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MINNESOTA DNR NEWS #41                                                                                  May 30, 2013
 

IN THIS ISSUE
Zebra mussels found in Sand Lake, Little Sand Lake in northern Itasca County
Detroit Lakes man named 2012 ATV instructor of the year
Weather increases importance of delayed roadside mowing
Boat and water safety leader to retire from 41-year DNR career
Gov. Dayton proclaims June as Great Outdoors Month
Heartland State Trail segment to close temporarily June 3 for bridge construction
Brown’s Creek State Trail will remain closed during construction


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
 

Zebra mussels found in Sand Lake,
Little Sand Lake in northern Itasca County

A citizen report of adult zebra mussels attached to a dock removed from Sand Lake last fall has been confirmed by a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) aquatic invasive species biologist. Preliminary searches of connected waters have resulted in the confirmation of additional zebra mussels in Little Sand Lake.

Sand Lake and Little Sand Lake, in northern Itasca County, are part of Bowstring chain of lakes that eventually flow into the Bigfork River. Additional searches of connected waters are being performed to determine the scope of the infestation.

The initial discovery was reported as the homeowner prepared to install his dock for the season. The dock was stored on shore over the winter and was found to have dead zebra mussels still attached from when it was removed last fall.

“The homeowner took personal responsibility to inspect their equipment before placing it in the water, and did the right thing by reporting the discovery right away,” said Rich Rezanka, DNR aquatic invasive species specialist.

Sand Lake (DNR public waters inventory number 31-0826) and Little Sand Lake (DNR public waters inventory number 31-0853) will be designated as infested waters and signs will be posted at public accesses to alert recreationists.

Connected waters being investigated for infestation include:

  • Bowstring Lake, 31-0813.
  • Rice Lake, 31-0876.
  • Portage Lake, 31-0824.
  • Bird’s Eye Lake, 31-0834.


Recreationists on this chain of lakes should look for infested waters signage at public accesses. Signage will allow recreationists and other resource partners to be aware of the finding and take additional precautions to prevent the inadvertent spread to other lakes. Bait harvest and transport of water for any purpose is prohibited in infested waters.

Anglers, boaters and other recreationists are reminded to remove all aquatic plants, zebra mussels, and other prohibited invasive species, drain water from all water equipment including portable bait containers, and drain bilges and livewells by removing the drain plug before leaving the boat landing.

More information about zebra mussels, how to inspect boats and other water-related equipment, and a current list of designated infested waters is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/ais


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DNR NEWS - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             May 30, 2013                           
 

Detroit Lakes man named 2012 ATV instructor of the year

Gary Thompson of Detroit Lakes has been named the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) 2012 all-terrain vehicle (ATV) volunteer instructor of the year.

In the past eight years, Thompson has certified more than 450 students and encouraged seven individuals to become DNR certified ATV safety training instructors.

“This award recognizes outstanding individuals such as Gary Thompson who make significant contributions to educating youths on the safe use of an ATV and respect for laws and conservation,” said 2nd Lt. Leland Owens, DNR Enforcement recreational vehicle coordinator.

DNR conservation officers work closely with 825 ATV volunteer safety instructors. Through the efforts of these instructors, about 2,500 ATV’ers have graduated from ATV safety education courses annually since 1985.

“Without the work of volunteer instructors, educating ATV operators would be an impossible job,” Owens said.

Minnesota law requires anyone born after July 1, 1987, to have a certificate if they are 11 or older and want to ride on public land, trails and frozen waters. The course also is available for adults.

Minnesota has nearly 350,000 registered ATVs.

For more information on ATV safety training, go to www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/vehicle/atv/index.html.

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                   May 30, 2013
 

Weather increases importance of delayed roadside mowing

Delayed mowing of roadsides will be more important than normal this year as the cool, wet weather impacts bird nesting, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

More than 40 bird species, including pheasants, use roadsides for nesting from April to August.

“The late spring will likely impact pheasant nesting in one of two ways,” said Nicole Davros, DNR research scientist and pheasant specialist. “Some hens may have delayed nest initiation due to cooler temps and snow cover at the start of the nesting season. Other hens that did start nesting may have abandoned their first attempt due to the weather.”

It takes six weeks for a hen pheasant to lay eggs and hatch chicks, Davros said. If a nest fails due to weather, predators or human disturbance, the hen will attempt to renest until successful in hatching a clutch, although renesting clutches will have fewer eggs. A pheasant hen will only hatch one brood per year and will not renest if she loses her chicks.

The peak hatch for pheasants is typically the third week in June, but this year there will probably be a lot of birds still nesting in July, Davros said. Chicks need to be two to three weeks old to escape mowers or other farm equipment.  By delaying roadside disturbances until
Aug. 1, most nests can hatch successfully.

If landowners are worried about safety, mowing a narrow strip adjacent to their mailbox or driveway shouldn’t affect nesting hens too much, Davros said. Most pheasant hens place their nests either in the ditch bottom or along the back slope, away from the road. At sites where noxious weeds are a problem, Davros recommends spot mowing or spot spraying for treatment.

