Nesting & Habitat Conditions Report

Pheasant Nesting & Habitat Conditions Report

b9836603-a420-4f96-b177-52417c55e138

How good will your pheasant hunting be this year?
Over the long term, good pheasant hunting depends on good grassland habitat.
But year to year, pheasant numbers rise or fall on the vagaries of weather. Long periods of cold and snow hurt pheasant survival, especially if habitat is marginal. Wet, cold springs hamper nesting success.
And so it was this year. Some states and regions were blessed with both mild winters and springs. Others were pummeled with snow and rain.
Pheasant-country biologists will better understand how good hunting will be once they complete roadside survey later this summer. But in the meantime, here are their best guesses, based on nesting conditions and anecdotal reports.

Colorado

Colorado pheasant hunters can look forward to a good season, despite a generally wet May. “There are counties that got more than their entire year’s precipitation in a month,” says Ed Gorman, small game manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Normally our problem is drought, so we’ll take the water.”
The ample rain meant good nesting cover and habitat for broods. “The nesting season was far and away better than it was the last couple of years,” Gorman says.
Spring crowing counts revealed an abundance of roosters, “particularly in the core area, in the northeast corner of the state,” he says. Counts were nearly 40 percent higher than last year. Pheasant hunting, he says, “will definitely be better than it has the last three years.”

Illinois

Illinois pheasants were dealt a one-two punch—a tough winter and wet nesting season.
To recap: Illinois’ winter started cold in November, moderated, but then turned cold again. “A late January cold snap hit and lingered into March and brought some snow and ice to much of the state,” says Stan McTaggart, agriculture and grassland program manager for the state. “Southern Illinois was particularly hard hit by a heavy March snowfall with significant ice accumulation in some areas.”
Then came more bad news. “We had the wettest June on record in Illinois,” he says.
Just how well the birds pulled through will remain in doubt until biologists analyze data from their upland bird survey routes for 2015.

Indiana

Indiana’s winter began in promising fashion, says Budd Veverka, farmland game research biologist, but “then we got hit with bitter, bitter cold, record low temperatures. We had the fourth coldest February on record, and the coldest since 1979. We don’t have a lot of quality cover, and when the snow came down it stayed for a while because it was so cold and hardened over.”
Well, okay, the birds could recover from that. But then—right at the peak of nesting in mid-June, record rains began. “It was about the worst time to get the amount of rain we got,” says Veverka. “We can’t seem to get a decent winter and a decent spring together anymore.”
Now for the good news. The state’s game bird habitat areas continue to hold birds. For the last few years, hunters have been shooting 7,000 to 9,000 birds a year. “I would expect a similar number,” says Veverka. “The birds are going to be where they’ve been the last few years.”

Iowa

Iowa’s long pheasant downturn appears to be coming to an end.
Just what factors were responsible for the decline in Iowa’s pheasant number may be up for debate, but snowy winters and dismal springs played a role. “It really was five years of unprecedented weather, from 2007 to 2011,” says Todd Bogenschutz, upland game biologist and farmland coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
This year turned a corner. Winter was mild. Says Bogenschutz, “Anecdotally we got just a ton of positive reports from staff, hunters, landowners about the number of roosters they saw this spring. And the best number of females coming into the spring in a number of years dating back to 2007. So great potential for this upcoming year.”
Spring wasn’t ideal. It was wet in April and May in central and southern Iowa. But it was good enough. “We are seeing broods, a lot of early broods,” says Bogenschutz. “I think we’re cautiously optimistic.”
In the meantime, Iowa biologists have tried to improve winter cover and make adjustments with better location of food plots in relation to winter cover, says Bogenschutz. The Pheasant SAFE program continues to target CRP land and make it better suited to grassland species in general and pheasants in particular. Iowa’s access program through the USDA Voluntary Public Access program has both improved habitat and increased acres open to the public with 8,000 acres enrolled.

Kansas

A multi-year drought had shriveled nesting and brood habitat and driven pheasant numbers to record lows in recent years. But a favorable spring is helping Kansas birds to recover.
“For the first time in 45 years, we actually had some rain in April so nesting conditions were pretty good coming in,” says Jeff Prendergast, small game specialist. The rain was enough but not too much, greening up habitat and spurring a good insect crop for chicks.
Some localized storms in late May and June may have hurt nesting in specific areas. Setbacks to birds seem to have been spotty. “Some farmers are saying they’re seeing a lot of birds, a lot of broods, and in some areas they’re saying they’re not seeing any broods at all,” says Prendergast.
“My general impression is that we’re going to go up everywhere,” he says. The state’s roadside survey, which begins in late July, will tell for sure.
Though it won’t affect hunting this year, a new $1.6 million Regional Conservation Partners initiative in Norton, Mitchell and Osborne counties will begin improving nesting and brood habitat starting next year.

