Spring burning restrictions begin at 8 a.m. on April 4 in Anoka, Benton, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Douglas, Grant, Hennepin, Isanti, Pope, Ramsey, Scott, Sherburne, Stearns, Stevens, Washington and Wright counties.
As temperatures continue to warm and vegetation dries out, fire agencies are expecting an increase in fire activity. Most spring wildfires originate from the burning of yard debris. Fire restrictions will continue for four to six weeks, or until vegetation greens up enough to significantly lower the danger. The DNR can issue a limited number of permits through a variance process during the restriction period. Permits are granted for prescribed fires conducted by trained fire personnel, burning for approved agricultural practices and construction or economic hardship burning for which there is no feasible alternative.
More information is available on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire.
Fly Fishing Expo scheduled for April 9
The Paul Bunyan Chapter of Trout Unlimited and School District 181's First Cast program will jointly present a Fly Fishing Expo on Saturday, April 9 from 12 noon to 3 p.m. at Forestview Middle School.
The program includes fly casting instruction, fly tying demonstration, hands-on instructions, discussion of fly fishing opportunities and more.
All equipment and materials, including rods and reels, will be provided. The Expo will take place in the Cafetorium. For more information, contact Ken Perry, 828-4718, or Mike Rahn, 829-7569.
Forestview Middle School can be reached by driving west on County Road 48 from its junction with Highway 371 South, or south and east on County Road 48 from its junction with Highway 210 West in Baxter.
Clean water pilot project going forward
The DNR has started a pilot project to upgrade shoreland management standards in five counties in north-central Minnesota.
The focus of the project is to develop alternative land use standards that will address development issues facing Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Hubbard and Itasca counties. Implementation will have three phases. The first, identifying issues and potential solutions, was finished in 2004. The second phase, developing alternative rules and strategies, will be finished this year. Phase 3, to be completed in 2006, will include public review and public hearings.
During Phase 1 more than 12 public information meetings took place throughout the area. Five primary areas of concern were identified;
1. The need to establish shoreland development standards that include multiple criteria. A bay on a general development lake might have characteristics of a natural environment lake and should be classified under the more restrictive standards for natural environmental lakes;
2. Accessing a lake through a common lot can create water safety and crowding issues. Each lake has a natural capacity for recreation that might not accommodate back-lot access;
3. Planned unit developments increase the housing density along shorelands;
4. Impervious surfaces, livestock grazing near water and fertilizer applications near water can harm its ability to assimilate pollutant loads.
5. State and local governments lack the money to enforce rules. Better guidelines are needed from the DNR, as well as an administrative appeal process that would go through the DNR.
Red Lake fishing regulations take shape
RED LAKE (AP) -- New walleye regulations for Upper Red Lake likely will include a two-fish limit and a length restriction as the lake continues its dramatic recovery from overfishing.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources managers are in the final stages of drafting their Red Lake walleye management plan, though details won't officially be released for a couple of weeks. Walleye fishing is set to resume on both state and tribal waters in May 2006.
But several sources familiar with the proposal said it calls for a two-fish walleye limit and a 17- to 28-inch protected slot, meaning anglers would have to throw back fish in that range.
Henry Drewes, regional DNR fisheries supervisor in Bemidji, said a citizen's advisory committee helped the agency draft the walleye plan for the state's 48,000-acre portion of the lake. He confirmed the proposal includes a bag limit smaller than the statewide limit of six, as well as a protected slot limit.
Tom Neustrom, a Grand Rapids, Minn., fishing guide who sat on the advisory committee, said the plan, which could be revised before it becomes public, also would impose a one-fish northern pike limit requiring anglers to release all pike less than 40 inches in length.
North Country question of the week
What are the requirements to become a firearms safety instructor?
"The main requirement," said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR division of enforcement education coordinator, "is a love for hunting or other outdoor activities and a desire to teach ethics and important safety techniques. A certified volunteer instructor of DNR safety training programs must be at least 18 years and pass a thorough background check. The instructor training session lasts four hours. New instructors are introduced to policies and training techniques. Course outlines for specific programs are also discussed. Information about specific programs and instructor training opportunities is available on the DNR Web site." (www.dnr.state.mn.us)
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