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Groundwater sampling underway in Carver and McLeod

August 23, 2010

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Water samples from wells in Carver and McLeod counties will be collected over the next two months to get information on groundwater chemistry.

Hydrogeologists from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will collect about 90 water samples from each county.

The data are being collected for the Carver County Geologic Atlas and the McLeod County Geologic Atlas, a cooperative effort involving staff from the Minnesota Geological Survey, DNR Waters Division, and Carver and McLeod counties. Samples will also be tested to learn how long the water has been underground.

DNR staff will be contacting Carver and McLeod county residents to request permission for well sampling, which involves collecting a water sample and measuring the depth to water in each well.

The selection of wells for sampling will be based on geology, location, well depth, and well construction.

Water sampled will come from wells drawing water from aquifers at varying depths.

Owners of wells sampled will receive a report of the laboratory results for their well.

Preserving the long-term quality of the region’s surface and groundwater resources requires that policy makers have access to accurate information based on sound scientific principles.

A county geologic atlas is a valuable tool used by county planners, resource managers, and other local government staff when making general planning, land use management, and water resource protection decisions.

The Minnesota Geological Survey has already published Part A of the atlases, which illustrate details of each county’s geology.

In 2012, DNR Waters will publish the groundwater portion of the atlases (Part B).

The current plan for the Part B reports will include four plates that include maps and descriptions of the hydrogeology, cross sections illustrating groundwater conditions, and the pollution sensitivity of groundwater in the county.

The DNR county geologic atlas program is funded in part by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.

For more information, contact Jan Falteisek, DNR Waters county geologic atlas program supervisor, at (651) 259-5665, or Todd Petersen, project hydrogeologist, at (651) 259-5698.

DNR: Good news on Bovine TB front
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported today that Bovine tuberculosis (TB) tests were negative for 450 wild deer removed from northwestern Minnesota early this year as part of disease eradication efforts by sharpshooting.

“The lab results are encouraging for the DNR as well as our hunters,” said Michelle Carstensen, DNR wildlife health program coordinator. “This may be a sign that we’ve turned a corner in eradicating the disease from deer in northwestern Minnesota.”

Since bovine TB surveillance efforts began in 2005, 27 deer have tested positive for the disease.

The most-recent case occurred in fall 2009 from a hunter harvested deer.

As a result, DNR expanded the area where sharpshooters took samples earlier this year.

“The fact that no additional deer tested positive in the same area is good news,” Carstensen said. “The prevalence of the disease in wild deer continues to decrease and the geographic extent of the positive cases remains very small.”

The last TB-infected cattle herd was found more than a year and a half ago in northwestern Minnesota.

Area producers continue to test their cattle in an effort to ensure the elimination of the disease and to improve the state’s TB status levels, an event that the Minnesota Board of Animal Health expects to happen this October.

DNR will sample 1,000 deer in the area this fall and winter as part of its ongoing surveillance efforts, a decrease from last year’s requirement that 1,800 deer be sampled.

The higher number was difficult to achieve because of increased harvest and aggressive removal strategies.

Sampling a lower number of deer also may lessen the need for sharpshooters to remove additional deer after hunting season.

To help meet its sampling goals, DNR requires that all deer taken in deer permit areas 101, 105, 111, 203, 208, 267 and 268 be registered at a big game registration station to legally transport the harvested animal.

In-person registration allows DNR staff to obtain tissue samples for testing.

“Our success at meeting surveillance goals depends on the cooperation of hunters,” Carstensen said. “The more deer hunters bring in for sampling, the fewer deer DNR must remove using sharpshooters, leaving more deer for hunters the next fall.”

Safety equipment found lacking on some boats
From the DNR

The safety of Minnesota boaters is a top priority. Conservation officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) want to see more folks taking the necessary precautions the rest of the summer to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the water.

A few areas are of particular concern.

“I regularly see three problems,” Milaca-based DNR Conservation Officer David Schottenbauer said. “Folks take the boat out and forget the life jackets. Or they are unaware they need a throwable personal flotation device (PFD), like a boater’s cushion, for boats 16 feet and longer. Also, boaters incorrectly assume that a boat cushion counts as a primary flotation device.”

Regardless of length, all boats (except sailboards), including canoes, kayaks and duck boats), must have a readily accessible U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable PFD for each person on board.

