www.herald-journal.com
2009 fishing licenses, walleye stamp now on sale

March 9, 2009

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR
Minnesota’s 2009 fishing licenses and the state’s first-ever walleye stamp now are on sale.

Anglers who purchase a license in early March can fish for 14 months as the license does not expire until April 30, 2010.

The state’s new walleye stamp also is on sale.

The stamp, though not necessary to catch and keep walleye, is an innovative new way for anglers to voluntarily donate funds for walleye stocking and related activities.

“If you didn’t buy a license last year, now is the time to get one,” said Steve Michaels, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) license center manager. “The 2009 license enables you to enjoy the last two months of the 2008 season plus all of 2009 season.”

The 2008 fishing licenses expire April 30, 2009.

Funds from the $5 walleye stamp validation will flow into a dedicated account for walleye stocking activities.

For $2 more, the DNR will mail the actual stamp to you as a collector’s item.

“Minnesota artist Nick Reitzel painted a powerful image for the state’s first-ever walleye stamp,” Michaels said. “Purchasing the 2009 stamp is a way to own a piece of history, start a stamp collecting tradition and support Minnesota’s state fish.”

Minnesota fishing licenses are available at more than 1,800 vendors throughout the state, by phone at 1-888-665-4236 or online at mndnr.gov/licenses.

Crow River DU to have raffle April 14

Crow River Ducks Unlimited will conduct a raffle at the Blue Note Ballroom in Winsted Tuesday, April 14.

The organization was granted a gambling permit from the City of Winsted, according to the city council minutes that were posted March 5.

Green Isle conservation partners to host banquet

The Green Isle Conservation Partners will host its annual banquet at the Hamburg Community Hall Saturday, March 21.

Tickets for the event are $40 each.

For tickets or more information, call Jim Luskey at (507) 964-2507, Nathan Morreim at (507) 326-5720, or Kirby Kroells at (651) 319-7081.

The deadline to purchase tickets is Saturday, March 14.

Grassland conservation needed
From Ducks Unlimited

Grassland birds, whose populations are in a persistent decline, may be poorly positioned to adjust to a warming climate as a result of dwindling habitat.

According to a recent analysis by Ducks Unlimited, the continued loss of grassland habitats could spell the same challenges for breeding waterfowl.

As reported by the National Audubon Society, grassland songbirds have not shifted their wintering grounds northward over the past 40 years as the climate has warmed, in contrast to other bird groups.

This may be because grassland birds simply cannot find enough intact grassland to the north of their current range.

Waterfowl face similar problems on their breeding areas.

“We continue to see ongoing loss of both native prairie and restored grasslands across the Prairie Pothole Region,” said Dr. Scott Stephens, director of conservation planning in DU’s Great Plains region, “and our long-term data from research on nest survival clearly indicates continued loss of grassland will ultimately result in reduced populations for ducks, shorebirds and raptors.”

Stephens says wetlands will undoubtedly also be impacted significantly by a warming climate.

Some projections suggest wetlands in the PPR would see far less frequent periods of wetness, which will negatively impact populations of breeding waterfowl and waterbirds.

“We know populations of waterfowl closely track the wetness on prairie breeding areas,” Stephens said. “Increased dryness of wetlands coupled with continued loss of grassland breeding habitat represents a recipe for disaster for the continent’s waterfowl.”

“The ironic part of this is conversion of grassland results in the release of carbon dioxide stored in the soil by prairie grasses, which further contributes to warming the climate,” said Dr. Jim Ringelman, director of conservation programs for DU’s Great Plains region. “However, if structured correctly, climate change legislation can protect and restore grassland across the Great Plains while also removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This will help reduce atmospheric warming.”

Ringelman says climate change is one of the most significant challenges facing conservationists and continued habitat loss only magnifies that problem.

“We believe climate-change legislation that recognizes the value in terrestrial storage of carbon will provide the multiple benefits of reducing gases that contribute to climate change while also benefitting grassland wildlife,” he said. “We are hopeful Congress will be very interested in these “win-win” solutions as they look to craft legislation to address climate change.”

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with more than 12 million acres conserved.

The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands – nature’s most productive ecosystem – and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.

Apply now for MCC summer conservation work program for high school youth
From the DNR

High school youth looking for summer work are encouraged to apply now one of 85 positions available with the Minnesota Conservation Corps (MCC) Summer Youth Program.

Youth, ages 15-18, will be based at a residential program site in St. Croix State Park for eight weeks.

They will travel in crews led by staff members to various state and federal lands to camp out and work on conservation projects.

“Participants can expect to work hard on projects such as trail construction, erosion control, bridge and boardwalk building, and invasive exotic plant removal,” said Eric Antonson, MCC youth programs manager.

The outdoor residential nature of MCC provides a unique opportunity for youth to develop and strengthen leadership skills, work ethic, camping skills, and an understanding and appreciation for the natural environment.

Weekend activities include canoe trips, wilderness hikes and high-adventure challenges.

The program runs June 21 through Aug. 15, and participants earn a stipend of $180 per week with room and board provided.

MCC, which hires an equal number of males and females, encourages minority youth to apply.

Up to 20 deaf and hard-of-hearing youth, who will work with deaf staff and trained sign language interpreters, will also be hired.

To receive an application, contact Eric Antonson in the MCC office at Eric.Antonson@conservationcorps.org or (651) 209-9900.

The Minnesota Conservation Corps was created in 1981 by the Minnesota Legislature to do two things – engage youth and young adults in enhancing natural resources and provide opportunities for training and life skills development.

DNR appoints new enforcement director
From the DNR

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Mark Holsten announced this afternoon that the agency ’s Capt. Jim Konrad has been appointed new director of its Division of Enforcement.

Konrad is a 26-year veteran of the division. He most recently served as acting administrative manager and previously as the Special Investigations Unit team leader.

Prior to joining the DNR, he was a police officer for the city of Moorhead.

“Jim’s background, management expertise and leadership skills were all factors in our decision to name him as director,” said Holsten. “I am confident that Jim will foster an accountable and transparent environment in the enforcement division.”

The director position was filled by two interim staff, Ken Soring and Mark Johanson, after the May 2008 retirement of Col. Mike Hamm.

The division has 230 staff, about 200 of whom are conservation officers.

Questions of the week
From the DNR

Q: Minnesota has a number of species on the state endangered, threatened, or “of special concern” list.

How far have we come in helping to protect and re-establish these populations?

A: Minnesota has a total of 96 endangered, 101 threatened and 242 special concern species.

The management and recovery of Minnesota’s listed species is a major responsibility of the DNR, and species such as the gray wolf, trumpeter swan, peregrine falcon and bald eagle are recovering in response to these efforts.

The agency has also discovered additional populations of some listed species, such as the threatened Blanding’s turtle.
Other species, like the endangered Higgin’s Eye Pearly Mussel, have a brighter future thanks to captive breeding and release programs.

The DNR also is actively managing for the recovery of the Karner Blue Butterfly, Timber Rattlesnake, Topeka Shiner (minnow) and many other plant and animal species.

As some species rebound, others, such as the piping plover, continue to decline due to a loss of habitat.

Federal funds and private landowner assistance is key to the success of many programs.

For example, the agency uses Nongame Wildlife Checkoff donations to match federal wildlife grant and other funds to protect Minnesota’s endangered and threatened wildlife species.