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.

Help wanted for South Fowl Snowmobile Access

HELP WANTED! The Arrowhead Coalition for Multiple Use (ACMU) is seeking laborers to help complete the South Fowl Snowmobile Trail Access between McFarland and South Fowl lakes in the Hovland area. This new trail restores the Tilbury Trail, the historic connection between the two lakes for anglers, cabin owners and winter campers.

Workers are needed immediately to hike in to clear downed trees and brush. After September 21, the U.S. Forest Service will need assistance shoveling/moving rock to create gambion retaining walls to level side hills from a 20% grade to a safer 10% grade.

A great deal of work has been completed by U.S. Forest Service personnel, Minnesota Conservation Corps workers, Grand Portage Land Trust staff and ACMU volunteers, but a final push is now on to get the trail ready for use this coming winter.

Workers can choose their own hours and work individually or with a group. A stipend may be available, please contact us for information at 218-387-9844 or email dgreeley0@gmail.com.

If you are unable to work on the trail but want to contribute to help pay workers, please send your donation to ACMU at PO Box 1060, Grand Marais, MN 55604.

Twins offer discounts, free hat in partnership with DNR

Anyone with a 2016 Minnesota hunting or fishing license can receive a free camouflage and blaze orange Twins logo baseball cap through a special Minnesota Twins ticket offer online at www.mndnr.gov/twins.

The offer is good for these games:

Sunday, Aug. 14, game vs. Kansas City Royals.
Saturday, Sept. 3, game vs. Chicago White Sox.
Saturday, Sept. 24, game vs. Seattle Mariners.
Tickets prices vary by game and seat locations are either in the field box or home run porch.

All ticket holders under this partnership will pick up their cap at the game. Instructions for purchasing tickets are at www.mndnr.gov/twins. Buy fishing and hunting licenses at any Minnesota Department of Natural Resources license agent, online with a mobile or desktop device at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense, or by phone at 888-665-4236. Mobile buyers receive a text or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers.

Women are encouraged to register for DNR hunting class

Women are invited to enroll in a how to hunt deer with firearms program being offered this fall through the Department of Natural Resources.

There will be educational sessions that lead up to a one-on-one mentored hunt during the weekend of Oct. 14 at Itasca State Park. The session dates are Saturdays, Aug. 27, Sept. 24, and Oct. 8.

Sessions will include deer biology, habits, habitat, regulations, equipment, scouting, how to find hunting land, rifle practice and more. Lodging for the weekend hunt is included at Itasca State Park, and the registration fee is $100 plus minimal range fees for practice shooting.

“I learned what I needed to know in order to teach my 10-year-old son to hunt soon (my goal) and hope this becomes a life-long family tradition for us,” said Bobbie Danielson, who attended the class last year.

Women will need access to a legal firearm in good working condition, a deer license and must possess firearm safety certification prior to the mentored hunt. For more information, email linda.bylander@state.mn.us. The class is limited to 10 women.

More information is available at www.mndnr.gov/bow or by contacting Linda Bylander, 218-203-4347.

DNR announces speakers for angler and hunter summit

Declining participation in fishing and hunting has led the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to plan a two-day conference from Friday, Aug. 26, to Saturday, Aug. 27, that will focus on recruiting and retaining hunters and anglers.

“We are excited to share that several experts will be participating in the summit, including presentations from national experts, reflections from local organizations, and breakout sessions to address opportunities and common challenges to recruiting anglers and hunters,” said Jeff Ledermann, angler recruitment, retention and education supervisor.

Keynote speakers include:

Matt Dunfee is the programs manager for the Wildlife Management Institute, a 101-year old, nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to science-based, professional wildlife management. He has developed recruitment, retention and re-engagement strategies; developed related programs, evaluations and best practices; and conducted numerous multi-day training and information workshops on the topic for state and federal wildlife agency staff and administrators.
Ron Hustvedt, Jr. is the founder of WriteOutdoors.com. His writing appears regularly in numerous regional and national publications and frequently includes experiences of teaching his own young children to fish and hunt. He is a middle school social studies teacher and received the 2014 National Teacher of the Year from the Magnet Schools of America.
Col. Scott St. Sauver is the post commander of Camp Ripley. He is a leader of hunting programs and “Trolling for Troops,” where pro anglers accompany disabled veterans, current service members and recently deployed soldiers on a fishing excursion for the day. He will share stories how these programs have impacted the lives of participants and insights on what we can learn from them.
The conference will allow for information sharing on best practices to design and deliver recruitment and retention programs. Breakout sessions to address common challenges are also scheduled and include topics to increase participation of women, youth and other new audiences; recruiting the right volunteers; funding opportunities and designing effective field days.