Michigan

Michigan pheasants are still struggling to recover from a brutally cold and snowy winter two years ago.
They caught a break this year.
The most recent winter was mild, despite periods of significant snow. As a result, birds came out of winter well, especially in areas such as state game areas and Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative areas. “Where there was good grassland habitat, the birds did very well,” says Al Stewart, upland game bird specialist for Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “There have been birds seen and heard crowing this spring.”
Their good fortune continued, with relatively dry weather this spring. “It seems like the weather has been good for spring nesting,” says Steward. As a result, Stewart is predicting better hunting this year than last.
Stewart says habitat projects should improve the prospect for pheasants. “I think the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative continues to go strong, and we have more partners and more habitat on the ground through that project.” Also, a recent restructuring of license fees created funding for a wildlife habitat grants program. Pheasants Forever has been a key partner in both initiatives.

Minnesota

Minnesota has battled declining CRP acreage. But when it comes to pheasant numbers, favorable winter and spring weather will compensate in the short term, according to Nicole Davros, upland game project leader for the Department of Natural Resources.
Winter saw cold temperatures but, says Davros, “we did not have extended periods of deep snow at the same time.” Spring weather helped nesting. Rain was ample through May and June but spread out, and temperatures were mild.
“My observations from being in the field combined with those of our area wildlife managers suggest that nesting and brood-rearing success has been relatively high this year,” says Davros. “There definitely seem to be lots of birds out in the fields right now.”
Several favorable developments have sprung from Minnesota’s first Pheasant Summit in December. Citizens and biologists developed a pheasant action plan with both short- and long-term steps for reversing the trend of declining pheasant populations. Minnesota’s Walk-in Access program will continue in 2015, but the DNR is still seeking permanent funding. And Gov. Mark Dayton’s buffer initiative was signed into law, designating an estimated 110,000 acres for water-quality upland buffer strips.
“Long story short, we’ve lost a lot of habitat in the past five to eight years due to the decline in CRP acres,” says Davros. “But I think there will be a lot of birds in the fields this fall compared to our previous one or two years.”

Missouri

Missouri had a fairly mild winter, and a lot of pheasants survived for the breeding season. “I heard quite a few comments about folks seeing more pheasants this year,” says Beth Emmerich, agricultural wildlife ecologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation. The early nesting season also had good conditions. Unfortunately, heavy rains hit much of the state in late June and early July. “That may impact chick survival,” says Emmerich.
“I would expect this year to be similar to last year—where we had a really good spring for nesting,” says Emmerich. The question is the impact of heavy early summer rains. “Our conservation agents will be running their roadside counts in early August, so we may know more after that.”

Montana

Light snows and mostly normal rains this spring should mean that Montana will continue to have higher-than-normal pheasant numbers, says Ryan Williamson, Region 6 upland game bird biologist for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
“We did have some really good residual cover from last fall. The region saw some good moisture late last summer and early fall that greened up a lot of the habitats that led into good residual nesting cover,” says Williamson.
“Throughout the region, we are above the 10-year average for crow counts and recently we have been hearing good reports of broods. Again, the nesting cover was good this spring and the crops are doing well, so if we did have a good hatch, the broods should have good habitat to utilize,” he says.
In addition to the favorable weather, hunters will benefit from the state’s three-year-old Open Fields Program, which has paid farmers to open more than 32,000 acres of CRP land to hunters. Says Williamson, “This program has helped keep those CRP acres intact while allowing public access.”

Nebraska

Nebraska pheasants were blessed with a mild winter, a couple of warm spells, and little long-lasting snow. Spring surveys showed more birds than average survived winter heading into the nesting season, says Jeffrey J. Lusk, upland game program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
“Unfortunately,” he says, “that survey took place right before we had severe rain events through the state. In southeast Nebraska, where I’m located, one of the storms was a 1,000-year rain event.” Up to 11 inches of rain fell in a 12-hour period. Much of the same weather afflicted the rest of Nebraska’s pheasant range, with the exception of the Sand Hills.
It’s not clear yet how devastating the rain might have been. Timing is everything. If rain hit before hatching, many nests—except those flooded out—might have survived. “But, if it hit at the wrong time and chicks were just starting to hatch and everything, they might not have survived the rain,” says Lusk.
Hunters might be looking at a year that ranges from very good to not good at all. Says Lusk, “Hopefully we’ll know more by early August when we get the rural mail carrier cards returned.”

North Dakota

North Dakota hunters have reason to be optimistic.
Winter was mild, with minimal snow. “Pheasants, especially hens, made it through winter in good condition,” says Stan Kohn, upland game management supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
Crowing counts were up about 11 percent statewide. “We should have entered the nesting season with a pretty good adult breeding population,” says Kohn.
“We did get some gully washers in late May and June, so hens nesting in low lying areas probably got washed out. We’re hoping this occurred early enough in the egg-laying/incubation stage that they re-nested, but won’t know until we get into our production surveys in a few weeks,” he says. The effects will probably be uneven and localized.
Hunters can also look forward to habitat improvement projects. The department received a $3 million Outdoor Heritage Fund grant to leverage more than $3 million of PLOTS funds and about $34 million from the USDA—a total of about $40 million to benefit water quality, habitat conservation, and public hunting access. Says Kohn, “We hope to do some great things with this grant.”

