Gopher Campfire Youth Conservation Field Day Aug. 27

August 15, 2011

by Chris Schultz

Press Release

Gopher Campfire will once again be hosting the popular Youth Conservation Field Day event, scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 27.

During the event, future outdoor conservation members can participate in supervised shooting sports, as well as learn why conservation is so important for the future of wildlife in our state.

Activities available to participants include trap shooting, archery, .22 Rifles, BB guns, .22 Pistols, and black powder.

Conservation Education is also an important part of the day, with the DNR’s traveling “Wall of Shame” on display, which features mounts of poached animals that were turned in with the help of the DNR’s TIP line.

“Youth involvement is a key part of our state’s outdoor future,” says event organizer Milan Godejahn, “and this event is all about connecting our area youth to the outdoors through activities that they might not normally get to experience. Our hope is to spark interest in youngsters, and connect them to area resources that can help them safely enjoy the outdoors for a long time to come.”

Doors open at 9 a.m. for registration, the event begins at 10 a.m., and youth ages 6 to 17 are welcome to participate.
The cost for the day is $5 per person. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Youth Conservation Day is sponsored by: Little Crow Archery Club; McLeod County Pheasants Forever; National Wild Turkey Federation (Crow River Cutters Chapter); Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (Crow River Chapter); Conservation Partners of America (Central Sibley Chapter); Buffalo Lake Rod and Gun Club; and Gopher Campfire Club.

For more information, call Duane Thorpe (320) 237-6930 or email ddthorpe1@mchsi.com.

Upcoming events planned at Waverly Gun Club

Waverly Gun Club will host the following events during the month of August.

• Ladies night, Tuesday, Aug. 9 from 6 to 9 p.m.

• Conceal and carry class has been rescheduled from a two-day class to one day only Sunday, Aug. 21 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To register, call Kevin at (763) 242-4553.

• Black powder shoot is Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 13 and 14. Individual competition is Saturday, team competition Sunday and cannon and mortar competition begins at noon Sunday, Aug. 14. There is no admission and the public is welcome.

More information can be found at www.waverlygunclub.com.

Pelican Lake WPA dedication was Saturday
From Ducks Unlimited

Ducks Unlimited dedicated the 60-acre Pelican Lake Waterfowl Production Area and donate the property to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this past Saturday.

This project represents the first property Ducks Unlimited has purchased with funds from Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund, which was made possible by 1.6 million voters approving the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008.

Guest speakers at the event included DU Minnesota State Chairman Dave Flink, Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, Wright County Commissioner Pat Sawatzke, Jim Cox, vice-chair of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, MNDNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, USFWS Refuge Supervisor Jim Leach, DU Senior Vice President for Conservation Programs Paul Bonderson and DU Chief Conservation Officer Paul Schimdt.

Funding for this project was provided by an Outdoor Heritage Fund grant recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council and appropriated by the Minnesota Legislature, Pheasants Forvever, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Wright County Board of Commissioners, Flint Hills Resources, Montgomery Family and Ducks Unlimited’s dedicated members, volunteers and major supporters.

Additional funding came from major gifts to Ducks Unlimited as part of the Federal Duck Stamp Gala including Wild Wings, Great River Energy, Jared Brown and Russ and Deanna Klint.

Youth hunter the focus of DNR booth at Game Fair
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) showcased youth hunting opportunities at its informational booth during the 30th annual Game Fair.

The outdoor show was Aug. 12-14 and continues Aug. 19-21 at the Armstrong Kennels Ranch, six miles northwest of Anoka.

Show hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays.

This fall the DNR is offering 12 special youth deer hunts.

The DNR is also coordinating several special youth waterfowl and pheasant hunting events.

The rack of a record-setting, white-tailed eight-point buck taken by poachers in 2009 will be on display at the DNR Turn In Poachers booth from noon to closing each day.

The DNR booth at Game Fair will be in a tent in Area B along the lakeshore, near the dog trials area.

Outdoor enthusiasts will be able to buy hunting and fishing licenses and pick up informational brochures at the DNR’s booth.

