For the first time in decades, Hennepin County is banning cars, trucks, and SUVs from all of its 104 named lakes and other bodies of water.
Unseasonably warm weather and unpredictable ice conditions have plunged eight vehicles into the water since mid-January six in the past seven days.
Across the state, four people have died this year after falling through the ice.
None of the fatalities were in Hennepin County but “there’s been a couple of close calls,” said Lisa Kiava, the sheriff’s spokeswoman.
“The ice condition varies. It’s a foot in some places and then you go a few feet and it’s a thin veneer,” she said. “There’s no rhyme or reason to it.”
Snowmobiles and ATVs will continue to be allowed on the lakes.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ climatology office reported that the period from Dec. 1 through Feb. 7 was the second-warmest in local records.
The average temperature for the period, 27 degrees, is 9 degrees above normal.
A forecast low of 1 below Friday night would be only the fourth subzero reading of the season in the Twin Cities, but temperatures will soar above freezing again next week.
Rainbow Sportsmen’s Club Ice Fishing contest is Feb. 12
The Rainbow Sportsmen’s Club is hosting it’s annual Ice Fishing Contest and raffle Sunday, Feb. 12, from 2 to 4 p.m. on Brooks lake in Cokato.
The fishing contest is free, along with free minnows and hole drilling.
There are both junior and senior divisions for the fishing.
Raffle tickets are $1 each for a chance at the $300 top cash prize along with many other merchandise and cash prizes.
There will be a lunch wagon on site with hot pork sandwiches, hot dogs, and beverages.
Bring out the whole family for some winter fun and relaxation.
For more information, contact Tim at (320) 980-0460 or Dave at (612) 670-1916.
Volunteers add $8 million in value to DNR
From the DNR
Nearly 26,000 citizens donated services valued at $8 million during 2011 to assist the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in accomplishing its conservation mission through a variety of projects and programs.
That’s the equivalent of an extra 179 full-time staff, according to the DNR.
“We’re fortunate to have so many dedicated Minnesotans who are willing to donate their time and talents for conservation projects,” said Renée Vail, DNR volunteer programs administrator. “We’re extremely grateful for their efforts. Many of our projects would not be possible without their help.”
DNR managers, professionals and technicians work alongside volunteers to help manage the state’s diverse natural resources.
Volunteer positions can range from specialist jobs requiring extensive skill and experience to work requiring little or no previous experience.
For example, for several years now Russ Johnsrud, Ron Norenberg, Don Marg, Denny Ernst, Chuck Yliniemi and Steve Maanum have used their woodworking skills to assist staff at the Park Rapids Wildlife office.
Last year, the volunteers built 68 bluebird houses for the DNR Nongame Wildlife Program.
They also built 103 Peterson bluebird boxes, 10 mallard nesting boxes, 50 wood duck boxes, and two purple martin houses.
Most of these went to the Detroit Lakes Wildlife Management Area.
Twenty-five bluebird houses were built for Park Rapids School and 30 bluebird houses were for Bagley School.
• Variety of opportunities available
Volunteer opportunities are available at state parks, state forest campgrounds, wildlife management areas, fisheries and hatcheries, as well as at DNR area, regional and headquarters offices.
Special event sites offer volunteer experiences, too. More than 500 volunteers assisted the DNR at the Minnesota State Fair last year.
They helped at the laser shot booth and archery range, acted as Smokey Bear, and provided entertainment and environmental education presentations on the DNR volunteer outdoor stage.
Elsewhere around the state, volunteers helped with firearms safety instruction, wildlife habitat improvement, river cleanups, state park campground hosting, loon monitoring, trail clearing, precipitation observing, burning permit issuing and wildlife research.
For more information about DNR volunteering opportunities, visit the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov and click on the word “volunteering.”
Information is also available by contacting the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free at 888-646-6367.
DNR looking for safe and responsible hunter mentors
From the DNR
People who have paid attention to recent outdoors newspaper, magazine and television stories may have noticed pictures of beaming youths following a successful hunt.
What’s often missing from the picture is the young hunter’s mentor who made such a successful experience possible.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is in need of additional mentors to serve as guides for its safety training programs, particularly the “All Day Range and Field Day” portion of the hunter firearms safety course found at www.HUNTERcourse.com.
“The time shared between a youngster and a mentor is invaluable,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Enforcement Division safety education coordinator. “There simply is no better way to introduce a young person to safe, ethical and responsible aspects of hunting than with the close supervision of an adult mentor.”
Mentors work for about five hours with a group of three to four students, ages 11-15, facilitating, mentoring and evaluating students as they complete hunter-based scenarios that include big game, small game and turkey hunting, as well as shoot/don’t shoot, tree stand safety, outdoor survival, firearms transportation, common firearm action types, blaze orange and more.
Knowledge of various hunting activities and knowledge of the principles of safe, responsible and ethical hunting are required.
Mentors also need to understand basic principles of mentorship and facilitation of “Range and Field Day” scenarios taught at instructor certification training sessions.
More information is at www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/instructors/adrfd/index.html.
Mentor applicants must be 18 years or older and pass a background check.
Prior to attending an instructor training session, applicants must complete instructor prerequisites listed at www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/instructors/adrfd/index.html.
Certification sessions are conducted by DNR trainers when and where there is a need.
People are encouraged to complete the instructor prerequisites as soon as possible, so they will be prepared when a convenient training session is offered.