Ohio

Mark Wiley, wildlife biologist at Olentangy Wildlife Research Station, was not particularly disturbed by Ohio’s cold and snowy winter. “While these conditions are certainly not ideal, pheasant populations in the state do not seem to have been negatively affected by them in recent years,” he says.
What was alarming were heavy rains and flooding that began in late May, just days after the first reports of pheasant broods in central Ohio. This is a particular problem, Wiley says, “because some of Ohio’s best nesting and brood rearing habitat is situated in flood-prone areas.”
Even so, he says, “there have been an encouraging number of pheasant brood sightings in Ohio this summer.” Ohio has no formal brood surveys to make sure, but Wiley thinks pheasant number will “be on par with recent years, even after the heavy rains.”

Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s gradual emergence from its long drought has been good news for pheasants, as the quality of cover improves, says Scott Cox, upland game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Better cover and more abundant food sources helped pheasants survive a cold and icy late winter. Likewise, improving habitat conditions compensated for the wetter than normal April and May, says Cox.
Counts have been gaining slowly and have been on the rise the last few years. Bird numbers are still below average throughout Oklahoma’s pheasant range, but birds are being seen more frequently this year compared to the past two to three years. “Young birds are being seen,” says Cox. “Conditions are very conducive to nesting and plenty of food sources are available, as well as great cover.” Birds are doing best in northwestern and north-central Oklahoma.

Oregon

Pheasants survived Oregon’s mild winter just fine, but the intensifying drought this spring has been another matter. Hunters can expect the low numbers they’ve seen in recent years.
“Spring was dry, which results in reduced forb and grass growth, as well as decreased insect abundance, which all work against successful production, especially in the eastern part of the state where pheasants are most abundant,” reports David Budeau, upland game bird coordinator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“We won’t conduct brood surveys until later this month, so any information is anecdotal at this point,” says Budeau. “In general, we’ve had relatively low numbers of pheasants the last few years, and the weather conditions that we’ve had are not likely to result in any big turnarounds.”
Budeau, like some other pheasant biologists, is hopeful that filling the new position of national wild pheasant plan coordinator by the Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies will aid pheasant conservation in the states, especially with “more wildlife-friendly CRP.”

South Dakota

The good news: South Dakota had a mild winter that ushered a lot of birds into the nesting season. “The overwinter survival of those hens was good, so we should have had a good bunch of birds coming into spring for the nesting and brood-rearing period,” says Travis Runia, upland game biologist for the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department. Spring weather started dry but May rains fixed that. Says Runia, “Nesting cover really caught up quickly.”
The bad news: Some freakish spring weather. Portions of north-central South Dakota (such as Mobridge) got up to 9 inches of rain, which may have inundated some nests. And winds up to 80 miles an hour may have wiped out chicks.
Even so, Runia is confident that the bad weather was spotty enough that plenty of broods survived. “I’m pretty optimistic we’ll see a little bump in our population this year.”
Long-term, CRP is still a concern, Runia says. Acreage is stable at a bit under 1 million acres—about 500,000 fewer than the peak in 2007.
State biologists, officials, and conservation leaders are discussing recommendations formulated at the Governor’s Pheasant Habitat Summit last year. The list of projects is still under review. About $700,000 in state money and contributions will be available.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s winter was mild until subzero temperatures in late February and early March. Heavy rains hit the state in late May and early June. But the rain tapered off for the brood-rearing season from mid-June into mid-July.
As a result of the ups and downs, it’s difficult to estimate how well pheasants fared, says Krista McGinley, assistant upland ecologist for the state Bureau of Wildlife Management. “Overall production estimates won’t be available until brood surveys are completed and summarized later this summer,” she says.
The DNR plans to stock around 90 public hunting grounds this fall with about 75,000 pheasants, the same as last year. These birds help hunter-demand but, because of stocked pheasant survival rates, won’t do anything for the long-term population.
Wisconsin pheasants are suffering from a long-term decline in CRP acreage, which peaked in the mid-1990s at more than 700,000 acres but was down to 263,000 acres last year. Says McGinley, “Given the loss of grassland and wetland acres on the landscape and concurrent declines in pheasant numbers, hunters may need to scout diligently to locate birds.”
Story by Greg Breining
Photo Credit: Pete Berthelsen, Pheasants Forever
Posted in News | Leave a comment

Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts

New State Buffer Policy

 

In June of this year, Governor Dayton signed into law a new buffer initiative aimed at enhancing protection of Minnesota’s waters. The buffer initiative will help protect the state’s water resources from erosion and runoff pollution by establishing roughly 110,000 acres of buffer along waterways.

