Litchfield wetland management district to begin prescribed spring burning

April 14, 2008

by Chris Schultz

From the US Fish and Wildlife
The US Fish and Wildlife Service, Litchfield Wetland Management District (WMD) will soon begin its annual prescribed burn program on Waterfowl Production Areas located within Kandiyohi, Meeker, McLeod, Wright, Renville, Stearns and Todd Counties.

The WMD manages approximately 45,000 acres of land and annually conducts prescribed burns on approximately 2,000 to 4,000 acres each year.

Prescribed burning is weather dependent and will run from late March through early June.

Prescribed fires simulate historic, naturally occurring wildfires, and produce great benefits to native plants and animals. Tallgrass Prairie and oak savanna ecosystems are fire dependant.

Without fire these ecosystems would change over time and gradually disappear, along with the bird and animal species that thrive there.

Burning the previous year’s plant matter returns nutrients to the soil, encouraging healthier and more productive plant growth.

Fire top-kills woody plants such as willow and box elder, as well as invasive buckthorn.

Prescribed burning is an essential management activity which helps to maintain and enhance the vitality and biodiversity of fire dependent communities and reduces the likelihood of catastrophic wildfire.

If you have any questions, please contact: U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Litchfield Wetland Management Office at (320) 693-2849.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov

LP sportsmen’s club trap-shooting practice rounds

The Lester Prairie sportsmen’s club will offer trapshooting practice rounds Wednesday, April 16 from 6 to 9:30 p.m.
There will be double targets practice on trap #2 from 6 to 7 p.m. that same night.

League nights begin Wednesday, April 23 from 6 to 9:30 p.m.

The 16-yard individual Lewis Class starts Wednesday, April 30 at 6:30 p.m.

Winsted firearms safety training classes

The Winsted Sportsmen Club is offering firearms safety training classes starting Tuesday, April 15 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Sign up at the first class.

Classes will be at Dr. Thoennes’s Community Room in the basement of the dentist office.

To sign up, you must be 12 years old by Sept. 1, 2008. Adults are also welcome.

The cost is $10, with checks made out to the Winsted’s Sportsmen Club.

If you have any additional questions, contact Steve Fiecke at (320) 485-2434 after 4 p.m.
Class dates are April 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30 and May 1.

Watertown to offer firearms training classes

The Watertown Rod and Gun Club will be hosting a firearms safety training class that starts Thursday, May 1, and runs through the month of May. Classes are Tuesday and Thursday nights.

For additional information, contact Patrick Cole at (952) 955-2911 or Tom Radde at (952) 446-1471.

PF and DNR to celebrate 25 years of MN pheasant stamp with April event
From Pheasants Forever

Pheasants Forever (PF) and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are hosting a celebration event recognizing the people, the accomplishments and the significance of 25 years of the Minnesota Pheasant Habitat Stamp Tuesday, April 15th at the Prom Center in Oakdale.

The event will take place 25 years to the day at the exact venue of PF’s first banquet at which then-Governor Rudy Perpich signed the stamp into law.

Speakers will include former DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Roger Holmes, Star Tribune Outdoors Editor and Columnist and PF’s principal founder Dennis Anderson, current PF President and CEO Howard Vincent and the chief author of Pheasant Habitat Stamp legislation, former state senator Steve Novak.

Each person attending will also receive a 25th anniversary special collector’s poster which features all 25 Minnesota Pheasant Habitat Stamps from 1983 to 2007.

PF’s first-ever goal was passing the Minnesota Pheasant Habitat Stamp to help raise funds for pheasant habitat restoration.

PF’s first publication, a newsletter entitled “Rooster Tales,” encouraged the then 500 PF members to push for passage of the Stamp.

The support worked, and today the Stamp is required of all Minnesota pheasant hunters ages 18 through 64.

Stamp sales generate money for habitat enhancement efforts on both public and private lands in the pheasant range of Minnesota.

In its 25 years of existence, total sales of the Minnesota Pheasant Habitat Stamp have surpassed 2.6 million, and the Stamp has raised over $14.6 million for habitat enhancement impacting over 200,000 acres of private & public habitats.

“We’ve come a long ways in 25 years,” said Dennis Simon, Wildlife Chief for the DNR. “In 2007, pheasant hunters purchased more than 129,000 Pheasant Habitat Stamps generating nearly $1 million in revenue for pheasant-related efforts. We thank all pheasant hunters for their contributions and Pheasants Forever for a powerful vision.”

In addition to the habitat funding the Stamp creates, it also provides an outlet for some of the nation’s finest artists to showcase their work.

Twenty-one artists have had their work appear on the Minnesota Pheasant Stamp; including Minnesotans such as Scott Storm, James Meger and the three Hautman brothers – James, Robert and Joseph.

Cost for the event is $40, and is limited to 250 attendees. The event begins with a social hour at 6 PM, followed by dinner at 7 PM and a program at 8 PM.

For tickets or more information about the event, contact Matt Holland, PF Senior Field Coordinator, at (320) 894-5391 or via email at mholland@pheasantsforever.org.

Shoreline alterations, aquatic plant removal may require permits
From the DNR

Lakeshore property owners should know that removing aquatic plants, treating nuisance algae, swimmer’s itch control, or altering the shoreline may require a permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

DNR staff who issue permits for shoreline alteration or aquatic plant removal can help lakeshore owners avoid harming the lake or river near their home, said Steve Enger of the Division of Ecological Resources.

“We encourage shoreline property owners to keep alterations as small as possible and to follow DNR guidelines,” Enger said. “Changing the shoreline or improperly removing aquatic plants can seriously damage the lake in the long term.”

