ATV riders can explore Minnesota trails for free

June 2, 2014

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Minnesotans with all-terrain vehicles registered for private or agricultural use won’t need to pay the additional registration fee ($53.50 for three years) to ride the state’s public ATV trails on Saturday, June 7, and Sunday, June 8.

Out-of-state riders can explore Minnesota ATV trails that weekend as well, without the need for a nonresident trail pass ($21 annually).

This is the second year that Minnesota is providing ATV riders with free access to more than 3,000 miles of state forest and grant-in-aid (GIA) trails during “No Registration Weekend.”

“We see this weekend as a great opportunity to showcase the wide variety of state and grant-in-aid trails across Minnesota,” said Mary Straka, off-highway vehicle program coordinator. “There are a large number of privately registered ATVs across the state that, during this weekend, can give the public trails a try and ride for free.”

Some great places to start, according to Straka, include:

• The Iron Range Off-Highway Vehicle State Recreation Area, a 1,200-acre OHV park in Gilbert with 36 miles of scenic trails for riders of all abilities.

• The 100-mile trail system in Nemadji State Forest, which connects to the Matthew Lourey State Trail and the Gandy Dancer Trail for more riding opportunities.

• The 29-mile Spider Lake trail system in Foot Hills State Forest, where riders will curve around lakes and ponds, go up and down a variety of hills, and view overlooks from the ridges throughout the forest.

These and other riding destinations are featured in a new 72-page Off-Highway Vehicle Trail Atlas. The atlas includes maps, descriptions, parking and other information for 51 state and GIA trails for ATVs, off-highway motorcycles (OHMs) and off-road vehicles (ORVs).

Contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us, 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday to request free copy of the atlas. Trail maps are also available online at www.mndnr.gov/ohv, as are updates on trail conditions.

For more information, contact Mary Straka at 218-833-8713 (Brainerd) or 651-259-5644 (St. Paul) or mary.straka@state.mn.us.

New deer population goals for SE MN announced
From the DNR

More deer in much of southeastern Minnesota is the anticipated outcome of a citizen-led deer population goal-setting process that increases deer numbers in five of the nine permit areas under review.

“By managing for these new goals, the majority of permit areas should experience population increases,” said Leslie McInenly, big game program leader for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

DNR increased goal densities in deer permit areas 341, 342, 345, 347 and 348. Permit areas 343, 346 and 349 will maintain existing goal densities. Whitewater Wildlife Management Area, permit area 344, will maintain current densities.

Although deer density goals were not changed for permit areas 343, 346 and 349, populations in those areas already are above goal so management will continue to be designed to lower deer densities to goal in those areas.

“Deer densities in 343, the area that includes Rochester, will be managed to remain roughly the same,” McInenly said. “The special disease management zone in the Pine Island area will be eliminated and merged with permit areas 341 and 343, allowing deer numbers to recover from chronic wasting disease management efforts.”

DNR will allow hunters to harvest more deer in permit areas 346 and 349 to significantly reduce deer densities because of extremely high deer densities observed during aerial surveys this past winter.

With the exception of those two far southeastern permit areas, deer management to achieve goals in many permit areas will require conservative harvest strategies this coming fall that likely will include a one-deer bag limit. Harvest management will be designed to gradually move populations toward goals during the next few years.

The new deer population goals are the result of an extensive public process initiated late last fall. The process emphasized collection of public input prior to convening a stakeholder advisory team.

“By seeking a consensus-based recommendation from a group of local citizens with diverse perspectives and experiences, the process was designed to result in sustainable, citizen-based goals that were publicly supported,” McInenly said. “We had a good deal of public interest and very dedicated volunteers.”

Southeast advisory team members were selected through an open nomination process and members were tasked with developing recommendations for new deer population goals after considering biological and social data.

Team members considered more than 4,000 responses to hunter and landowner surveys, comments from nearly 600 online or meeting questionnaires, public meetings and written communication to the DNR. They reviewed information related to deer populations, harvest trends, habitat, browsing impacts and public health and safety. Other factors associated with deer management also were considered.

After collecting public comment on team recommendations, the DNR approved eight of the nine team recommendations without revision. A slight revision to the team recommendation for permit area 342 was necessary to prevent a population increase of nearly 50 percent from the current level, which would have established a deer density that available habitat could not support.

“Only three percent of surveyed hunters desired such an increase and a number of team members suggested they would have preferred an intermediate level of increase,” McInenly said. “The revised density range still exceeds the level suggested by most survey respondents but better reflects desires identified from more recent public comment and advisory team discussion.”

More information on southeastern Minnesota’s new deer population goals and plans for goal setting in the remainder of the state during the next two years is available on the DNR’s deer management webpage at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

DNR to lift burning restrictions in remainder of MN counties
From the DNR

Burning restrictions were lifted in all Minnesota counties on Friday, May 23, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The DNR is lifting the restrictions due to decreased fire danger because of wet conditions and green up moving northward.

Those seeking to burn, need to obtain a burning permit available through state and federal forestry offices, from local fire wardens, or online by paying a $5 fee per calendar year. Online permits need to be activated on the day of the burn. See http://webapps1.dnr.state.mn.us/burning_permits/.

Because fire danger can change quickly, DNR foresters are able to turn off burning permits in individual counties whenever conditions warrant. This could occur if there is a dry, windy day where fires could start easily and burn quickly.
Check the Fire restrictions page on the DNR website at: www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/firerating_restrictions.html for information on daily changes to burn permits.

Although the state burning restrictions are lifted, local areas, counties or municipalities may have specific regulations or restrictions that affect burning operations. Check with local authorities to obtain proper permits before burning.

