saturday, Nov. 12 at 4 p.m.

Singer and Songwriter Timmy Haus from northern Minnesota will perform favorites from Gordon Lightfoot including The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Moguls Grille in Lutsen. A dinner after the concert at 7 p.m. will showcase local fare from in and around Lake Superior, and storm-related cocktails and beverages. There will be four courses and each course is paired with a story of a shipwreck on Lake Superior.

Call 218-663-7241 ext. 4507 for more information. Reservations required.

Naturalist program offered at Iona’s Beach SNA on October 28

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Sugarloaf North Shore Stewardship Association are hosting a free naturalist program at Iona’s Beach Scientific and Natural Area on Friday, October 28, from 1 – 3 p.m.

The program, Exploring Lake Superior Geology at Iona’s Beach, will interpret two different types of geologic formations at the site and how they are connected to the larger Lake Superior geologic story. Participants will hear about the unique pink rhyolite tile beach and the geologic forces that created this rare feature.

Advance registration is not required. Participants should meet in the upper parking lot at the Twin Points public water access at 1 p.m. Good hiking shoes are recommended for this hike on uneven surfaces and rocky terrain. The entire program will be held outdoors so participants should dress for the weather and consider bringing bottled water and any necessary snacks for the two hour program.

Iona’s Beach Scientific and Natural area is located on State Highway 61, 3.1 miles north of Gooseberry Falls State Park.

Congrats to all for another great Sawtooth Mountain Challenge!

Mountain bikers traveled from near and far to participate in the Superior Cycling Association (SCA) Sawtooth Mountain Bike Challenge over MEA weekend.

The Sawtooth Mountain Challenge is the North Shore’s Original Mountain Bike Race. It has been run for over 25 years and has taken numerous different shapes. Now it functions as the main fundraiser for SCA’s trail maintenance fund — and it is enjoyed by all.

 

See pictures and results here

 

Photo courtesy of Superior Cycling Association

 

DNR seeks Minnesotans to serve on spending oversight committees

Minnesotans who would like to serve on committees that review how the Department of Natural Resources spends Game and Fish Fund dollars are welcome to submit an application by Monday, Oct. 10.

The DNR is seeking at least 12 people to serve on the Fisheries Oversight and Wildlife Oversight committees. Appointees will be responsible for reviewing the agency’s annual Game and Fish Fund Report in detail and, following discussions with agency leaders and others, write a report on the findings of this review. About half of the current members’ terms expire on Wednesday, Dec. 14, and are subject to this open application.

The two committees are comprised of members identified through a self-nomination process. Those who want to serve on the committees should have a strong interest in natural resource management and how it is funded. DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr will appoint committee members for three-year terms. Applications are being accepted online until Oct. 10 at www.mndnr.gov/gamefishoversight.

Though not well known, Minnesota’s Game and Fish Fund is the fiscal foundation for much of the state’s core natural resource management functions. Upwards of $95 million a year is deposited into this fund from hunting and fishing license sales, federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment and related items, and a portion of a sales tax equivalent on state lottery tickets. The dollars that flow into this fund pay for the fish, wildlife, enforcement, and ecological management that support 48,000 jobs in Minnesota’s outdoor recreation and hospitality business.

Interested applicants can learn more by reviewing past Game and Fish Fund reports at www.mndnr.gov/gamefishoversight/reports.html.

DNR seeks designs for Minnesota’s 2017 walleye stamp

Artists can submit entries for the 2017 Minnesota Walleye Stamp from Monday, Oct. 10, through Friday, Oct. 21.

The voluntary walleye stamp validation costs $5 but is not required to fish for or keep walleye. For an extra 75 cents, purchasers will be mailed the pictorial stamp. A pictorial collectable stamp without the validation is available for $5.75. Walleye stamps are available year-round and are not required to be purchased at the same time as fishing licenses.

“Buying walleye stamps helps fund an account dedicated only to walleye stocking,” said Neil Vanderbosch, fisheries program consultant for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “The money helps us buy walleye from certified private producers that we stock in lakes.”

