Want to improve your wooded acreage for wildlife? Early winter is a good time to begin planning woodland projects because there aren’t ticks, mosquitoes or deep snow.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has specially trained foresters – called stewardship foresters – around the state who can help. They can meet you on your property, assess tree health, and help you find the right programs to meet your woodland goals.
About half of Minnesota’s forested land and woodland wildlife habitat belongs to private landowners. Improving habitat for deer or grouse is often the primary reason woodland owners seek advice from a forester. DNR stewardship foresters can provide advice on completing small projects such as creating trails and wildlife openings, removing invasive shrubs and what trees to replant.
Cost-share funds are currently available in some areas of northeastern Minnesota to help landowners complete woodland management projects. Funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis and unused funds expire in June 2019.
In northeastern Minnesota, the following stewardship foresters are available to work with private landowners:
- Alex Brothen, Brainerd area, 218-203-4428.
- Troy Holcomb, Aitkin area, 218-429-3025.
- Thor Pakosz, Duluth and North Shore area, 218-723-4791.
- Amber Jungwirth, Hibbing area, 218-231-8026.
- Josh Donatell, Grand Rapids area, 218-328-8912.
- Steven Horndt, Tower area, 218-300-7826.
- Ben West, Littlefork area, 218-278-6651.
Landowners who have 20 or more acres—on which at least 10 acres has or will have trees— may want to consider a Woodland Stewardship Plan. A Woodland Stewardship Plan assesses what is in your woods, suggests how to improve the woods, and outlines when to do work. Having and following a plan also can help qualify your woods for reduced property taxes or financial incentives.
“Managing your land doesn’t always mean having a large harvest,” said Troy Holcomb, Aitkin area stewardship forester. “Woodland management is all of the things you do to keep your woods healthy and beautiful.”
More information about the DNR’s forest stewardship program and contacts for stewardship foresters in other parts of Minnesota are available at www.mndnr.gov/foreststewardship.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has issued its annual ice safety warning for lakes with winter aeration systems.
Aeration creates areas of thin ice and open water that are extremely hazardous to people and pets. Open water areas can shift or change shapes, depending on weather conditions, and leaks may develop in air lines, creating other areas of weak ice or open water.
The updated list of aerated lakes and more information is available at mndnr.gov/eco/lakeaeration.
“We’re urging people to use caution anytime they venture onto lake ice, especially at night,” said Amanda Yourd, DNR hydrologist and aeration coordinator. “Extreme care should be taken on aerated lakes. Watch for the large orange and black warning signs at high-use public accesses and the required thin ice signs around open water areas.”
Aeration systems help prevent winterkill of fish populations by adding oxygen to the lake and, in certain situations, to protect shorelines from ice damage. They are generally operated from the time the lakes freeze until the ice breaks up in the spring. About 280 lakes will have aeration systems operating on them this winter. Private hatchery operators also use aeration systems, usually on small lakes without public accesses.
A permit from the DNR is required to install and operate an aeration system. Permit holders must publish public notices, post warning signs and inspect the systems at least once every seven days. Liability insurance is generally required of private groups or citizens operating aeration systems in protected waters. Watch for notices in local media identifying aerated lakes. DNR staff ensure permittees comply with all requirements and regularly inspect systems for safety.
Some municipalities may have ordinances that prohibit entering into the thin ice marked area and/or prohibit the night use of motorized vehicles on lakes with aeration systems in operation. These local regulations are often posted at accesses where they apply.
Questions concerning aeration or thin ice can be answered by calling a regional or area fisheries office or the DNR at 888-646-6367.
First-come, first-served special permits for specific public lands sold out in 2 hours; other public lands available for hunting
Hunters must receive permission from landowners to hunt on private land for the upcoming special deer hunts in southeastern Minnesota, on Friday, Dec. 21 to Sunday, Dec. 23 and Friday, Dec. 28 to Sunday, Dec. 30, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
The hunts take place in deer permit areas 603, 347 and 348, and portions of deer permit areas 343 and 345 that are south of Interstate 90. The majority of this special-hunt area is private property.
A limited number of special permits were available for hunters in Forestville State Park and Pin Oak Prairie Scientific and Natural Area, but all 270 permits were sold out within two hours of release.
Hunters still can find places to hunt. The Cherry Grove Blind Valley Scientific and Natural Area, which adjoins the Cherry Grove Wildlife Management Area, will be open to deer hunting and does not require a special permit for entrance. Additional public land can be identified using the DNR’s Recreation Compass tool at mndnr.gov/maps/compass; public lands open during the regular season are open during the special hunts. Hunters should be aware that, because this land is limited, it may be crowded.
These special hunts are one step the DNR is taking to act quickly in an effort to contain chronic wasting disease while it is relatively concentrated in a geographic area. Reducing deer numbers in this area helps lower densities and remove CWD-positive animals.
Hunters must plan ahead and should check the DNR’s website at mndnr.gov/cwd for complete details about the special hunts, hunt rules and considerations, station locations for registration and CWD sampling, carcass transport restrictions, a map of the hunt area, and information about the DNR’s efforts to keep Minnesota wild deer healthy.
Spring turkey hunters hoping to bag a tom during the first two weeks of the season have through Friday, Jan. 25, to apply for a lottery permit, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The season runs from April 17 to May 31 and is divided into six hunt periods, A through F (see table below). Hunt A and B licenses for firearms hunters age 18 and older are limited in availability and assigned via lottery drawing.
Turkey lottery applications cost $5 and can be purchased online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense, by phone at 888-665-4236, or in person from a license agent. Successful applicants will receive a postcard in the mail by mid-February and can purchase their hunting license starting March 1.
Firearms licenses for hunts C, D, E and F are not lottery-limited and will be available for purchase over-the-counter beginning March 1. All licensed turkey hunters can participate in Hunt F if they have an unused tag from one of the earlier hunt periods.
Archery and youth hunters (under 18) are exempt from the lottery and may purchase a spring turkey license valid during all hunt periods, including hunts A and B.
Surplus lottery licenses from hunts A and B, if available, will be sold over-the-counter starting in mid-March.
Visit mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey for more information about turkey hunting in Minnesota.
2019 Spring Turkey Hunt Periods
Hunt A: April 17-23
Hunt B: April 24-30
Hunt C: May 1-7
Hunt D: May 8-14
Hunt E: May 15-21
Hunt F: May 22-31