 

The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, which will oversee the process at the state level, is working to get program details underway. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is beginning to create the buffer protection maps that will determine what waters are subject to the new law. Completion of those maps is expected by July 2016.

Landowners may install buffers on their own at any time, or can wait until those maps are complete in 2016.

 

The new law specifies November 2017 as the deadline for establishment of 50-foot wide buffers on public waters and November 2018 for 16.5-foot wide buffers on public drainage systems.

 

“Legislative discussions around riparian buffers and their benefits to water quality elevated the awareness of SWCDs throughout the course of the legislative session,” said MASWCD President Ian Cunningham. “The new buffer policy, that was included in the agriculture and environment budget bill, recognizes SWCDs as leaders in local conservation efforts and relies upon the technical expertise of SWCD staff for local implementation and assistance.”

 

For FY 16 and 17, $2.5 million each year will be available in Clean Water Funds to BWSR for local government buffer implementation.  For more information about the Governor’s buffer law, visit: http://bwsr.state.mn.us/buffers/.

 

 

Photo courtesy of BWSR

 

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Another conservative deer season set to rebuild population

Another conservative deer season set to rebuild population
Licenses on sale Aug. 1

Hunters can expect another conservative deer season in 2015 as management continues to rebuild deer numbers across much of the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said.

“The 2015 deer hunting regulations will be quite similar to last year, with one-deer limits in most of the state,” said Leslie McInenly, big game program leader for the DNR. “Hunters should check the 2015 regulations early, because in the majority of areas, hunters will need to apply for a permit to shoot an antlerless deer.”

In 70 of Minnesota’s 128 deer permit areas, hunters must be chosen in a lottery to shoot an antlerless deer. Only bucks can be hunted in 14 areas. In 29 areas, hunters have the choice of shooting a doe or a buck. Bonus permits allowing hunters to shoot more than one deer may only be used in 11 permit areas and for some special hunts. In three southwestern areas, the DNR is restricting antlerless harvest to youth hunters only.

Hunters can buy deer licenses and apply to the lottery for antlerless deer permits starting Saturday, Aug. 1. The deadline to apply for the lottery is Thursday, Sept. 10.

“Given the mild winter for most of the state and reduced harvest last year, we anticipate that hunters will be seeing more deer when afield, and we are already hearing from people that they are seeing more deer this summer,” McInenly said. “We are continuing a conservative harvest approach in order to raise deer numbers consistent with our recent goal-setting process.”

The 2015 season marks the second year of a management approach to rebuild deer populations based on goal setting and listening sessions that indicated a desire for more deer in many areas.

Northern Minnesota hunters will again feel the impact of a bucks-only season. In bucks-only areas, no antlerless deer may be harvested by any hunter, including those with archery or youth licenses. Similarly, no antlerless deer may be harvested by any adult hunters in youth-only antlerless areas. However, as a result of 2015 legislation, new this year is an exception allowing either-sex harvest by any hunter age 84 and up or by hunters who are residents of veterans’ homes.

Another change this year is the return of youth-only antlerless harvest for a few areas in southwestern Minnesota. The measure is designed to increase populations into goal range in areas where antlerless harvest under the lottery system hasn’t been restrictive enough to increase deer numbers.

Details on buying a license
All hunters who purchase licenses by Sept. 10 are automatically entered into the lottery if they declare a lottery deer permit area. Those who do not wish to harvest an antlerless deer are encouraged to purchase their license after the lottery deadline. Hunters may apply using both their firearm and muzzleloader licenses. If hunters are selected for both licenses, they must select the one season in which they want to shoot an antlerless deer. 

Deer hunting licenses, lottery applications and special hunt applications are available at any DNR license agent, by telephone at 888-665-4236 or online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense. Lottery winners will be notified in October.

Permit area breakdown

Bucks-only deer areas in 2015 are permit areas 103, 108, 111, 118, 119, 152, 169, 176, 177, 178, 181, 183, 199 and 203.

Youth-only antlerless deer areas in 2015 are permit areas 234, 237 and 286.

Lottery deer areas in 2015 are permit areas 101, 105, 110, 117, 122, 126, 127, 155, 156, 157, 159, 171, 172, 173, 179, 180, 184, 197, 208, 210, 221, 222, 224, 229, 232, 235, 238, 242, 246, 247, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 258, 259, 260, 261, 262, 263, 266, 267, 268, 269, 270, 271, 272, 273, 274, 275, 276, 278, 279, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 288, 289, 290, 291, 294, 295, 296, 297, 298 and 299.

Hunter choice deer areas in 2015 are permit areas 201, 209, 213, 218, 219, 223, 225, 230, 233, 239, 240, 248, 254, 255, 256, 257, 264, 265, 277, 292, 293, 338, 339, 341, 342, 344, 345, 347 and 348.

