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More information on Pelican Lake

May 3, 2010

by Chris Schultz

In the past few weeks, I have scratched the surface just a little bit on the management issues regarding Pelican Lake near Monticello.

In a brief overview, many anglers have called me over the past year asking why a major wetland restoration project, including a draw down of water in 2015, is scheduled for a lake that has been, and continues to be a tremendous fishery, providing great recreational opportunities for thousands of anglers from the metro area and beyond.

It’s a great question, however, the biggest question, and the one that maybe hasn’t been addressed in detail is, how does a large shallow waterfowl lake that has never been managed for fish and always managed for wildlife, turn into a great fishery?

According to lake survey data, as recently as 2001, when a limited trapnet survey was done, no game fish were found, but high numbers of small black bullhead were found.

The easiest answer is that Pelican Lake has no natural outlet, water levels rose because of changes in the watershed, and because of those higher water levels, winter fish kills became less consistent and populations of game fish like sunfish, crappie and largemouth bass took off.

That’s part of the answer, but I’m sure there is more to it.

The following information on Pelican Lake is taken from and currently posted on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources web site.

• The website includes a great depth map of Pelican Lake, developed in 2007.

• Pelican Lake in managed by DNR Wildlife and there is no intention of managing for fish.

A copy of the restoration project proposed schedule can be found on the site, and for more information on the project, the person to contact is Fred Bengston with DNR Wildlife in Sauk Rapids at (320) 255-4279 ext. 224.

• Pelican was not opened to liberalized fishing during the winter of 2009-10.

• The DNR has removed fish from the lake and stocked them in other metro area lakes.

Some anglers have indicated the DNR has removed and restocked 10,000 to 100,000 pounds of game fish.

According to the department, the total harvest of all game fish has only been 2,030 pounds.

Anglers have also stated the DNR is harvesting all the big fish.

Panfish removed from the lake averaged four-to-a-pound for crappie, and three-to four-to-a-pound for bluegill.

• Commercial fishermen have been removing only black bullheads from the lake.

The commercial fishing activity for bullhead began in 1981.

On a final note, and before we move on to more details on the issue in next week’s column – the DNR and anglers fishing the lake this spring have indicated the average size of panfish caught has dropped.

Local anglers are saying the fish they are catching are smaller in size when compared to the fish caught last year and in recent years.

Waverly Gun Club to host several events

Youth trapshooting league for individuals or teams will be Thursday, May 6, 6:30 p.m.

Ladies Only Night is set for the second Tuesday each month May through October, 6:30 to 9 p.m., beginning May 13.

The club will provide 22-caliber guns, pistols, and rifles, targets and ammunition. Participants may bring there own. A certified safety officer will be present and instruction available upon request. Funds are available through a NRA grant.

For more information, call Al Moy at (612) 889-4423; Ken Reinert at (612) 308-9259, or Russ Johnson (763) 675-3527.

Cold water increases chance of dying in boating accident by five times
From the DNR

With the walleye and northern fishing season opening Saturday, May 15, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds anglers that even on a warm day in the boat, water temperatures can hover in the low 50s.

A 2007 report by the U.S. Coast Guard stated that a boating accident is five times more likely to be fatal if the water is colder than 60 degrees.

“Cold water can kill in ways that you might not expect,” said Tim Smalley, DNR boating safety specialist. “Nearly everyone knows that immersion in cold water can cause hypothermia – the abnormal lowering of the body’s core temperature. What most don’t know is that cold water immersion has several stages, any one of which can cause death.”

Victims who experience an unexpected fall overboard suffer initial cold water shock in the first minute, which involuntarily causes them to take a big breath.

If their head is underwater, they can inhale more than a quart of water and drown immediately.

People lucky enough to keep their head above water will start hyperventilating as blood pressure jumps, Smalley explained.

If they can’t control their breathing within 60 seconds, they’ll suffer numbness, muscle weakness or even fainting, which leads to drowning.

A person with heart disease may experience sudden death due to cardiac arrest.

A victim who survives the first minute of cold shock will progress to the second stage called “cold incapacitation” or swimming failure.

Within about 10 minutes, rapid cooling of the extremities causes muscle failure so a person will no longer be able to perform the simplest tasks, such as swimming, holding onto a floating object, or putting on a life jacket.

With muscles rapidly stiffening up, even yelling for help can be difficult.

Hypothermia is the third stage.

Smalley said there is a common misperception that it sets in almost immediately after a person lands in cold water.

However, a victim won’t start to become hypothermic for 30 minutes.

