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MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #21                                                                             March 20, 2014
All news releases are available in the DNR’s website newsroom at www.mndnr.gov/news.
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Cool weather does not mean strong ice
Deadline approaching for seasonal and monthly camping reservations
  at Minnesota state parks
DNR reminds ATV operators to steer clear of road ditches in the agricultural zone
DNR encourages homeowners to burn vegetative debris early
George named TIP’s 2013 Officer of the Year 



Cool weather does not mean strong ice

As snow continues to melt, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds winter recreationists that ice in the Twin Cities metro area is deteriorating rapidly.

“While we have had temperatures in the 20s or 30s that does not mean the ice on a lake, pond or river is safe,” said Kara Owens DNR boat and water safety specialist.

Right now the ice around the metro is in the melting stage and thickness levels vary from area to area, she said.

Many metro area lakes are still ice covered, but both the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers have open water.

The recent snowfall does not mean safe ice either. Snow weighs down on the ice and insulates the ice, preventing cold air from getting through.

So far this winter (November to April), two people have died from falling through the ice or in open water compared to six ice fatalities last winter (2012-2013).

On Jan. 23, a 38-year-old ice fisherman died after he broke through the ice on the Minnesota River in Scott County.

Less than a month later, on Feb. 15, an ice fisherman died after falling into open water inside his spearfishing house on Maple Lake in Polk County.

“The bottom line is it‘s crucial that people do not let their guard down and recognize ice is never 100 percent safe,” Owens said.

For more information on ice safety, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/ice/thickness.html.



DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                       March 20, 2014

Deadline approaching for seasonal and monthly camping reservations at Minnesota state parks

Campers should act now to reserve one of the few campsites available at Minnesota state parks for stays longer than a week or two, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

At a limited number of state park campsites, visitors can stay for a month or a full season. Reservations are due by Tuesday, April 1.

For pricing and other park-specific information, or to submit a request to reserve a site, prospective visitors can call the phone numbers listed below or check the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov (www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/extended_stay.html).

Six Minnesota state parks have monthly and seasonal openings for camping in 2014.

  • Myre-Big Island State Park (507-379-3403) in Albert Lea will offer monthly or seasonal camping at four campsites, three of which have electric hook-ups.
  • Lac qui Parle State Park (320-734-4450) in Montevideo will offer monthly or seasonal camping at three electric campsites and one with a full hookup to water, sewer and electricity.
  • Upper Sioux Agency State Park (320-564-4777) in Granite Falls will offer monthly or seasonal camping at two campsites, both of which have electric hook-ups.
  • Big Stone Lake State Park (320-839-3663) in Ortonville will offer monthly and seasonal camping at two sites with an electric hookup.
  • Kilen Woods State Park will offer monthly and seasonal camping at three sites with electric hookups. Call Phil Nasby at 507-831-2900, ext. 225.
  • Rice Lake State Park (507-455-5871) in Owatonna also may have sites available.

Seasonal and monthly camping is available from May 23 to Aug. 31 at Kilen Woods State Park and from May 2 to Aug. 31 at the other parks.

If demand exceeds availability at a particular park, a lottery will be conducted on Friday, April 4, and the park will notify applicants whether or not they were selected. If sites are available after this date, they will be administered on a first-come, first-served basis. No preference will be given to monthly or seasonal campers from prior years.

For monthly campsite reservations, the entire monthly fee is due by Friday, April 18. For seasonal campsite reservations, a one-month down payment is due by Friday, April 18, and the remainder of the seasonal fee is due when visitors arrive to check-in. If a lottery is not necessary and sites are available after April 4, the monthly fee must be paid at the time of reservation to hold the site.




DNR NEWS - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                      March 20, 2014

DNR reminds ATV operators to steer clear of road ditches in the agricultural zone

With warm weather on the way, many all-terrain vehicle (ATV) riders are anxious to hit the trails, but the Department of Natural Resources reminds riders to be aware of riding restrictions in some parts of the state due to wet conditions or closures.

Between April 1 and Aug. 1, Minnesota law prohibits ATVs from riding in ditches in the agricultural zone, that is, the area of the state south of a line that runs roughly from Moorhead to Taylors Falls along Highway 10 and Highway 95. The area roughly covers the southern half of the state.

“During these four months, ATV riders need to stay out of the road ditches completely in the agricultural zone,” Lt. Leland Owens, DNR recreational vehicle coordinator said. “In addition to the law prohibiting ATV use, those road ditches provide some of the only nesting habitat available in places.”

