Funding for Minnesota state parks and trails is good news for July 4th visitors

A good year at the Capitol means visitors to Minnesota state parks and trails will enjoy the same high-quality services as they have come to expect in recent years. This is good news for the millions of people who visit each year and the local economies that depend on them.

“Our park and trail system provides Minnesotans the chance to enjoy the state’s beautiful natural landscapes,” said Lt. Gov. Tina Smith. “State parks and trails also anchor local economies around Minnesota – providing recreational opportunities for residents and out-of-state tourists alike.”

More than 8 million people visit Minnesota state parks each year, and approximately 1 million of them stay overnight. The economic benefits to Greater Minnesota communities where state parks and trails are located can be significant. Visitors to Minnesota state parks and recreation areas spend more than $230 million annually on their trips, supporting thousands of tourism-related jobs and businesses across Minnesota.

“Our state parks are experiencing record attendance, with occupancy up 18 percent over last year,” said Erika Rivers, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “It is clear that Minnesotans love their state parks.”

The Fourth of July holiday weekend is typically the busiest weekend of the year for Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. Although most of the reservable campsites and camper cabins are already reserved for the weekend, 10 or more drive-in campsites were still available as of June 29 at Minneopa State Park in Mankato, Myre-Big Island State Park in Albert Lea, and others. Up to 30 percent of the sites at many parks are available on a first-come, first-served basis. To check availability, go to, enter the preferred date of arrival and length of stay, and then click the new “search all parks” feature.

“There is a state park within 30 miles of nearly every Minnesotan,” Rivers said, “so even if you can’t get a campsite at your favorite park, come visit for the day and take part in one of our family-friendly naturalist programs or get out and bike one of our many beautiful state trails.”

As part of the 2016-17 funding package, the governor and Legislature agreed not to raise state park entrance fees, keeping them affordable at $25 for a year-round permit (valid at all 75 state parks and recreation areas) or $5 for a one-day pass, which can be redeemed and applied toward a year-round permit on the day of a visit.

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Blue-green algae: If in doubt, stay out

St. Paul, Minn.– Temperatures are going up, and in Minnesota, many of us are cooling down at our favorite lakes. However, high temperatures combined with rainfall can create the conditions for harmful blue-green algae. This type of algae can harm pets, livestock, and even people.

In late June a child was hospitalized after being exposed to blue-green algae while swimming in Alexandria’s Lake Henry. Earlier in June, multiple dogs were sickened, and two dogs died from exposure to toxic blue-green algae in Red Rock Lake, located in Douglas County. While both of these instances occurred in the Alexandria area, blue-green algae blooms can impact lake waters throughout Minnesota.

The key to solving algae problems is to improve overall water quality by reducing how much phosphorus gets into lakes from urban and agricultural runoff and wastewater treatment systems.

What’s the risk?

The unpleasant odor and appearance of a blue-green algal bloom typically keeps most people out of the water. However, people can become sick after they swim, boat, waterski, or bathe in water that has a toxic blue-green algal bloom. During these activities people are exposed to the toxins by swallowing, having skin contact with, or breathing in airborne droplets of water. If someone becomes sick, symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, rash, eye irritation, cough, sore throat, and headache.

Dogs are at particular risk as they wade in shoreline areas where algae may accumulate. Dogs exposed to blue-green algae can experience symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, rash, difficulty breathing, general weakness, liver failure, and seizures.

If you or your pets experience any of the above symptoms after visiting a lake, seek medical or veterinary assistance immediately.

Some safety tips for you

Not all blue-green algae are toxic, but there is no visual way to predict whether a blue-green algal bloom contains toxins and is harmful to humans or animals. Harmful blooms often look like pea soup, green paint, or floating mats of scum, and sometimes have a bad odor. Blue-green algae may not look dense, and it doesn’t always cover large areas of a lake. If algae is present in the water, toxic conditions can occur even without obvious signs of scum.

“If it looks and smells bad, don’t take a chance. We usually tell people, if in doubt, stay out,” said Pam Anderson, MPCA Water Quality Monitoring Supervisor. “If you’re not sure, it’s best for people and pets to stay out of the water.” Don’t swallow, swim, or wade in water with blue-green algae. If you come into contact with blue-green algae, or if it gets on your skin, thoroughly wash it off, paying special attention to the swimsuit area. If you think your dog swam in water where blue-green algae were present, rinse them off with fresh water immediately.