Also, any boat 16 feet or longer (except canoes and kayaks) must have onboard an immediately available Coast Guard approved Type IV throwable flotation device, such as a boat cushion or ring buoy.

Lack of a throwable device is a common boating law violation.

The good news is that children under 10 are doing a great job wearing their life jackets while boating, in compliance with the Minnesota law that became effective in 2005.

Exceptions include being on a boat with a licensed captain or a boat that is anchored and being used as a platform for swimming.

Children below deck in a cabin cruiser are also exempt from this regulation.

The bad news is that officers report that some parents are buying unapproved flotation jackets, suits and swimming aids for their children to wear while boating.

These do not fulfill legal requirements.

The DNR reminds adults to check the label for U.S. Coast Guard approval before putting a PFD on a child.

Children found wearing their life vests while boating are eligible for a PFD Panda certificate.

The certificates – good for a free Dairy Queen treat – are handed out by DNR conservation officers and county sheriff’s deputies.

Violations of any life jacket law involve fines and fees of more than $100 for each occurrence.

More boating safety information, including a copy of the “Minnesota Boating Guide,” is available by calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367.

DNR determines extent of Lake Minnetonka zebra mussel infestation
From the DNR

Zebra mussels, which were first discovered in Lake Minnetonka on July 27, are present in multiple locations in the lake, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said following completion of an extensive shoreline survey.

The survey, conducted in partnership with Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) scientists and the Lake Minnetonka Association, found zebra mussels at 10 of 48 sites.

“The widespread distribution of young zebra mussels in the eastern half of Lake Minnetonka indicates that there is a breeding population that has been in the lake for at least one year,” said Luke Skinner, supervisor of DNR’s invasive species unit.

To help keep the public informed about the infestation, the DNR in collaboration with the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District and the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, has scheduled two open house meetings.

The meetings will allow residents and lake users to ask questions regarding potential impacts, regulations and actions that can be taken to protect boats and equipment, and to prevent the spread of zebra mussels.

The open house meetings are:

• Aug. 31, 7-9 p.m., Southshore Community Center in Shorewood.
• Sept. 1, 7-9 p.m., Gillespie Center in Mound.

The DNR has also created a new web page specifically for the Lake Minnetonka zebra mussel infestation.

“This site will be the clearinghouse for everything we know about zebra mussels in Lake Minnetonka” said Skinner. “We’ll keep it up to date with the latest information including details of the upcoming open houses.”

Web users can see the latest survey data, find out about community meetings, and learn more about how to prevent the spread of zebra mussels and minimize their harmful effects.

The site also lists contact information for the team of state and local partners addressing the issue.

Young (less than one-year old) zebra mussels were found in Gray’s Bay, Wayzata Bay, Robinson’s bay, St. Louis Bay, and the Lower Lake North portions of the lake including portions of Big Island.

No zebra mussels were found in the upper basin of Lake Minnetonka.

Zebra mussels were also detected in Minnehaha Creek just below the dam at the outlet of Lake Minnetonka but no zebra mussels were detected downstream in Minnehaha Creek, Lake Nokomis or Lake Hiawatha by Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board scientists.

The DNR has designated Lake Minnetonka, Minnehaha Creek and several lakes connected to the creek including Meadowbrook, Nokomis and Hiawatha, as infested waters.

Although zebra mussels have not been found in any lakes or wetlands downstream of Lake Minnetonka, the designation is important in an effort to prevent the spread to new lakes and rivers.

By designating waters as infested, additional regulations apply including prohibiting bait harvest and requirement to drain all water when leaving infested waters, including bait buckets.

Heavy infestations of this nonnative species can interfere with recreation, damage boats and other equipment, and kill native mussel species and affect fish populations.

Pheasant hunt offers youth, women opportunity to gain experience
From the DNR

Inexperienced young people and women can apply for a chance to step into the field with an experienced pheasant hunter this fall during the mentored youth pheasant hunt and the first-ever women’s mentored pheasant hunt.

Co-sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Pheasants Forever, the hunts will occur Saturday, Oct. 23, at locations across much of the southern two-thirds of Minnesota.

“This great opportunity will teach rookie youths and women about hunting techniques, skills, safety and all about wildlife habitat,” said Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring program coordinator. “The adventure also will provide fond memories, new friends afield and a better appreciation of the outdoors.”

