MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #60 Aug. 8, 2013
IN THIS ISSUE
Trout stream setback permit and silica sand reclamation rulemaking projects move forward
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is moving forward with two projects directed by recent silica sand legislation: the silica sand trout stream setback permit and rulemaking on the reclamation of silica sand mines and facilities.
Several laws were passed in the 2013 legislative session to address potential environmental and health concerns related to silica sand mining and processing.
The DNR was directed to create a new permit for silica sand facilities within an ecological region called the Paleozoic Plateau, which encompasses the southeastern portion of the state where silica sand bedrock is exposed at or near the surface.
The area also hosts pristine watersheds that provide critical cold water habitat for trout. Proposed silica sand facilities within 1 mile from designated trout streams must now apply for a DNR trout stream setback permit.
The permit application will require a hydrogeological evaluation to adequately assess potential impacts from a proposed mining operation to trout streams and other hydrogeological features, including private and public drinking water supplies.
“The department will use this permit process to ensure that trout streams in southeastern Minnesota are protected,” said Steve Hirsch, director of the DNR’s Ecological and Water Resources Division. “If springs or other sensitive resources are found during the evaluation, adequate buffers and setbacks will be required.”
Written comments and requests for information about the setback permit can be directed to Tom Hovey, DNR water regulations unit supervisor, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4032, 651-259-5654 or email@example.com.
The rules may also address other reclamation issues that come up during the rulemaking process. “Silica sand is an important issue to Minnesotans,” said Jess Richards, director of DNR’s Lands and Minerals Division, “one that has grass roots beginnings, so public and stakeholder involvement is a vital component of the rulemaking process.”
Interested people or groups may submit written requests to receive a draft of the rules when the document has been prepared or may submit written comments and questions about the silica sand rulemaking process to Heather Arends, silica sand rulemaking coordinator, DNR, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4045, 651-259-5376 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To stay informed on the rulemaking progress for reclamation of silica sand mines (Revisor’s ID Number R-04198), go to http://mndnr.gov/silicasand.
Several Minnesota state agencies, including the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Environmental Quality Board, are involved in implementing the 2013 legislation regarding silica sand mining, processing and transportation. An interagency website is in development and will be used to help track progress across all agencies. Additional information will be released as it becomes available.
Minnesota DNR announces fall duck and goose seasons
Minnesota’s waterfowl season will open a half-hour before sunrise on Sept. 21 and continue for 60 days under a north, central and southern zone structure with different season dates for each zone, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
This is the same structure the DNR used for the first time last year. The opener is one day earlier than last year and the earliest since 1945.
“Hunters had a good waterfowl season last year,” said Paul Telander, DNR wildlife section chief. “We heard positive reports so we maintained the same season structure.”
The daily bag limit remains at six ducks per day. The mallard bag limit remains at four per day, including two hen mallards. The wood duck bag limit will remain at three per day. The only bag limit changes from last year are the daily limit for scaup which drops from four to three per day and the canvasback limit increases from one to two per day.
Telander said the other notable change is possession limits have increased from two times the daily bag limit to three times the daily bag limit for all migratory birds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offered the increase to all states. Telander also noted this year’s opening date is based on a federal framework that enables Mississippi Flyway states to open their season on the Saturday nearest Sept. 24 each year. Next year’s season could open no earlier than Sept. 27.
Mallard abundance from a continental spring survey, including Minnesota, is used to determine overall duck season length. This year’s estimate was 10.4 million mallards, which was similar to last year’s estimate of 10.6 million mallards and 36 percent above the long-term average.
Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist, said breeding duck numbers were good for mallards and all other duck species this year and wetland conditions in the major waterfowl breeding areas were also favorable.
“In Minnesota, the population index of resident breeding mallards was also good, with an estimated 293,000 mallards in our survey area, Cordts said. “That’s 30 percent above the long-term average.”
Duck harvest in Minnesota last fall was up 19 percent from 2011, from 621,000 ducks in 2011 to 749,000 ducks in 2012. Most of the increase was due to increased harvest of blue-winged teal and wood ducks. “We’ve made some changes with duck hunting regulations the past few years to increase harvest opportunity, particularly early in the season,” Cordts said. “These changes seem to have worked as we have seen increased harvest of early migrating species like teal and wood ducks.”
