Minnesota likely to see early start to fire season

March 23, 2015

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

With the recent warm weather, Department of Natural Resources fire behavior analysts are predicting an early start to Minnesota’s spring fire season.

Predicted temperatures this week in the 40s and 50s will likely take care of what little snowpack the state had this winter. Plus, forecasts for the next two weeks show mild temperatures and a dry weather pattern. Minnesota also had a relatively dry fall and very little snow this winter. All of this points toward abnormally dry conditions in early spring.

In addition to predicting an early start to the spring fire season, fire behavior analysts say that based on past weather patterns and fire occurrence, Minnesota will likely have an average to above average number of fires this spring. Without the snow compaction, grass fires will move faster and be more intense. And, with dry conditions, Minnesota could face fire mop-up and peat fire issues.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting average temperatures and average precipitation for Minnesota this spring. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows most of the state as abnormally dry with some areas of moderate drought. And, predictive services at the National Interagency Coordination Center in Boise, Idaho says Minnesota will likely see above normal fire potential in March, April and May.

But, even during dry periods, timely rain can lessen fire danger over the short term. Spring fires are predominantly wind-driven in fine fuels like leaves and grasses. These fine fuels respond quickly to changes in the weather. Spring fire danger will vary with the weather, so fire activity could be subdued with well-timed periodic rain.

“Because the snow is disappearing quickly, we urge people to check fire conditions and burning regulations prior to doing any open burning and to use extra caution when burning,” said Tom Fasteland, Minnesota Interagency Fire Center coordinator.

With an early start to spring, open burning restrictions are likely to be implemented earlier than normal. Residents may need to find alternatives to burning or wait until after green-up when it is safer to burn. The DNR restricts open burning shortly after snow melt when exposed dead grass and brush can light easily and burn quickly. Once spring open burning restrictions are in place the state will not give out burning permits for burning brush or yard waste. The restrictions normally last from four to six weeks until sufficient green vegetative growth occurs.

Lester Prairie SC trapshooting begins April 8

LESTER PRAIRIE – The Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club’s trapshooting season will start April 15 and run through August 12.

The club, which celebrates it’s 48th anniversary this year, features:
• open Wednesday night shooting from 6 to 9:30 p.m.
• Five “Pat” Traps
• High School Trap Shooting
• A five-person Handicap League (18 weeks by Class AA, A, B, C & D)
• 300-bird, 16-yard Lewis Class
• Doubles and Practice

There will also be a practice day April 8. New shooters are always welcome.

Clubhouse rentals are available for any occasion now through November, whether it’s graduations, family reunions, business meetings or any other gathering. The recently remodeled clubhouse features horseshoes, softball/baseball, and a sand volleyball court, along with limited self-contained campgrounds.

The club is located one mile southwest of Lester Prairie on McLeod Co. Rd. 1.

For more information, contact Ed Mlynar, Club Mentor, at 320-395-2258 or the Club at 320-395-2829, or via email at edmlynar@embarqmail.com.

Bow hunter field day Saturday

A Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Bow Hunter Education Field Day Test will take place Saturday, March 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Grace Bible Church, 300 SW Cleavland Street, Silver Lake.

For more information, contact Jim Richardson, Instructor, at 612-636-7214.

Firearms safety class scheduled for Lester Prairie SC

The DNR Firearms Safety Class will be held at the Lester Prairie Sportsman’s Club from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the following dates: April 7, 9, 14, 16, 21, 23, 28, 30 and May 5 & 7. You may register at the first class on April 7 and the cost is $7.00. If you have any questions please contact Doug Minnick at 320-395-2143 or 320-224-5942.

Fishing Klinic for Kids scheduled

Fishing Klinic For Kids is having a Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser on Saturday, April 4th, 2015 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Buffalo American Legion. Dinner is $8.00 for adults and $5.00 for children age10 and under.

Dinner includes spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread, salad, and a cookie.

There will be drawings for over 100 prizes. Tickets are $5.00 each and you do not need to be present to win. Prizes include: a 4 Hour Fishing Boat Launch for 12 People at “Dickies” Liberty Beach Resort on Mille Lacs Lake, an original 18 x 24 framed eagle painting by Buffalo wildlife artist LeAnn Smith, a ladies black leather World Poker Tour jacket, a Minnesota Lottery jacket, a Fillet Maker fish cleaning board, 1 month free karate lessons at Dojo Karate, hats, T-shirts, sweatshirts, pizzas, packs of drinks, over $450 in gift cards and certificates from Cabela’s, Super America, Applebee’s and more, and lots of other prizes donated by individuals and local businesses.