Additionally, the DNR will provide a free toolkit with templates for new programs, strategies to enhance existing programs, evaluation tools, and checklists to help program planning and management.

The Aug. 26-27 conference will be at Earle Brown Heritage Center, 6155 Earle Brown Drive, Brooklyn Center. Volunteers and staff of organizations or agencies and members of the public involved or interested in preserving Minnesota’s outdoor heritage are encouraged to attend. There are no fees for registration or meals. Online registration is open at www.mndnr.gov/r3.

Trout stream designations would better match habitat, under proposal

Trout stream designations would better match habitat, under proposal

Streams with the cold, clear water needed to support trout populations would get stronger protection as newly designated trout streams, while other streams unable to support trout would no longer have the designation, according to a proposal involving about 90 waters in 30 Minnesota counties.

“The list of designated trout streams would change,” said Brian Nerbonne, streams habitat consultant with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Every few years we update the list to make sure management and regulations line up with the potential of the streams to support trout.” In all, 48 streams totaling 60 miles would be added to the list, and 41 streams totaling 195 miles would be removed from the list.

People can learn more about the proposal and find out how to comment, including how to comment on individual streams, at www.mndnr.gov/troutstreams. The proposal also includes two trout lakes. Deadline for comments is Monday, Nov. 7.

“Adding or removing designations for streams would change requirements for anglers, landowners and those who work near these streams,” Nerbonne said. “Anyone with questions can check out our website and find out which streams are being considered.”

Designation lets the DNR regulate trout fishing seasons and methods and allows for work to improve angler access and fish habitat. Anglers must purchase a trout stamp to fish designated waters. Designation also protects streams through more stringent levels of permitting and regulatory programs that apply to those seeking water use appropriations and permits for work in a stream.

Additionally, because designated trout streams and their tributaries are public waters by statute, those streams being added to the list that are not already mapped as a public water would be required by state law to have a buffer of perennial vegetation, or approved alternative practices that protect water quality.

“People might wonder why designations change for streams. In some cases, stream conditions improve or worsen. In others, we get more information about streams or stream segments that shows us they need to be protected, or conversely, that we’re wasting effort to protect some streams that can’t support trout,” Nerbonne said.

The changes in trout stream designations parallel an additional effort by the DNR to clarify the names of current trout streams. This renaming would make stream maps and names more accurate, but would not change how the streams are managed.

Information about that separate but concurrent process, which will begin Monday, Aug. 15, also is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/troutstreams.

State agencies seek feedback on Minnesota Walks

The Minnesota departments of transportation and health are seeking public feedback on Minnesota Walks – a statewide guide for creating safe, desirable and convenient places to walk and roll where Minnesotans live, work, learn and play.

Minnesota Walks is Minnesota’s first comprehensive statewide effort to address pedestrian needs and challenges. When completed, it will guide transportation and pedestrian planning, decision-making and collaboration for agencies, organizations, policymakers and public and private entities across the state. The goal of the work is to make walking safe, convenient and desirable for everyone in Minnesota.

The document is available for review at Minnesota Walks. Members of the public are invited to share their feedback through August 21.

“Minnesota Walks will guide and advance the vision to improve the pedestrian environment at the local, state and regional levels,” said Jean Wallace, assistant director for the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s (MnDOT) Modal Planning and Program Management Division and co-chair of the project advisory committee. “People in Minnesota were great at giving us their thoughts during the first round of public input. As we finalize this document, it will be our action plan for making all cities and towns walkable communities.”

Thousands of people in Minnesota from communities and organizations helped develop Minnesota Walks. They attended events, contributed their ideas online, attended meetings, provided leadership and identified challenges. In addition to this input, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), MnDOT and the project advisory committee collected expert opinions and the most current research.

“Minnesota Walks will be such a useful tool for our Statewide Health Improvement Program grantees and local partners who are working to expand opportunities for active living – including walking – to improve health in communities across the state,” said Julie Myhre, director of the MDH Office of Statewide Health Improvement Initiatives and co-chair of the project advisory committee.

People can make comments on the Minnesota Walks project website or by sending an email tohealth.activeliving@state.mn.us. In addition, people are encouraged to join the conversation on Facebook (follow @mndot) or on Twitter (use hashtag #mnwalks).