Last year, about 150 youth and 250 volunteers participated in the hunts. A larger turnout is expected this year.

The hunts work like this: Experienced hunters from Pheasant Forever chapters throughout Minnesota are paired with inexperienced hunters and, in a youth’s case, their guardians.

After scouting places to hunt and securing landowner permission when necessary, mentors will take participants into the field.

To be eligible to participate in the lottery for hunts, a youth must be 12-17 years old as of Oct. 23; have earned a valid firearms safety certificate; possess a small game license; and have a parent, guardian or adult authorized by a parent or guardian accompany them as a non-firearms carrying mentor all pre-hunt orientation activities as well as the hunt.

Small game licenses are free for youth younger than 16. Reduced-fee licenses are available for youth 16 and 17.

Women 18 and older do not need a parent or guardian to accompany them but will need a valid firearms safety certificate or an apprentice hunter validation certification, pheasant stamp and small game license.

All applicants must specify in which county they want to hunt, if they are willing to travel farther if their choice of county is not available and how far they are willing to travel.

Applications, which are due Wednesday, Sept. 8, are available online or by contacting the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or 888-646-6367.

Successful applicants will be notified via mail or e-mail by Wednesday, Sept. 25.

The winner’s notice will contain specific information about hunting license requirements, equipment and contact information of the hunt coordinator.

Youth and women winners must contact their hunt coordinator after receiving their notice.

Landowners with pheasant-producing property interested in allowing youth to hunt on their land can help out by contacting Pheasants Forever’s Eran Sandquist at (763) 242 1273 or Scott Roemhildt at (507) 327-9785.

Larger bullhead legal as bait
From the DNR

Anglers can use bullheads up to 10 inches long as live bait, however the baitfish cannot be transported north of Minnesota Highway 210, according to a rule change adopted by the Minnesota Department of Resources (DNR).

The new rule, which went into effect Aug. 9, allows catfish anglers to use larger bullheads as bait yet helps prevent non-native bullhead populations from establishing themselves in additional northern Minnesota lakes.

The previous rule allowed anglers to use bullheads up to seven inches long as bait, which could be captured from noninfested waters via dip net, angling or noncommercial seine and transported anywhere in Minnesota.

Bullheads live in some northern Minnesota lakes, but they are not a native species.

The old rule allowing transport north of Minnesota Highway 210 increased the possibility that non-native bullhead populations could be established in additional lakes.

The new rule allows bullheads to be taken using dip nets, noncommerical seines and angling by a person with a valid fishing license.

Any fish taken are considered part of the angler’s possession limit, and water must be exchanged before transporting live fish when exiting designated infested waters per invasive species laws.

An additional rule change allows live transportation and possession of white suckers 12 inches and longer for up to 96 hours.

People possessing and transporting the fish are required to purchase such fish from a licensed commercial vendor and retain a receipt showing the date and time of purchase.

Applications for Lac qui Parle controlled hunt accepted
From the DNR

Beginning today (Monday), goose hunters can apply to reserve a date to hunt from a blind in the controlled zone at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Lac Qui Parle Wildlife Management Area.

Applications postmarked between Monday, Aug. 23, and Wednesday, Sept. 15, will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Reservations to hunt in the controlled zone will only be accepted for hunting dates from Thursday, Oct. 21, to Tuesday, Nov. 30.

To apply, hunters must submit a standard 3-1/2 inch by 5-1/2 inch postcard with their full name and address as well as listing their first and second choice of hunting dates.

The limit is one postcard per hunter. Send postcards to Controlled Hunt, Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management Area, 14047 20th St. NW, Watson, MN 56295.

Successful applicants will receive notification by mail designating the date of their hunt.

Hunters may bring one or two guests. All hunters in the Lac qui Parle controlled hunting zone who are 18 and older will be charged a $3 fee on the day of their hunt to partially cover controlled hunt expenses.

The DNR will assign goose-hunting stations during a drawing on the morning of the hunt.

The regular Canada goose season will be 85 days at Lac qui Parle starting Saturday, Oct. 2.

Prior to Oct. 21, the Lac Qui Parle State Game Refuge will be closed to waterfowl hunting.

From Wednesday, Dec. 1, until the end of the goose season, hunters still can use designated hunting blinds but access will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, call the Lac Qui Parle headquarters at (320) 734-4451.