Roadsides provide more than 500,000 acres of nesting area in the pheasant range of southern and western Minnesota. Roadside habitat influences local wildlife populations, including pheasants, teal, mallards and songbirds, especially in intensively row-cropped regions where there is little other grassland available.

For more information, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/roadsidesforwildlife/index.html or contact the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367.

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           May 30, 2013

Boat and water safety leader to retire from 41-year DNR career

Kim Elverum, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) boat and water safety coordinator, is retiring effective Friday, May 31, following a 41-year career helping to make recreational boating safer.

Elverum, 65, is the longest-serving state boating law administrator in the nation.

“We will never know the number of lives saved as a result of the many years of work that Kim did with our boat and water safety program, but it is likely substantial,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “He has had a profound impact in creating a safety culture around boating in the state.”

Elverum’s DNR career began in forestry in 1971. A few years later, he was transferred to boating safety. He set up a new watercraft operator’s permit program for teenagers, wrote the boating education manual and put in place a process for issuing permits. He trained numerous DNR officers and county sheriff’s deputies and talked to hundreds of boating groups about boating safety. 

He oversaw public outreach efforts and worked with DNR and county officers on water enforcement and training in areas including accident investigations. Elverum played a key role in the state’s enactment of the first comprehensive boating while intoxicated law (BWI) and the state’s first law on personal watercraft.

Under his watch, Minnesota’s boating fatalities fell from 56 in 1975 to 15 in 2012, or about one-third the national rate. “One of our greatest accomplishments was educating the public on responsible boating and water safety,” Elverum said. “Ultimately, we made an impact. However, one fatality is one too many and we continue to work to lower that number.”

This month, Elverum was selected for induction into the National Safe Boating Council’s Boating Safety Hall of Fame. As the 39th inductee, he joins the ranks of other leaders who made a significant national impact in boating safety.

“We will miss Kim’s knowledge and experience to help us get the job done,” said Virgil Chambers, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council. “We hope we learned enough from him to continue with the ideas and convictions he worked so hard to advance.”

Elverum has been awarded the U.S. Coast Guard Meritorious Public Service Award for his “exceptional efforts promoting recreational boating safety education and innovative high-impact social media programs nationwide.”

He served on and was chairman of a number of national boating safety boards and councils, including the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators where he served on the board and as president.

Stan Linnell, a 28-year employee of the DNR, is assuming Elverum’s job duties. Linnell has held a number of posts, including manager of planning, acquisition and development for the Parks and Trails Division.

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                               May 30, 2013
 

Gov. Dayton proclaims June as Great Outdoors Month

DNR suggests getting outdoors to fish and explore trails on Saturday, June 1

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages Minnesotans to pack a picnic, grab a fishing rod and visit a state park or trail on Saturday, June 1, which is National Trails Day as well as the start of Great Outdoors Month, as proclaimed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

Minnesota’s extensive trail system is well known as one of the best public trail systems in the nation. In fact, Minnesota was voted Best Trails State in America by American Trails in 2010.

“As Governor Dayton noted in his proclamation, Minnesota is home to an extraordinary state park and trail system with 230,000 acres of land and thousands of miles of trails to explore,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “Great Outdoors Month and National Trails Day provide great opportunities for Minnesotans to get away with family and friends to enjoy hiking, biking and a variety of other activities in the beautiful settings that have been preserved for current and future generations.”

For anyone in need of ideas, Nelson suggests 10 ways to spend National Trails Day:

  • Paddle a state water trail. The year 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Minnesota’s state water trails. The DNR’s new Guide to Minnesota State Water Trails features photos and descriptions of the 33 routes the DNR maps and manages for canoeing, kayaking and motor boating. Downloadable maps and other trip-planning information can be found at www.mndnr.gov/watertrails.
  • Bike one of Minnesota’s paved state trails. Itineraries for four recommended routes, all under 20 miles, can be found in the spring edition of the Minnesota State Parks and Trails Programs and Special Events catalog. Additional trip-planning information can be found at www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_trails/trailstartup.html.
  • Join a naturalist for a guided bicycle ride on the Central Lakes State Trail from 9 to 11 a.m. every first Saturday, beginning June 1 and continuing through Sept. 7. Bring a helmet and meet at Big Ole in Alexandria.
  • Run a 5K or 10K at Buffalo River State Park on Saturday, June 1. This annual trail run is co-hosted by the park and the Science Center at Minnesota State University – Moorhead. Race information and online registration is available at www.mnstate.edu/sciencecenter.
  • Check out a GPS unit at one of the 25 Minnesota state parks that loan them out for free and follow a trail to find a hidden geocache. Many parks offer interactive Geocaching 101 workshops. There’s one at Buffalo River State Park at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, June 1. For more information about geocaching at Minnesota state parks, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/geocaching/index.html.
  • Experience mountain biking at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, where there are 25 miles of single-track trails designed by mountain bikers for mountain bikers, including routes suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders.
  • Visit the Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area (www.dnr.state.mn.us/ohv/trail_detail.html?id=13/) in Gilbert, where 36 miles of OHV trails are now open seven days a week.
  • Go horseback riding in a Minnesota state park or state forest. Find a trail at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/horseback_riding/index.html.
  • Explore a Hiking Club Trail at a Minnesota state park, such as the three-mile loop around Pike Island at Fort Snelling State Park. Hiking Club trails are marked with special signs and have a password posted somewhere along the trail.
  • Ride an all-terrain vehicle in a Minnesota state forest or on one of the other recreational  trails listed at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/ohv/index.html.

