Pelican Lake shoreline protected with Legacy Amendment acquisition

August 29, 2011

by Chris Schultz

From Ducks Unlimited

Ducks Unlimited (DU) has added 60 acres and 3,000 feet of shoreline to the Pelican Lake Waterfowl Production Area with the first land DU purchased using dollars from the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Fund.

DU and its partners recently dedicated the property, which DU will later this year donate to the US Fish and Wildlife Service for long-term management as a waterfowl production area.

“Pelican has a long history of heavy waterfowl use and strong waterfowling traditions,” said David Flink, DU Minnesota state chairman, “DU’s 38,000 Minnesota members are very excited to see the Legacy Amendment produce on-the-ground results like this project.”

As one of only 45 shallow lakes legally designated by the state for active wildlife management, the 4,000-acre Wright County shallow lake suffers from high and turbid water, as well as invasive fish, which degrade the habit ducks need in spring and summer as the prepare to reproduce and rear young.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and DU are designing an outlet water-control structure to give managers the ability to enhance the lake’s aquatic ecology.

Meanwhile, DU and partners are working cooperatively with private landowners to protect the lake’s shoreline and restore its immediate shoreland.

The land DU purchased was destined for housing development, due to its proximity to the Twin Cities and the I-94 corridor.

The DNR and USFWS seeded the property back to native plants and restored the wetlands.

As the newest addition to the Pelican Lake WPA, the land will be open to public hunting.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar thanked the partners for completing this project.

“Like most Minnesotans, I grew up in a family that values the outdoors,” Klobuchar said. “We need to protect this natural land, water and habitat so our children and their children can experience it just as we once did.”
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann said DU’s tireless efforts to complete the Pelican Lake Waterfowl Production Area are to be commended.

“I am certain this area will provide countless opportunities for generations of current and future Minnesotans to enjoy our great state’s natural resources,” Bachmann said.

The Minnesota State Legislature appropriated dollars from the Outdoor Heritage Fund for the project, which the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council recommended.

Partners included Pheasants Forever, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Wright County Board of Commissioners, Flint Hills Resources, Great River Energy, Wild Wings, Montgomery Family and DU members.

Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats.

Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres, thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent.

Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.

LP trap league shoot out winners

The Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club hosted its 2011 end-of-the-year shootoff Wednesday night.

Entering the night, The Ringers had already locked up first in Class AA, with Habisch Outdoors finishing second, Dodge House #2 was the Class D champs, with Hard Hitters finishing second.

Wednesday, Dobrava Brothers beat Gutter Helmet 109 to 105 in Class A; Garber’s Meats beat Kramer Agency 93-91 in Class B; and One Eyed Snipers topped North Central Ambulance 112 to 96 in Class C.

Crow River annual clean up day Sept. 17

The eighth annual Crow River Clean Up Day will take place Saturday, Sept. 17 in the communities around the watershed.

For more information on the Crow River Clean Up Day, contact Diane Sander at diane.sander@mn.nacdnet.net.

Bloom named new rep for PF in southern Minnesota
From Pheasants Forever

Pheasants Forever announces Chad Bloom of St. Cloud, Minnesota, as its new regional representative for southern Minnesota.

Bloom has been active as a Pheasants Forever volunteer since 2005, serving as a youth hunt mentor, board member, banquet co-chair and president for the Stearns County Pheasants Forever chapter.

Bloom looks to expand Pheasants Forever’s presence in southern Minnesota, which is home to 35 of Minnesota’s 77 Pheasants Forever chapters.

His efforts as regional representative will be directed at expending funds on wildlife habitat and conservation education and working with local, state, and federal natural resource agencies on behalf of Pheasants Forever chapters.

A lifelong outdoorsman and hunter, Bloom first became involved with Pheasants Forever after a co-worker invited him to a chapter board meeting in Stearns County.

“I was in awe after I attended my first board meeting,” says Bloom, “To see how Pheasants Forever volunteers gave their time, even though they had jobs and families, and to see the difference they were able to make really inspired me to help out. After that first meeting I was hooked.”

Bloom says his main goal in becoming the new regional representative is to use the resources the State of Minnesota and Pheasants Forever make available to continue creating publicly protected habitat for those who want to discover the outdoors.

Bloom also notes that enhancing existing habitat is a primary concern.

“In times like these, it is of the utmost importance that we protect and care for the habitat we have in Wildlife Management Areas and Waterfowl Production Areas.”

Prior to joining Pheasants Forever, Bloom worked at IRET Properties in St. Cloud.

A native of Willmar, Bloom earned his degree in Geographic Information Systems from St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud.

Bloom will be relocating to southern Minnesota, where he will work out of his home office and can be reached at (320) 292-4771.

DNR asks bear hunters not to shoot radio-collared bears
From the DNR

Hunters participating in Minnesota’s bear season, which opens Sept. 1, are asked to avoid shooting radio-collared research bears.

The bears are marked with large colorful ear tags or colorful streamers.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) researchers are monitoring about 35 radio-collared black bears, most of them in northwestern Minnesota, especially near Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area and the Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge.

Additional radio-collared bears reside in and around the Chippewa National Forest, Camp Ripley, Cloquet Forestry Station and Voyageurs National Park.