Managed deer areas in 2015 are permit areas 114, 214, 215, 227, 236, 241, 287 and 343.

Intensive deer areas in 2015 are permit areas 182, 346 and 349.

The DNR strongly advises hunters to review new deer hunting regulations, permit area designations and boundary changes before applying. Current and up-to-date information is available online at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/deer. Information about deer management and upcoming deer population goal setting during the next two years is available at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

MPCA seeks comments on water quality improvement report for 12-Mile Creek

MPCA seeks comments on water quality improvement report for 12-Mile Creek

Brainerd, Minn.– The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is seeking comments on a water quality improvement report for 12-Mile Creek in Wright County. The report, known as a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), focuses on low dissolved oxygen levels throughout the creek. The MPCA is accepting comments on the report through Aug. 26, 2015.

12-Mile Creek flows northeast from Little Waverly Lake, just north of the city of Waverly, and drains into the North Fork Crow River. All forms of aquatic life depend on minimum levels of dissolved oxygen to live and grow. Excess sediment and other pollutants entering the creek combine and consume oxygen that is critical to the health of aquatic life. To help 12-Mile Creek meet state dissolved oxygen standards, this report calls for significant reductions of oxygen-demanding sediment and pollutants entering the creek.

The TMDL report is part of a nationwide effort under the federal Clean Water Act to identify and clean up pollution in streams, rivers and lakes. Every two years, states are required to submit a list of impaired waters to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A TMDL report is a scientific study that calculates the maximum amount of a pollutant a water body can receive (known as the “loading capacity”) without exceeding water quality standards.

The draft report is available on the MPCA’s North Fork Crow River watershed web page, or at the St. Paul office, 520 Lafayette Road North. Comments may be submitted to Margaret Leach, MPCA, 7678 College Road, Baxter, MN, 56425, or by e-mail to Margaret.leach@state.mn.us. For more information, contact Margaret at 218-316-3895, or toll-free at 800-657-3864.

Written comments must include a statement of your interest in the draft TMDL report; a statement of the action you wish the MPCA to take, including specific references to sections of the draft TMDL that you believe should be changed; and specific reasons supporting your position.

More information on the state’s impaired waters list and TMDL studies is available on the Web at www.pca.state.mn.us/water/tmdl/index.html, or toll-free at 1-800-657-3864.

Broadcast version

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is seeking comments on a water quality improvement report for 12-Mile Creek, in Wright County. The report focuses on low dissolved oxygen levels, which can have negative impacts on aquatic life. The report findings will assist in developing a watershed restoration and protection plan for the North Fork Crow River watershed.  The MPCA is accepting comments on the report through August 26. For more information or to learn how to submit comments, visit the MPCA’s website.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

What’s New at #EcoExperience15 at The Minnesota State Fair

For release: July 27, 2015
Contact: Pamela McCurdy, 651-757-2559

Note to editors: High-resolution versions of the photos below are available at http://www.pca.state.mn.us/xggx3b9.


What’s New at #EcoExperience15 at The Minnesota State Fair

St. Paul, Minn.– The Minnesota State Fair’s history in agriculture, arts, innovation, and youth projects are kept alive in this environmentally themed building. What’s new in the building includes:

Bagnado!: Minnesotans throw away more than 500 tons of plastic bags and packaging every day. That’s more than 12 pounds every second. Making changes in your everyday habits can make a difference.  You’ll be blown away with the 25 foot tall plastic tornado #Bagnado and learn how recycling plastic bags & film becomes #MinnesotaMade products. One Minnesota Company, Master Mark Plastics of Paynseville, manufactures Armadillo plastic composite decking from plastic milk jugs, detergent and shampoo bottles, plastic film and recycled wood that comes from recycling in Minnesota and Wisconsin. One lucky fair-goer will win $5000 of free decking  material– enough to build a 16 by 16 foot deck!

 

Free Kids Activities & #MinnesotaMade toy: Get a free bookmark when you enter the building and stop by the exhibits to do hands-on activities at 12 different stations. At the end, you will receive an amazing YOXO toy which is #MinnesotaMade and eco-friendly (limited to 800 toys per day; first come, first served). All the pieces are recyclable and made from recycled material. There is also an activity area if you want to play with your YOXO right at the Eco Experience building.  The kids’ activity area is filled with couches, computer games and an area for parents to take a breather and learn with their kids.