DNR staff and conservation officers will be there to answer questions about a variety of topics, including:

• Fall youth hunting opportunities.
• Hunting rules and regulations.
• 2010 fall waterfowl season.
• Hunter education courses.
• Hunting and fishing licenses.
• Becoming an Outdoors Woman program.

Game Fair has more than 300 exhibitors, plus hunting, shooting and dog exhibitions that are expected to draw more than 50,000 people during this year’s run.

Third year of habitat grant program offers local groups $5.45 million
From the DNR

Conservation groups seeking funding for projects that protect and improve Minnesota’s prairies, forests, lakes and wetlands can apply online for a Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) grant beginning Friday, Aug. 12.

Funded through the Outdoor Heritage Fund, the $5.45 million available for CPL grants in the coming year is one of the initiatives funded by a three-eighths of 1 percent sales tax that voters approved when they passed the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008.

“CPL grants help get money to groups that are ready to proceed with on-the-ground habitat initiatives,” said Ed Boggess, director of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Fish and Wildlife Division. “These projects are based on sound conservation practices with long-term benefits for the state, our lands and waters, and our fish and wildlife.”

Projects that restore, enhance or protect Minnesota’s prairies, forests, wetlands and habitat for fish game and wildlife on public or permanently protected lands are eligible for funds.

Local, state and federal nonprofit organizations and governmental entities may apply.

Applicants seeking a $5,000-$25,000 grant must provide 10 percent in matching funds and complete a simplified online application.

Grant requests from $25,001-$400,000 require 10-15 percent in matching funds and must be completed using the standard online application.

Grant applications will be accepted online through Thursday, Sept. 15.

Information about this year’s grant requirements will be available online Aug. 11 on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/grants/habitat/cpl.

Grant awards will be announced in November.

During the first two years of the CPL grant program, DNR has awarded more than 80 grants totaling $7.87 million.

eDNA tests suggest presence of invasive silver carp in St. Croix River
From the DNR

Water samples from the St. Croix River have tested positive for genetic material from silver carp, suggesting the invasive, leaping Asian species may be present in the river as far north as the dam at St. Croix Falls, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Known as environmental DNA (eDNA) testing, the results do not provide any information on number of fish present, their size or whether they are breeding.

To date, no silver carp have been caught in the St. Croix River, either by anglers or commercial fishing operators.

Only two bighead carp, a different Asian species, have been caught in the river – one in 1996 and another on April 18 of this year.

The discovery has prompted the DNR to take several actions.

“Our immediate goal is to mobilize as much effort as possible to confirm the presence of live silver carp in the St. Croix,” DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “The results raise the profile and the level of urgency around the Asian carp issue not just for the DNR, but for all agencies, conservation groups, municipalities and river users who have a stake in the health of the St. Croix and the Mississippi.”

The DNR will soon contract with commercial fishing operators to begin using nets on the St. Croix to try to capture live silver carp in the same areas where eDNA tests were positive.

DNR staff will also use nets and boats outfitted with electric shocking capabilities to search for fish.

DNR operations could start next week; commercial netting operations are expected to start by the end of August.

DNR officials said they will proceed with development of a bubble or sonic barrier at the mouth of the St. Croix River at Prescott, Wis., pending results of the additional carp sampling.

Scientists believe such a barrier would not be a 100-percent deterrent to Asian carp, but if the populations are low, the barrier could help keep additional carp out of the river while other population control methods are developed.

The DNR is considering a variety of funding sources, including requesting assistance from the Minnesota Legislature, for the barrier.

A recent estimate put the barrier’s construction cost (for materials alone) at $7 million.

• No eDNR posititives on Mississippi River; more testing to be done

eDNA testing is a new but scientifically accepted method of screening water samples for genetic material originating from an aquatic animal’s mucus or excrement.

On June 28, a private contractor collected 50 samples from a 4.3-mile stretch of the St. Croix River.

The sample area started at the St. Croix Falls Dam and went downstream to near the town of Franconia.

The sample area was roughly 48 to 52 miles upstream of the river’s confluence with the Mississippi River at Prescott, Wis.

On June 29, the same contractor, Environmental DNA Solutions from Granger, Ind., took 50 samples from the Mississippi River in St. Paul.

