DNR news releases, June 2, 2014

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MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #41                                                                                 June 2, 2014
All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.

Follow the DNR on Twitter @mndnr.

IN THIS ISSUE
Take a Kid Fishing Weekend is June 6-8
Muskie season opens Saturday, June 7
‘Blasting’ away aquatic plants may not be legal
DNR seeks comments on draft rules for Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area
DNR’s Trail Ambassador program to the rescue
DNR Question of the week: Life jackets



DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Take a Kid Fishing Weekend is June 6-8

It’s Take a Kid Fishing Weekend in Minnesota, June 6-8, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

During this three-day period, Minnesotans age 16 or older do not need a fishing license while taking a child age 15 or younger fishing.

For more information on how, when and where to fish, see the DNR’s Fish Minnesota page at www.mndnr.gov/fishmn.

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                        June 2, 2014 

Muskie season opens Saturday, June 7

Anglers have one big reason to cast again and again when the statewide muskellunge season opens Saturday, June 7 – big muskie live in Minnesota waters.

Minnesota is a muskie fishing destination, thanks in part to research-based management by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and a catch-and-release ethic shared by many muskie anglers.

“People come here because they have the chance to catch a giant muskie,” said Mike Habrat, DNR fisheries specialist in Detroit Lakes. “Muskie anglers are more than happy to cast all day long and not catch a fish, but if they get the chance to see one of those fish follow their lure to the boat – that’s all they talk about for the next two weeks.”

For these reasons, some circles of muskie anglers even refer to themselves as muskie hunters.
The chance to catch a trophy is what led the Minnesota Muskie and Pike Alliance to support a 54-inch minimum size limit, which was adopted into this year’s game and fish bill, and will become effective with the 2015 muskie season.

What will be the result? The change likely will allow fish to grow larger, said Habrat. Until the new size limit goes into effect, the statewide minimum size is 48 inches.

The change also supersedes previous rulemaking efforts undertaken by the DNR, which had a rule in process that would have increased the statewide minimum from 48- to 50-inches, with plans to move select waters to 56 inches. The new legislation supersedes the rule, except on border waters and other select waters designated by the DNR commissioner.

The length limit makes exceptions for muskie-northern pike hybrids, also called tiger muskie, in the seven-county metro area, where the minimum size limit remains 40 inches on certain lakes.

Minnesota’s rise as a renowned muskie fishing destination is the result of research that identified how best to capture and rear a large-growing native strain of muskie, stocking this strain in appropriate waters, and managing the harvest. The new size length regulation will help the state continue to be a destination for those seeking large muskie, Habrat said. According to information compiled by Muskie, Inc. Magazine and The Lunge Log, three of the nation’s top five muskie lakes (based on reports of 50-inch fish or larger) are located in Minnesota and 11 of the nation’s top 19 muskie lakes are located in Minnesota. Lakes like Vermilion, Mille Lacs and Big Detroit are commonly recognized as among the best in the country for catching big muskie.

“Anglers don’t necessarily have to catch a fish to have a satisfying trip,” Habrat said. “There’s enjoyment in the mystique of the fish and knowing the potential to catch a very large fish exists.”

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                           June 2, 2014


‘Blasting’ away aquatic plants may not be legal

Products that create water currents to push away plants and debris from docks and shoreline should not be used to move sediment or excavate the bottom of a lake or river, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“Some companies have advertised that their products can ‘blast away’ mucky lake bottom without a permit,” said Steve Enger, DNR aquatic plant management supervisor. “Property owners need to be aware that use of these and similar products could expose them to a citation.”

Products can resemble a fan or trolling motor contained in a short tube, and operate by creating strong currents of moving water. They are not always illegal, but consumers should use caution when considering any kind of aquatic plant removal. If the product is moving sediment, the manner of operation is likely not allowed.

“When directed at a lake bottom these products can uproot aquatic plants and cause plumes or clouds of disturbed sediment to drift down the shoreline, interfering with other people’s enjoyment of the lake and possibly covering spawning areas with a layer of sediment,” said Enger.

Aquatic plants are important to lakes. They help maintain water clarity, prevent erosion, stabilize the bottom sediments and provide habitat for fish and wildlife. While it is possible to legally remove some aquatic plants, oftentimes permits are required. For permit and other information on the DNR’s aquatic plant management program, visit www.mndnr.gov/apm.

For more information on aquatic plant regulations, visit www.mndnr.gov/shorelandmgmt/apg/regulations.html.

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                 June 2, 2014

DNR seeks comments on draft rules for Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area

A special regulatory framework aimed at protecting the metro portion of the Mississippi River is getting its first update in 35 years, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants the public to weigh in on the proposed changes.

Stretching 72 miles from Dayton to Hastings, the Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area (MRCCA) was designated with executive orders signed by governors Wendell Anderson and Al Quie in the late 1970s. The critical area designation recognized the unique economic, ecological, recreational and scenic values of the river and established districts and standards regulating some aspects of land use within the corridor’s 54,000 acres.

The order has been administered through plans and ordinances passed by the 30 units of local government in the corridor, with oversight by the DNR and the Metropolitan Council. No formal rules were ever adopted, though, and over the past decade, the executive order has become increasingly outdated and difficult for state and local governments to administer.

