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MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #40                                                                                May 28, 2013
 

IN THIS ISSUE
DNR lifts burning restrictions
DNR Enforcement director to retire June 4
DNR seeks comments on falconry rules

COMMENTARY
Thanks to those who enroll land in CRP


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
 

DNR lifts burning restrictions

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) lifted restrictions on open burning at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, May 28. A statewide green up, combined with the recent precipitation have eased the critical fire danger. 

Permits for open burning will generally be available throughout the state. However, a few areas in the extreme northern parts of the state plan to continue local restrictions until more moisture is received.

The DNR reminds everyone that, although the statewide restrictions are now lifted, local areas, counties or municipalities may have specific regulations or restrictions that affect burning operations. Check with local authorities to obtain proper permits before any open burning.

The DNR advises people to follow open burning laws and regulations, keep their burn piles small, have a water supply nearby, and stay with the fire until it is completely out. If a fire escapes the homeowner is responsible for damage and suppression costs.

Burning permits are available through state and federal forestry offices and township fire wardens. A $5 annual permit is available online at http://webapps1.dnr.state.mn.us/burning_permits/.

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DNR NEWS - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                        May 28, 2013
 

DNR Enforcement director to retire June 4

Pictures of former chief conservation officers line the walls of the fireplace room in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) training center at Camp Ripley near Little Falls.

Each represents the legacy of Minnesota natural resources law enforcement professionalism that has existed since 1887.

Col. Jim Konrad, 56, will retire as director of DNR’s Enforcement Division, effective June 4, ending 30 years of state service. His picture will now hang on the wall, alongside those of his predecessors.

“Even though I will miss the job, I feel confident that I leave the division in a strong position to continue the progress that began with my appointment four years ago,” Konrad said.

Like the others, over time Konrad’s official photo in the fireplace room will represent a list of accomplishments he achieved during his time as chief.

Under Konrad’s leadership, DNR Enforcement issued new firearms and tasers to conservation officers, added a new aircraft and new K-9 teams, strengthened budget oversight and management, completed two conservation officer academies, implemented an improved hiring process, uncovered a number of high-profile poaching cases, successfully responded to several floods and disasters, introduced an online hunter education course, improved staff leadership training and improved communications and operational accountability.

“Col. Konrad has been a steadying force for the Enforcement Division,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, who reappointed Konrad as Enforcement chief when he took over as commissioner in January 2011. “He refocused the division on some of the fundamentals: officer safety, fiscal accountability and building a solid leadership team. I am grateful for his long service to the state’s people and natural resources.”

During a recent DNR Enforcement leadership meeting, Konrad thanked employees for their support and hard work in protecting Minnesota’s resources.

“As a division, we can look back and celebrate the great things we achieved together and reflect on the continued role we all played in making this state a better place to live and play,” Konrad said. “It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve as your chief.”

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  May 28, 2013

DNR seeks comments on falconry rules

Comments or a request for hearing on proposed rule changes for falconry, raptor propagation and abatement using raptors will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 27, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said.  

The proposed changes update Minnesota’s rules following a revision of federal falconry regulations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service required each state, in order to have a falconry program, to adopt language that conforms to the federal falconry regulations.

The proposed state regulations supplement federal regulations and clarify areas where the federal regulations give states discretion or where Minnesota regulations are more restrictive than federal regulations. The proposed regulations also:

  • Establish Minnesota-specific provisions that are necessary for program administration; prevent/control potential invasive species (non-native and hybrid raptors).
  • Create a “take” season for raptors (currently in the regulations, but extended in the proposed regulations).
  • Create a junior apprentice class for very young falconers with required adult participation and supervision.
  • Create “seasons of experience” necessary to advance between falconry classes.
  • Make improvements to raptor propagation administration (creation of two propagator classes). 
  • Allow falconers to conduct abatement (removal of unwanted animals) using falconry raptors with a state abatement permit, which is not currently addressed in state regulations.

Comments should be directed to Heidi Cyr, falconry coordinator, by mail at 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4035; by phone, 651-259-5107; or email heidi.cyr@state.mn.us

Complete details are available at www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/rules/wildlife/raptor.html

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DNR COMMENTARY                                                                                                        May 28, 2013
 

Thanks to those who enroll land in CRP

By Tom Landwehr, DNR Commissioner
 
If you own private land in the agricultural part of the state, the future of wildlife and water quality depends on you.

This is true because grasslands, wetlands and other forms of cover are critical for providing pheasants, ducks and a myriad of nongame species with the nesting sites, food and shelter they need. That cover is found primarily on private lands.

For this reason I offer my sincere thanks to those of you who have enrolled land in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). You have been a friend to wildlife, soil, clean water and the Minnesotans who value them. Your efforts are appreciated. Hopefully, others will follow your example before the sign-up closes June 14.

Preserving grassland is one of the great environmental challenges we face. Long ago, tallgrass prairie covered about one-third of Minnesota and totaled some 18 million acres. Today, less than 2 percent remains. What remains is further threatened by the current combination of low interest rates, high corn and soybean prices and ever-increasing yields per acre that make it economically attractive to convert even marginal grassland that was never before deemed tillable. 

Since 2007, conversion of idle lands to cropland has been accelerating. In fact, grassland-to-cropland conversions in the Corn Belt have not been this high since the 1920s and 1930s, the era of rapid mechanization of America’s agriculture. The National Agriculture Statistics Service reports that grassland conversion to corn and soybeans (1 to 5.4 percent annually) across a significant portion of the Western Corn Belt is comparable to deforestation rates in Brazil, Malaysia and Indonesia. 

Since its beginning in 1985, CRP has contributed to improving Minnesota’s water quality and done more for grassland wildlife than any other conservation program. At one point, there were 1.9 million acres of CRP in Minnesota; today that amount is about 1.4 million acres. Since 2007, however, Minnesota has lost 425,000 acres of CRP. Another 625,000 acres of CRP in the state is scheduled to expire over the next five years. Together, that’s a land mass roughly the size of Rhode Island.

If you are enrolled in CRP please consider re-enrolling. If you have land that could be enrolled, please consider it. You might also consider enrolling your grassland in the Walk-In Access program. This program provides financial incentives for landowners to keep land in CRP by allowing public hunting on that land. Now entering its third year, the walk-in program has expanded to 35 counties in western Minnesota, with a goal of enrolling 25,000 acres. This program has proven successful for both landowners and hunters. 

Your local Farm Service Agency office can provide more information on CRP and the Walk-In Access program. At many locations you will meet specialized consultants funded by the Farm Bill Partnership and supported by the Board of Water and Soil Resources, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Pheasants Forever and the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.

So stop by. Ask questions. Get answers. And know that if you do enroll, you will make a positive impact on our environment for years to come, and for that, I – and all Minnesotans – thank you. 

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