Severe hypothermia can take an hour or more to set in, depending on the water temperature, body mass, clothing, the amount of struggling and several other factors.

A body core temperature of 95 degrees is considered hypothermic, loss of consciousness occurs at about 86 degrees, and death is imminent when the core temperature drops below 82.

Unless a person is wearing a life jacket, drowning will occur long before severe hypothermia gets them.

Life jackets needed

Most boating fatalities are the result of capsizing or falls overboard, not collisions between boats running at high speed.

“We see it time and time again in Minnesota boating accidents,” Smalley said. “A single boat on a lake capsizes, the victim isn’t wearing a life jacket, has no warning or time to put one on, and drowns due to the effects of cold water.”

Experts recommend that people who end up in the water stay with the boat, even if they aren’t able to get back in.

They are more likely to be seen by potential rescuers if they are next to a boat.

A person should only swim for shore if wearing a life jacket, if the likelihood of rescue is low, or they are close to shore and aren’t able to climb back into or on top of the boat.

The key is the life jacket, Smalley said. A person who suffers swimming failure or loss of consciousness will stay afloat wearing a life jacket, but drown without one.

Smalley said smart anglers wear a life vest from the time they enter the boat until they return to shore.

“There is no time to put one on before a boating accident,” Smalley noted. “It would be like trying to buckle your seat belt before a car crash.”

As of April 29, there have been no boating fatalities in Minnesota this year.

DNR offers savings with online license purchasing
From the DNR

Anglers and hunters will find convenience, 24-hour-a-day service and savings when they buy their 2010 licenses using the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) enhanced online licensing system.

“With 2009 angling licenses expiring April 30, there’s no better time to go online and purchase a 2010 angling license,” said Steve Michaels, electronic license system program director. “Customers will save money and buy licenses whenever it fits their schedule.”

The new system allows anyone with an active DNR customer record to instantly purchase and print any type of hunting license, fishing license or validation from a computer.

In the past, customers paid a $3.50 transaction fee when purchasing a license.

Now the fee is only 3 percent of the transaction amount (54 cents), which is added to the cost of an $18 individual resident angling license.

Touch-screen terminals replaced outdated license machines at DNR license agent locations across Minnesota earlier this year.

The improved online system for DNR customers at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense was added as part of that upgrade.

Minnesota residents who have purchased a license within the last 10 years using a Minnesota driver’s license or Minnesota state ID number will have a DNR customer record on file.

Records also are on file for people younger than 21 who have purchased a DNR license. Nonresidents who have previously purchased a Minnesota license may enter their date of birth and last four digits of their Social Security number to locate their license record.

Any license purchase requiring special documentation such as Social Security disability or a nonresident student requires a visit to a DNR license agent.

Once a customer accesses his or her record, the system displays what licenses and validations are available for purchase.

The purchasing interface will not display licenses or validations that already have been purchased or placed in the online shopping cart.

Once the purchase is complete, licenses can be printed using Adobe Acrobat Reader.

The system allows customers to save a copy of a license to their computer and reprint it at anytime.

Duplicate licenses also can be obtained at any license agent for a $2.50 fee.

Fish and game species that require a tag, such as wild turkey, deer or sturgeon, also can be purchased online, but customers must wait five to six business days for the tag to arrive via mail.

Safety tips for landowners during wildfires
From the DNR

During wildfire season, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) uses a variety of aircraft, including two air tankers, to help protect structures and quickly smother fires.

Together, the two air tankers can hold more than 4,500 gallons of fire retardant.

The retardant is delivered by opening individual doors on the bottom of the plane or by dropping an entire load at one time.

Following are tips for landowners if retardant is dropped on buildings or where pets have access to the leftover liquid.

Structures – wood or metal

• The red color in the retardant comes from iron oxide and can be very stubborn to remove.Wash the retardant off as soon as possible.

• Dampen stained surface with water. Scrub with a dampened stiff-bristled brush.

A brush that has been dipped in Borax has been effective.

Some of the products may discolor metal.

• Power washers may drive the red colorant into the surface and should be avoided.

Vegetation

• Rinse retardant off vegetation.

Avoid leaving standing puddles by using absorbant materials such as sand and soil.

• Leaf burn may occur since retardants contain levels of fertilizer higher than what is sold at garden stores.

This causes vegetation and plants to appear dead after contact but they generally grow back after one to two months.

Pets and other animals

• Avoid ingestion of water – keep pets and animals away from puddles.

• If a pet appears ill from drinking out of puddles or standing water where retardant has been used, make sure veterinarian knows the animal may have ingested a fertilizer based product.

• Shampoo pets who have retardant on their body.