The DNR advises anyone doing burning to keep burn piles small, have a water supply nearby, and stay with the fire until it is completely out. If the fire escapes, the homeowner is responsible for the damage and suppression costs.

Newest state record fish hooked in Root River
From the DNR

A Minneapolis resident has joined an exclusive club of anglers who’ve caught state record fish.

Chad Wentzel landed a record 4-pound golden redhorse on May 8 from a bank of the Root River in Fillmore County, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed.

Wentzel was fishing using 6-pound test line. He pitched his worm presentation, leaving the bait on the river bottom until he hooked into the record breaker, which bested the previous record by one ounce.

The golden redhorse is the latest in a string of record-breaking fish caught in the past few years. Six Minnesota state fishing records have fallen since December 2011 with anglers hooking bowfin, river carpsucker, burbot, shovelnose sturgeon, warmouth and golden redhorse.

“Records are broken more frequently than many imagine,” said Mike Kurre, who coordinates the DNR’s state record fish program. “Though still a rare occurrence, catching a state record fish is always in the realm of possibility.”

Recent record breakers

Prior to Wentzel’s record, here are the most recent chart-topping fish:

• Ben Ranzenberger of Winona bested the past record warmouth while ice fishing on Dec. 23, 2011, in Bartlet Lake on Pool 6 near Winona. Ranzenberger caught numerous warmouth over the record with the largest weighing 9 ounces. The previous record caught in 2010 and weighed slightly more than 6 ounces. He was fishing with wax worms and a tiny jig.

• Fred Draeger of Wabasha smashed the current bowfin record of 11 pounds 4 ounces by a whopping 1 pound, 5 ounces on Sept. 14, 2012, when he caught 12 pounds, 9 ounces worth of fighting flesh. Fred enticed the new state record with a gob of nightcrawlers and landed this very interesting looking fish in the back waters of the Mississippi on 8-pound test.

• Nicholas Nutter of Chaska landed a river carpsucker on Nov. 19, 2012, that weighed an impressive 4 pounds, 6 ounces and had a girth of 21 5/8 inches. His record was caught on the Minnesota River with a jig and ringworm combination and bested the previous mark by 7 ounces.

• Aaron Guthrie of Bemidji caught a burbot weighing in at 19 pounds, 8 ounces on Feb. 24, 2012, on Lake of the Woods, beating the previous record of 19 pounds, 3 ounces. Guthrie was using a fathead minnow on a tip-up. Guthrie was targeting burbot – also called eelpout – for its flavorful white meat.

• Sarah Gartner of St. Paul hooked into a shovelnose sturgeon that tipped the scales at 6 pounds, 7 ounces just south of the Red Wing dam Feb. 19, 2012, on the Mississippi River. Gartner was using a multi-colored jig and a minnow to score this new state record. The previous record was 5 pounds, 9 ounces.

State record guidelines

An angler who catches a potential state record fish should strictly adhere to these guidelines:

• Obtain and completely fill out a current application for a Minnesota state record fish. Find them on the DNR website or local DNR fisheries office. The submitted application must be signed, completed, legible (print or type) and witnessed and signed by a notary public.

• The potential record fish must be weighed on a certified commercial scale legal for trade which carries a sticker affixed by the Minnesota Department of Public Service, Weights and Measures Division, showing that the scale’s inspection and approval falls within Minnesota Statutes for Weights and Measures. Weighing must take place in the presence of two witnesses other than the applicant, or witnessed by a DNR Fisheries or DNR Division of Enforcement person in lieu of the two witnesses, who must sign the application attesting that the official weight was witnessed.

• At least one good photograph of the fish (taken broadside for further identification) must be submitted with the application. Length and girth measurements of the fish must be taken and recorded on the application, with length measured in a straight line from the tip of the snout to the end of a pinched tail and girth measured around the thickest portion of the body.

• A DNR Fisheries staff person must identify the species of fish and attest to the correct identity by signing the record fish application.

For a listing of state record fish, a submission form and more information, visit www.mndnr.gov/fishing/staterecords.html.
CO weekly report
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) worked on a turkey case.
CO Mies worked on tip calls dealing with anglers.
CO Mies took a TIP call on bow fishermen dumping carp in road ditch and shooting too close to cabins.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) followed up on a bear hunting investigation.
A commercial taxidermy shop was inspected with several violations noted.
Fishing in the area has slowed this week with high water on most lakes.
Enforcement action was taken for failing to register bear, fail to have proper taxidermy records, angling without a license, angling with extra lines, illegal combination license, and illegal length smallmouth bass.

• CO Mitch Sladek (Big Lake) worked fishermen and boaters.
He issued summons and written warning for fishing w/o fishing license, no registration, extra lines and life jackets violations.
He wants everyone to know if they find a fawn deer to leave it alone and the doe will return to get it.
He wants everyone to check their boats closely for vegetation and to drain all water from bait containers, live wells and to keep boat plugs removed while transporting there boats to and from the lakes or rivers.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) worked the bass opener, fishing was very good.
Anglers were checked all week on special regulation lakes, designated trout lakes and night bow fishing all having good success.
AIS checks were done at lake access sites with AIS inspectors.
Enforcement action was taken for illegal parking, no angling licenses in possession, over possession limits of trout, no trout stamp, angling with extra lines and angling after revocation.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) worked area lakes and the Minnesota River during the week and during the holiday weekend.
She focused on boat and water safety regulations.
The rising water temperature seemed to help with the fishing activity.
Mueller worked AIS enforcement at area lakes and patrolled the Luce Line State Trail for ATV activity.
She also taught water safety at Camp Ripley for the academy officers.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) focused on angling enforcement in the area.
Fishing has stayed fairly average so far.
Oberg also focused his time on doing aquatic invasive species checks at area public water accesses.
A TIP call was also followed up on.