Volunteer to Help Minnesota’s waters

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is seeking volunteers for its Citizen Stream and Citizen Lake Monitoring Programs. Program volunteers track water clarity, which helps the MPCA learn more about a lake or stream’s water quality. “Thirty years ago when I started monitoring Long Lost Lake, I thought it would be an interesting thing to do for a summer. Little did I know that I would still be at it three decades later. I guess you could say I’m hooked,” says Jim Svobodny, volunteer. Data collected by Jim and other volunteers can be used by the MPCA to determine if a trend toward improving or declining water quality exists. Identifying these trends is one of the first steps in protecting or improving water quality throughout the state.


Burntside Lake Association to receive more AIS funding

The St. Louis County board gave initial approval to doling out over $850,000 in funds to find aquatic invasive species last Tuesday.
In the 2014 legislative session, the Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Aid program was established. The funds under this program are allocated to counties based 50 percent on each county’s share of watercraft trailer launches and 50 percent on county’s share of watercraft trailer parking spaces.
The state appropriation for 2017 is $10 million. St. Louis County’s allocation for 2017 is $721,000 plus unused funds of $132,129 for a total of $853,449.


DNR hosting 12 public engagement meetings to discuss deer management

People interested in deer will have a chance to discuss goals and values that could define Minnesota’s first-ever deer management plan in a series of 12 public engagement meetings the Department of Natural Resources will host throughout the state between Tuesday, Jan. 31, and Thursday, March 2.
“When people think about deer management, hunting often comes to mind,” said Adam Murkowski, DNR big game program leader.
“Although hunting opportunities are an important aspect of the plan, it must also balance a wide variety of perspectives and define collaborative ways to enhance deer management and the habitats that sustain deer.”
The public engagement meetings are designed to help the DNR and its Deer Management Plan Advisory Committee accomplish that, Murkowski said.


Fishing Report from Russ

10 pound 27 1/2 inch walleye caught on White Iron Lake. Fisherman pictured, L-R, Timon Iverson (St. Paul), Milo Iverson (holding fish, Paris, France), and Will Poppleton, St. Paul)


Dayton backs Prospector Loop ATV trail

by Tom Coombe
If at first you don’t succeed, try again.
That’s the approach Gov. Mark Dayton seems to be taking this year by submitting a $1.5 billion bonding proposal that, in many ways, is a rehash of a proposal that failed to take hold after a legislative standoff in 2016.
Two local projects will advance in a big way if lawmakers come to an agreement this time around.
Dayton’s plan includes $1 million for the Prospectors Loop ATV Trail and about $1.6 million to replace roofs on two classroom buildings at Vermilion Community College.
The proposal came as the legislative session opened in St. Paul, with Dayton pressing for action in a bill that he says will result in about 23,000 jobs across the state.
“I’m proposing a bonding bill that should have been passed nine months ago,” Dayton said in a conference call on Wednesday.
It’s the second time around in St. Paul for the ATV trail proposal.


Verrmilion walleye regulation to change

Anglers on Lake Vermilion in northeastern Minnesota will be able to keep walleye up to 20 inches long, with one allowed over 26 inches, starting with the May fishing opener, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

The new regulation will require release of walleye from 20 to 26 inches, a change that is less restrictive compared to the current regulation that requires release of walleye from 18 to 26 inches. The four fish bag limit will remain the same.

“Lake Vermilion has abundant walleye with good numbers of large females,” said Edie Evarts, Tower area fisheries supervisor with the DNR. “The regulation change allows slightly more harvest while still protecting plenty of mature female walleye that produce future year classes.”

The DNR considered and modeled several options for the regulation change, and sought opinions from the public, as well as from the Lake Vermilion Fisheries Input Group that represents lake and statewide interests.


Taconite Trail master plan ready

CHECKING OUT the maps at the Taconite Trail draft Master Plan open house Monday were Anthony Bermel and Sean Williams. The plan is now out for public comments which must be received by Friday, Jan. 6.
Anyone can submit comments by phone or email to:
Diane Anderson, DNR principal planner (St. Paul), 651-259-5614, diane.k.anderson@state.mn.us.


Trout Whisperer - Dr. Doo... a lot

He knows I’m coming to visit. I’m on time. I pull up to the gate. I honk my horn. I wait. The electric gate starts to slide open so I drive into his yard and park right next to the garage built out of logs. The gate closes behind me. I’m in, and I stay in my truck.
I look all around the yard.
He steps out of his front door, tosses a massive wooden latch and it secures the door from the outside. He doesn’t want anything getting inside.
He walks up to me and says, “Look at this.” He lifts a shirt pocket and nested inside is a sleeping baby red squirrel he is keeping warm. At the same time one lone bantam chicken hen runs around the front of his home when his pet mountain lion roars around the same corner and in one chomp, inhales the hen.
He yells at the long tawny cat to stop, it does. Then as quick as possible he pries open the cat’s mouth releasing the salvia’d wet but unharmed hen, as it dashes for the barn.


Lynx update Wednesday night at VCC

The last Ely Field Naturalist public program of 2016 will present an update of Canada Lynx on the Superior National Forest.
Biologist Sarah Malick-Wahls from the Kawishiwi Ranger District in Ely will present an update on research and monitoring at the beginning of another winter field season.
Lynx activity during winter months engages national forest service personnel and volunteers in field observations, tracking, and data collection for identifying individuals and measuring the size of the lynx population present in northeastern Minnesota.
In addition, to Sarah’s presentation there will be cards, prints and calendars developed by Heidi Pinkerton available as an EFN fundraiser, and also, information about upcoming Christmas bird counts over the holiday season.
This meeting is free and open to the public at 7 p.m. in Classroom CL104 at Vermilion Community College.


Deer harvest up 44%, bucks up 21%

The final Tower area deer tally is in and although the numbers are preliminary, the harvest is definitely on the way back up after a series of poor years.
In north St. Louis and Lake counties, deer registration is up 44% compared to 2015.
“The deer herd has again demonstrated its ability to rebound from severe winters, similar to the late 1990’s, given conservative antlerless harvest, good habitat and mild winters,” said DNR wildlife manager Tom Rusch.
Seven out of nine permit areas showed registration increases, one permit area (BWCA) showed a decline and one had no change (Isabella).
“Three factors drove increased hunter success: a young, growing deer population, antlerless deer permit availability, most permit areas were bucks only in 2015, and October-like weather conducive to stand hunting success,” said Rusch.


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