When firefighting, air tankers follow a lead plane that directs them on where and how to drop their load of retardant and water.

People should make every attempt to clear an area for the airplanes to work.

The mission will be called off or changed if people are in the “drop zone.”

DNR reminds ATV operators to avoid wetlands
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds all-terrain vehicle (ATV) operators that riding ATVs, or other off-highway vehicles (OHVs) in wetlands or public waters is illegal.

Wetlands are fragile and are easily damaged.

These types of ATV violations can carry stiffer fines and penalties.

When riding in ditches, ATV operators are allowed to drive on a roadway shoulder or inside bank of a public road right-of-way, if necessary, to avoid obstructions or environmentally sensitive areas.

“A good rule of thumb is that if you would create damage with your ATV by going through that wetland or sensitive area in the ditch, you can legally go around it,” said Conservation Officer Leland Owens, recreational vehicle coordinator, Division of Enforcement. “Riders should use extreme caution and must remain in the farthest right-hand lane, enter the roadway within 100 feet of the bridge, obstacle, or area, and make the crossing without delay. ATV riders should always use extreme caution when riding the ditches because of the numerous hazards they contain.”

ATV operators should also know:

• A valid driver’s license is required to operate an ATV on a road rights-of-way, including ditches, inside and outside slopes, and crossing roads.

A driver’s license is not needed when riding on a designated trail.

• Unless registered and used exclusively for agricultural purposes, ATVs may not be driven in the ditch of a state or county road from April 1 to Aug. 1 in the agricultural zone.

The agricultural zone is the area lying south and west of a line that goes east along State Highway 10 from the North Dakota border to State Highway 23, then follows Highway 23 east to State Highway 95 and the Wisconsin border.

The agricultural zone does not include the rights-of-way of these boundary highways.

• Class 2 ATVs cannot be operated in road ditches except when riding on a portion of right-of-way that is part of a designated trail.

• Cities, towns, counties, and road authorities may further regulate the operation of ATVs under their jurisdiction.

Check with the appropriate unit of government for additional regulations.

• The US Forest Service, the National Park Service, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service regulate motor vehicle use on federal lands.

Check with the managing agency before riding on these lands.

Request a copy of the 2009-10 Off-Highway Vehicles Regulations booklet by calling the DNR Information Center, (651) 296-6157 (888-646-6367 toll-free) between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Workshops to help chart future of MN’s parks and trails
From the DNR

Minnesotans have an opportunity to help chart the course of regional and state parks and trails for the next 25 years by participating in one of 17 workshops to be held around the state in May and June.

The meetings will provide citizens with a chance to influence the Parks and Trails Legacy Plan that will guide funding decisions for regional and state parks and trails.

Workshops are scheduled for the following communities: Baudette, Bemidji, Brainerd, Detroit Lakes, Duluth, Eden Prairie, Forest Lake, Grand Rapids, Marshall, Minneapolis, North Mankato, St. Cloud, St. Paul, Savage, Thief River Falls, Rochester and Willmar.

Minnesotans passed for the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment in 2008 that enacted a three-eighths percent sales tax increase for natural resources and the arts.

Of the money collected, 14.25 percent is providing funding for state, metro, and Greater Minnesota parks and trails projects.

The plan will offer a vision, set priorities, and develop funding criteria.

The plan will also identify gaps and needs in the current regional and state system, and make recommendations to address them.

It will be presented to the Minnesota Legislature by February 15, 2011.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is partnering with the Citizens League, a non-partisan, non-profit organization, in the workshop planning effort.

People from all walks of life are encouraged to participate in the workshops, especially those who currently don’t use the regional or state parks and trails system.

The workshops are scheduled from 7-9 p.m. and will focus on vision, priorities, and future opportunities.

The meetings will provide ample opportunity for discussion and questions.

“Everyone who attends will have an opportunity to provide their insights,” said Courtland Nelson, DNR Parks and Trails Division director. “Now is the time for Minnesotans to share their ideas and dreams for parks and trails for the next 25 years.”

The University of Minnesota is developing an inventory of existing regional and state parks and trails.

This information will be used at the workshops to help participants make recommendations for the future.

Outdoor notes

• The morel mushroom hunt is on. I got the first reports of success last week.

Everything is early this year; so are the morels. The best hunting should be this week.

• Get ready for the opener. The 2010 Minnesota fishing opener is set for Sat., May 15.

• Water levels in the Crow River dropped dramatically last week.

• Check your wheel bearings, tires, and lights on your boat trailer.

• Take a kid fishing; he or she will have fun, and so will you.