You’ll also have to chance to meet legendary fishing guide and Freshwater Fishing Hall of Famer, Chris Kuduk. It promises to be a fun afternoon and all proceeds go to Fishing Klinic For Kids. Tickets are available at Buffalo Super America. RSVP for the dinner by March 30, 2015 by calling LeAnn at SA, 763-682-5541.

USFW Habitat Day April 11 in Litchfield

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold a Habitat Day for the public Saturday, April 11 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Litchfield Wetland Management District office.

Area residents are encouraged to come and learn more about the wildlife and habitat of the area in this free event.

Families can construct their own wood duck box or bluebird house, and there will also be wren houses, robin roosts and bird feeders.

There will also be a live bald eagle and other raptors (birds of prey) for visitors to meet.

Tentative schedule of events include:

• Noon-4 p.m.: Build your own bird house, view displays, and meet the Wildlife Wizard! Coloring books, posters and an assortment of wildlife related materials for kids and adults will be available.
• 1-2 p.m.: Presentation by the Raptor Center, St. Paul, with live birds
• 2:30-3:30 p.m.: Open discussion with the Raptor Center with birds on display.
The Litchfield Wetland Management District office is located at 22274 615th Ave., Litchfield, MN.

For more information, call 320-693-2849.

MN men fined for fishing violations
From the DNR

Gary Hegarty, of Monticello, Ricky Gruebele, of Cambridge, and John Bartholmy, of North Branch, pleaded guilty to possessing more fish than allowed and were each fined $1,250.

On October 26, 2014, conservation officers inspected the three men’s combined catch. The men had been fishing in Sabaskong Bay of Lake of the Woods and staying at a cabin on Raspberry Island in the Morson area. Officers found that the men possessed 32 yellow perch, seven black crappies and five walleye over their legal limit. This included both the fish the men had in their boats and what they had stored back at the cabin. All of the fish were seized and donated to charity.

Justice of the Peace Robert McNally heard the case in the Ontario Court of Justice, Kenora, on March 3, 2015.

Anglers are reminded they may not possess more fish than the limit for that species. The possession limit is the number of fish you can have in your possession; this includes fish stored at all locations, such as at home and in live wells. The catch limit is the number of fish you can catch and keep in one day; it includes those not immediately released and any eaten or given away.

Dayton proposes funding increase for state parks and rec

More than 8 million people visit Minnesota state parks each year with nearly 1.3 million of them traveling from other states or countries. This year, Gov. Mark Dayton has recommended a much-needed boost in funding for Minnesota state parks and recreation areas to ensure that they remain well-maintained attractions.

The economic benefits to Greater Minnesota communities that host state parks can be significant. In 2012, visitors to Minnesota state parks spent $231 million annually on their trips, supporting thousands of local jobs across Minnesota.

The additional funding proposed by the governor would allow state parks to continue operating at present service levels, providing for 154,000 hours of customer service and keeping many parks open into Minnesota’s beautiful fall season.

“Parks and trails give people a reason to travel. They are a cornerstone of Minnesota’s $13 billion tourism industry,” said Erika Rivers, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “Local spending by park visitors on gas, food, lodging and other items creates major benefits for Greater Minnesota communities.”

The return to the economy from a state park visitor is roughly $25 per day. Each year, the magnifier effect of this spending generates an estimated $372 million in total business sales, according to DNR research.

Visitor interest in Minnesota’s state parks and trails has continued to grow. Year-end numbers from 2014 show that permit sales are up 24 percent and overnight stays are up 11 percent from 2008. In 2008, Minnesota citizens approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, which has helped fund state park improvements and outreach efforts. These parks and trails investments have helped foster tourism and bolster local economies, according to Rivers.

“We’ve expanded the park system considerably in recent years with the acquisition of land for Lake Vermilion – Soudan Underground Mine State Park and La Salle Lake State Recreation Area, and the addition of a 25-mile mountain bike trails system at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area,” Rivers said. “The additional funding the governor is proposing will offset the cost of operating and maintaining a growing system for a growing number of customers.”

