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DNR updates state list of endangered, threatened, special concern species

August 26, 2013

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

A state list first established nearly 30 years ago to highlight and help protect plants and animals at risk of disappearing from Minnesota has received its first official update since 1996.

Following a series of five public hearings, an 86-day comment period and review by an administrative law judge, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on Monday, Aug. 19, adopted a new list of endangered, threatened and special concern species.

Twenty-nine species, including the bald eagle, wolf and snapping turtle, were removed from the list; 180 species of plants and animals were added; 91 species had their status either upgraded or downgraded while remaining on the list.

The changes were based on large amounts of new information gathered by DNR and other researchers.

Minnesota’s endangered species law requires the DNR to create and periodically revise such a list, and it prescribes three levels of concern.

An endangered species is one that is at great risk of extinction within the state.

A threatened species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future.

A species of special concern, though not at immediate risk, is considered vulnerable because of its rarity or highly specific habitat requirements.

The law prohibits the taking or possession of endangered and threatened species except in certain situations.

If a proposed project cannot avoid a protected species, the state can issue a “taking permit” that is combined with mitigation, such as funding for research or acquisition of other sites to protect the species.

Over the past decade, DNR has received 23 applications for development-related taking permits and it has issued all but one.

“The ultimate goal of putting a plant or animal on the list isn’t to put up walls around it; it’s to restore its health and get it back off the list,” said Rich Baker, DNR endangered species coordinator. “There are plenty of examples of that happening, and it doesn’t have to come at the expense of sustainable economic development.”

More information on Minnesota’s endangered, threatened and special concern species can be found on the DNR’s website at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/ets/index.html.

DNR urges boaters to stope ‘power loading’ when loading and unloading boats at public water accesses
From the DNR

As summer progresses and lake water levels drop, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds boaters using public accesses to check ramp conditions before launching any boat and to refrain from “power loading.”

Power loading is a phrase that describes using the motor thrust to load and unload a boat onto and off a trailer. The method is dangerous and can damage boats.

Instead of power loading, boaters are encouraged to use a winch to load and unload a boat.

Power loading creates blow holes and prop mounds when sediment, gravel and sometimes large rocks are blown beyond the ramp.

Power loading can also cause damage to launch ramps that may not be visible from the surface of the water.

Erosion under the concrete ramps and dock wheels can cause them to become uneven and, in some cases, fall into the blow holes.

The practice can also lead to expensive boat motor and trailer repairs.

Motors can incur damage if the boat or lower unit runs aground on the mound.

At shallow accesses, boat trailer frames can get hung up when trailers are backed off the end of the concrete ramp into the blow outs.

Smaller vehicles may be unable to get the trailer out.

“We recommend that before launching, boaters look beyond the ramp for shallow water caused by prop mounds and ensure the water is deep enough for the boat and motor,” said Dave Schotzko, DNR northwest region Parks and Trails Division supervisor. “This is especially important for those with larger boats and pontoons.”

The DNR Parks and Trails Division manages about 3,000 public boat accesses statewide.

DNR crews stay busy in the summer maintaining public water accesses.

The added tasks of removing prop mounds and repairing docks and ramps become expensive and time consuming, making it impossible to level every boat landing to accommodate all sizes of boats at every lake.

These repairs also take funding and time away from efforts that could be spent on other improvements.

To view a video on power loading, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/water_access/powerloading.html.

For more information on boating and boat accesses, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/boating or contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or (651) 296-6157, toll-free at 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

DNR seeks designs for MN’s 2013 pheasant stamp
From the DNR

Wildlife artists can submit entries for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) 2014 pheasant stamp contest from Monday, Sept. 9, until 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20.

Artists are prohibited from using any photographic product as part of their finished entries.

Any entry that contains photographic products will be disqualified.

Entries will be accepted via mail and in person at DNR headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul. Mailed entries should be addressed to 2013 Pheasant Stamp Contest, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division, Box 20, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4020.

Designs should be securely wrapped and enclosed in an envelope or other container.

The words “Pheasant Stamp” should be clearly marked on outside of the container. Late entries will not be accepted.

The contest, which offers no prizes, is open to Minnesota residents only.

Winning artists usually issue limited edition prints of the artwork and retain proceeds.

Revenue from stamp sales is dedicated to pheasant management-related activities.

A contest entry form and reproduction rights agreement, which grants the DNR the right to use the design for the stamp image and other promotional, educational and informational purposes related to waterfowl, must be signed and submitted with the design.

Judging is at 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, at DNR headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.

Complete contest criteria and information are available from the DNR Information Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155, and online at www.mndnr.gov/contests.

Families, youth, and women can go afield with upland bird mentors
From the DNR

Inexperienced families, youth and women hunters can apply for a chance to step into the field with an experienced upland bird hunter at locations across much of Minnesota on Saturday, Oct. 19, or Saturday, Oct. 26.