YOUTH WATERFOWL DAY
OPEN WATER HUNTING
Maj. Phil Meier, DNR enforcement operations manager, said these new open water hunting opportunities will require extra safety precautions. “Hunters should wear their life jackets not just have them aboard,” Meier advised, noting this type of hunting involves small shallow boats and some of Minnesota’s largest and most windswept lakes. “They’ll also have to be on the lookout for recreational boaters, large waves from barges and other commercial traffic and unfavorable changes in the weather. It’s a different type of hunting; it takes a different safety mindset.”
A $4 permit is required to hunt Canada geese during September season. The restriction prohibiting hunting within 100 yards of surface water remains in effect in the Northwest Goose Zone, Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area, Ocheda Lake Game Refuge, and an area surrounding Swan Lake in Nicollet County. Early season goose hunters should consult the 2013 Waterfowl Supplement for zone maps and additional details.
Regular goose season
Sandhill Crane Season
Additional details on the duck, goose, sandhill crane, and other migratory bird hunting seasons will be available in the 2013 Minnesota Waterfowl Hunting Regulations, available in mid-August on online at www.dnr.state.mn.us.
DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Aug. 8, 2013
Spruce needle rust appearing in northern Minnesota
Homeowners in northern Minnesota are noticing their spruce trees turning tan, yellow, orange or sometimes, pink. Most likely these trees are infected with the spruce needle rust fungus, which presents an aesthetic problem but seldom a tree health problem, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Spruce needle rust infects current-year needles of blue spruce but can also be found on white and black spruce. Infected needles will turn yellow and then shed in the fall. However, healthy buds on the ends of the branches will produce new needles the following year.
“Seeing favorite ornamental trees turn a rusty color and appear to be dying can cause concern, but homeowners shouldn’t rush to cut them down,” said Mike Albers, DNR forest health specialist. “The fungus only infects the current year’s needles, and does not spread from tree to tree.”
In some years, like this one, spruce needle rust is very common; but in most years it is difficult to find because it requires other plants and specific growing conditions to complete its life cycle.
In early summer, the rust fungus produces spores on the leaves of Labrador tea or leather leaf, which grow in peatlands, bogs and swamps.
Winds can blow these spores onto current-year spruce needles. If the weather is wet and cool, needles can become infected. Rust fungus produced by the infected tree can reinfect and overwinter on alternate host plants, but this is generally interrupted by changing weather conditions. A widespread infection one year can be undetectable the next.
Chemical control with a fungicide is usually not helpful and cannot cure the infected needles.
Albers recommends keeping spruce trees healthy during a spruce needle rust outbreak by:
Homeowners and other landowners can find information about tree care and tree diseases on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/backyard.
DNR seeks public comments on proposed Miller-Black Bear Area ATV Trail in Crow Wing County
Comments are due by Monday, Sept. 16, at 4:30 p.m.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) invites public comment on an application for off-highway vehicle (OHV) grant-in-aid funding for a 20-mile long all-terrain vehicle trail in Crow Wing County. About 19 miles of the trail are in place on existing OHV trails or forest roads; the remainder would be new trail.
Crow Wing County Land Services would sponsor the trail and would provide trail monitoring, development and maintenance in cooperation with the Cuyuna Iron Range Riders ATV Club. Trail development and maintenance would be partially funded through the state off-highway vehicle grant-in-aid grant program.
The trail is primarily on Crow Wing County forest lands, with about 3 miles crossing state forest land. The trail is open to motorized recreation from May 1 through Oct. 31 each year, subject to closures as warranted for safety considerations or to prevent erosion or damage to the trail.
Copies of the proposal and a project map are available for review at www.mndnr.gov/input (www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/mgmtplans/ohv/plans/miller_black_bear.html). To request a printed copy of the trail description, call Sam Johnson, acquisition and development specialist, at 218-999-7921 or call the DNR Information Center Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at 651-296-6157, toll-free at 888-646-6367 or email@example.com.
The deadline for comments is 4:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16. Submit written comments via: