A decline in nature play has prompted the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to put this year’s Arbor Month (May) focus on encouraging kids to climb trees and play with nature in their back yards and within the community.
The 2014 State Arbor Month Celebration will be 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, May 17, at Oak Hill Park in St. Louis Park. The event will give families a chance to play with nature, while watching some of the best tree climbers in the state compete at the Minnesota Tree Climbing Championship.
According to the Children & Nature Network and the Commission on Education and Communication, 88 percent of children reported using a computer almost every day, while only 11 percent of children reported visiting a local park or natural area almost every day. In some cases, the use of electronic media has disconnected children and their parents from nature.
Nature play is easy, affordable and safe. Frequent, unstructured play in diverse natural settings promotes overall physical and emotional health, cognitive development, creativity, physical ability and coordination, the Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood reports. It also reduces stress and forms the foundation for responsible environmental behavior.
“Outdoor playtime can easily be doubled with a little planning and a commitment by parents to encourage their kids to climb trees, dig holes in dirt and sand, play in the leaves, plant a garden, build forts, run through tall grass and play with water,” said Jennifer Teegarden, DNR forestry outreach specialist.
State Arbor Month Celebration – May 17
9 a.m. — State Arbor Month ceremony with state dignitaries.
9:30 a.m. — Ceremonial tree planting.
10 a.m. — Musical performance by Kidtime with Rachel.
10 a.m.–noon — Nature play activities, exhibits and presentations.
8 a.m.–5 p.m. — Minnesota State Tree Climbing Championships.
For more information, visit the Arbor Month Web page.
Gov. Mark Dayton has declared April 20–26 as Wildfire Prevention Week in Minnesota to increase awareness of outdoor wildfire hazards.
Each spring wildland firefighters and rural fire department volunteers spend countless hours battling wildfires that could have been easily prevented.
In the past 18 months, wildfires burned 21 homes and three commercial buildings and threatened more than 500 other structures, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. These fires were caused by people misjudging the weather and danger of fires escaping their control.
“Due to the dead and dry grasses that can easily catch fire, spring is always a risky time for wildfires in Minnesota,” said Larry Himanga, DNR wildfire prevention coordinator. “Right now the fire danger in southern and central Minnesota is high, which means fires can easily start and quickly spread. Therefore, burning permits are not being issued in most of these areas.”
A major cause of wildfires is burning yard waste. The DNR recommends composting or mulching instead. If burning is necessary, landowners should check fire burning restrictions in their area, get a burning permit, be careful with their debris fires and remember small-piled debris can hold hot coals for several days to months for large ones.
The DNR has developed new wildfire prevention Web pages to help increase awareness of wildfire prevention and the dangers of wildfires.
Burning restrictions will continue to expand into northern Minnesota as fire danger increases due to snow melt.
Visit the current statewide fire danger and burning restrictions Web page for more information.
“When you light a fire, you are responsible for keeping it under control and staying with it until it is out,” Himanga said. “If you think your fire is out, check again.”
Water levels on the St. Croix River have risen to the point where any early boaters venturing onto it will be required to slow down to minimize shoreline damages.
Boaters on the St. Croix between Taylors Falls and Prescott must operate at slow no-wake speeds when the river’s level reaches 683 feet above sea level at Stillwater. The special restriction, authorized by state rules in both Minnesota and Wisconsin, is aimed at reducing shoreline erosion and resulting property damage in areas not usually susceptible to wave action at lower water levels. Officials from Wisconsin, Minnesota and the National Park Service will post signs regarding the slow no-wake requirement at all public accesses, and marina operators have been notified.
The slow no-wake rule will remain in effect until the water level again recedes below the 683-foot level. The river is predicted to remain above 683 for about a week. Boaters can consult the National Weather Service website for the latest updates on current and projected water levels.
Boat and water safety officials at the DNR also point out that high-running rivers often contain debris floating just below the surface that can present significant hazards. Boaters should slow down and exercise extra caution in such conditions. Water temperatures at this time of year also pose serious risk of hypothermia.
A public hearing on a proposal to formally designate Eagle Lake in McLeod County for wildlife management will be hosted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources near Brownton on April 23.
The meeting is 7 p.m. at the Brownton Rod and Gun Clubhouse, on the south side of Lake Marion, 108th St.
Eagle Lake is a 353-acre shallow basin, 5 miles southwest of Hutchinson, with a history of excellent migratory waterfowl use. Eagle Lake is in a degraded condition typical of many shallow lakes in southern Minnesota, with poor water quality — likely caused by excessive nutrients and overabundant rough fish.
Designating Eagle Lake as a wildlife lake would give the DNR authority to conduct periodic drawdowns by way of a proposed water control structure on the lake. A drawdown can improve waterfowl, wildlife and water quality conditions by stimulating critical aquatic plant growth and promoting a rough fish die-off. The DNR partnered with the Buffalo Creek Watershed District and Ducks Unlimited for a study to help determine the effectiveness of proposed management actions.
Those unable to attend the meeting, but wanting additional information, should Joe Stangel, DNR area wildlife supervisor, 507-225-3572, or Nicole Kovar, DNR wildlife lake specialist, 507-537-6607. Comments will be accepted in writing until May 23 to the Nicollet area DNR office, 501 9th St., Nicollet, MN 56074.
