www.herald-journal.com
Meeting set to review hunting and fishing license options and fees in Hutchinson

March 21, 2011

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

The Cedar Mills Rod & Gun Club and Hutchinson Avid Anglers will sponsor an informational meeting and question and answer session with agents of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, at the DNR Area Headquarters in Hutchinson (20596 State Highway 7) regarding proposed changes for hunting and fishing license fees.

MN DNR Fisheries, Wildlife, and Enforcement agents will be in attendance to present information to area hunters, anglers and conservationists regarding proposed license options and fee changes, and will answer questions presented to them by attendees following those presentations.

Among the topics to be addressed include the need for fee changes and how license fee money is used.

Area hunters, trappers, anglers and wildlife enthusiasts are encouraged to attend this event.

More information on the meeting can be found on the DNR’s website www.dnr.state.mn.us/heritage/index.html or by calling Lee Sundmark - MN DNR at (320) 234-2550.

DNR to expand muskie fishing opportunities
From the DNR

Roosevelt Lake in northern Crow Wing County and the Sauk River chain of lakes in Stearns County southwest of St. Cloud will be stocked with muskellunge this fall in response to growing angler interest, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“This decision is a positive step consistent with our long-range management plan for muskie and northern pike,” said Dirk Peterson, DNR fisheries management chief. “Many people representing a wide variety of interests helped create that plan, and the desire to develop new muskie fisheries was clear.”

Results of the DNR’s extensive public comment process in 2010 showed that about 80 percent of the 25,000 comments received supported stocking muskellunge in additional lakes.

The substance of all comments, regardless of support or opposition, were factored into the DNR’s decision.

Muskie will not be stocked this fall in three other lakes the DNR was considering. Upper and Lower South Long lakes near Brainerd will not be considered further for muskie management.

Stocking in Lake Tetonka west of Waterville has been put on hold indefinitely pending resolution of local issues.

“Although physically and biologically suitable for muskie management, the lakes initially proposed in the Brainerd area have public access issues that raise public safety concerns,” said Tim Goeman, northeast regional fisheries supervisor. “Their combined 2,100 surface acres also would not meet muskellunge fishing demand in the Brainerd area, so we will continue to look for a larger, yet-to-be-identified lake for future consideration.”

No new lakes are currently under consideration, he said.

DNR will collect additional information on recreation use and user attitudes in the Lake Tetonka area and expand its public outreach efforts before re-considering stocking muskie in Tetonka.

Stocking muskie in Roosevelt Lake and the Sauk River chain is a step toward fulfilling a goal in the long-range management plan that calls for up to eight new waters to be stocked by 2020, focused on areas of the state without nearby muskie fishing opportunity.

The muskellunge is one of Minnesota’s largest fish, growing to more than 50 pounds and more than 50 inches in length.

Anglers have become increasingly interested in the so-called “fish of 10,000 casts” now that 50-plus inch fish can be caught in Lake Mille Lacs, Lake Vermilion and other waters that have been stocked since the 1980s.

“As muskie have grown in size and abundance, so has interest in catching them,” Goeman said.

Muskie anglers are the fastest-growing segment of Minnesota’s fishing population.

About 14 percent of Minnesota’s licensed anglers target muskie, and the quality experiences Minnesota offers attract muskie anglers from across the nation.

DNR unveils new mobile apps for outdoor enthusiasts
From the DNR

Finding outdoor fun in Minnesota is easier than ever now that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has created and launched a handful of new and free applications for mobile devices.

“The DNR is aware that mobile devices are an increasingly popular means of accessing information anytime, anywhere,” explained Steve Lime, DNR data and applications manager. “We decided to try a variety of technical approaches to delivering DNR content. We started with a simple fall colors mobile web page last October that turned out to be very popular.”

Last year, the DNR website had 1.3 million page views by mobile devices.

The mobile LakeFinder app has had nearly 3,000 installs based solely on word of mouth.

The snowmobile GPS files have been downloaded more than 3,000 times.

Here is a look at what’s available:

• Lakefinder

Data for more than 4,500 lakes and rivers throughout Minnesota including lake surveys, depth maps and vegetation reports, plus water quality and clarity data are available for most Android phones.

This app allows people to get the information on demand with an Internet connection or save it to a device for offline access.

• DNR layars

Public Water Accesses – Finding a lake in Minnesota is easy – finding the water access on that lake is sometimes another story.

Now users can download a free application that uses the Layar software platform to locate Minnesota water accesses.

Open the application, point the phone at the lake and it’ll help locate a place to launch a watercraft for a great day on the water.

Most of the public state-managed access sites, as well as many of the private access sites, are available.

The app is available for most iPhone and Android phones.

• GPS maps, snowmobile trails

Snowmobilers can know their exact location and where a trail will take them.

Garmin GPS users can now download a background map containing Minnesota snowmobile trails, including state trails, trails within state parks, state forests and other state owned lands, as well as snowmobile trails funded through the Grant-In-Aid snowmobile system. Available in Garmin IMG format.

• Wildlife management area data

People can download data and locations for all state wildlife management areas (WMA) to their GPS.

Parking lot and WMA boundary information is available in two common GPS formats – Garmin and Lowrance.
Available in Garmin IMG and Lowrance LCM formats.

These applications and options are the DNR’s initial efforts in these technology areas.

The agency plans to support other operating systems and file formats in the future.

More information is available at http://www.mndnr.gov/mobile.