The stamp contest offers no prizes and is open to Minnesota residents only. The walleye must be the primary focus of the design, though other fish species may be included in the design if they are used to depict common interaction between species or are common inhabitants of Minnesota lakes and rivers.

Artists are not allowed to use any photographic product as part of their finished entries. Winning artists usually issue limited edition prints of the artwork and retain proceeds. Judging will take place 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, at DNR Headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.

Artists who want to submit entries should closely read contest criteria and guidelines for submitting work, available from the DNR Information Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155, by calling the Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367, and online at www.mndnr.gov/stamps.

Seven standouts for fall color at Scientific and Natural Areas

Northeastern Minnesota comes alive with fall colors each year as chlorophyll retreats from leaves to reveal underlying bursts of yellow, orange and red. With abundant public land and so many options for great fall color viewing, Minnesota’s Scientific and Naturals Areas (SNAs) are sometimes overlooked as a place to enjoy fall colors.fall-colors-gds

 

SNAs are intended to conserve Minnesota’s ecological, geological and wildlife diversity. While visitor amenities and recreational uses are limited to protect this diversity, visitors looking for a quiet and simple experience are welcome at SNAs every day of the year. Some SNAs have hiking trails and simple signage to guide visitors through the property, but many are completely undeveloped and offer an untouched, natural experience for those willing to go off-path.

 

“Scientific and Natural Areas are special places where visitors can get outdoors in the fall, but also learn about the rare features unique to the site,” said AmberBeth VanNingen, DNR regional SNA specialist. “Each SNA is profiled on the DNR website and the description includes a map and directions to the location.”

 

Seven SNA standouts for fall color in northeastern Minnesota are:

 

  • Sugarloaf Point SNA, Schroeder, Minn. A world-class example of fluid basalt lava flows from the Precambrian age; located next to the Sugarloaf North Shore Stewardship Association with interpretive center, trails and kiosks.
  • Iona’s Beach SNA, near Castle Danger, Minn. The unique natural beach is comprised of pink rhyolite slabs, smoothed by wave action into flattened, shingle-like pebbles. As the waves recede, the shingles come to rest with a tinkling sound unique to this site.
  • Spring Beauty Northern Hardwoods SNA, Hovland, Minn. At more than 400 acres, this SNA showcases a continuous canopy of old-growth sugar maple along the northern edge of its normal range.
  • Hovland Woods SNA, Hovland, Minn. Located within the Grand Portage State Forest, the wooded location contains mature and old-growth virgin forest communities now rare in the region. This SNA has a well-maintained ATV trail to enjoy.
  • Lutsen SNA, Lutsen, Minn. One of the largest upland old-growth hardwood acreages along the North Shore, where Eagle Mountain, Raven Ridge, and major ridges of the Sawtooth Mountains rise over 800 feet above Lake Superior.
  • Purvis Lake – Ober Foundation SNA, near Ely, Minn. Dominated by large white and red pines, the topography of this site reflects the effects of numerous glacial advances, with alternating lakes, bogs and rocky ridges. No maintained trails within this location.
  • Lost 40 SNA, near Alvwood, Minn. Spared from logging by a surveying error, the virgin old-growth, white pine and red pine forest is considered to be the most significant stand outside of the Boundary Waters and Itasca State Park. Minnesota’s state red pine “Big Tree Champion” is found here and is 120 feet tall with a circumference of 115 inches.

 

Before visiting an SNA, recreationists should research the location on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/snas to read more about the significance of the location, the type of terrain, allowed activities, and rare or sensitive features to avoid. Picking or collecting plants, rocks and other natural elements is prohibited at most SNAs. Visitors are advised to wear blaze orange during hunting seasons at those SNAs where hunting is allowed.

Protection of Scientific and Natural Areas is achieved through acquisition, donations, leases, or designation if already owned by the state. SNAs are primarily funded by grants from the Environment and Natural Resource Trust Fund. Persons interested in volunteering to work on stewardship projects at SNAs can consult the SNA webpage or events calendar for opportunities.

Take a Kid Hunting Weekend is Sept. 24-25

Small game hunting is the focus of Take a Kid Hunting Weekend this Saturday, Sept. 24, and Sunday, Sept. 25, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

During the weekend, adult Minnesota residents accompanied by a youth under age 16 can hunt small game without a license, but must comply with open seasons, limits and other regulations.

“Making sure youth have a good experience is a big part of this weekend,” said Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring program coordinator. “With the focus on the youth, the whole experience becomes important, everything from spotting animal tracks or a bee hive in a tree to hunting safely and having fun.”

Adults can help youth have a good experience by listening to what youth need, and together they can learn the lessons of the forests and fields, added Kurre.

“Having an adult continue over the years to mentor a young hunter is extremely important in helping that hunter continue the pursuit as an adult,” he said.

For more information on small game hunting and hunting regulations, see www.mndnr.gov/hunting/smallgame.

DNR seeks citizens to serve on deer management plan advisory committee

People can apply to serve on a committee that will help the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources develop the state’s first-ever deer management plan.

The deer management plan advisory committee will meet throughout 2017 to review technical information and public input and make recommendations for the development of the plan.

Overall goals of the deer plan include setting a statewide harvest objective; addressing regional variations in deer habitat and populations; and describing and guiding the DNR’s responsibilities and activities related to deer management.

“It is important for the DNR to work with individuals and groups interested in deer management, especially hunters, and develop a statewide deer management plan that benefits all citizens of the state,” said Adam Murkowski, DNR big game program leader.

Participation in this committee is voluntary and temporary. The committee will consist of 15 to 20 members representing the breadth of interests related to deer management. About two-thirds of the seats will be filled by invited representatives of hunting, agriculture, conservation, forestry and other organizations.

Groups that have been invited to participate in the advisory committee include: the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association; Quality Deer Management Association; Bluffland Whitetails Association; Women Hunting and Fishing in all Seasons; Minnesota Farm Bureau; Minnesota Farmers Union; the 1854 Treaty Authority; Minnesota Conservation Federation; Minnesota Forest Resources Partnership; The Nature Conservancy and the Minnesota Department of Health.

In addition to the group representatives, five to eight at-large seats will be filled through the application process and are open to any interested citizens and groups. People have until Wednesday, Oct. 19, to apply for the at-large seats. The committee will be in place starting in December, through the duration of the planning process and until the deer management plan is completed in the spring of 2018.

Information about the committee structure, functions, expectations of appointed members, and how to apply are available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/deerplan or by calling 651-259-5198.

The planning process will include opportunities for citizen participation beyond the advisory committee, including public meetings, online comments and small group discussions. DNR staff also will talk with participants about ways to stay involved and engaged in deer management even after the deer plan is developed and implemented.

An updated deer management webpage at www.mndnr.gov/deer makes a wide variety of information easier to find. The new page includes links to information about deer hunting, harvest requirements, news, reports, statistics, opinion surveys and disease management.

To stay informed about the deer management planning process, opportunities to get involved, and other important deer-related topics, subscribe to the Deer Notes email list online at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

The DNR works to protect and maintain Minnesota’s white-tailed deer for public use. The deer population, which varies in density from place to place and year to year, is dependent on adequate habitat and directly influenced by the severity of winter weather. Deer are ecologically, socially and economically important in a state where hunting and wildlife watching generate more than $1.3 billion in annual economic impacts.

Exciting news on the South Fowl/Tilbury Trail!

Bye, bye boulders! The Forest Service will be hiking in to blast boulder-obstacles like this on the South Fowl/Tilbury Trail on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Bye, bye boulders! The Forest Service will be hiking in to blast boulder-obstacles like this on the South Fowl/Tilbury Trail on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

The U.S. Forest Service will be hiking in on the trail on Wednesday, September 21 to conduct blasting on the trail. The Forest Service has targeted 45 individual rocks and boulders that they intend to blast, so people in the vicinity may hear 45 different booms, up to a couple of miles away.