Reuse Room: ReUSE Minnesota will add new dimension to the PCA’s on-going Reduce, Reuse, Recycle feature at the Eco Experience building.   Their contribution this year will be a Craft / Hobby Room exhibit featuring a multi-purpose workspace comprised of reuse and re-purposed items.  The area will include ongoing, youth and adult friendly, hands-on projects plus daily demonstrations of DIY reuse projects and repair techniques.    Demonstration times are 10-11:30 a.m., 1-2:30 p.m., 3:30-5 p.m., and 6:30 – 8 p.m. daily. Projects will include turning t-shirts into grocery bags, making light fixtures out of milk jugs, doing a small wood activity, making artwork from scraps, learning how to repair your outdoor gear, learning to clear your data from your computer for donation, making books out of scrap paper, repairing a bike, and more.

Nature Adventure Play Area (revamped!): Bring back the “Wild in the Child.” Imagination is the key ingredient of Nature Adventure Play. Explore this free area in front of the Eco Experience building. It is a play yard loaded with a large sand and water area, a teepee, a fairy garden, an adventure construction zone for making things with recycled materials, a music wall, and a campsite seating area for parents to take a rest while the kids play. There are many ideas for your own back yard that are very easy and inexpensive.  Join the kid’s party in front of our building and unplug.

Climate and Community: The Power of Change:  Jump on the “people’s scale” to show the power of collective change. The exhibit will feature a scale where fairgoers can interact with one another and show how people and neighbors working together can make change. The more people participate, the more progress is made.  This demonstrates how cooperation between neighbors and town residents can help with climate change. Participants will get the chance to vote for actions they’d support in their own communities, like renewable energy and the sharing of tools.

Home Energy Exhibit: The Department of Commerce will show you how to improve your home step by step through saving on energy costs. New features this year include:

  • #MinnesotaMade Solar:  A new solar exhibit with actual panels from Minnesota manufacturers that qualify for the Made in Minnesota Solar Rebate Program offered by the State of Minnesota.
  • Shabby Windows: An all-new display that demonstrates how to upgrade existing windows through caulking, weather-stripping, or replacement components. Additionally, staff will be available to provide hands-on opportunities for fairgoers to install plastic film on an actual window, and learn more about low-cost window improvements.
  • LED bulbs:  This hands-on display will have many lighting options that showcase the difference in energy costs, brightness, color and temperature. We have experts onsite and available to media as well.
  • University of Minnesota New Construction:  A team of University of Minnesota students took top honors in a national competition that challenged them to design a high-performance house that uses little or no energy. The school’s “Team OptiMN” beat 33 teams from 27 universities in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Race to Zero Student Design Competition in late April at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. They will showcase their award-winning idea and show fairgoers how to build new and build better.
  • ENERGY STAR: ENERGY STAR appliances and products are a significant way for homeowners to reduce energy use and receive other benefits—such as increased reliability. In partnership with Warner’s Stellian Hardware, we will be showcasing several ENERGY STAR appliances and hosting a random drawing for a $500 gift certificate for ENERGY STAR appliances.

What is a Citizen Scientist? Citizen scientists are volunteer data collectors. They observe and record information about the natural world, including precipitation, temperature, animals, insects, plants and the timing of seasonal changes. They help identify baseline conditions and changes in the environment. At this exhibit, you can try out some citizen science activities, like listening to frog and owl calls (learn three new calls and test your skills!), measuring water clarity using a Secchi tube, and distinguishing a Monarch butterfly from its look-alikes. Meet staff and volunteers from citizen science programs. In Minnesota, there are dozens of programs that train and support citizen scientists. A list of Minnesota programs will be available to take home.

Front Yard Gardens: Planting for Clean Water…and Pollinators: Does your yard provide fringe benefits? Learn about native plants and view our beautiful gardens and displays, right in front of the Eco Experience! The plants we include in our lawns and landscapes can make all the difference. Native Plants not only provide more nutritious food and habitat for pollinators, but also absorb stormwater which helps reduce lake pollution and recharge groundwater keeping our water clean! Blue Thumb has designed our space this year with an array of native plants that create a relaxing area to gather with friends. Be inspired and ask questions to create your own garden with native plants.

Eco Camping with the Vistabule: This #MinnesotaMade mini-camper takes you back to the wilderness with a small carbon footprint.  It allows extended off the grid camping by using solar charged battery and small LP tanks for lights and cooking. It’s lightweight, so one person can easily manipulate the unhitched camper into campsites. A small car can trailer this teardrop camper making it an Eco-friendly outdoor opportunity. Visit the front yard of the Eco Experience to see this camper for yourself.

Water Exhibits:

Learn more about chemicals going down the drain: Climb into our larger-than-life sink and slide down a drain inside our Water area this year. We are showing fairgoers what really happens to water when you flush something down the sink or toilet. Our wastewater systems do a great job of cleaning up the billions of gallons we flush, but there are still hundreds of chemicals that make it through the treatment process and into our rivers, and even back into our drinking water.