For more information on wildlife lake designations, visit here.
The following information about fishing can be used in stories in preparation for the fishing opener on Saturday, May 10.
Anglers and waters
Participation and the economy
Who goes fishing
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is accepting comments through 4:30 p.m. on Monday, May 12, on a proposal to make permanent a number of temporary hunting rules that have been in place for at least one hunting season.
The rules pertain to registration of game taken by hunting or trapping, hunter selection and descriptions of various hunting area boundaries such as wild turkey permit areas, deer areas and waterfowl hunting zones.
“Hunters have been applying for licenses and registering game under most of these rules for the past several seasons,” said Jason Abraham, DNR season setting specialist. “By making these temporary rules permanent, we provide additional consistency for hunters and streamline the process for managing a sustainable harvest.”
Many of the rule changes are intended to streamline regulations, reduce paperwork and modify zone boundaries to better match habitat conditions. The rules, summarized below:
The proposed rules are published online in the April 7 edition of the State Register.
They are also is available on the DNR website.
Comments may be submitted to: Jason Abraham, Box 20, DNR, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55115-4020 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year for the first time, youth age 17 and younger can hunt the entire Minnesota spring turkey season or until they harvest a turkey and they can choose any location open to turkey hunting, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said.
Youth age 13-17 need to obtain a license for a fee of $5. Youth age 12 and younger need to obtain a free license. License vendors will add a $1 issuing fee.
Spring wild turkey season begins Wednesday, April 16 and runs through Thursday, May 29.
Gone is the need for youth to pick a single time period and risk getting shut out by bad weather or an unexpected conflict with school, work or family obligations.
“Adults should share their passion for hunting and get kids out in the field.” said Mike Kurre, DNR’s mentoring program coordinator. “The season structure for youth and inexpensive license fees provide the opportunity to build the family turkey hunting tradition from the ground up – or the parents down.”
Licenses may be purchased from any DNR license agent, online or by telephone at 888-665-4236. People purchasing via Internet or by telephone should allow seven to 10 days for the turkey license and attached site tag to arrive in the mail. All turkey hunters must have their license and tag in possession when hunting.
A $3.50 convenience fee will be charged for telephone purchases. An additional fee of 3 percent of the transaction amount plus $1.65 for mailing the license will be added to online purchases.
Additional information about the spring turkey hunting season is available on the DNR website.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will need to close many roads and trails temporarily in state forests, state parks, recreation areas and wildlife management areas, due to wet, snowy conditions.
Road and trail conditions are deteriorating rapidly this spring, and many are not yet firm enough to support vehicle traffic without being damaged. The temporary closures could remain in effect until sometime in May, depending on weather conditions.
“These are normal spring closures that happen when roads and trails become wet and fragile,” said Richard Peterson, recreation program coordinator for the DNR’s Forestry Division. “We ask that people use good judgment, obey the closures and frequently check the DNR website for updates.”
Road conditions can change quickly. The DNR advises people to check individual state park, state trail or state forest Web pages before planning trips to avoid being surprised and disappointed by temporary closures.
Road and trail users should pay particular attention to state forest closures. Generally, all roads and trails in a particular forest will be closed, but not always. Those that can handle motor vehicle traffic will remain open but may be restricted by gross vehicle weight. Signs will be posted at entry points and parking lots.
Online road and trail condition information is updated every Thursday by 2 p.m. Changes are added as soon as possible to the DNR website. Signs may be in place before the website is updated. All signs must be obeyed.
Road and trail closure information is also available by calling the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free, 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
For information on roads and trails on county land, contact the county directly.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wishes to inform anglers that there will be several fishing closures in Cook County during the beginning of the 2014 fishing season to protect concentrations of spawning walleye. Closures on Minnesota-Ontario waters are made in cooperation with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and affect both sides of the border.
The following closures took effect April 1:
• Sea Gull River from Sea Gull Lake through Gull Lake to Saganaga Lake approximately 1/3 mile north of the narrows; closed through May 23.
• Saganaga Falls on the Minnesota Ontario border where the Granite River enters Saganaga Lake; closed through May 31.
• Maligne River (also known as Northern Light Rapids) on the Ontario side of Saganaga Lake; closed through May 31.
• Channel between Little Gunflint and Little North Lakes on the Minnesota Ontario border; closed through May 31.
• Cross River (inlet to Gunflint Lake) from the Gunflint Trail to Gunflint Lake; closed through May 23.
The following areas will be closed to fishing from May 10 through May 23:
• Tait River from White Pine Lake to the Forest Road 340 crossing, including a portion of White Pine Lake.
• Junco Creek from the first log dam above County Road 57 downstream to Devil Track Lake, and including a portion of Devil Track Lake near the river mouth.
Closures apply to fishing only; travel is permitted through these areas. All closed areas will be posted.
The closures are intended to protect concentrations of walleye that may be vulnerable to over-harvest in what is expected to be a year with relatively late ice-out and delayed spawning. Questions can be directed to the DNR fisheries office in Grand Marais at 218-387-3056, or to the Grand Marais area fisheries supervisor, Steve Persons at email@example.com.