• Plant removal guidelines

Without a Permit: Cutting, pulling, raking or harvesting submerged vegetation, like pondweeds, watermilfoil or coontail in a small area for recreation are allowed.

- the cleared area may not exceed 2,500 square feet in size
- the cleared area may not extend more than 50 feet along your shore, or more than one half your frontage width, whichever is smaller
- if the cleared area does not reach open water, a 15-foot wide channel to open water may be added - the vegetation must be removed from the water.

Without a Permit: Cutting, pulling, raking or harvesting floating-leaf vegetation, like water lilies, to create a channel to open water for recreation are allowed.

- the cleared channel is not more than 15 feet wide and goes straight to open water
- the cleared channel must remain in the same place from year to year
- the vegetation must be removed from the water.

Aquatic plant management ($35 per property for a one-year permit) are needed if people are planning to:

- use herbicides or algicides
- remove emergent vegetation, like bulrush, cattails or wild rice
- installing or operating an automated plant control device (such as the Crary WeedRoller, Beachgroomer or Lake Sweeper)
- remove floating leaf vegetation in an area larger than 15 feet wide (see above)
- control submerged vegetation in an area larger than 2,500 square feet or wider than 50 feet (see above)
- remove or relocate a bog of any size.

• Activities not allowed include:
- excavating the lake bottom for aquatic plant control
- use of hydraulic jets
- using lake-bottom barriers to destroy or prevent the growth of aquatic plants
- removing aquatic vegetation within posted fish-spawning areas
- removing aquatic plants from an undeveloped shoreline
- removing aquatic plants that don't interfere with swimming, boating or other recreation.

• Shoreland restoration

Many lakeshore property owners are restoring their shoreline property to a more natural condition.

The DNR supports protection and restoration of shoreline, but encourages property owners to plan these projects carefully.

A permit from the DNR is required to plant aquatic vegetation below the ordinary high-water mark of public waters.

This will help reduce the potential for adverse impacts from these projects. There is no charge for this permit.

• Shoreline alterations

Lakeshore owners who are considering projects that would alter their shoreline or lake bottom should review the DNR Waters Division permit requirements before starting work.

Certain types of alterations below the ordinary high-water level of public waters or public waters wetlands require an individual Public Waters Work Permit.

Activities that fall under this requirement include excavating; dredging; filling; and draining or placing structures, including docks of a certain size.

• For more information

Find more information on the Aquatic Plant Management Program and the Public
Waters Work Permit Program is on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us/permits/water/index.html.

For more information about the Public Waters Work Permit Program, contact the area hydrologist at your local DNR area office or call the DNR Division of Waters at (651) 259-5700.

People can also call the DNR Information Center (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

Dead fish after ice-out likely result of ‘winterkill’
From the DNR

The retreat of ice from Minnesota’s shorelines may soon leave a grim reminder of winter’s effects around some ponds and lakes. That is according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

In most cases the dead fish are the result of a normal process known as “winterkill.” When snow and ice cover a lake, they limit the sunlight reaching aquatic plants.

The plants die from lack of sunlight, stop producing oxygen, and then decompose – a process that also consumes oxygen. This oxygen deficit can kill other fish, although it seldom affects all fish.

Winterkill is worse in winters with abundant or early snowfall.

Lower water levels in the fall and late ice-out dates increase the probability and severity of winterkill.

Some species of fish are more vulnerable to winterkill than others. Trout are the most sensitive species, although bluegill and largemouth bass are a close second.

Walleye, northern pike, carp and crappie species have intermediate tolerance to lower oxygen levels while bullheads and fathead minnows are the most tolerant.

Lakes that have chronic winterkill are usually dominated by bullhead species.

Winterkill also can have some beneficial effects. In lakes with overabundant panfish, winterkill can result in increased growth rates of those that survive.

It also can greatly reduce carp abundance, leading to improved water quality and more successful fish stocking efforts.

Those who see dead fish after the ice melts should report their observations to a local DNR Fisheries office.

Ataff are especially interested in knowing the type of fish killed, the approximate numbers of each kind of each species, and a rough estimate of sizes.

Even with heavy snow, DNR reminds snowmobilers most trails closed for season
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds snowmobilers that Grant-in-Aid snowmobile trails closed for the season on April 1; riding these trails without the landowner’s permission is trespassing.

Also, the state is no longer grooming snowmobile trails.

The DNR urges snowmobilers to use caution when riding on the new snow that fell over the weekend throughout northern Minnesota.

“Many tree limbs have fallen and because of the large amount of snow, trees, branches and other hazards are difficult to see,” said Les Ollila, DNR Northeast Region Trails and Waterways supervisor. “We encourage people to enjoy the snow, but be extra careful.”

For information on snowmobiling, see the DNR Web site at www.mndnr.gov.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Spring is the time when wildlife babies are born.

What should people do if they find what appears to be an abandoned wildlife baby, or see a baby bird that fell out of its nest?

A: The arrival of spring also means the arrival of newborns and just-hatched wildlife. These youngsters soon venture into the world on shaky legs or fragile wings.

All too often, well-meaning people pick up animals, particularly white-tailed deer fawns and young birds, believing that these animals have been orphaned or abandoned and need to be saved.

This is almost never the case, because the parents are usually waiting nearby.

In fact, a would-be rescuer is causing more harm than good to the young animal.

Those early unsteady steps and flights are part of normal development, helping the young learn how to care for themselves.

So, it’s important for people to remember that wild animals belong in the wild. If you care – leave them there!