The samples were collected in a river stretch starting at Lock and Dam 1 (Ford Dam) and ending 3.6 miles downstream at Pike Island.

The DNR received the test results on Aug. 4.

All 100 samples from the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers were tested for three species of Asian carp: black, bighead and silver.

The three species could cause serious damage to Minnesota’s native fish and aquatic systems by filter-feeding vast amounts of plankton, a key foundation of a river’s ecosystem and food chain.

All 100 samples tested negative for bighead and black carp.

All the samples tested negative for silver carp in the Mississippi River.

Scientists cautioned that the negative results on the Mississippi River do not mean silver carp are not in the river.

They said the Mississippi was at flood stage during the testing process, which could have limited the accumulation of carp DNA.

DNR staff note that bighead and silver carp have been caught in the Mississippi downstream of Lake Pepin.

In contrast, the positive samples from the St. Croix River were more conclusive.

Twenty-two of 50 samples (44 percent) tested positive for silver carp along the 4.3-mile stretch of river.

• Task force tackles carp issue

A Twin Cities-based Asian Carp Task Force brought together in January by National Park Service officials with the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, will immediately begin planning for a new round of eDNA testing in both rivers.

Made up of federal, state and local partners, the task force was responsible for initiating the most recent round of eDNA testing, which cost about $17,000.

Two nonprofit organizations funded the testing.

The St. Paul-based Mississippi River Fund contributed $10,000 and St. Croix National Scenic Riverway Fund of the St. Croix Valley Foundation contributed $7,200.

The St. Croix Valley Foundation is based in Hudson, Wis.

The St. Croix Falls Dam and Lock and Dam 1 on the Mississippi River were chosen as sites for the initial round of eDNA testing because they are river barriers where Asian carp might accumulate, and they are located further upstream than where most commercial fishing and routinely conducted DNR surveys take place.

The next round of testing will occur above those dams and elsewhere in the two rivers. Scientists want to test for Asian carp above Lock and Dam 1 in St. Paul and above St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis.

“Our task is to stop or slow down these fish as far south as possible while we continue to develop technologies and techniques to slow down their spread,” said Paul Labovitz, superintendent of the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton recently signed a bonding bill, approved by the Minnesota Legislature, funding a $16 million upgrade of the Coon Rapids Dam on the Mississippi River.

The dam improvements are designed to provide a permanent barrier to the upstream migration of Asian carp to the upper reaches of the Mississippi River. Construction should begin 2012.

• DNR gets hands-on experience in effort to capture silver carp

DNR fisheries experts say silver carp are extremely skittish and difficult to catch with traditional netting and fish-shocking equipment.

However, two DNR fisheries biologists recently returned from the Illinois River, where they received first-hand training from commercial fishing operators in capturing Asian carp, which have established significant populations there.

The training will prove valuable as the DNR begins its own search for the species on the St. Croix.

CO weekly reports
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers in Stearns and Wright counties.
CO Mies gave a law talk at a firearms class in Kimball.
CO Mies conducted a pheasant count.
CO Mies patrolled no wake lakes in Stearns and Wright counties and worked on tip calls.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) gave a firearms safety presentation at the Watertown Rod and Gun Club.
A large muskie was found dead on lake Waconia. The reason for death was a large muskrat lodged in its mouth.
Aquatic Invasive Species enforcement was worked on Prior Lake and Lake Waconia.
Boat, and water safety was worked on the Minnesota River with CO Block.

• CO Jackie Glaser (Mound) attended an invasive species training session to learn about the new decontamination units. She attended court for a BUI case from last summer.
She also checked shore fishermen on area lakes and patrolled state parks.

• CO Wayne Hatlestad (Litchfield) checked angling, boating, and PWC activity.
Additional time was spent checking and advising boaters of invasive species.
Hatlestad also checked a possible WCA violation, and checked ATV activity.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) reports concentrating his efforts last week on invasive species enforcement.
CO Oberg worked area lakes and rivers educating boaters on new laws.
Officer Oberg also spent time doing angling and ATV enforcement.
Enforcement action was taken for ATV, angling, burning and AIS violations.