The ATV restriction does not apply to grant-in-aid trails or to ATVs registered and used exclusively for agricultural purposes.

Owens said that in addition to potentially disturbing wildlife, ATVs in wet road ditches can cause erosion problems and even, in some cases, damage the roadbed itself.

As they do each spring, the DNR will need to temporarily close some state forest roads and trails to ATV operators due to wet conditions.

All off-highway vehicle riders are encouraged to check on trail conditions and temporary closures before planning riding trips to prevent damage to forest roads and trails.

Trail condition information is available at www.mndnr.gov (www.dnr.state.mn.us/current_conditions/index.html) or by calling the DNR Information Center at 651-296 6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367. The DNR will also post signs at entry points and at parking lots in state forests.




DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                             March 20, 2014

DNR encourages homeowners to burn vegetative debris early

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources encourages homeowners to dispose of vegetative debris before the snow melts and fires spread more easily.

Vegetative debris includes downed trees and branches, grass clippings and leaves. Getting rid of this debris is especially important with large woody debris piles in areas that experienced storm damage over the last couple of years. Burning these piles when there is no snow cover can pose a serious threat for spring wildfires due to flying embers and smoldering coals these fires generate.

When there is less than 3 inches of snow, state law requires people to get a permit to burn and to activate the permit daily for open fires other than campfires. Permits are available online at www.mndnr.gov (www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/questions.html), from local fire wardens, community/city offices or from DNR area forestry offices.

Traditionally, most wildfires in Minnesota occur in April and May. “Because of the high fire danger between snow melt and spring green up, the DNR restricts burning activities during that time,” said DNR Fire Prevention Coordinator Larry Himanga.

Fire danger increases when the snow melts and winds dry the dead standing grass and brush. At that time, local DNR wildfire managers will restrict burning permits in their areas.

Spring fire restrictions cover large areas of the state; open burning will be drastically limited until summer green up occurs. Because more than 95 percent of Minnesota wildfires are caused by human error, the restrictions have resulted in a dramatic decrease in both the numbers and sizes of accidental fires, Himanga said.
The restrictions are weather dependent, but normally last from four to six weeks until sufficient green vegetative growth occurs. Although the DNR has not set the date for restrictions to begin, they are likely in the southern part of the state in a couple weeks. 

Check the DNR website burning restrictions page for the latest information at:  www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/firerating_restrictions.html.

Although there may still be snow on the ground today, the DNR urges caution when burning debris piles. Attend fires at all times and make sure a fire it is out and cold to the touch before leaving. This will require stirring or spreading ember piles. Use water to put out the fire when possible.

Large piles can hold hot embers for days, weeks, or even months. Escaped fires from debris piles endanger homes and property every year. If an escaped fire requires the DNR or a fire department to put it out, the homeowner is responsible for the costs.

The safest way to dispose of yard waste is to recycle or compost it. Many communities have chipping or composting areas.




DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    

George named TIP’s 2013 Officer of the Year

Minnesota Turn in Poachers (TIP) recently named Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Phil George as its 2013 Officer of the Year.

He joined the DNR in 2006 after 15 years with the Rochester Police Department. He served in DNR Enforcement’s Owatonna/Mantorville field station for five years before moving to the Rochester field station in 2011.

George called the award a great honor. “TIP is the one organization that connects the eyes and ears of the ethical sports person afield with their conservation officer anywhere in the state,” he said. “The education and outreach TIP conducts each year is a huge benefit to the state of Minnesota, all done through memberships, fund raising and many volunteer hours.”

Lt. Dean Olson, Rochester area enforcement supervisor, nominated George.

“He is the go-to person in the district for his wide variety of skills such as trapping, big game and special regulation fishing opportunities,” he said.

Col. Ken Soring, DNR Enforcement director, praised the respect, trust and public support the officer has earned.

“Being responsive to calls and working cases is a great service we provide, but equally important is supporting the outreach and education efforts of the TIP program and influencing the public values and beliefs about resource protection and resource appreciation,” Soring said. “This is more than ‘an award,’ it is a statement from the TIP Board that they recognize George’s accomplishments resulting from selfless commitment to a worthwhile mission.”

TIP is a private nonprofit organization operating on private donations. TIP accomplishes its mission of protecting and preserving Minnesota’s natural resources by providing educational materials and by funding rewards paid directly to citizens who call in tips that lead to arrests of game law violators.

People can stop poachers in their tracks by reporting natural resource violations to TIP at 800-652-9093 or #TIP for most cell phone users.


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