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MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #3                                                                                       Jan. 10, 2014
All news releases are available in the DNR's website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.
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Duluth meeting provides opportunities for public comment
  on NorthMet Supplemental Draft EIS
DNR's new mobile website is a boon to outdoor recreationalists
Q&A: DNR aim is satisfied deer hunters, healthy deer herd
Panel explores issues affecting state's hunting, fishing tradition


Duluth meeting provides opportunities for public comment on NorthMet Supplemental Draft EIS

The first of three public meetings on PolyMet Mining's proposed copper-nickel mine will be held at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center (DECC) at 350 Harbor Drive, Duluth, on Thursday, Jan. 16, from 5 - 10 p.m. Doors will open at 5 p.m.

Onsite parking in the DECC parking lot is available for $5. Additional parking information is posted at www.decc.org/parking-directions/parking.html.

The three meetings are designed for the public to learn more about the environmental effects of the proposed PolyMet Inc.'s NorthMet mine project in northeastern Minnesota near Hoyt Lakes and Babbitt. Attendees will also have an opportunity to offer comments regarding the adequacy and completeness of the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS).

The Duluth public meeting will begin with an open house hosted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Forest Service. Fifteen informational stations and representatives from state, federal and cooperating agencies will be available so participants can ask questions and discuss aspects of the SDEIS. A video outlining the project proposal and the environmental review analysis will be available for viewing.

Public statements will be heard in an adjacent room, during the open house. This portion of the meeting will begin with a formal presentation at 6:45 p.m., followed by public comments, concluding at 10 p.m. The Duluth public meeting will also serve as the Army Corps of Engineers' 404 permit public hearing.

"Because we expect a large turnout, it is unlikely that we will be able to accommodate everyone who wishes to speak during the public meeting," said Steve Colvin, deputy director, DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division. "But everyone will have an opportunity to provide input in some form and should know that their comments will be given full consideration regardless of how those comments are submitted."

The host agencies have engaged an independent facilitator who will select speakers at random from among all those attendees expressing a desire to speak. "We are confident that this will allow us to hear from the greatest number and diversity of speakers as possible in a respectful and fair process," Colvin said.

Meeting attendees will also have the option of submitting comments in writing on comment forms or by speaking one-on-one to a stenographer who will record oral comments.

All interested parties may also provide written comments by mail, email, or via the DNR's website. People may submit multiple comments.

"The method of commenting isn't critical," Colvin said. "The value of the comment is in the quality and specificity of the information provided."

All written comments become a part of the final EIS record and are public information. Written comments will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. on March 13.

Following the public comment period, the DNR and co-lead agencies will review all comments, respond to substantive comments, adjust the SDEIS if needed and ultimately publish a final EIS for public review.

PolyMet's proposed project remains in the "environmental review" phase and public input on the SDEIS is an important component of this phase. The environmental review is not the approval phase of the project, which would occur during the permitting process.

Additional public meetings will be held at the Mesabi East High School in Aurora on Jan. 22 and at the St. Paul RiverCentre in St. Paul on Jan. 28. The meeting format is expected to be similar at each event.

The public can review and comment on the SDEIS through the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/polymet. The website includes the SDEIS, an executive summary, a series of fact sheets and a video designed to help the public understand the proposed project.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                       Jan. 10, 2014

DNR's new mobile website is a boon to outdoor recreationalists

A new, one-of-a-kind website that employs extensive mapping resources to help users locate hunting lands, state parks and forests and a wide range of other recreational areas is now available on mobile devices such as phones and tablets, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced.

The mobile "Recreation Compass" is available at www.mndnr.gov/mobile/compass. After accessing the website, users can bookmark it among other favorites on their mobile device.

"The website helps you find opportunities for recreation when you're away from your computer," said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. "It not only provides you with the location of recreation lands, but you can also find information such as types of vegetation and availability of trails and other resources."

The mobile Recreation Compass features more than 5.5 million acres of public lands administered as state forest, wildlife management areas, state parks and recreation areas, waterfowl production areas, aquatic management areas, and scientific and natural areas, state trails, including water trails, Walk-In access areas, hunter walking trails and nearly 3,000 public water access sites.

The mobile website has lake, river and stream names, as well as federal, state and local highways and roads.

Users can choose from a variety of backgrounds, such as the 2011 color aerial photography and color infrared photography of the state. The infrared imagery allows users to discern what kind of vegetation covers the landscape, such as whether a particular area is covered in pine trees, prairie, oaks or other types of vegetation.