There is no reason to be concerned by the sound. The individual blasts are very loud, but they are controlled. The Forest Service is focusing on individual boulders and not long stretches of trail, so the blasts will occur over a period of several hours as workers travel from rock to rock.

The work will begin around 10 a.m. and the Forest Service asks people to NOT TRAVEL THE TRAIL during this time.

Jon Benson, Assistant Ranger for Recreation & Wilderness on the Superior National Forest, who has worked closely with ACMU on development of this trail, expressed appreciation to all the volunteers who have worked on the trail. “Thank you for your continued assistance,” he said.

The new South Fowl Snowmobile Access/Tilbury Trail replaces the one partially built by logger Verl Tilbury in the 1960s, before the creation of the BWCA. The trail was found to be encroaching on the wilderness in 2002 and was closed by the US Forest Service. In February 2006, the Forest Service issued a decision to build the trail currently under construction, but plans were held up lawsuits filed by Sierra Club, North Star Chapter; Wilderness Watch; and Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness. In February 2015, Judge John Tunheim issued a long-awaited opinion, ruling in the Forest Service’s favor and construction on the trail could finally begin.

Hundreds of hours have been spent on the trail, by US Forest Service staff, Grand Portage Trust Land staff, Minnesota Conservation Corps crews, and ACMU volunteers.

This rock blasting is one of the final steps to make the trail usable for snowmobilers, cabin owners and ice fishermen wanting to once again travel between McFarland and South Fowl lakes.

There will be a need for more volunteers once the blasting is complete. Please contact ACMU if you would like to help. Email dgreeley0@gmail.com or call 218-387-9844.

Head to Virginia for opening of single-track trails at Lookout Mountain

Mountain bike enthusiasts have a new riding opportunity in northeast Minnesota thanks to a partnership between the Forest Service, the Iron Range Off-Road Cyclists (IROC), Minnesota and Iowa Conservation Corps, and Youth Conservation Corps. A new system of single-track mountain bike trails is located within the Lookout Mountain Multi-Use Trail system at the Laurentian Divide area, just off Highway 53, north of Virginia, Minnesota.

To celebrate the completion of these new trails and the ongoing partnership, a ribbon cutting event is planned for Thursday, September 22, 2016 from 4:00 to 6:00 P.M. The public is invited to a short ceremony and refreshments at the Laurentian Divide Picnic Area. The ribbon-cutting will be followed by a trail ride for those interested in experiencing this newest mountain biking opportunity on the Superior National Forest.

Local mountain bike riders in the Virginia area approached the Forest Service in 2014 about the idea of building single-track trails in the Lookout Mountain area. The terrain and easy access from Highway 53 presented a great opportunity to establish the first specifically designed, single-track, mountain bike trails on the west side of the Superior National Forest. Similar trails have been successfully designed and built in recent years on the east side of the Forest within the Gunflint and Tofte Ranger Districts near Grand Marais and Tofte.

For the past two years, volunteers from IROC worked closely with the Superior National Forest – Laurentian Ranger District to develop the new trails. Single-track mountain biking trails are specifically designed and built for rider enjoyment and the challenge that is part of this growing segment of outdoor recreation. Forest Service staff guided the design, layout, and construction of the trails. The majority of the on-the-ground effort to layout and construct the trails was accomplished by volunteers from IROC who dedicated hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteer hours to make five to seven miles of new trails a reality. Club volunteers have continued their dedication by maintaining the trails. Minnesota and Iowa Conservation Corps and Youth Conservation Corps crews also contributed time working on the trails.

“This project is a wonderful example of what can happen when volunteers work together with the Forest Service to provide and maintain recreational opportunities on their National Forest. If not for these volunteers this system of mountain bike trails would not be possible.” said Superior National Forest – West Zone Recreation and Wilderness Manager Tim Engrav. “This partnership also enhances the recreation and tourism opportunities available on the Iron Range and we are excited to celebrate the trail opening with IROC, the Laurentian Chamber of Commerce, and the Iron Range Tourism Bureau.”