Bear research also is being conducted between Ely and Tower near the Eagles Nest chain of lakes in northern St. Louis County.

“Hunters near these areas should be especially vigilant for these valuable research bears,” said Dave Garshelis, DNR bear research biologist. “These animals provide long-term data on reproduction and habitat use that is invaluable for bear management across the state.”

Photos of some collared research bears are available on the DNR website at http://mndnr.gov/bear.

“We’re asking that if hunters see ear tags or a collar on a bear, they refrain from shooting it,” Garshelis said. “Researchers have invested an enormous amount of time and expense in these individuals.”

Many of the collars have global positioning units that collect and store data, which is downloaded by DNR researchers when they visit the bears in their dens.

Long-term records of individual bears have been the cornerstone of information that helps the DNR monitor and manage the bear population, Garshelis said.

DNR officials recognize that a hunter may not be able to see a radio collar or ear tags in some situations.

For this reason, taking a bear with a radio collar is legal unless the bear is accompanied by a researcher who has identified the bear to the hunter as a research animal.

Any hunters who do shoot collared bears should call the DNR Wildlife Research office in Grand Rapids at (218) 327-4146 or (218) 327-4133.

MN Legislature approves funding for major loon and pelican study
From the DNR

A major study is underway to learn more about the potential impacts of the recent gulf oil spill on two of Minnesota’s migratory birds – common loons and American white pelicans.

This cooperative multi-agency project involves the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Geological Survey, University of Minnesota, North Dakota State University, and University of Connecticut.

“This project will help us learn if the oil spill has had a negative impact on loon and pelican populations,” explains Carrol Henderson, supervisor of the Minnesota DNR Nongame Program, who will serve as project manager, “and if we need to initiate future conservation actions to protect and restore their numbers.”

The Legislative-Citizens’ Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) recently approved $250,000 to help pay for the project.

This funding, from Minnesota’s Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, is derived from state lottery proceeds.

An additional $47,000 will be used from proceeds of state conservation license plate sales.

Minnesota wildlife biologists are particularly concerned about the potential long term impacts of the oil spill on common loons because most loons hatched in Minnesota in 2008 and 2009 would have been present in the Gulf of Mexico during the oil spill episode.

Subadult loons do not return to Minnesota until the spring of their third year, and they typically do not start breeding until they are five years old.

Subadult white pelicans spend a year in the Gulf of Mexico prior to returning to Minnesota, so pelicans hatched in 2009 would have also been present during the oil spill.

The purpose of this project is to carry out two years of population monitoring on loons and pelicans as well as analysis of loon blood and tissue and pelican eggs, blood and shed bill knobs.

These samples will be tested for the presence of PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon), which is a toxic material associated with the crude oil, and Corexit, which is the oil dispersant used to treat the oil spill.

Population counts will be compared with long-term monitoring data, which goes back to 1994 for loons and 2004 for white pelicans.

Minnesota has a statewide population estimate of 12,000 loons and 16,000 pairs of white pelicans.

In addition to the population monitoring, the U.S. Geological Survey will implant satellite transmitters and geolocators on Minnesota loons to document their wintering grounds and foraging depths.

Blood and tissue samples will be derived from those loons and from dead loons found on Minnesota lakes.

These samples will be analyzed by the Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the University of Connecticut for concentrations of PAH and Corexit, following necropsy analysis of the dead loons by the Wisconsin DNR.

Sixteen breeding colonies and twelve summering areas used by pelicans are being surveyed by Dr. Francesca Cuthbert and Linda Wires of the University of Minnesota Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology. Dr. Mark Clark, Wendy Reed and Jeff DiMatteo of North Dakota State University are carrying out on-the-ground studies of nesting pelicans, including collecting samples of eggs and blood.

They also are collecting shed bill knobs on nesting islands, which may contain contaminants from the Gulf of Mexico.

The eggs, blood, and bill knobs will also be processed at the University of Connecticut to check for the presence of PAH and Corexit.

New paddling opportunties on the Crow River
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has two new additions to the state water trail system – the South Fork of the Crow River west of the Twin Cities and the Blue Earth River, which feeds the Minnesota River at Mankato.

The DNR has also revamped its river-level reporting system to make it easier for boaters, canoeists and kayakers to check real-time water levels on state water trails.

Water trails are mapped routes on waterways, especially for watercraft.

“This has been a big year for state water trails,” said Erik Wrede, DNR water trails coordinator. “In May, we launched a new, online interactive map so boaters and paddlers can customize their own maps. Now, we have launched a major upgrade in our river-level reporting system. Special thanks go to the local paddling groups that were active in pursuing legislative designation and that were extremely helpful in mapping 200 miles on two new water trails.”

The Amboy Area Community Club, the Mankato Paddling and Outings Club and the South Fork Crow River Association each had a hand in adding to the first and largest water trails system in the nation.

The state water trails system started back in 1963 and now has 4,400 miles on 32 water trails that are managed for canoeing, kayaking, boating and camping.

There is a water trail within an hour of almost anywhere in the state, and camping at the remote sites is free unless otherwise designated on the maps.

Check out mndnr.gov/watertrails for trip planning resources like river level reports, free printed maps, customizable digital maps, and lists of outfitters and paddling clubs.