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Updated: 4 hours 50 min ago

DNR confirms zebra mussels in lakes downstream of West Battle Lake

Thu, 09/20/2018 - 3:04pm

A “heritage lake” with no motor boating is among the connected waters

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has identified zebra mussels in two Otter Tail County lakes downstream of West Battle Lake. Zebra mussels were confirmed in West Battle Lake in August of 2016. 

The DNR discovered several zebra mussels in Molly Stark Lake and Annie Battle Lake during a search. Because of a defined stream connection, Lake Blanche, an unnamed lake between Annie Battle and Blanche, and the streams connecting those lakes will also be listed as infested. Annie Battle Lake is a “heritage lake,” where motors and electronics are not allowed and limits are reduced on most fish.

Whether or not a lake is listed as infested, Minnesota law requires boaters and anglers to:

  • Clean watercraft and trailers of aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species,
  • Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keeping them out during transport, and
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To remove or kill them, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another waterbody:

  • Spray with high-pressure water.
  • Rinse with very hot water (120 degrees for at least two minutes or 140 degrees for at least 10 seconds).
  • Dry for at least five days.

Zebra mussels can compete with native species for food and habitat, cut the feet of swimmers, reduce the performance of boat motors, and cause expensive damage to water intake pipes.

People should contact an area DNR aquatic invasive species specialist if they think they have found zebra mussels or any other invasive species.

More information is available at mndnr.gov/ais.

Zebra mussels confirmed in Barrett Lake in Grant County

Thu, 09/20/2018 - 3:03pm

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed reports of zebra mussels in Barrett Lake in Grant County. 

A lake service provider business contacted the DNR after finding multiple zebra mussels on three separate pieces of equipment in three locations. A second report came from an angler near the dam by the public access, who snagged a log with zebra mussels attached.

DNR staff found zebra mussels ranging in size from 3 mm to 1 cm on equipment and rocks in the water.

Whether or not a lake is listed as infested, Minnesota law requires boaters and anglers to:

  • Clean watercraft and trailers of aquatic plants and prohibited invasive species,
  • Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keeping them out during transport, and
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To remove or kill them, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another waterbody:

  • Spray with high-pressure water.
  • Rinse with very hot water (120 degrees for at least two minutes or 140 degrees for at least 10 seconds).
  • Dry for at least five days.

Zebra mussels can compete with native species for food and habitat, cut the feet of swimmers, reduce the performance of boat motors, and cause expensive damage to water intake pipes.

People should contact an area DNR aquatic invasive species specialist if they think they have found zebra mussels or any other invasive species.

More information is available at mndnr.gov/ais.

Fall color in the forest

Thu, 09/20/2018 - 1:27pm

Minnesota’s state forests offer beautifully scenic drives

A drive through Minnesota’s state forests is an easy way to soak up fall color.

“Driving through our state forests in fall is like driving through a kaleidoscope—the range of color really is amazing,” said Val Cervenka, the DNR’s forest health program consultant and fall color predictor. “This is a great outing for families, and also a great time to take pictures for holiday cards.” 

For a complete list of fall color forest drives, log onto our Scenic Fall Color Routes webpage. Or, for weekly email or text updates on where to find peak fall color, visit either mndnr.gov/fallcolor, 888-646-6367 or exploreminnesota.com/fallcolor (888-VISITMN).

Here are a few suggested drives below:

Late September

Early October

  • Hill River State Forest: This loop begins and ends in Hill City. Head east on state Highway 200. You can take a side trip to hike around Taylor Lake by turning south on Taylor Lake Road. Return to 200 and take another side trip to Washburn Lake by turning south on Washburn Lake Road. Return to 200 and head back to Hill City or head east to County Road 10 (Great River Road). Head south on 10 to state Highway 169. Head north on 169 to County Road 68 (540th St). Head west on 68 to County Road 29. Head north on 29 to 200. Head east on 200 to return to Hill City.
  • Fond du Lac State Forest: This loop begins and ends in Cromwell. Take State Highway 73 north to County Road 122. Head east on 122 to County Road 120/Ditchlake Road. Head north on 120 to County Road 223. Here there are two options: drive east on 223 to the dead end, then park on the east side of the road and hike through the forest; or, turn right on 223 to County Road 421, then head east on 421 to County Road 1023. Go south on 1023 to state Highway 210, then west on 210 to return to Cromwell.
  • Solona State Forest: This loop begins and ends in McGarth. Go north on State Highway 65 to County Road 2/220th Head east on County Road 2 to County Road 34/Kestrel Ave. Head north on 34, which turns into County Road 75. Continue on County Road 75 to State Highway 27, then go west on State Highway 27 to State Highway 65. Head south on State Highway 65 to return to McGarth. Before returning to McGrarth, perhaps take a detour to Porcupine Lake by heading west on West White Pine Forest Road.
  • Wealthwood State Forest: This loop begins and ends in Malmo. Head west on state Highway 18, driving along the north shore of Mille Lacs Lake, to state Highway 169. Head north on 169 toward Aitkin to state Highway 47. Drive east on state Highway 47 to return to Malmo.

Mid-October

  • Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest: This loop begins and ends in Red Wing. From downtown Red Wing, head south on Highway 61 for 10.5 miles. At Frontenac take a right onto County 2 Boulevard and go east for 9 miles. Take a right onto County 3 Boulevard to head east for 4 miles. Take a right onto state Highway 58 to head north for 1.5 miles. Take a left onto Hay Creek Trail to head north for about 4.5 miles. Hay Creek Trail turns into Twin Bluff Road at Pioneer Road. Continue on Twin Bluff Road until it turns into West Avenue. Follow West Avenue to West 7th Street and turn right. Go one block and turn left onto East Avenue to return to downtown Red Wing.