A map and details are available on the Superior National Forest website via the Recreation tab on the home page www.fs.usda.gov/superior or directly at: http://go.usa.gov/xKgDQ

Find grouse hunting spots with DNR online tools

hunter-and-dog-going-away-govdelivery_originalBeyond a grouse hunter’s gear checklist – blaze-orange hat or vest, shotgun, pair of boots, small-game license – those with internet access who want to give grouse hunting a try have online tools available that can help make hunting plans a reality.

“Where can I hunt? That’s usually one of the first questions people ask when they want to get into grouse hunting,” said Ted Dick, forest game bird coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Thankfully it’s an easy question to answer here in Minnesota because we have some of the nation’s best grouse hunting, and it’s not hard to find public hunting land.”

Minnesota’s 2016 ruffed grouse season opens Saturday, Sept. 17, and runs through Sunday, Jan. 1.

“This looks to be another great year for grouse hunting, with spring drumming counts up 18 percent statewide likely as part of the rising phase of the 10-year grouse population cycle. So the birds are out there,” Dick said. “Grouse hunting is an inexpensive way to get into hunting, and it also happens to be a nice, active way to get kids outdoors.”

Minnesota has a network of land specifically managed for ruffed grouse habitat and hunting access. In all, 49 ruffed grouse management areas across northern and central Minnesota provide destinations for hunters and are located in areas with good potential for producing grouse and woodcock.

These management areas range from 400 to 4,800 acres in size, contain 184 miles of hunter walking trails and allow dogs. Search locations and find downloadable maps of ruffed grouse management areas at www.mndnr.gov/rgma.

“Grouse management areas are great places to start hunting, and they also give experienced hunters a way to try hunting in new regions,” Dick said. “They are well marked and the DNR maintains the trails. The Ruffed Grouse Society helped create these areas over time and last year they funded the effort to create the online tools to help people learn about them.”

Grouse hunters also can hunt woodcock using the same equipment in the same habitat, and woodcock season opens a week later on Saturday, Sept. 24.

Grouse and woodcock hunters have a wealth of public land from which to choose in addition to ruffed grouse management areas. There are 528 wildlife management areas (WMA) in the ruffed grouse range that cover nearly 1 million acres and 600 miles of hunter walking trails. State forests, two national forests and county forest lands also offer many additional acres of public land for hunting.

“You don’t need to travel to a grouse management area to find ruffed grouse, but they can be a great place to start if you’re not sure where to focus your efforts,” Dick said.

Hunters can search for hunter walking trails online at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/hwt, and the DNR website has a new search tool for finding WMAs that lets users search by county, species and wheelchair accessibility at www.mndnr.gov/wmas.

This year, sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chicken hunters can voluntarily submit samples for study by the DNR. For more information on the study and grouse hunting in general, visit www.mndnr.gov/hunting/grouse.

Waterfowl season opens Sept. 24

Minnesota’s regular waterfowl season will open on Saturday, Sept. 24, with similar bag limits and season dates that were in place last year, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

“All signs point to this being a great year for duck and goose hunting,” said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist. “Many hunters look forward to the duck hunting opener all year. It’s a time to get into the marsh and spend time with family and friends.”

Duck season will again be open for 60 days in each of the three waterfowl zones. The daily bag limits for ducks remains at six per day and individual species limits are identical to those used last fall.

Canada goose hunters will see some changes compared to last year. There is no August Canada goose management action in Minnesota. In the Intensive Harvest Zone during the September goose hunt, the bag limit is now five per day, the same as the rest of the state. Previously, the bag limit was 10 per day.

“We made these changes for a few reasons. The Canada goose population in the state is near our goal and Canada goose harvest did not increase the past three years even when additional harvest opportunities were offered,” Cordts said.

Gunflint Ranger District hosts open house on prescribed burn plans

Superior National Forest managers plan to conduct an open house regarding prescribed fires that are planned for the fall season on the Gunflint Ranger District. These prescribed burns include the Lux Lake Unit and the Duncan Lake Unit, both within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). This open house will allow the public to view maps, prescribed fire planning documents, and ask questions concerning the upcoming planned prescribed fires.

The open house will be September 15 at the Gunflint Ranger District – 2020 West Hwy 61, Grand Marais from 4 – 6 p.m.

Prescribed burning improves public safety by reducing the potential for high-intensity wildland fires to spread from the BWCAW into areas of intermingled ownership, which include areas containing homes, cabins, resorts, other improvements and areas across the international border into Canada.

Prescribed fires are carefully planned in advance, with involvement from specialists in all of the resource programs on the Forest and designed to be implemented under specific conditions (prescription) to meet management objectives. Several considerations go into planning a prescribed fire including fuel types, presence of sensitive plants or animals, visitor use, fuel moisture, winds, relative humidity, and projected weather. Prescribed fires are rescheduled if weather conditions are unfavorable.

More information will be posted on the Superior National Forest website soon, including maps regarding the upcoming fire activities on the forest.
http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/superior/landmanagement/resourcemanagement/?cid=fsm91_049852

Trout Lake Resort owner to speak at Gunflint Trail Historical Society

The Gunflint Trail Historical Society is holding its last membership meeting of the season on Monday, September 12 at 1:30 p.m. at the A. Paul & Carol Schaap Community Center (at the MidTrail Fire Hall).

Nancy Waver will be the guest speaker. Nancy and her family has owned and operated Trout Lake Resort for the past 70 years. Trout Lake Resort was started by Grace and Bill Boissenin, (Nancy’s aunt and uncle) in 1938, sold to Charlet and Bud Kratoska, (Nancy’s parents) in 1946 and then sold to Nancy and Russ Waver in 1986.
Nancy has many stories to share with us.  The community is invited to join the historical society for the last meeting of the season.

Deer lottery application deadline is Sept. 8

Firearms and muzzleloader hunters who want to harvest antlerless deer in a deer permit area designated as lottery this hunting season weather - deerare reminded they must purchase their license and apply for an antlerless permit by Thursday, Sept. 8.

This season, antlerless deer permits are issued by lottery in 67 of Minnesota’s 128 deer permit areas. The lottery is a way to evenly distribute antlerless permits, which limits harvest of antlerless deer and moves deer populations toward goal levels.

Antlerless deer are without an antler at least 3 inches long. No application is needed to take antlerless deer in permit areas designated as hunter’s choice, managed or intensive harvest areas.

All hunters who purchase a firearms or muzzleloader license, and declare a lottery permit area by Sept. 8 will be automatically entered into the lottery for an either-sex permit. Hunters who want to participate in special firearm deer hunts also need to apply for permits that are issued by lottery, and the application deadline is Sept. 8.

More information on deer permit areas and special hunts is available in the 2016 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook, found online at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/deer.

 

Join the Arbor Day Foundation in September and Receive 10 Free Trees

Everyone who joins the Arbor Day Foundation in September will receive 10 free trees as part of the Foundation’s Trees for America program.

Through Trees for America, everyone is encouraged to plant trees, which benefit the environment and improves quality of life. With nearly 1 million members and supporters, the Arbor Day Foundation is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees.

Everyone joining this month will receive one of the following tree packages based on their location: 10 Arizona Cypress, 10 Live Oak or 10 Mix trees including eastern redbud, white pine, sugar maple, white flowering dogwood, pin oak, red maple, river birch, silver maple, northern red oak, and Colorado blue spruce.

“These trees are carefully selected to yield year-round benefits, including beautiful spring flowers, cool summer shade, spectacular autumn colors, winter berries, and nesting sites for songbirds,” said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation.

“These trees will also add to the proud heritage of your state’s Tree City USA communities.” Harris continued. “For the past 40 years, Tree City USA has supported effective urban forestry management across the country, and planting these trees will enhance this tree-planting tradition.”

The trees will be shipped postpaid at the right time for planting between October 15 and December 10. The 6- to 12-inch trees are guaranteed to grow or they will be replaced free of charge. Easy-to-follow planting instructions are enclosed with each shipment of trees.

New members of the Arbor Day Foundation will also receive The Tree Book, which includes information about tree planting and care.

To receive the 10 free trees, send a $10 membership contribution to Ten Trees, Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City, NE 68410, by September 30, 2016, or join online at arborday.org/September.

Prescribed fires planned in BWCAW during Sept. and Oct.

During September and October, the Superior National Forest plans to conduct up to four prescribed fires within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). The prescribed fires are intended to reduce the risk of wildfires that could threaten people and property outside of the Wilderness.

 

In 1999, a massive windstorm affected nearly 500,000 acres of the Superior National Forest, including approximately 350,000 acres within the BWCAW. The storm caused thousands of acres of trees to be blown-down, creating the potential for large, difficult-to-control wildfires.

 

The Forest Service has been working to break up continuous areas of blowdown in the Wilderness with a series of strategically-located prescribed fires. The intended outcome of these prescribed fires is to create conditions that will decrease the rate of fire spread in the event of a wildfire, providing firefighters time to implement suppression and containment activities as well as evacuations if needed.

 

Significant progress has been made towards completing the planned prescribed fires in the BWCAW but blocks of concentrated, untreated blowdown fuel remain. Analysis conducted in the last year has made clear that even 17 years after the storm event, a significant threat of wildfire remains in blowdown areas. This potential is evident in recent wildfires, such as the Pagami Creek Fire in 2011 and a 2013 wildfire that burned near Knife Lake inside the BWCAW where the intensity of these fires significantly increased when burning in areas of the 1999 blowdown.

 

To address this persistent threat, the Forest Service intends to conduct prescribed burn operations in four units: two located in the Gunflint Trail area, one north of Ely near Prairie Portage, and one west of Ely near Crab Lake. The exact timing and sequence of the prescribed fires will be primarily dependent on weather conditions.

 

All of the planned prescribed fires will be conducted with the safety of the public and firefighters as the highest priority and will occur only when appropriate resources are available, including pre-positioned contingency resources.

 

The Forest Service plans to implement the prescribed fires this fall when visitor use is relatively low and conditions are favorable to attain hazard reduction objectives. To ensure public safety during prescribed fire operations, visitor traffic may be restricted in some areas inside the BWCAW.  Where appropriate and if necessary the Forest Service will assist visitors to determine alternate travel routes.

 

Maps of the prescribed fire units and other details, including any area closures, will be posted on the Superior National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/superior. The Forest Service will issue additional public notifications prior to any prescribed fire activities.

Have fun at the Fair with the MN DNR!

If you are heading to the Fair, stop by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources building. About 500,000 people visit the DNR’s State Fair building. The theme for 2016 is “Nature Rocks…Fish, Fossils and Forests, Oh My!”
Visit on Monday, September 5 and learn about:
Minnesota boating fatalities update and life jacket safety
At 11:30 a.m., hear from DNR Conservation Officer Adam Block about the high number of boating fatalities this year, trends in fatalities and accidents, safety advice and see an inflatable life jacket demo.
The Raptor Center
The Raptor Center Education Department educates people all around the Midwest about the raptors they see in their own backyards. See live raptors up close and learn more about these fascinating birds!
The birds include eagles, falcons, hawks, and owls.
When: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m.
Where: DNR Volunteer Outdoor Stage.
Fire prevention building
Get a behind the scenes look at how the DNR fights wildfires. The display features a metal cab replica of a fire tower and a fire finder to demonstrate how fires were located when towers were in use. There is also a timeline of Minnesota’s larger/costliest fires and some fire hand tools on display. A TV monitor shows live video from top of DNR’s State Fair fire tower as well as a video from various fire towers across the state.
When: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Where: Northwest corner of main DNR State Fair building.

Wildlife Wing
Fairgoers can learn about Minnesota species and wildlife habitat. Special sound and lighting effects help create an experience of moving from day to night and through the four seasons, as visitors walk through the display.
When: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Where: DNR building.