 

DNR offers tips to private forest owners dealing with storm damage

The recent blowdown in northern Minnesota caused major damage to state lands, as well as private forest lands. While landowners are not required to clean up downed trees and debris, the Department of Natural Resources is encouraging private forest owners and homeowners to consider salvaging and replacing damaged areas.

“Salvage and cleanup will likely be necessary to regenerate the forest and reduce the potential for wildfires and outbreak of insects and diseases,” said John Carlson, DNR private forest management coordinator. “The first step is to assess the extent of the damage and determine whether a timber sale is needed.”

Working in storm-damaged areas is dangerous; so Carlson strongly recommends that only foresters, loggers or tree care companies do the work. Consider hiring a consulting forester to help assess, sell and replant damaged forests.

For smaller properties, the damage may simply require removal of trees with broken tops or limbs and severely bent or fallen trees. Consider retaining a few storm-damaged trees for wildlife habitat.

For large forest stands, a salvage harvest may be the best option. Salvage harvests remove trees that have been damaged. Healthy, undamaged trees with full crowns are retained.

There are several considerations when considering a salvage harvest on private land:

The DNR recommends people contract with a private consulting forester to estimate the timber value and advise on how to set up and conduct a timber sale. For a listing of private consultant foresters, visit web.paulbunyan.net/norfor/members.htm.
Contact adjacent landowners because salvage operations frequently require coordination with adjacent woodlands. The Minnesota Logger Education Program’s online list of trained loggers is a resource to help find someone to remove damaged trees, visit mlep.org/directorysearch.asp.
Landowners are strongly encouraged to have written contracts with anyone who provides consulting services or works on salvage or reforestation operations. Check references and make sure they have insurance for the type of work they’re doing.
The volume and value of the salvageable timber will be almost impossible to determine until the harvesting operation begins. Value will depend on markets, access, amount and type of damage and size and quality of timber.
Timelines for salvage operations
Timelines for wood deterioration, insect infestation and preventing insect spread to healthy trees depend on the tree species and environmental conditions.

Pine: The primary concern is pine bark beetles that can kill trees and introduce blue stain fungus. Damaged Jack, white and red pines provide ideal breeding grounds for pine bark beetles. During spring and early summer, all downed timber, large tree limbs and cut products should be removed, burned, destroyed or debarked within three weeks of the storm to prevent the build-up of bark beetles.

Blue stain can reduce the value of sawtimber by two-thirds, but doesn’t reduce pulpwood values. Blue stain will be a problem within two to three weeks of the storm for broken-off tree stems and tops, and within six weeks in damaged but living trees.

Aspen and red maple: Damaged aspen and maple start losing value the spring after the damage occurs.

Oaks: Quality red oak timber must be harvested by the October following the storm for maximum sawtimber value.

Replanting and regeneration options
Many tree species come back naturally following a blow down or salvage harvest, including aspen, oak, basswood and maple. Returning a forest to Jack, white and red pine will require planting seedlings.

Contact a consulting forester or local DNR forester for more information. Reforestation options may be limited by salvage harvest methods and timing. Sites that do not successfully come back to trees naturally should be planted with seedlings.

Private forest landowners can purchase seedlings from the Minnesota State Forest Nursery for planting in the spring of 2017. Visit www.mndnr.gov/forestry/nursery for a list of available seedlings.

DNR overhauls state water trail trip planning tool

Those who enjoy canoeing, kayaking and other forms of recreation dependent on river levels can now get more and better information about current conditions from 120 real-time river-level gauges along many of Minnesota’s state water trails. Although the Department of Natural Resources has been installing and interpreting river-level gauges since 1971, the reporting service recently got some significant upgrades.

For the most current statewide river level map—updated hourly—visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/river_levels/index.html.

Color-coded dots indicate water levels ranging from “scrapable” (so low that paddlers may have to get out of their watercraft to avoid rocks); to “very high” (where paddling is considered dangerous and not recommended).

“Since weather events can vary significantly throughout Minnesota, paddlers should always consider this tool to verify river level conditions and to make an informed decision,” said Stan Linnell, DNR boat and water safety manager.

Upgrades to the river level map include:

More accurate information for highly-visited water trails.
The addition of river-level information for the recently designated Cedar River and Shell Rock River state water trails.
River-level readings for a larger number of gauges.
For statewide water trail facilities map visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/watertrails/interactive_map.