Teach a kid to hunt small game during Take a Kid Hunting Weekend

Thu, 09/20/2018 - 1:23pm

Getting outdoors in pursuit of squirrels, rabbits and other small game is the focus of Take a Kid Hunting Weekend this Saturday, Sept. 22, and Sunday, Sept. 23. 

During the weekend, adult Minnesota residents accompanied by a youth younger than age 16 can hunt small game without a license, but must comply with open seasons, limits and other regulations, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“Small game hunting is an excellent way to learn how to hunt and sets the stage for pursuing bigger game like turkeys or deer,” said James Burnham, DNR’s recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) coordinator. “New hunters can learn about the woods, build fundamentals for safe and successful hunting tactics, and spend some quality time with a mentor.”

Squirrel or rabbit hunting also offers a reason to walk in the woods during the transition to fall colors, and can provide some delicious table fare.

“Hunting squirrels or rabbits often means lower pressure to harvest an animal, warmer temperatures, more conversation and a focus on fun,” Burnham said. “So if you’re looking for younger faces at deer camp or in the turkey blind, weekends like this can help stir an interest.”

For more information on small game hunting and hunting regulations, visit mndnr.gov/hunting/smallgame.

Lake Christina drawdown underway in Douglas County

Thu, 09/20/2018 - 1:22pm

Wildlife managers have begun drawing down the water of Lake Christina in Douglas County to improve habitat and water quality on the popular destination for hunters and wildlife watchers. 

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will use the lake’s permanent pump system to lower the lake as much as 3 feet below the “normal” water level. The hope is to limit the survival of unwanted fish in the lake and to ensure shallower water for aquatic plants during the growing season next year.

“The purpose of the drawdown is to increase the chances of winter kill of unwanted fish populations that have negative impacts on water quality and aquatic vegetation,” said Nicholas Brown, wildlife lakes and Red River Basin specialist. “An added benefit is to provide more light penetration to stimulate native plant growth in the early growing season next year.”

A portion of Lake Christina is a Migratory Waterfowl Feeding and Resting Area and most of the lake is closed to motorized watercraft, and the closed area is posted.

Hunters will find good emergent plant cover, but during the drawdown access may be difficult later in the waterfowl season for hunters with larger boats.

“We’re asking hunters to please be patient. These temporary conditions will improve waterfowl use and lead to better hunting in future years,” Brown said.

For information on the management of Lake Christina or the drawdown operation, contact Nicholas Brown at 218-739-7576 ext. 244 or nicholas.brown@state.mn.us.

For more information about shallow lakes, visit mndnr.gov/wildlife/shallowlakes.

Beach area renovation begins at Sibley State Park

Thu, 09/20/2018 - 1:20pm

Improved accessibility is a goal

The Lake Andrew beach area at Sibley State Park in Kandiyohi County is undergoing significant renovations in conjunction with the park’s 100th birthday. While construction is underway, the swimming area, fishing pier, mooring docks, bathrooms and beach store will all be closed. Work started on Sept. 10 and is expected to be completed by spring 2019, when the park will celebrate its centennial. 

The Cedar Hill picnic area and shelter will remain open during the construction period. Canoe and kayak rentals have ended for the season.

Foot traffic, ice upheaval and the removal of a couple of cottonwood trees at the shoreline all combined to damage the shoreline over time. The renovated area will be much more accessible, especially to those who use a cane or wheelchair.

Plans also call for repair to a retaining wall and stairs. Excavators, dump trucks, tractors and a team of construction workers are at the site to remove trees, clear the project area and partition off the construction area. The project is funded by the Legacy Amendment.

“These improvements will make a big difference to our visitors, and the timing could not be better,” said Jack Nelson, park manager.

For more information, visit the parks Web page at www.mndnr.gov/sibley or contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).

DNR honors 2 youths for outstanding conservation efforts

Thu, 09/20/2018 - 1:15pm

During a ceremony Friday, Aug. 31, at Minnesota State Fair

Madeline Kinziger from Duluth, St. Louis County, received the 4-H award and Calyn Rieger from Dassel, Meeker County, received the Future Farmers of America (FFA) award during a ceremony held at the Department of Natural Resources stage at the Minnesota State Fair. 

The DNR Commissioner’s Youth Awards are given annually to an FFA student and 4-H member who have demonstrated initiative, leadership, creativity and achievement in conservation and wise use of natural and agricultural resources. This is the 27th year of the award program.

Encouraged by her biology teacher to pursue a community-based learning project, Kinziger chose to build Wood Duck boxes and install them over wetlands at the North Star Academy in Duluth. Kinziger reached out to local science educators and DNR staff to learn more about the construction and installation of a Wood Duck box. Students at the North Star Academy will now be able to monitor duck usage of the boxes as part of their outdoor education program. After near extinction in the early 20th century due to over hunting and loss of suitable forest habitat, Wood Ducks have made a remarkable recovery. Part of this recovery is due to the efforts of individuals like Kinziger.

She is the daughter of Brian and Aundrea Kinziger.

Rieger has been working for the Conservation Corp program for three seasons, working as a crew member, a wilderness crew member and a Backcountry Leadership Program crew member. The Conservation Corp provided Rieger work experience that included trail repair and cleanup, invasive buckthorn removal, and erosion control and management. Rieger’s Conservation Corp experience, as well as his FFA activities and community involvement, has taught him how to take responsibility, work as a team member and to become a better leader. Rieger is currently enrolled at Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin with a strong interest in environmental studies, politics and government.

He was joined at the ceremony by his father James Rieger.