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MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #4                                                                               Jan. 17, 2014
All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.
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Legacy Amendment helps clean up Crow River in St. Michael
Safety drives Snowmobile Safety Awareness Week


Legacy Amendment helps clean up Crow River in St. Michael

An innovative project funded partially by a sales tax that voters approved five years ago is helping prevent part of St. Michael from being washed away by the Crow River, and improving downstream water quality in the process.

In recent years, the river banks at a bend in the Crow River on the east side of St. Michael have slowly been eroding, sending tons of soil down the river and on into the Mississippi -- and the erosion was worsening, threatening to wipe out a city stormwater pond. The traditional approach to the problem would entail armoring the riverbank with massive amounts of large rocks or rip-rap, an approach that’s biologically sterile and would cost millions of dollars – a high price tag for cash-strapped local units of government.

That’s when staff with the Crow River Organization of Water (CROW) contacted Nick Proulx, a DNR clean water specialist. Proulx began looking into a much cheaper method of controlling stream bank erosion that had been used successfully on the Le Sueur River in southern Minnesota and elsewhere.

Toe-wood stream bank stabilization, as it’s called, involves burying logs, some with root wads still attached, along the outside bend of the river, some poking up from the stream channel. Then they’re covered with soil and plantings of woody vegetation such as alder and willow, as well as grasses and sedges. The approach tries to work with a river’s flow and forces, rather than locking it in place, Proulx explained. It results in a more natural channel and creates floodplain, a stabilized stream bank, less erosion and sediment in the water, and better habitat for aquatic organisms.

“It’s a fairly new approach that’s gaining steam,” Proulx said. “We’re trying to demonstrate that this is a valid alternative to rip-rap, a valid approach to infrastructure protection at a much cheaper cost.”

And when Proulx said the toe-wood stabilization is “much cheaper,” that may be an understatement. A similar stream bank stabilization project using rip-rap in Delano cost $2.4 million. Price tag for the St. Michael toe-wood stabilization work: $183,000 – less than one-tenth of the traditional approach. About $64,000 of that came from a Clean Water Legacy grant awarded to the Wright County Soil and Water Conservation District; the grant was funded by a sales tax increase approved by voters five years ago last November. The rest was paid for by CROW and the city of St. Michael. Proulx, who helped design the project and oversaw its construction, also is paid with Clean Water Legacy funds.

“Imagine 30 dump trucks backing up to the Crow River and dumping a load of dirt into it each year,” Proulx said. “That’s how much erosion was going on before this project. That’s a pretty significant reduction in pollution, and a big improvement in water quality.”

Find more information about the DNR’s Legacy Amendment funded projects at www.mndnr.gov/legacy.  




DNR NEWS - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                   Jan. 17, 2014

Safety drives Snowmobile Safety Awareness Week

In the continuing effort to bring attention to safe snowmobiling in Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton has proclaimed Jan.18-25, Minnesota Snowmobile Safety Awareness Week, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR, the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association (MnUSA) and its member clubs support this effort, which is designed to encourage safe snowmobiling and to raise awareness of the importance of having the proper snowmobile training.

“Snowmobiling is one of Minnesota’s most popular activities,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR enforcement education program coordinator. “Unfortunately, unsafe snowmobiling can result in serious injury. Gov. Dayton, the DNR, and MnUSA encourage all snowmobile enthusiasts to take a safety course to learn how to avoid accidents and ensure they have the necessary knowledge, skills, and training to ride safely.”

To legally ride a snowmobile in Minnesota, residents born after Dec. 31, 1976 need a valid snowmobile safety certificate.

More than 1,000 volunteer instructors teach DNR snowmobile safety courses across the state. 

For more information on the dates and locations of these courses, visit the DNR website www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/vehicle/snowmobile/index.html or call 800-366-8917.

Minnesota has 22,000 miles of snowmobile trails with 21,000 miles of those trails maintained and groomed by snowmobile club volunteers across the state.

Here are some suggestions for making a safe snowmobiling experience:

ZERO ALCOHOL – Drinking and driving can be fatal. Drinking alcohol before or during snowmobiling can impair judgment and slow reaction time. Alcohol also causes body temperature to drop at an accelerated rate, which increases the likelihood of hypothermia.

SLOW DOWN – Speed is a contributing factor in nearly all fatal snowmobiling accidents. Drivers should proceed at a pace that allows ample reaction time for any situation. Remember, when driving at night the DNR recommends a speed of only 40 miles an hour. Faster speeds may result in “over driving” the headlight.

BE PREPARED – When traveling, make sure to bring a first aid kit, a flashlight, waterproof matches and a compass.

STAY ALERT – Fatigue can reduce the driver’s coordination and judgment.

ICE ADVICE – Avoid traveling across bodies of water when uncertain of ice thickness and strength of ice on lakes and ponds. Snow cover can act as a blanket and prevent safe ice from forming. Never travel in a single file when crossing bodies of water.

DRESS FOR SUCCESS – Use a full-size helmet, goggles or face shield to prevent injuries from twigs, stones, ice and flying debris. Clothing should be worn in layers and should be just snug enough so that no loose ends catch in the machine.

WATCH THE WEATHER – Rapid weather changes can produce dangerous conditions.

BRING A BUDDY – Never travel alone. Most snowmobile accidents result in some personal injury. The most dangerous situations can occur if a person is injured and alone. When traveling alone tell someone the destination, planned route and scheduled return time.

REPORT ACCIDENTS – The operator of a snowmobile involved in an accident resulting in medical attention, death, or damage exceeding $500 must file an official accident report through the county sheriff’s office within 10 days.

For a copy of the DNR’s 2013-2014 Minnesota Snowmobile Safety Laws, Rules, and Regulations handbook, call 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 or find it online: www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/snowmobile/index.html.





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