There are currently no short-term solutions to fix a blue-green algal bloom. Once a bloom occurs, the only option is to wait for the weather to change — significant rainfall, wind shifts, or cooler temperatures — to disrupt the algae’s growth. “With the intermittent periods of rain, followed by high temperatures, blue-green algal blooms will be common on many lakes throughout Minnesota for the remainder of this summer,” said Steve Heiskary, an MPCA Water Monitoring Research Scientist.

More information on blue-green algae, including information on reporting suspected human or animal cases, is available on the Minnesota Department of Health website

Broadcast version

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Health are advising the public to stay out of algae-laden water following the hospitalization of a child and the death of a dog in Alexandria.

Certain species of blue-green algae contain potent toxins that can quickly become deadly to both people and animals. Keep pets and children away from waters with a pea soup or green paint appearance. Water may also have a foul odor. Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, headache, eye irritation, and seizures. If you or your pets experience these symptoms, seek medical or veterinary assistance immediately.

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DNR news releases, June 29, 2015

New law adds width to criteria for where ATVs can ride
Prairie chicken hunt lottery opens July 1
Ruffed grouse counts similar to last year
Sign up now for a hunter safety course
DNR accepting applications for 2015 Camp Ripley archery hunts
DNR Enforcement announces promotion
Question of the week: poisonous plants
Media contacts: Patricia Arndt, Parks and Trails Division outreach manager, 651-259-5578,; Mary Straka, OHV program consultant, Parks and Trails Division,

New law adds width to criteria for where ATVs can ride


On July 1, the state of Minnesota will begin using the width of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to determine how ATVs are classified and where they can be ridden. This change will affect ATV owners, but they don’t need to take action until their current registration expires.

ATVs were defined in the past by weight and engine size. As a result of legislation passed in 2015, Minnesota law now defines an ATV as a motorized vehicle with:

  • Three to six low-pressure or non-pneumatic tires and;
  • A total dry weight of 2,000 pounds or less; and
  • A total width (measured from outside of tire rim to outside of tire rim) that is 65 inches or less.

An ATV with a total width of 50 inches or less is considered a Class 1 ATV. A Class 1 ATV is typically designed for a single operator who straddles the machine and uses handlebars to steer, but some Class 1 ATVs are designed by the manufacturer for off-road use with a seat belt, rollover protection and a steering wheel.

An ATV with a total width that is greater than 50 inches but not more than 65 inches wide is considered a Class 2 ATV. Class 2 ATVs typically have a steering wheel and are designed for the operator and passenger to be seated side by side.

ATV owners can continue to display an unexpired registration for their Class 1 or Class 2 ATV until it expires. New registrations and transfers will continue using the present registration system until the DNR upgrades are complete. The ATV registration system will not be programmed with the new definition of an ATV until 2016.

There is no difference in the cost of registering a Class 1 or Class 2 ATV (a three-year registration is $45 for both), but the classification affects where each type of ATV can ride.

“All ATV riders need to observe the signs designating Class 1 and Class 2 trails,” said Mary Straka, OHV program consultant for the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “They also need to be aware of the laws about riding ATVs on roads and in ditches. Most ATV riders will not be affected by the new definitions, but others will enjoy expanded riding opportunities. For example, only Class 2 ATVs were previously allowed on road shoulders, but now Class 1 ATVs can ride on the shoulders of some public roads, too, if they have a seat belt, rollover protection and a steering wheel.”

For more information on registering and riding ATVs in Minnesota, visit or call the DNR Information Center, 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.


NOTE: Image available at in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named “06-29-15 ATV.”

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                             June 29, 2015
Media contact: Steve Merchant, wildlife populations and regulations manager, 651-259-5220, or Ron Kullmann, fish and wildlife consultant, 651-355-0147,

Prairie chicken hunt lottery opens July 1

Starting Wednesday, July 1, hunters can enter a lottery for one of 126 permits available for the 2015 Minnesota prairie chicken season.

Applications are available wherever Minnesota Department of Natural Resources hunting and fishing licenses are sold. The deadline is Friday, Aug. 14. For application procedures and a permit area map, see

“Prairie chickens rely on healthy prairies and grasslands, and having a prairie chicken hunt brings more awareness to this unique species and its habitat needs,” said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife populations and regulations manager. “Prairie conservation and prairie chickens go hand in hand.”

The nine-day prairie chicken season begins on Saturday, Sept. 26, and is open to Minnesota residents only. Hunters will be charged a $4 application fee and may apply individually or in groups up to four. Prairie chicken licenses cost $23. Apply at any DNR license agent; the DNR License Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul; online at or by telephone at 888-665-4236. An additional fee is charged for Internet and phone orders.