Minnesota state parks popular attractions

Minnesota’s state parks and trails are some of the most popular outdoor attractions in the state, drawing millions of visitors each year. Dayton’s proposed investment in the state parks system will help ensure they remain able to serve growing demand.

• 8,881,746 visitors – In 2014, Minnesota’s state parks hosted nearly 9 million visitors.
• 66 state parks – Minnesota is home to 66 state parks and 9 recreation areas, 8 state waysides, 590 paved miles of state trails, and 62 state forest campgrounds and day-use areas.
• 72 percent – Repeated DNR surveys suggest that more than two-thirds of Minnesotans who visit a state park make a return visit (2001: 74 percent, 2007: 67 percent, 2012: 72 percent).

More on the Governor’s State Parks Budget Proposal

Dayton’s proposal would increase the state park operations budget by $4.6 million in fiscal year 2016 (ending June 30, 2016) and $4.9 million for fiscal year 2017. These increases would be added to the annual state parks and trails operations budget of $34.6 million.

The proposed funding increase would come partly from a general fund increase and partly from a modest increase in daily and year-round vehicle permit fees. Under the governor’s proposal, annual passes would increase to $30 from $25, and one-day permit fees would increase to $6 from $5. Vehicle permit fees have not increased since 2003.

CO Report
From the DNR

CO Brian Mies (Annandale) spent part of the week at computer training at Camp Ripley. CO Mies also had a ride along taking part in the career shadow program at Kimball High School. CO Mies checked anglers in Stearns and Wright counties. CO Mies worked on tip calls.CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) gave a Firearms Safety Class in Waverly. Reller also followed up on fish house violations, and ancomplaints were also handled.

CO Mitch Sladek (Big Lake) worked fishermen on area lakes. He followed up on a possibly poached deer. He checked an OHM complaint in a wetland. He had a public speaking engagement at The Bank of Elk River. He followed up on a number of ATV complaints.CO Steve Walter (Waconia) checked anglers who were having good success on crappies.Animal nuisance calls were handled all week. Commercial fishermen were observed netting carp on Parley Lake. He attended computer training at Camp Ripley.

CO Vang Lee (ELCOP) worked fishing activity in the Mound station and investigated a complaint of a possible wetland violation in Greenfield. He took calls in Scott County requesting a permit for a road killed mink and accidently killed otter. He also checked on a complaint of taking over the limit of pan fish on Lake Riley and answered questions to the Hmong community on fishing regulations.

CO Jeff Denz (Willmar) conducted commercial inspections including fur buyers and minnow dealers. He certified ginseng and enforced burning laws. He checked ice anglers but advises caution on the quickly deteriorating ice conditions.

CO Nicholas Klehr (Litchfield) spent the week checking ice fishermen enjoying the ice fishing while it lasts. The fish bite started to pick up a little bit with the warmer weather. Commercial checks were also conducted with other officers. ATV enforcement was worked during the week as well with the ATV Park open again. Training at Camp Ripley was also attended for the new computer system.

CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) assisted DNR Wildlife with turkeys in the city of Hutchinson causing problems. Mylar ribbons and an owl decoy were placed to try and discourage the turkeys from returning to the residential neighborhood. Mueller checked some ATVs that were out enjoying the warm early spring weather. She also conducted some minnow retailer inspections. Mueller attended training in Bloomington.

CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) spent time working ATV and trapping enforcement in the area. Oberg also assisted with armoring division shotguns and in-service planning. Oberg also did a ride along.
CO Thor Nelson (New Ulm) received inquiries regarding youth firearms and ATV safety classes and injured wildlife. He spent time following up on deer cases from last season. Nelson also worked angling and ATV enforcement.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Why do deer shed their antlers each year?

A: Annual cycles in deer antlers are related to the changing seasons. Deer have adapted their physiology and behavior to respond to seasonal changes, including antler growth and shedding. The environmental cue that regulates antler growth is the amount of day length; the physiological cue is the hormone testosterone.

Simply put, the changing day lengths are sensed by the eyes, which send this message through the optic nerve to the pineal gland located at the base of the brain. The declining day length in late fall and early winter causes a decrease in testosterone, which results in antler shedding.

The actual process of antler shedding involves a thin layer of tissue destruction that forms between the antler and the pedicle, called the abscission layer. The degeneration of the bone-to-bone bond between the antler and the pedicle is considered to be the fastest deterioration of living tissue known in the animal kingdom.