The agency opted to create the service as a mobile website instead of an app because a mobile website is device independent and can be easily updated and maintained. The mobile website runs on just about anything using a modern web browser.

The Recreation Compass has been available on desktop and laptop computers since 1998, but the mobile version was developed in 2013 and has been tested extensively since last August.

The mobile Recreation Compass also links to other DNR mobile websites such as LakeFinder and Fall Colors.

Users, however, should not use mobile Recreation Compass as their sole navigation aid. While the mapping system shows boundaries of recreation areas, they are a general reference only. Users should still consult on-the-ground signage to confirm boundaries to avoid trespassing on private property.

As always, people should ask permission before entering private land.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                            Jan. 10, 2014

DNR aim is satisfied deer hunters, healthy deer herd

As a long-time Minnesota hunter and wildlife manager, Paul Telander has witnessed the ups and downs of Minnesota's deer population.

As a hunter, he remembers when the season was closed in 1971 because deer numbers were precariously low. As a wildlife manager in northwestern Minnesota, he helped rebuild the herd that eventually led to a record harvest in 2003 of 290,000 deer.

Now as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' wildlife section chief and at a time in Minnesota's history when the deer population is neither particularly high nor low, Telander answers questions about Minnesota's deer population.

What is the DNR's deer management goal?
Our goal is to provide a healthy, sustainable and abundant deer population. In practice, that means having a deer herd that creates satisfied hunters, provides good hunting and minimizes unwanted consequences for wildlife habitat, people and deer themselves. Our management approach factors in habitat and the impacts deer have on it, disease, land management and the desires of all Minnesotans.

Are you meeting with deer hunters about deer population?
Yes. In fact, deer management will be discussed at length at the annual wildlife roundtable, and we'll be having additional discussions with deer hunters at both the state and local levels. It's a timely topic.

How would you characterize this past deer hunting season?
The 2013 deer season harvest of 171,000-plus animals is a solid number, but the lowest since 1998 and the third consecutive year of decline. Part of the reason for the decline in harvest the past few years was the restricted harvest of antlerless deer through more lottery areas and fewer intensive and managed deer areas that we have used in an attempt to allow populations to stabilize or rebuild in many parts of the state.

What's planned for 2014?
We have not yet made decisions on the 2014 deer season, but we have heard the concerns of hunters from many areas of the state and will make adjustments based on sound science and current conditions. We realize last winter was unusually hard on deer in northern Minnesota, resulting in more mortality and reduction in fawn production than expected. This winter's weather will likely produce more negative effects on both fawn and adult mortality as well as fawn production, especially if bitter cold and deep snow conditions continue into spring.

Does that mean you expect antlerless permit numbers to decline?
Deer harvest results from 2013 and other factors will weigh into our antlerless permit and season structure decisions. Though the harvest analysis will not be complete until spring, it's likely that antlerless permit numbers will be decreased in certain areas and deer permit area designations designed to reduce harvest will be expanded. This approach will help stabilize or build deer populations where needed.

How did last year's hunting season compare to others?
Perspective-wise, the 2013 deer harvest was well above the average harvest of the 1980s, just slightly below the average harvest of the 1990s but considerably lower than the average harvest of 2000-2010. The average harvest from 2000-2010 was about 240,000. Those years represent the highest deer harvests in history. The record deer populations that produced those harvests were the source of unwanted problems for people, the land, and deer themselves.

When were deer population goals set?
As you may recall, between 2005 and 2007 the DNR used a public participation process to evaluate and adjust population goals for deer permit areas across the state. During the process, regional stakeholder teams were formed consisting mostly of hunters, but including foresters, farmers, private industry, landowners, conservation organizations, and tribal representatives. Teams met and gave input to the DNR on deer populations and trends. The DNR then solicited additional public input via an online presentation and questionnaire before finalizing the goals.

How were goals set; what was the outcome?
Various factors were considered in setting the goals, including habitat quality and food resources; the recreational, economic and social value of deer in Minnesota; deer vehicle collisions; agricultural damage; browsing impacts on native plant communities and other wildlife species; deer disease and health concerns; and historic deer population and harvest trends. The 2005 process occurred at a time when deer densities in much of the state were at the highest point on record. Most participants agreed the statewide population should be managed downward, and deer population goals were reduced in many deer permit areas.