The hunt will be conducted in 11 prairie chicken quota areas in west-central Minnesota between St. Hilaire in the north and Breckenridge in the south. Up to 20 percent of the permits in each area will be issued to landowners or tenants of 40 acres or more of prairie or grassland property within the permit area for which they applied.

The season bag limit is two prairie chickens per hunter. Licensed prairie chicken hunters will be allowed to take sharp-tailed grouse while legally hunting prairie chickens.

Sharptails and prairie chickens are similar looking species. Sharp-tailed grouse hunting is normally closed in this area of the state to protect prairie chickens that might be taken accidentally. Licensed prairie chicken hunters who want to take sharptails must meet all regulations and licensing requirements for taking sharp-tailed grouse.

In 2014, an estimated 95 prairie chickens were harvested, with 54 percent of hunters taking at least one bird. Hunter success varies considerably from year-to-year, especially when poor weather prevents hunters from going out in the field.

“Prairie chickens need large tracts of native prairie and grasslands, but we’ve seen how difficult it can be to conserve prairie,” Merchant said. “So the DNR has partnered with groups including the Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society, The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever and others in developing and applying the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan.”

The plan aims to protect Minnesota’s remaining native prairie, and restore and manage grasslands, which should benefit prairie chickens as a result.

For more information on the prairie chicken, search “prairie chicken” at the DNR’s rare species guide at For more information on the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan, see




DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  June 29, 2015
Media contact: Charlotte Roy, grouse project leader, 218-327-4132 or

Ruffed grouse counts similar to last year

Minnesota’s ruffed grouse spring drumming counts were unchanged this year compared to last year, according to a survey conducted by the Department of Natural Resources.

This follows a significant increase of 34 percent from 2013 to 2014, said Charlotte Roy, DNR grouse project leader. “While it can be tenuous to compare the results of only one year to the next, we suspect the cold, wet spring of 2014 may have hurt grouse production,” she said. “We also had comparatively little snow last year for roosting, which may have influenced overwinter survival.”

Drumming is a low sound produced by males as they beat their wings rapidly and in increasing frequency to signal the location of their territory. Drumming displays also attract females that are ready to begin nesting.

Compared to last year’s survey, 2015 survey results for ruffed grouse showed no statistical change in all regions of the state. In the northeast survey region, which is the core of grouse range in Minnesota, counts were 1.3 drums per stop; in the northwest there were 1.0 drums per stop; in the central hardwoods, 0.7 drums per stop; and in the southeast, 0.4 drums per stop.

Ruffed grouse populations, which tend to rise and fall on a 10-year cycle, are surveyed by counting the number of male ruffed grouse heard drumming on established routes throughout the state’s forested regions. This year observers recorded 1.1 drums per stop statewide. The averages during 2013 and 2014 were 0.9 and 1.1, respectively. Counts vary from about 0.6 drums per stop during years of low grouse abundance to about 2.0 during years of high abundance.

Drumming counts are an indicator of the ruffed grouse breeding population. The number of birds present during the fall hunting season also depends upon nesting success and chick survival during the spring and summer. For the past 66 years, DNR biologists have monitored ruffed grouse populations. This year, DNR staff and cooperators from 12 organizations surveyed 126 routes across the state.

Sharp-tailed grouse counts remain steady

Statewide sharp-tailed grouse counts were similar in 2015 compared to 2014 on both the regional and statewide levels. Observers look for male sharptails displaying on traditional mating areas, called leks or dancing grounds. This year’s statewide average of 9.8 grouse counted per dancing ground was similar to the long-term average since 1980. The 2009 average of 13.6 was as high as during any year since 1980. During the last 25 years, the sharp-tailed grouse index has been as low as seven birds counted per dancing ground.

The DNR’s 2015 grouse survey report, which contains information on ruffed grouse and sharp-tailed grouse, is available online at


NOTE: A chart of annual ruffed grouse drumming counts is available at in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named “06-29-15 drumming counts.”

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                              June 29, 2015
Media contact: Acting Capt. Jon Paurus, education program coordinator, DNR Enforcement
Division, 800-366-8917, ext. 2504;

Sign up now for a hunter safety course

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that it is never too early to sign up for a hunter safety course. In general, anyone born after Dec. 31, 1979, needs a firearms certificate to hunt game with a firearm in Minnesota.

“Many people fail to consider enrolling in a course until the weather turns cool in late September,” said Acting Capt. Jon Paurus, DNR education program coordinator. “Unfortunately, most courses have either begun or are full by then, and the opportunity to hunt during the fall may be diminished.”

Classes are offered in a traditional classroom setting or online.

The firearms safety classroom course includes at least 12 hours of classroom instruction and a field day, which teaches the safe handling of firearms and hunter responsibility. The field day allows students to learn and demonstrate commonly accepted principles of safety in hunting and handling of firearms. It includes live fire on a rifle range.

The online course is not intended to replace traditional classroom instruction, but does give another option for students. It provides the same information as the classroom course for youth and adults interested in learning more about hunting.

“Today’s students are computer savvy, so online training is just part of the DNR’s evolving firearms safety education program,” Paurus said.

Once the online examination is passed, students attend a field day where they apply what they have learned in a series of hunting scenarios testing firearms safety, safe hunting skills and tree stand safety.

“It’s online training, but the course still heavily depends on the human interaction and guidance provided by dedicated, experienced volunteer instructors during the field day,” Paurus said.

Field days are limited and hunter safety classes fill-up fast. Find a class by visiting, or by calling 651-296-6157 or



DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE_________________________     June 29, 2015
Media contact: Beau Liddell, area wildlife manager, Little Falls, 320-616-2468, ext. 222,

DNR accepting applications for 2015 Camp Ripley archery hunts

Hunters can apply starting Wednesday, July 1, for the 2015 regular archery deer hunts at Camp Ripley near Little Falls. The application deadline is Friday, Aug. 14.

Hunters may pick from only one of two hunting seasons: Oct. 15-16 (Thursday and Friday, code 668) or Oct. 31 to Nov. 1 (Saturday and Sunday, code 669). A total of 4,000 permits, with 2,000 per two-day hunt, will be made available. Successful applicants must buy a valid archery license before the beginning of shooting hours the day of their hunt to participate. The bag limit for this year’s hunt is one, and bonus permits may be used to take antlerless deer. Additional rules and instructions for will be posted by July 1 on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources deer hunting Web page at

Hunters may choose from four options to apply for the Camp Ripley archery hunts:

  • Through any of 1,500 electronic licensing agents located throughout Minnesota.
  • By telephone at 888-665-4236.
  • Through the DNR’s online licensing site,
  • At the DNR license center, 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.

The application fee for the hunt is $12 per applicant. Additional transaction and convenience fees may be applied depending on how the application is made.

To apply, resident hunters 21 and older must provide a valid state driver’s license or public safety identification number. Nonresident hunters must apply using a valid driver’s license number, public safety identification number, or MDNR number from a recent Minnesota hunting or fishing license. Preference will only be given if the same ID is used from previous Camp Ripley applications.

All applicants must be at least 10 years old prior to the hunt. In addition, anyone at least 12 years of age and born on or after Jan. 1, 1980, must have a firearms safety certificate or other evidence of successfully completing a hunter safety course in order to purchase an archery license if successful in the lottery.

Hunters may apply as individuals or as a group of up to four people. Group members may only apply for the same two-day season. The first group applicant must specify “Create New Group” when asked, and will receive a group number. Subsequent group applicants must specify they want to “Join an Existing Group” and must use the same group number supplied to the first group applicant.

The archery hunt at Camp Ripley is an annual event. The DNR coordinates the hunt with the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000-acre military reservation.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           June 29, 2015
Media contact: Rich Sprouse, information officer, DNR Enforcement Division, 800-366-8917,
ext. 2511,

DNR Enforcement announces promotion

Capt. Todd Kanieski will take a new position within the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Enforcement Division as an operations manager and be promoted to the rank of major on July 1.

“Officer Kanieski is an organized and devoted professional,” said Col. Ken Soring, DNR Enforcement Division director. “We look forward to his leadership in this new position.”

Kanieski is currently central region enforcement manager. His promotion is part of the Enforcement Division’s strategic plan aimed at refocusing staff resources to increase service to the public.

Under the new plan, Kanieski will be liaison to the divisions of Forestry, Lands and Minerals, Ecological and Water Resources, and manage Enforcement operations in the northeast and southwest regions. Maj. Greg Salo will be the liaison to the divisions of Fish and Wildlife as well as Parks and Trails, and manage Enforcement operations in the northwest and southeast regions.

Kanieski has over 21 years of progressive law enforcement experience, including 14 years with the DNR where he has served as a field conservation officer, a lieutenant/district supervisor, a captain/administrative manager, and a captain/regional manager. He has also served as a field training officer, background investigator, and firearms/use of force instructor.