National survey on hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching
Press Release

The US Fish and Wildlife Service will soon be conducting the 12th National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.

Hunters, anglers and other wildlife enthusiasts across the nation will be asked to participate in interviewing set to begin April 1.

The survey, which has been conducted every five years since 1955, will involve 53,000 households.

“We appreciate the anglers, hunters, birdwatchers and other citizens throughout the United States who voluntarily participate in the survey when contacted,” said Acting Director Rowan Gould, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The survey results help wildlife and natural resource managers quantify how much Americans value wildlife resources in terms of both participation and expenditures.”

The survey is funded by the Multistate Conservation Grant Program authorized by the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs Improvement Act of 2000.

The survey provides the only comprehensive statistical database available on participation and expenditures for hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching in all 50 states.

The information is collected by the US Census Bureau, primarily through telephone interviews to be conducted April to June and September to October in 2011, and January to March in 2012.

Those contacted will be asked about their participation and expenditures in several categories of wildlife-associated recreation.

The results will be available in a national report and in 50 individual state reports.

“The last survey published in 2006 revealed 87.5 million Americans enjoyed some form of wildlife-related recreation and spent more than $122.3 billion pursuing their activities,” said Hannibal Bolton, assistant director for the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program. “The survey is a critical information resource for federal and state wildlife agencies, outdoor and tourist industries, local governments, planners, conservation groups, journalists and others interested in wildlife and outdoor recreation.”

Participation is voluntary and all responses are strictly confidential.

Data collected is used for statistical purposes only and no participant can be identified from information contained in the database and follow-up reports.

Representative samples will be based on the initial contacts and include 19,000 anglers and hunters and 10,000 wildlife watchers (wildlife photographers, feeders, and observers).

Preliminary survey findings will be available in the spring of 2012.

Final reports will be issued beginning in the fall of 2012.

The reports, when completed, will be posted at <http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov>.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to work 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 www.fws.gov.

Bill would dramatically increase state efforts to prevent spread of aquatic invasives
From the DNR

Governor Mark Dayton joined Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Tom Landwehr, legislators, and aquatic invasive species stakeholders from around the state.

Landwehr unveiled a new legislative initiative that would help slow the spread of aquatic invasives, such as zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil, by redoubling the state’s efforts to combat the spread of these species in Minnesota lakes and rivers.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Tom Saxhaug and Rep. John Ward, would authorize the DNR to provide more thorough watercraft inspections and enforcement, to increase penalties for violations, and to require training and permitting for lake service providers.

Also, it would streamline the process of obtaining permits for large-scale control of invasive aquatic plants.

“The attack of aquatic invasive species is one of the most critical problems now threatening our natural resources and our way of life,” said Governor Dayton. “We urgently need an immediate bipartisan commitment and the necessary funding to stop this invasion before it’s too late.”

Invasive aquatics, including such species as zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and spiny waterfleas, have been discovered in more than 1,000 lakes and rivers around the state.

They can affect water quality and navigation, destroy fish habitat, drive out important native species, impede beach access, and ultimately damage the state’s water-based recreation and tourism economy.

“Fundamentally, this bill is about making individuals aware of their responsibilities,” said Landwehr. “Boat owners, recreationists and lake service providers will have to meet a higher standard that ensures they drain livewells, wash hulls, and take other precautions or incur penalties.”

The idea for the bill came about following a series of stakeholder meetings held by the DNR in 2010 and 2011.

The meetings informed a February presentation to the Legislature outlining key areas of concern and recommendations for tackling the problem.

The DNR is already heavily focused on slowing the spread of aquatic invasives, however the bill gives the department additional tools and authorities.

The DNR also will need increased funding for this work, which is included in the Governor’s budget.

“Tourism and outdoor recreation on our state’s many lakes and streams is a vital part of our economy,” added Governor Dayton. “We have 2 million anglers, spending more than $3 billion a year on everything from gear to gas. Anything that might damage our rich natural habitat and the recreational opportunities that make Minnesota unique is a very serious concern.”

To review the proposed bill and for more information, go to www.mndnr.gov.

DNR encourages homeowners to complete open burning activities
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages homeowners to complete necessary open-burning activities now, since annual restrictions on open burning will take effect soon.

Warm weather is expected to melt much of the accumulated snow in the next few weeks.

That will expose last year’s leaves and other yard waste.

According to the DNR, the safest way to dispose of yard waste is to recycle or compost it.

Homeowners who choose to burn yard waste should try to accomplish that while snow is still on the ground.

Three inches or more of continuous snow cover drastically reduces the chance a fire will escape and burn unintended areas.

A DNR burning permit is not required under snow-covered conditions, but local city and municipalities may regulate debris burning.

The DNR reminds homeowners to keep safety first when disposing of yard waste.

Spring fire restrictions that will soon take effect will drastically limit open burning until summer green-up occurs.

Traditionally, the highest number of wildfires occurs during the months of April and May.

More than 95 percent of these fires are caused by human error.

Because of the high fire incidence during this time period, the DNR initiates burning restrictions to coincide with this annual “fire season.”

The restrictions are weather dependent, but normally last from four to six weeks until sufficient green vegetative growth occurs.

Past experience with spring fire restrictions has shown a dramatic decrease in both the numbers and sizes of accidental fires, the DNR said.

By completing burning now, homeowners can reduce the potential for an escaped fire.

Escaped fires endanger homes and property.

And if escaped fire requires the DNR or a fire department to put it out, the homeowner is responsible for the costs.