“Participants are offered a hands-on approach that shows them hunting techniques, outdoor skills, safety and how wildlife habitat plays a big part in upland bird management and hunter success,” said Mike Kurre, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) mentoring program coordinator.

Co-sponsored by the DNR, hunt participants are paired with mentors from Pheasants Forever, Woodcock Minnesota and the Ruffed Grouse Society.

After discussing safety, habitat, ethics, scouting for places to hunt and securing landowner permission when necessary, mentors take participants into the field.

A limited number of family hunts allow all family members to actively participate.

For youth hunts, parents or guardians must accompany youth hunters at all times and at all events but cannot carry a firearm.

To participate, youth must be 12-17 years old as of Oct. 19; have earned a valid firearms safety certificate; possess a small game license if required; and have a parent, guardian or adult authorized by a parent or guardian accompany them as a nonfirearms carrying mentor.

The adult must accompany the youth during the orientation and the hunt.

A small game license is not needed for youth younger than 16.

A $5 reduced-price license is required for youth 16 and 17.

People 18 and older do not need a parent or guardian to accompany them, but will need a valid firearms safety certificate if required or an apprentice hunter validation certification, pheasant stamp (if pheasant hunting) and a small game license.

Up to four family members can participate in a family hunt.

Adult and youth family members must meet all eligibility requirements.

Applicants who apply for a family hunt but are not selected in the lottery can opt to allow their children to participate in the youth hunt if spots remain open.

All applicants must specify the county or area they want to hunt, if they are willing to travel farther if their choice is not available and the distance they are willing to travel.

Applications are due Monday, Sept. 16. They are available online at www.mndnr.gov/discover or by contacting the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157, toll-free 888-646-6367 or info.dnr@state.mn.us.

Successful applicants will be notified via mail or email by the end of September.

The winner’s notice will contain specific information about hunting license requirements, equipment and hunt coordinator contact information.

All winners must contact their hunt coordinator after receiving their notice.

Landowners with pheasant or grouse-producing property interested in allowing youth or novice families or women to hunt on their land can help out by contacting Pheasants Forever’s Eran Sandquist at (763) 242-1273.

Eurasian watermilfoil discovered in Clear Lake near Watkins
From the DNR

Eurasian watermilfoil has been discovered growing in Clear Lake near the town of Watkins in northern Meeker County, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.

An initial discovery was made by DNR Fisheries specialists on the west side of the lake.

A plant sample was brought to Hutchinson DNR office.

A subsequent inspection of the lake showed Eurasian watermilfoil growing primarily along the western shore of the lake, but also found sparse growth of plants in the north bay of the lake and along the northeast shore.

Eurasian watermilfoil can form dense mats of vegetation and crowd out native aquatic plants, clog boat propellers and interfere with water recreation.

Clear Lake covers 529 acres and has a maximum depth of 18 feet. It has DNR public accesses on north and south ends of lake.

“Boaters and anglers who use Clear Lake are urged to be extra thorough when looking for and removing aquatic plants from their boats, trailers, anchors, decoys and other equipment,” said Nicholas Brown, DNR aquatic invasive species specialist. “It is unlawful in Minnesota to transport aquatic plants or prohibited invasive species or to launch watercraft with them attached.”

Eurasian watermilfoil has now been discovered in more than 260 lakes, rivers or streams in Minnesota.

The lake will be designated as an infested water and the public access will be signed to alert boaters.

More information about aquatic invasive species, how to inspect water equipment, and a current infested waters list can be found at www.mndnr.gov/ais.

DNR renovates popular fish exhibit at state fair
From the DNR

Tne of the Minnesota State Fair’s perennial favorites has gotten a major facelift that should make it even more popular with visitors.

The indoor fish exhibit at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) building has been completely redone.

Five new fish tanks will illustrate the habitat and fish found in different Minnesota waters: a southeastern trout stream, the St. Croix River, and lakes typical of central, southern and northern Minnesota.

Nine new terrariums featuring live snakes and amphibians in climate controlled cells also were added.

“By focusing on fish communities and their habitat, we hope people will gain a better understanding of how good angling depends on healthy ecosystems,” said DNR East Metro Fisheries Manager TJ DeBates.

The DNR’s east metro fisheries crew stocks and manages the State Fair fish exhibit.

The tanks that previously offered fair visitors a close-up look at native fish were nearly 30 years old and in poor condition.
The new tanks are lower to the ground, making them more accessible to viewers of all sizes and abilities.

They also have new heaters and pumps to maintain healthier conditions for their aquatic inhabitants.

The $460,000 renovation was funded by bonding money approved by the Minnesota Legislature and appropriated to the DNR to maintain safe and accessible facilities.