Kanieski, with a strong background in hunting, fishing, and camping, was instrumental in revitalizing the DNR K-9 Unit. His specialized law enforcement training includes courses and certifications in leadership, officer training, investigations, employee development, tactical operations and K-9 management.

“I’m extremely honored and excited to serve in this new capacity, and I’m looking forward to the challenges of a new job,” said Kanieski.


NOTE: Image available at in folder named “news release resources, then in folder named “06-29-15 promotion.”

Question of the week

Q: What common poisonous plants should I avoid while camping and hiking this summer?

A: Poison ivy is a fairly common plant that everyone should learn to recognize. You may have heard the phrase, “Leaves of three – let it be,” referring to poison ivy. The oils on its leaves can cause an itchy rash.

While poison ivy is native to Minnesota, there is a non-native invasive plant called wild parsnip that can cause painful burns. If you get the sap of wild parsnip on your skin, and your skin is then exposed to sunlight, this can cause a chemical burn. Wild parsnip has small yellow flowers that grow in flat-topped clusters. Keep an eye out for wild parsnip along roadsides, trails and stream banks.

You can take some simple steps to avoid exposure to hazardous plants while camping and hiking:

  • Learn to identify plants that are hazardous.
  • Don’t eat any wild plants or parts of plants.
  • Cover your skin to prevent contact with hazardous plants. Long pants and closed toed shoes are good protection.
  • Stay on trails to minimize contact with plants.

Laura Van Riper, DNR terrestrial invasive species coordinator

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Meet the Puffins

National Audubon Society


Since 2012 Audubon’s Seal Island web cams have offered viewers a front-row seat to the private lives of puffins, and this year is no exception. Three 24/7 live feeds are now available on one offering a rare glimpse into the nesting burrow of a mating puffin pair, another giving a view of the ledge outside the burrow, and the last zooming over the boulders and rock crevices around the sanctuary.

The cameras are also capturing the antics of other avian species that live alongside the puffins, including Razorbills, Arctic Terns, and Black Guillemots.



Meet the Puffins

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Wildlife Health Risks Article Suggestion

Hi There,


We recently produced a resource that highlights the risks that wildlife, including pests and insects, carry as far as diseases and infections are concerned. It was extremely well received and was shared all around the web on many popular health sites.


If you have a moment, you can check out our article here:


Because you already share great related information, like this article here:

I was hoping that you would consider sharing our guide with your audience because I think many of them would find it an extremely valuable resource.


Thanks in advance for checking out the article – we are really excited about the feedback we’ve already received and I’m sure your audience will be as equally pleased.


Have a great day,


Mike Kelly

Content Manager

The Aardvark Pest Management


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MN BHA Update

MN BHA Friends,


Minnesota BHA chapter leaders Erik Jensen, Matt Norton and Mark Nordquist attended a June 4 Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters discussion with Ted Roosevelt IV (TR’s great-grandson) about the importance of the Boundary Waters for hunters, anglers and all wildlife enthusiasts, and the threat to critical habitat and recreation posed by proposed sulfide‐ore copper mines on the Wilderness edge. See this link for a photo of the guys with TR4, along with some vintage TR photos (


-MN BHA: “PolyMet wants taxpayers to pay for mine cleanup.” Duluth News Tribune: 6/12/15.

-Help sportsmen protect northern Minnesota’s wild public waterways and watersheds from sulfide mining (sign the sportsmen’s petition):

-Also see: Fish and Wildlife Threatened by Sulfide-Ore Copper Mining:

-An update from the Minnesota Environmental Partnership on some bad State legislation:

-Local view: Minnesota’s auditor is needed to ensure accountability:

-Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters:


-BHA: Expanded Hunting & Fishing on Refuges Represents Increased Access for Sportsmen (with some input from MN BHA co-chair Erik Jensen):

-The (3rd Annual) MN BHA Chapter Rendezvous will be held August 14-16 at Whitewater State Park in SE Minnesota (same place as the 2014 Rendezvous). See link for details:


-Deer hunters seek $19 million to save forest:

-The DNR’s 2015 deer population goals information:

-DNR sets deer population goals, despite objections from deer hunters group:

-Minnesota Deer Hunters Association celebrates 35th Anniversary:


-Protecting MN Waters: Final Rule from EPA on Clean Water Act (includes excellent quotes/input from MN BHA co-chair Erik Jensen):

-New Administration Water Rule Draws Praise From VA Hunters, Anglers (including input from BHA board member Sean Clarkson):

-A Win for Headwaters and Clean Water:

-TU: Anglers everywhere need to stand up for restored protections to America’s rivers and streams:


-House Appropriations Bill Takes Swipes at Sage Grouse, Headwaters, and Wetlands:

-Ban On Use Of Drones, Smart Rifles And Live-action Game Cameras In Effect In NH:


-CO BHA: A letter from Habitat Watchman Bob Shettel (“Who’s really a front for dark money?”):

-How to Restore and Season a Cast-Iron Dutch Oven (by BHA board member T. Edward Nickens):

-“Co. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Recognize Members for Browns Canyon Contributions.” 6/9/15.