Water Conservation:  This interactive exhibit will give visitors a chance to discover how much hidden water we consume, both directly and indirectly, in our daily lives.  A mere 0.3% of the freshwater on Earth is surface water, which is the water we see in rivers and lakes. Minnesotans use water every day for drinking, washing, cooking, showering and of course, using the toilet. But these direct uses of water only make up about five percent of our average total “water footprint.” The majority of our water consumption is “hidden,” or embedded in the products and services we use and buy, such as clothing, food, electronics, and furniture. Examples:

  • Cheeseburger (660 gal w/cheese and bun)
  • One pair blue jeans (2,000 gal/pair)
  • Coffee has a much larger water footprint than tea. Tea requires 9 gallons of water to produce 1 cup, whereas coffee requires 37 gal/cup.

Healthy Local Food-Immigrant Farmers: From the First Peoples to the most recent immigrants, food traditions have been brought to, discovered, shaped and renewed in Minnesota. What would Minnesota be like without wild rice, lefse, and pho? Discover immigrant food thru our daily cooking demos, displays, games and food samples daily. Our food demos will be at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Also Peace Coffee is back with daily samples in the morning. Don’t miss the all new kids’ games “Veggie Memory” and “Veggie Grand Prix.”

Kick Gas: The Kick Gas area shows us how we can connect biking, transit, walking, car sharing and more with experts and hands-on activities. New this year the Minnesota Department of Transportation is working on a first time statewide pedestrian plan to make walking easy, safe and desirable for all of Minnesota. They want to hear from Minnesotans with their ideas and concerns. Minnesota is on track to improve walking for all. Stop by to learn, share and get new ideas for you and your family.

Sharing Environmental Education Knowledge (SEEK): Who knew learning about the environment could be so fun? SEEK is the online home of Minnesota’s environmental education resources. This year at the SEEK exhibit fair-goers can take a break from the hustle and bustle of the fair, grab a book, and relax in the “nature reading nook”. While you’re here, don’t forget to sign up for SEEK’s free monthly newsletter and enter in the drawing for a chance to win a prize including two leaf canopies and a chair donated by IKEA.


About the Eco Experience: A partnership between the Minnesota State Fair, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and more than 150 organizations and businesses across the state, the Eco Experience has become the second most visited exhibit at the fair. The Eco Experience is the largest environmental event of its kind, nationally, in the last two decades. In 2013 the Eco Experience won the People’s Choice Award voted on by the fair goers at the Minnesota State Fair.

Since 2006, more than 3 million visitors have attended the 25,000-square-foot exhibit to learn more about clean air and water, saving energy, climate change, recycling, healthy local food, gardening, transportation, green building and remodeling, and other ways to lead more eco-friendly lives.

All schedules, story ideas and press releases will be posted on the www.ecoexperience.org website under media tab or email questions to Pamela.McCurdy@state.mn.us phone 651-757-2559.

###

Posted in News | Leave a comment

★ Last Chance! DU Crest T-Shirt & Magne

Ducks Unlimited
Crest T-Shirt & Magnet

Image removed by sender.

Our Gift to You!

Since 1937, Ducks Unlimited has worked tirelessly to become the world leader in waterfowl and wetlands conservation while at the same time continuing to promote the waterfowling traditions we hold so dear. And no other symbol embodies our organization and its mission more appropriately than the Ducks Unlimtied Crest.

For your donation of $30 or more, receive the special edition DU Crest T-Shirt and Crest Magnet.

Image removed by sender.

This rustic designed, pre-shrunk t-shirt has a soft, natural feel and will keep you cool in the summer months ahead. The DU logo is featured on the front left chest and the DU crest design is found on the back. As an added bonus, we’re also including a DU Crest magnet with each donation. Just one more tool to show your support of Ducks Unlimited! Click here to view a larger image of the shirt.

The DU Crest T-Shirt and Magnet are not sold in stores, and are only available through this offer. Donate now to receive yours!

Thank you for your continued support.

Image removed by sender.

Rex Schulz
Sr. Vice President, Membership
& DU Volunteer

Posted in News | Leave a comment

I-Phones Defend Against Invaders

I-Phones Defend Against Invasive Species


Brooklyn Center, MN – In efforts to help curb the spread of invasive species, a unique partnership between Wildlife Forever, Hennepin County and the Star Tribune uses geo-targeted marketing to inform, educate and protect Minnesota lakes.

“Geo-fencing” technology works with smart phone users who are prompted with a message once they enter a chosen area. In Hennepin County, the invasive species message of Clean Drain Dry pops up on screen when nearing Lake Minnetonka and Lake of the Isles. The goal is to inform boaters, anglers and residents, while using their phones, that invasive species are present and how a few simple steps can help stop their spread.
Image removed by sender. Phone pr
“Utilizing smart phone technology to raise awareness of how easy Clean Drain Dry prevention can be is another great tool to engage the public and help protect the resource,” said Pat Conzemius, Conservation Director for Wildlife Forever. “This technology allows us to target specific lakes with a tailored message. The consistent look and feel also resonates well with other efforts going on across the state and country,” said Conzemius.