An estimated 800,000 people visit the DNR’s State Fair exhibit, which also features an outdoor fish pond that is slated for renovation.

Nearly 2 million Minnesotans fish, making it one of the state’s most popular pastimes.

Here are descriptions of the five new tanks:

• Northern Minnesota lake tank: This tank shows a lake with low primary productivity.
These lakes have low algal production, and consequently, often have clear waters, with high drinking-water quality.
The bottom waters of such lakes typically have ample oxygen; thus, such lakes often support many fish species, like lake trout, which require cold, well-oxygenated waters.
In Minnesota, these lakes are associated with granite and rocky bedrock bottoms.

• Central Minnesota lake tank: This tank shows a lake with an intermediate level of productivity.
These lakes are commonly clear water lakes and ponds with beds of submersed aquatic plants and medium levels of nutrients.
These are very good bass and panfish lakes due to the presence of native aquatic plants.
These lakes have a mix of sand, muck, and rock, both hard and soft bottom areas.

• Southwestern Minnesota lake tank: This tank shows a lake with high biological productivity.
Due to excessive nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus, these water bodies are able to support an abundance of aquatic plants.
Usually the water body will be dominated either by aquatic plants or algae.
When aquatic plants dominate, the water tends to be clear.
When algae dominates, the water tends to be darker.
The algae engages in photosynthesis which supplies oxygen to the fish and biota which inhabit these waters.
Occasionally an excessive algae bloom will occur and can ultimately result in fish kills due to respiration by algae and bottom-living bacteria.
These lakes have mostly soft bottoms consisting of muck and dead organic material, but can have sand and rock substrates depending on the geology of the area.

• Southeastern Minnesota trout stream tank: This tank displays different levels (gradient) within a typical trout stream in southern Minnesota, many of which have riffles or areas that oxygenate the water.
In southeastern Minnesota, the combination of consistent spring water (typically 48-52 F) and bedrock consisting of limestone (calcium carbonate) make for productive cold water trout environments.
Aquatic insect’s exoskeletons are made of calcium carbonate and in southeastern Minnesota there is plenty to go around.
The trout in this part of the state grow fast due to the high levels of aquatic insects available as a food resource.
Also, gravel bottoms are vital for the natural reproduction of both brown and brook trout.
Increased development and agricultural practices can promote sedimentation and loss of gravel beds for spawning.

• Warm-cool water large river tank: This tank displays a variety of habitats from sand to muck to rock to large woody debris.
The diversity of habitat translates to a diverse fish community.
Large rivers in Minnesota have fish communities consisting of both game fish (walleye, catfish, sauger, muskellunge, smallmouth bass) and nongame species (sucker species, gizzard shad, and various minnows species, gar, paddlefish).

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: The ash trees in my yard are producing lots of seeds this year, more than in previous years. How unusual is this? Is it weather related?

A: Trees produce large amounts of seed for a couple of reasons.

Trees under stress from drought, soil compaction, or planting “off-site” may produce more seed to ensure another generation.

Weather can also impact the number of seeds a tree produces.

Ash are wind-pollinated, so if there are heavy rains during flowering, pollen is unable to travel by wind, and seed set and production can be reduced.

In some species of trees, heavy seed production occurs normally every few years.

CO weekly reports
From the DNR

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) gave a presentation to a Youth Firearms Safety class in Rockford.
Reller also checked anglers and boaters on area lakes with activity slowing down as normal this time of year.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) worked AIS enforcement looking for boaters transporting invasive species and failure to remove drain plug.
Trespass calls were handled on anglers on private property.
A complaint of goose hunters shooting geese in the closed zone was taken but turned out to be guys shooting barn pigeons.
Goose hunters were out all week but had very poor success.
Multiple violations were found for shooting non game migratory birds, no HIP certification, no early season goose permit and hunting geese without a small game license.

• CO Jackie Glaser (Mound) worked a boating safety project on Lake Minnetonka with CO Block.
Violations included BUI, no registration, gunwale riding, no PFDs, no throwable, no lights, no fire extinguisher and PWC after hours.
Boaters at public accesses were checked for AIS law compliance, fishermen were checked along the Minneapolis lakes, and several unpermitted weedroller complaints were handled.
She also attended court in Hennepin County for a past BUI arrest.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) monitored fishing and goose hunting activity during the week.
She spoke at 3M during their safety lunch, focusing on boating, ATV and snowmobile safety.
Mueller also discussed AIS issues during the presentation. Mueller also conducted a falconry inspection.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) worked a booth at the Minnesota Trappers Association Convention in Litchfield this past weekend.
He answered a lot of questions relating to the use of 220 conibear traps on public and private lands.
Oberg also spoke to firearms safety classes in Dassel and Silver Lake this week.
Oberg also spent time checking a few goose hunters and handled a coyote issue.