More information is available by contacting the DNR Enforcement Education Program staff at Camp Ripley,15011 Highway 115, Little Falls, MN 56345.
People also can call 800-366-8917 or send an email to email@example.com.
A list of current instructor training certification sessions, locations and dates is available at www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/instructors/training.html.
DNR, NWTF mentored youth turkey applications due soon
From the DNR
The application deadline is midnight Monday, Feb. 13 for first-time youth turkey hunters, ages 12 to 17, who are looking to go afield this spring and learn from an experienced National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) volunteer, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Participants will be selected through a random lottery.
Applications, maps and general information for the wild turkey hunt are available online at www.mndnr.gov/youthturkey.
This is the 10th consecutive year DNR and NWTF have cooperated to provide opportunities for first-time youth turkey hunters.
More than 1,500 youth have been introduced to this unique hunting experience since spring youth turkey hunts began in 2002.
Most hunts will occur April 21-22, which is the first weekend of the regular wild turkey season.
Nearly all youth will hunt on private land thanks to the generosity of private landowners and the NWTF volunteers who obtained permission.
To be eligible, a youth hunter must be age 12 to 17 on or before April 21; have a valid firearms safety certificate; and be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
The program is for first-time turkey hunters only.
Any youth who has ever purchased or been selected by lottery for a Minnesota turkey license of any type is not eligible.
Hunters and their mentors will be assigned a NWTF volunteer coach, who must accompany both the youth and parent or guardian throughout the entire hunt.
Participation in the hunts is only restricted by the number volunteers and private lands that are available.
People who have an interest in providing quality turkey hunting land for the mentored youth hunts should contact a NWTF chapter online at www.nwtf-mn.org/Home/ChapterListings.
Speeding up government
From the DNR
In its latest report on permitting efficiency to the Minnesota Legislature, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports it has met new targets for expediting permit applications 99.6 percent of the time.
New permit efficiency expectations require DNR permit applications from industry and other entities to be approved or denied within 150 days.
A year ago, Gov. Mark Dayton signed an executive order directing the DNR and MPCA to meet the benchmark to ensure quick response to industry requests.
The DNR’s nearly 100 percent efficiency delivers on Dayton’s promise that DNR should “move at the speed of commerce,” as the governor said last year.
“The report shows the DNR is responsive to companies and other entities that require speedy review of their permit requests, while still safeguarding the state’s natural resources,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “In this economic environment, I’m pleased to show that the DNR is not only able to meet expectations, but exceed them.”
In many cases, DNR staff was able to render decisions on permits in less than two weeks, and often within a few days.
In addition to Dayton’s executive order, the governor signed legislation codifying the 150-day permit decision goal for the DNR. “It’s a goal we take very seriously,” Landwehr said.
As part of the legislation, the DNR and other agencies are required to deliver semiannual reports to the Legislature on permitting efficiency on Feb. 1 and Aug. 1.
The report examines the efficiency of permitting in the following categories: water appropriations, public waters work, aquatic plant management, endangered species takings, and mining.
For any permit that fails to meet the goal, the DNR is also required to report the reasons for not meeting goal, steps it will take to complete action on the application and the expected timeline to meet the goal.
Between July 1, 2011, and Dec. 31, 2011, the DNR received 894 permit applications.
Staff deemed 855 permit applications complete and made 891 permit decisions.
The DNR missed the 150-day goal on only three permits during the reporting period, but all three permits have since been issued.
In all three cases, which involved water appropriation or public waters work, the permit deadline was missed because of a combination of lack of staff and the state government shutdown last summer.
The vast majority of DNR permits during the reporting period involved water appropriations, work that would be done within public waters and aquatic plant management.
In most cases, DNR staff made decisions on new permits within a day or two.
Public waters work took more time, but staff was still able to make decisions on applications, on average, within two weeks.
Changes to permits took longer, but DNR staff was able, on average, to render decisions on applications between two and four weeks.
On an iron ore and taconite mining permit, staff was able to render a decision within 79 days.
CO Weekly Reports
From the DNR
• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers.
CO Mies also checked ATVs and worked on several complaints.
CO Mies investigated an illegal fire.
• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) investigated several littering cases on area lakes.
Reller also conducted a Game Farm inspection in Wright County.
Enforcement action was taken for operating ATV without certification, no ATV registration, operate ATV on county roadway.
• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) checked ATV, OHM and snowmobiler riders on area lakes.
Coyote hunters and trappers were checked having some success.
Coyote hunting has been tough with little snow.
Commercial fishermen were checked seining carp from Parley Lake, approximately 80,000 pounds were removed.
Fish house owners were contacted that their fish house was getting close to falling through the ice.
• CO Jackie Glaser (Mound) responded to a TIP call in Carver County regarding two fishermen using extra lines.
After further investigation, the fishermen were found using 13 lines, plus over half of the lines were over 400 feet away from their shelter.
She patrolled the Luce Line State Trail and local Scientific and Natural Areas. Investigation continues on a wetland violation.
• CO Wayne Hatlestad (Litchfield) checked angling and spearing activity.
Additional time was spent checking ATV and snowmobile activity on area lakes.
Hatlestad also checked trapping activity, and attended training.
• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) worked ice angling and ATV enforcement.
Time was spent attending training at Camp Ripley.
CO Oberg also did a radio show on a local radio station.