In 2011, the Legislature directed the DNR to replace the executive order with rules establishing new districts and updated land development standards that sustain key natural, scenic, cultural and economic resources and features. The DNR has met with local staff and officials, interest groups and others to gather input and develop working draft rules that:

  • Maintain and improve protections for water quality and habitat. 
  • Better recognize existing and planned development.
  • Provide flexibility for local governments to allow redevelopment while protecting key resources. 
  • Focus on standards that best achieve resource protection.
  • Simplify administration and clarify language.

“Developing modern rules will go a long way toward improving efficiency and consistency while protecting the essential values that led to the MRCCA’s original designation,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “That’s something we hope landowners, local units of government, and river advocates can all support.”

DNR will accept comments on its working draft of rules for the MRCCA through Aug. 15. The working draft rules, maps, rulemaking schedule, and other information are available on the DNR’s project website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/rules/mrcca/index.html. The agency also plans to hold public information meetings and open houses in corridor communities this summer. People interested in receiving further information about those meetings should subscribe to the agency’s email updates at the project website.

The 60-day comment period is intended to gather feedback on the working draft rules before they are revised and proposed for formal rule adoption. DNR will work closely with the MRCCA communities and other agencies and interest groups during the comment period to refine the draft rules. The rule adoption phase will begin with a notice of intent/hearing to adopt the rules and is tentatively scheduled to begin in November.

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DNR NEWS - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                 June 2, 2014 

DNR’s Trail Ambassador program to the rescue

It was a memorable Memorial Day for Donna Boos and Michelle Ertz of Dubuque, Iowa. The sisters were hiking on the Paul Bunyan Trail near Walker, but took a side trail that brought them on to the Round Lake Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Trail System when they became lost. Fortunately, two members of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Trail Ambassador program were there to rescue them.

“We walked farther than we planned to and got lost, making the rookie mistake of no cell phone or water,” said Ertz. “I was nearing heat exhaustion when we came across Bob Metzer and his niece Charlene Metzer.”

Boos and Ertz were lost for about five hours (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and were nearly 8 miles from their cabin on Leech Lake when rescued by the Metzer’s.

“They were dehydrated, full of wood ticks and very scared,” said Char Metzer. “They were very glad to see us.”

Ertz said the Metzer’s were a godsend.

“They gave us their personal bottles of water and offered food to us,” Ertz said. “After giving us a ride to the nearest gas station, they stayed with us to make sure we were okay and waited for our ride to arrive. My sister and I want to let the Minnesota DNR know how grateful we were for Bob and Char's training.”

The Metzer’s, members of the Range Riders ATV Club in Nashwauk, are among the DNR’s 234 trail ambassadors, specially trained volunteers, sponsored by qualifying organizations.

Established by the Minnesota Legislature in 2007 to meet the growing number of motorized recreationalists in the state, the program exists to promote safe, environmentally responsible operation of off-highway vehicles (OHVs) through informational, educational contacts and monitoring efforts. OHVs include all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), off-highway motorcycles (OHMs) and off-road vehicles (ORVs) such as four-wheel-drive trucks.

For conservation officers, members of the DNR’s Trail Ambassador program are another set of eyes.

 “These folks attend training sessions to learn how to help protect and preserve Minnesota’s trail system,” said 2nd Lt. Leland Owens, DNR Enforcement recreational vehicle coordinator. “And they have delivered. They give of their time, talent and energy. They are making a difference.”

Volunteer ambassadors are responsible for greeting fellow outdoor enthusiasts, educating trail users, giving minor aid in emergencies, and providing useful information about responsible OHV use on public lands. And they’ll watch for more than reckless riders. Through a special DNR training program they have learned to identify invasive plants and determine what constitutes trail damage. The volunteers also receive training in the use of GPS to note locations of trail damage, invasive plants, off-trail riding incidents and irresponsible or illegal OHV use. DNR Forestry, Parks and Trails, and Enforcement staff provides the training.

“Trail ambassadors carry no law enforcement authority. Their influence lies in their knowledge, friendliness and willingness to help others,” said Owens. “They have a high degree of commitment to maintaining the environment and the responsible use of public lands.”

Reports from trail ambassadors are forwarded to local conservation officers such as Paul Kuske who patrols parts of Morrison and Crow Wing counties where a portion of the Soo Line Trail is located.

“It's another set of eyes for conservation officers,” Kuske said.  

Owens added that volunteers such as the Metzer’s are the core of the Trail Ambassador program.

“It’s been a successful initiative that continues to make a difference. Just ask Donna Boos and Michelle Ertz.”

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DNR Question of the week


Q: How many life jackets do I need in my boat, and am I required to wear one?

A: A readily accessible U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket is required for each person on all boats including canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. A Type IV throwable device is also required on boats more than 16 feet.

Children under 10 years old must wear a life jacket while a boat is underway unless the child is in an enclosed cabin, aboard a passenger vessel operated by a licensed captain, or on a boat that is anchored for the purpose of swimming or diving. The life jacket also must be the appropriate size for the wearer.

- Kara Owens, DNR boat and water safety specialist


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