Many trails are within a stone’s throw of the state’s 5,400 fishing lakes and thousands of miles of rivers and streams so, in addition to hiking and biking gear, the DNR encourages trail users to consider packing a fishing rod or two.

“This is especially true for those who are visiting a Minnesota state park,” said C.B. Bylander, outreach chief for the DNR’s Fish and Wildlife Division. “In most state parks, residents can fish without a license, so they are perfect places to introduce someone new to fishing.”

If a fishing license is necessary, a 24-hour resident license is just $10, and a 72-hour license is only $12. Most of these licenses allow trout fishing with the purchase of a trout stamp.

Many state parks have fishing poles and tackle boxes that can be checked out from the park office at no charge. For more information about the state parks with free fishing opportunities, visit www.mndnr.gov
(http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/free_fishing.html).

For more information about National Trails Day, visit www.americanhiking.org. For more information about state-managed trails, or to request one of the publications mentioned above, call the DNR Information Center, 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 (toll-free) between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or visit www.mndnr.gov/parksandtrails.

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                             May 30, 2013
 

Heartland State Trail segment to
close temporarily for bridge construction

A segment of the 49-mile Heartland State Trail in Cass County will close temporarily on Monday, June 3, for construction on the historic Steamboat River Bridge. The bridge will be outfitted with new approaches, hand-railings, structural supports and decking. After the old wood decking on the trestle is removed, the trail will be paved.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) expects most of the construction —with the possible exception of the paving – to be complete by Dec. 1, in time for snowmobiling season. If paving is not completed this year, it will be in 2014.

Signs will indicate the trail closure on both sides of the bridge from 130th Street on the north side to the first approach to the south. No alternate route is recommended around the construction area due to the long distances on roadways around the lakes and river crossings. The DNR recommends trail users avoid using Trunk Highway 371 as a detour because of high traffic volumes and vehicle speeds along this stretch of road. The rest of the trail – which travels north to Cass Lake, south to Walker and then west to Park Rapids – will remain open.

Constructed circa 1914 by the Great Northern Railway Company, the Steamboat River Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Although no longer operational, a pivot mechanism that was hand-powered by up to 16 men used to open the bridge. Once open, the Steamboat Bridge enabled steamboats and logs from Steamboat Lake to be moved along the Steamboat River and through Leech Lake to Leech Lake Lumber Company in Walker.

For construction updates and more information, visit the Heartland State Trail Web page at
www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_trails/heartland/index.html.

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DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                     May 30, 2013
 

Brown’s Creek State Trail will remain closed during construction

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds pedestrians, bicyclists and other trail users to steer clear of the Brown’s Creek State Trail in Washington County until bridge and trail construction is complete. The trail is currently closed for construction.

“Now that spring weather has finally arrived in Minnesota, people are tuning up their bikes, lacing up their shoes and spending more time outdoors on state trails,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “However, because safety is our top priority, we urge trail users in the Stillwater area to please stay off of the Brown’s Creek State Trail while it’s being built.”

Trail development started last fall when railroad tracks and ties from the former Minnesota Zephyr rail line were removed. Construction will continue throughout the spring and summer as two bridges on the eastern half of the trail are redeveloped. One of the bridges, located on the north side of Oak Glen Golf Course, will be rebuilt and will transport trail users across Brown’s Creek, a designated trout stream. The other bridge, which crosses Highway 95, north of downtown Stillwater, will be repaired and rehabilitated to accommodate trail use. 

In addition to bridge work this spring and summer, DNR contractors will grade the trail between downtown Stillwater and Neal Avenue at Brown’s Creek Park and Nature Preserve. Once the bridge work and grading is complete, the eastern half of the trail will be paved. The timeline for paving this segment has not been finalized.

Full development of the Brown’s Creek State Trail will include a trail bridge over Manning Avenue – a high-volume and high-speed roadway on the western half of the trail. Due to safety concerns for potential trail users, the Brown’s Creek State Trail will not be developed west of Neal Avenue until that bridge is completed.

The DNR now has the funding to complete the trail, including all of the bridge work, due to Parks and Trails Legacy Amendment funding provided by the 2013 state Legislature. The Parks and Trails Fund receives a portion of the state sales tax revenue and may only be spent to support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance.

“When complete, the Brown’s Creek State Trail will offer a scenic link between the Gateway State Trail, the St. Croix River and downtown Stillwater,” Nelson said. “But while the trail is being built, we need local residents and visitors to stay off the corridor.”

When specific construction schedules or additional updates are available, information will be posted on the Brown’s Creek State Trail Web page at www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_trails/browns_creek.

For more information, contact Rachel Hintzman, area supervisor, DNR Parks and Trails Division, 651-259-5875 or rachel.hintzman@state.mn.us.

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