DNR urges caution with fires; burning permits now required

January 2, 2012

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Winter is usually a time of low fire danger in Minnesota, but this winter is different, with snow drought in most of the state.

Fuels, such as grasses and brush, which are usually covered with snow, are freeze-dried and available to burn this winter.

Because of these conditions, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking people to be careful with fire, to check previous fires for possible rekindling, and make sure they get a burning permit before burning vegetation.

On Monday (Dec. 26), 750 acres burned near the northwestern Minnesota city of Gully, in Polk County.

The fire burned rapidly through wooded areas, due to dry fuels and high winds.

That fire is now contained, and firefighters are mopping up heavy fuels today.

Fighting fires in the winter is difficult, however.

Due to cold weather and low wind chill temperatures, firefighter frostbite and freezing pumps are concerns.

Burning restrictions will change as weather conditions and snow cover change.

Burning permits are required whenever there is less than 3 inches of continuous snow surrounding a planned burn area.

Right now, with the exception of Cook County in northeastern Minnesota, burning permits are needed for debris and vegetation burning.

Permitted burning hours vary by geographical area.

Campfires are allowed without burning permits.

For information about burning permits, contact a local DNR Forestry office or check the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov and search for burning permits.

Carver County PF banquet Jan. 21

The Carver County Chapter of Pheasants Forever annual banquet will take place Saturday, Jan. 21.

Everything starts at the Hamburg community hall at 5 p.m. with social hour and fun gaming events, followed by dinner at 7 p.m.

Proceeds are used to support long term, pheasant population initiatives, as well as local youth outdoor educational events.

Evening premier events will include free youth raffles for prizes, various donation raffles, silent and live auctions, and sponsor raffle and recognition.

Ticket information can be obtained by contacting Chip Hentges at (952) 200-3176, or by e-mail at chipseptic@embarqmail.com.

Da Shiver Ice Fishing tourney Feb. 4

The sixth annual Da Shiver Ice Fishing Tournament is Saturday, Feb. 4, from noon to 3 p.m. on the west end of Lake Sarah. The event benefits the Crow River Youth Hockey Association.

The early bird cost to fish is $35. After Jan. 20, the fee is $40.

Prizes are awarded to the 10 biggest fish, and door prizes will be given away throughout the day. The event also includes a raffle drawing for an Ice Castle fish house.

For more information contact Doug Lawman at dashiver@yahoo.com, (763) 479-1206 or (612) 991-5159.

DNR designates Teal and Bolstad wildlife management lakes
From the DNR

Teal Lake in Jackson County and Bolstad Slough in Cottonwood County have officially been designated as Minnesota’s 46th and 47th wildlife management lakes by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Tom Landwehr.

The formal designations follow months of planning and public input gathering.

They provide the DNR with special authority to manage lakes for waterfowl, wildlife and clean water through the use of periodic, temporary water level drawdowns in addition to other strategies.

A drawdown can improve waterfowl, wildlife and water quality conditions by stimulating critical aquatic plant growth and promoting a rough fish die-off.

The DNR partnered with Ducks Unlimited (DU) to survey and design both projects, determining solutions that address the water and habitat quality problems in each basin.

DU will hire and manage the construction of new water control structures through a pending 2012 grant appropriation from the Outdoor Heritage Fund that was recently recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.

DU also recently requested a federal cost-share grant to augment state Outdoor Heritage Fund funding for the projects through a North American Wetlands Conservation Act small grant proposal entitled “Windom Area Wetlands.”

“Without the support of the public, local sportsman’s clubs, local units of government and organizations like DU, projects like these would not be possible,” said Randy Markl, DNR area wildlife supervisor. “They benefit wildlife, the environment and people.”

“DU is pleased to provide bio-engineering technical assistance to design and implement these important shallow lake enhancement projects in partnership with the DNR and with funding from the Outdoor Heritage Fund,” said Jon Schneider, manager of Minnesota Conservation Programs for DU. “These will be two more excellent migration marshes for ducks and hunters alike.”

Lake Vermilion walleye regulation modified for 2012
From the DNR

Lake Vermilion, located in northeastern Minnesota near Tower and Cook, will have a new slot size for walleye regulations starting on May 12, 2012, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The revised regulation will be an 18- to 26-inch protected slot.

The regulation will continue to allow one fish over 26 inches and includes a four-fish bag limit.

The current special regulation of a protected slot from 17- to 26-inches was enacted in 2006 in response to increased fishing pressure and walleye harvest.

The current 17- to 26-inch regulation will continue through the winter ice fishing season.

The goals were to maintain walleye harvest at a sustainable level and enhance protection of the spawning stock.

The original review period allowed changes in the fishery to be evaluated after a 10-year time period.

Concerns within the angling community lead to an earlier review of the regulation.

In the western part of the lake, the walleye population is dominated by large fish, with few keeper-size fish available to anglers due to poor reproduction in recent years.

Stakeholder input indicated anglers were catching few “keeper” walleye, which led to consideration of a regulation that would allow harvest of some larger fish while still meeting the goals of the original regulation.

After careful evaluation of a number of options, the DNR decided to slightly reduce the current slot size.

DNR fisheries managers believe the 18- to 26-inch protected slot regulation will continue to provide a sustainable harvest while protecting spawning stock.

“This special regulation was changed only after careful consideration of the status of the fishery, an internal review process within the DNR, and public input,” said Edie Evarts, DNR area fisheries supervisor. “Public comment was considered from direct contact with the DNR Fisheries office and through a public meeting held in September,” she said. “Most of the comments were supportive of modifying the regulation.”

Signs describing the new regulation will be posted in the spring at the public accesses and resorts.

Questions about the regulation change can be directed to Edie Evarts, area fisheries supervisor, (218) 753-2580; or Duane Williams, large lake specialist, (218) 753-2580.

CO Weekly Reports
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers. CO Mies also checked trappers and worked on tip calls.

• CO Jackie Glaser (Mound) continued to work on a background investigation.
She checked fishing activity on Lake Minnetonka.
She also met with the Hennepin County Attorney staff on an upcoming BWI case.

• CO Wayne Hatlestad (Litchfield) checked angling and spearing activity.
Additional time was spent checking archery deer, pheasant, and goose hunting activity.
Hatlestad also checked trapping activity, and investigated possible WCA and public waters violations.
Time was also spent on a pre-employment background check and attending required training.