-Sam Cook: Going with the flow on remote Northland river:

-Here’s what you should ask a Boundary Waters outfitter:


Check out the MN BHA Facebook page:!/groups/MinnesotaBackcountryHunters/


Have a good weekend!



David A. Lien

Co-Chair, Minnesota

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

The Sportsman’s Voice for Our Wild Public Lands, Waters and Wildlife

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Natural Resource Damage Assessment Workshop

August 4-5, 2015   St. Louis Park, MN

In the first day of the workshop, attendees will learn the basics of NRDA law and regulations, the concept of making the public whole for losses, potentially responsible party (PRP) defenses to NRDA claims, trustee burden of proof, causation, and other issues.

The second day of the workshop will consist of developing a natural resource “Debit” and “Credit value. The “debit’ module will focus specifically on the applied science and techniques used in for accounting for losses of the multiple types of natural resource services that could be affected by oil or chemical releases.

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Sturgeon fishing: Opportunities keep getting bigger

Anglers have more opportunities to fish for lake sturgeon because of a new catch-and-release fishing season that reopens in most of the state on Tuesday, June 16, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

What does the new season mean for anglers?
The new catch-and-release season on inland waters began in March. Each year, it closes from April 15 to June 15 to protect sturgeon during spawning. During the season, anglers can intentionally fish for lake sturgeon on inland waters. This allows sturgeon fishing on waters like Otter Tail Lake and the Littlefork, Bigfork and Kettle rivers – all of which have good numbers of lake sturgeon. Anglers can also catch and release lake sturgeon on additional border waters like the Red, St. Louis and Mississippi rivers.

Why expand sturgeon fishing?
Comebacks staged by lake sturgeon in recent years are making new fishing opportunities possible. Sturgeon numbers have increased because of improved water quality, dam removals, restorative stocking efforts and conservative regulations. The new catch-and-release season is a very positive outcome of recovery. However, it will still be many years before lake sturgeon have recovered enough to allow for expanded harvest opportunities.

What about shovelnose sturgeon?
In March 2015, new regulations went into effect for shovelnose sturgeon, a species found mostly in the Minnesota River and the Mississippi River below St. Anthony Falls. Those regulations can be found on page 52 in the 2015 Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet.

Where can I find more info?
Lake sturgeon season details can be found at or in the fishing regulations booklet. Information on lake sturgeon tags is on page 43 of the booklet.

Season dates:

Minnesota-Canada border waters (includes Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River)

  • Harvest July 1 to Sept. 30.
  • Catch and release Oct. 1 to April 23.
  • Harvest April 24 to May 7.
  • Catch and release May 8-15.
  • Closed May 16 to June 30.

Inland waters

  • Catch and release June 16 to April 14.
  • Closed April 15 to June 15.

Minnesota-North Dakota and Minnesota-South Dakota border waters

  • Catch and release June 16 to April 14 (same as inland waters).
  • Closed April 15 to June 15.

St. Louis River and Lake Superior

  • Catch and release June 16 to April 14 (same as inland waters).
  • Closed April 15 to June 15.

St. Croix River (upstream from Taylors Falls)

  • Catch and release June 16 to March 1.
  • Closed March 2 to June 15.

St. Croix River (Taylors Falls downstream to the mouth, including Lake St. Croix)

  • Catch and release June 16 to Sept. 4, 2015.
  • Harvest season is first Saturday in September (Sept. 5 this year) to Sept. 30.
  • Catch and release Oct. 1 to March 1.
  • Closed March 2 to June 15.

Mississippi River (from mouth of St. Croix River downstream to Red Wing dam)

  • Catch and release June 16 to March 1.
  • Closed March 2 to June 15.

Mississippi River (downstream from Red Wing dam and Lake Pepin)

  • Catch and release June 16-April 14 (same as inland waters)
  • Closed April 15-June 15.
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