So you are going to look at deer population goals again?
Yes. Now that goals have been in place for a number of years, we are committed to re-evaluating the goals that resulted from that process. Meantime, we will continue to annually evaluate the impacts of various factors on deer populations and adjust management accordingly. Depending on the effects of this winter and the analysis next spring, management changes that we could consider as early as the 2014 season would include adjustments to antlerless quotas, creating additional lottery or hunter's choice areas, or even establishing bucks-only permit areas if needed to manage low deer populations.

Where are you in the goal-setting process?
Population goals have already been re-evaluated in southwestern and parts of northern Minnesota using a similar process to that used in 2005-2007. Southeastern Minnesota permit area goals will be re-evaluated in the coming year using a revised process. We anticipate the remainder of the state will be completed in 2015 and 2016.

Anything else?
As I mentioned earlier, our aim is satisfied hunters, good hunting and minimal unwanted consequences for wildlife habitat, people, and deer themselves. That's the target. We' are committed to working with hunters and others to hit it.

To hear more about deer management from Paul Telander, visit www.mndnr.gov.

NOTE: Image of Telander attached.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                    Jan. 10, 2014

Panel explores issues affecting state's hunting, fishing tradition

Minnesota's hunting and fishing tradition is facing unprecedented demographic challenges that will require new approaches to address declines in participation rates.

That's the essence of a new report compiled by a panel of hunting and fishing interests convened by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance (MOHA).

"Minnesota is in the enviable position of having hunting and angling participation rates double the national average," said Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner. "Yet challenges are ahead. That's because young Minnesotans aren't hunting and fishing at the levels of previous generations, long-time Baby Boom hunters and anglers are destined to drop out, and future population growth will be driven largely by ethnic cultures that do not have long-held Minnesota-based hunting and fishing traditions."

Hunting and fishing are important to the state's economy. Minnesota hunters and anglers spend $3.3 billion within and out of Minnesota, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2011 national survey of hunting, fishing and wildlife recreation. Hunting and fishing support 48,000 Minnesota jobs and the additional benefits of connecting people with nature, promoting conservation, and providing healthy outdoor exercise.

About 28 percent of Minnesotans age 16 and older fish; 12 percent hunt. Since 2000, Minnesota has experienced a 12 percent decline in hunting and fishing license rates as the population has grown from 4.9 to 5.3 million. Actual license sales have stayed relatively stable at 1.5 million anglers and 570,000 hunters.

A desire to sustain the state's hunting and fishing tradition prompted Landwehr and MOHA to convene the Commissioner's Council on Hunting and Angling Recruitment and Retention. This stakeholder council, comprised of hunting, angling and recreation interests, met several times during 2013 and issued a report of its findings.

Among council conclusions were:

  • It's in the best interest of Minnesota to sustain hunters and anglers as they support land, water and species conservation through the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses and are advocates for major environmental initiatives, including the 2008 Legacy Amendment.
  • Government and stakeholders must adapt to an unprecedented generational challenge as Baby Boomers, who have high participation rates, become less active.
  • The hunting and angling community must adapt to an emerging race/ethnicity challenge that may make recruiting hunters and anglers more difficult.
  • The social processes necessary to recruit and retain hunters and anglers needs to be better understood by those who seek to create the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts. Barriers to development of hunters and anglers needs to be better understood and addressed.
  • More rigor needs to be applied to recruitment and retention program evaluation so that outcomes can be measured more accurately.

C.B. Bylander, outreach chief for DNR's Fish and Wildlife Division, said the council's work was valuable. "The outdoors community recognizes the need to design and deliver more effective public and private sector recruitment and retention programs," said Bylander. "By reviewing research and collectively applying this knowledge we can improve." Council members included representatives from Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation and other outdoor interests.

The council recommended seven actions. Recruitment recommendations included: 1) developing and supporting after school clubs for youth; 2) an "I am a hunter/angler" marketing campaign aimed at young adults; 3) learn to hunt and fish workshops for young adults; and 4) family-oriented hunting and fishing awareness and skill workshop events.

Retention recommendations included: 1) creating a web-based clearing house for hunting and fishing information targeted at young adults; 2) a reverse mentoring campaign that encourages younger hunters and anglers to hunt and fish with older hunters and angler who otherwise may drop out; and 3) enacting a new family license that incorporates hunting, fishing, state park and other privileges.

The DNR will develop a recommendation implementation plan in the months ahead in cooperation with an on-going recruitment and retention stakeholder committee.


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