For a list of all state water trails and maps visit www.mndnr.gov/watertrails.

Gunflint Canoe Races to benefit Gunflint Fire Department

Since 1976, friends and neighbors on the upper Gunflint Trail have held the Gunflint Trail Canoe Races to raise money for worthy causes. This year’s event again will be at the Gunflint Lodge on the south shore of Gunflint Lake on Wednesday, July 20, beginning at 4:30 p.m.

The goal is to raise more than $20,000 to support the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department.

There’s something for everyone at the Gunflint Trail Canoe Races:

* Sixteen (16) canoe races for multiple ages and agilities and plenty of space to cheer on your favorites from Trail resorts and campsites.

* A food tent with the traditional canoe races sloppy joes, plus hot dogs, veggies and home made desserts. Food service starts at 4:30 p.m.

* More than 200 raffle items donated by folks up and down the Trail and in town. Tickets just $2 on site or at local resorts.

* Auctions – both silent and live. All for fun and lots of hand-made treasures along with bigger-ticket items.

* A commemorative T-shirt by local fashion designer Addie Gecas is available for just $15 on site and at Trail Center on weekends before the races. Adult and kids sizes available.

* All-in-fun activities for children and adults who are not racing.

* Last but not least a lucky $5 raffle ticket holder will win a red Current Designs Kestrel 120 kayak, worth $2,100! Winner will be announced just after the amazing fun-to-watch gunnel canoe race.

The kayak will be on display at Trail Center for several weekends prior to the races. Raffle tickets are available at numerous resorts and volunteers.

All proceeds from this year’s annual Gunflint Trail Canoe Races again will benefit the volunteer fire department. There are now three fire stations along the Trail, along with two adjacent community centers. According to Fire Chief Jim Morrison, “Donations from the canoe races will be used to outfit the fire truck we are getting to replace the now 41-year-old truck at Hall 2. We will need about 2,000 feet of hose, nozzles and fittings as well as tools including pike poles and axes. We also use donation money to resupply the ambulance. Medications and other supplies for the ambulance run about $5,000 each year.”

 

Bruce Kerfoot of Gunflint Lodge provides this little history lesson: “We started our Gunflint Trail Canoe Races as a fundraiser for a battle in Congress. We never imagined the races would become a community hoedown of sorts, with a mission to support the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department.  It is a true expression of how the Gunflint Trail community works together as neighbors and friends to better all our lives in the wilderness.”

An active committee of the Gunflint-Seagull-Saganaga Property Owners Associations, chaired this year by Arden Byers of Gunflint Lake, plans and produces the races. As many as 100 volunteers help make each year’s event a success.

For more information contact Vi Nelson at (312) 622-1067.

Voters choose new parks and trails license plate

michelle-vesaas-winner-lores-gov-delivery_original

Following a week of online voting, during which more than 30,000 votes were cast, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith today announced the winner of the contest to design a Minnesota state parks and trails license plate.

The winning plate features an image of a canoe on the water, surrounded by Minnesota’s four seasons.

“Generations of Minnesotans have enjoyed our extraordinary state parks and trails system,” Smith said. “This new license plate allows Minnesotans to invest in the future of our parks and trails, and proudly demonstrate that commitment on their vehicles.”

The plate was submitted by Michelle Vesaas of Coon Rapids. Vesaas’s design received the most votes from among three finalists.

“My design was inspired by being in the outdoors in this beautiful state through all four seasons,” she said. “Even in the coldest days of winter, if you’re dressed for it, there is incredible beauty to be found.”


The new license plate will be available from the Department of Motor Vehicles this fall as part of the ongoing celebration of the 125th anniversary of Minnesota state parks and trails. The cost will start at $60, plus tax. The total includes a one-time $10 fee for the plate itself and a minimum $50 contribution (renewable annually).

“Purchasing the new license plate 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 Erika Rivers, DNR parks and trails director.

The plate provides their owners with unlimited access to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas for the year, replacing the need for an annual vehicle permit (a $25 value).

Proceeds from license plate sales will help fund the operations and maintenance of Minnesota state parks and trails.

The DNR already has eight Critical Habitat license plates from which Minnesotans can choose. These specialty plates—first offered in 1995—provide an opportunity for citizens to support conservation and show their individuality by purchasing a license plate featuring a loon, a moose or another Minnesota-related image. The parks and trails plate will bring the total number of specialty license plates available from the DNR to nine.

For more information, contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us, 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.