Tony Brough from Hennepin County Environment and Energy said, “Everyone is on their phone, it only makes sense to use that same technology to help raise awareness and slow the spread. This project is also a good example of collaboration across different sectors of public, private and conservation groups working together to fight invasive species.”

Wildlife Forever and partners all across the country are encouraging boaters, anglers and lakeshore property owners to Clean Drain Dry all water related equipment.
 

For more information on how this technology and partnership can help you, contact Wildlife Forever.
 

The Clean Drain Dry Initiative works to consolidate national invasive species messaging by strategically focusing content and communications on prevention. To sponsor or partner with Clean Drain Dry activities in your state or organization, contact:  Pat Conzemius, PConzemius@WildlifeForever.org

About Wildlife Forever: Wildlife Forever’s mission is to conserve America’s wildlife heritage through conservation education, preservation of habitat and management of fish and wildlife.  For over 27 years, WF members have helped to conduct thousands of fish, game and habitat conservation projects across the country. To join or learn more about WF’s award-winning programs, including work to engage America’s youth, visit
www.WildlifeForever.org.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

DNR news releases, July 27, 2015

IN THIS ISSUE
Hunters can harvest Canada geese in August
Designs due Aug. 28 for waterfowl stamp
Question of the week: forests and clean water

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media contact: Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist, 218-308-2281, steve.cordts@state.mn.us.

Hunters can harvest Canada geese in August

Image removed by sender. Canada geese

Hunters can hunt Canada geese in west-central Minnesota from Saturday, Aug. 8, through Sunday, Aug. 23, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Individual hunters are allowed to shoot up to 10 Canada geese per day, but there is no limit to the number of Canada geese a hunter can possess.

“The state’s Canada goose population remains high, and the August management action is one way to control goose numbers,” said Steve Cordts, waterfowl specialist for the DNR. “This harvest helps limit the amount of damage the birds cause to crops in the western portion of the state.”

The August goose harvest will open only in the intensive harvest zone in west-central Minnesota, with shooting hours from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset. A small game hunting license, special goose permit and state waterfowl stamp are required. A federal waterfowl stamp is not needed; however, it is required to hunt geese and other waterfowl beginning in September.

This is the third year the DNR has held an August goose management action.

“Last August, about 5,500 hunters harvested about 21,000 Canada geese, compared to 24,000 in 2013,” Cordts said. “Factors like weather and progress of small grain harvest tends to affect hunter success.”

The DNR in August will announce details of fall waterfowl seasons, including the September Canada goose season that runs from Saturday, Sept. 5, through Tuesday, Sept. 22, and the regular Canada goose seasons that tentatively begin Saturday, Sept. 26. Season dates and more information on goose hunting can be found at www.mndnr.gov/waterfowl.

                                                                          -30-

NOTE: Image available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named “07-27-15 Canada geese.”

 

 

 

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                             July 27, 2015
Media contact: Steve Merchant, wildlife populations and regulations manager, 651-259-5220,
steve.merchant@state.mn.us.

Designs due Aug. 28 for waterfowl stamp

Image removed by sender. 2015 waterfowl stamp
The winner of the 2015 waterfowl stamp was Scot Storm.

Wildlife artists can submit entries for the 2016 Minnesota Migratory Waterfowl Stamp from Monday, Aug. 17, through 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28.

The waterfowl stamp validation is sold along with hunting licenses and for an extra 75 cents purchasers can receive the pictorial stamp. It is also sold as a collectible for $8.25. Revenue from stamp sales is dedicated to waterfowl management and habitat work.

The American wigeon is the only eligible species for depiction on the 2016 waterfowl stamp.

Artists are prohibited from using any photographic product as part of their finished entries. Winning artists usually issue limited edition prints of the artwork and retain proceeds. Judging will take place Thursday, Sept. 3, at DNR headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.

To see more information on stamp contests, guidelines for submitting work, and to sign up to receive regular email updates on the stamp contests, see www.mndnr.gov/contests/stamps.html. Contest guidelines are also available from the DNR Information Center by calling 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.

-30-

NOTE: Image available at ftp://mediaroom.dnr.state.mn.us in folder named “news release resources,” then in folder named “07-27-15 waterfowl stamp.”

Question of the week

Q: How do forests contribute to clean water?

A: Forests are natural water filters. Rain clings to the leaves and bark of trees, slowing the movement of rain to the ground. The slower moving rain picks up less sediment when it hits the soil. Additionally, forest soils contain large pore spaces that trap sediments and pollutants. As a result, rainwater that leaves a forest to recharge groundwater or flow into lakes and rivers is clean.

Keeping managed forests on the landscape is one of the best ways to protect drinking water and can reduce the cost of water treatment by up to 65 percent when compared to paved or barren land. For more information, visit: http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/publications/forestry/cleanwater.pdf.

Posted in News | Leave a comment