DNR adds 2 miles metro trout fishing opportunities along Vermillion
Metro anglers who want to stick close to home for the April 12 stream trout opener will have nearly two additional miles of shoreline to explore as a result of acquisitions made by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Dakota County.
Half a mile north of Dakota County Road 66 along County 79, the DNR has acquired a 52-acre aquatic management area that straddles the main branch of the Vermillion River, protecting 4,100 feet of shoreline. Upland areas of the property include five acres of grasslands and 25 acres of woods.
Further east, a 62-acre acquisition now affords access to the south branch of the Vermillion River just south of County Road 66 and west of state Highway 52. That parcel includes 6,900 feet of shoreline, 25 acres of grassland and 20 acres of woodland. The south branch is a coldwater tributary to the Vermillion that provides rearing areas and offers refuge for trout, especially during hot summer weather.
Both properties provide habitat for pheasants, turkeys, ducks, doves, deer and other wildlife; they also will be open to hunting, trapping and wildlife watching. The DNR’s Fisheries section will continue to work with the DNR Wildlife section to manage upland areas.
“These properties are a great addition to the region’s outdoor recreation system, especially for busy metro anglers and hunters who may not always have time for a several-hour drive,” said T.J. DeBates, DNR’s east metro fisheries supervisor. “Acquisitions like these not only protect habitat, they also provide much needed public access.”
The two properties cost $384,200. Funding was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. Money for the properties also came from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008, which increased sales tax by three-eighths of 1 percent. The fund receives one-third of the sales tax dollars and may only be spent to restore, protect and enhance wetlands, prairies, forest and habitat for game fish and wildlife. Dakota County also contributed to the acquisitions.
The Vermillion River has gained notoriety over the past 10 years as a trophy brown trout stream within 45 minutes of a major urban area. As recently as 1960, though, the stream was considered unfit for any game fish due to poor water quality from industrial wastes and land use practices. The river’s comeback has been the result of local, regional and state efforts to improve water quality.
Since 2005, the DNR has acquired land protecting nearly 10 miles of shoreline along the Vermillion for habitat and public access for fishing and hunting. The DNR also has worked with local government and nonprofit conservation organizations on several stream restoration projects along the Vermillion.
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National Sports Center in Blaine announces dates for 2014-15 outdoor expos at the NSC campus
BLAINE, Minn. (March 26, 2014) – The National Sports Center (NSC) announced the dates for its three outdoor expos that make up the NSC Outdoors series for the 2014-15 season.
The series kicks off with the third annual Hard Water Ice Fishing Expo, November 14-16, 2014.
After New Year’s, the series continues with the Minnesota Deer Classic, March 6-8, 2015.
The series concludes with Tom Helgeson’s Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo, March 20-22, 2015.
All the outdoor shows will be held at the Schwan Center, on the campus of the National Sports Center, 1750 105th Ave. NE, in Blaine 55449.
About the National Sports Center:
The National Sports Center (NSC) is a 600-acre multi-sport facility located in Blaine, Minnesota. The campus includes the Schwan Super Rink; an 8,500-seat soccer stadium; the Schwan Center meeting and convention building; a multi-faceted family golf center, the National Youth Golf Center, which features the 18-hole Victory Links course; an indoor Sports Hall with a FieldTurf field; 150-bed residence hall; and 52 soccer fields. The facility hosts nearly 300 events annually, and has welcomed approximately 32 million visitors since its opening. The NSC generates over $40 million in annual out-of-state economic impact.
NSCtv airs new episodes each week
NSCtv is the weekly behind-the-scenes video show highlighting events, programs, athletes and people at the National Sports Center. NSCtv can be accessed by visiting the NSC website (www.nscsports.org) and clicking the NSCtv link on the home page.
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Mille Lacs walleye regulation to stay the same
DNR extends night ban; increases smallmouth bass, pike opportunities
As part of a plan to increase angling opportunity, improve walleye numbers and stay within the state’s 1837 Treaty safe harvest allocation, the Department of Natural Resources will modify fishing regulations at Mille Lacs Lake for the 2014 season.
The walleye daily and possession limit remain unchanged. The limit will be two walleye from 18- to 20-inches, except one longer than 28 inches may be taken. The night fishing ban, enforced from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., will begin Monday, May 12, and will be extended through Monday, Dec. 1, rather than ending in mid-June.
The 2014 walleye safe harvest level is 60,000 pounds. Of this amount, 42,900 pounds is allocated to the state and 17,100 pounds is allocated to the eight Chippewa bands with 1837 Treaty harvest rights.
“The new regulations reflect our commitment to improving the walleye fishery as quickly as possible with as little harm to the local economy as possible,” said Don Pereira, DNR fisheries chief.
When new regulations go into effect on Saturday, May 10, anglers will be able to keep 10 northern pike, of which only one may be longer than 30 inches. This increases the limit by seven. Anglers also will be able to fish for northern pike for a longer period of time. The close of the season will be extended from mid-February to the last Sunday in March. The northern pike spearing ban on Mille Lacs also will be removed.
Similarly, the smallmouth bass harvest season will be extended and limits relaxed. The smallmouth bass season on Mille Lacs will start May 10 and be exempted from the statewide catch-and-release regulation that begins in mid-September. This means anglers may harvest smallmouth bass from the opener until the last Sunday in February. Anglers may keep six fish, only one of which may be longer than 18 inches. The previous regulation allowed anglers to keep six fish 17- to 20-inches, only one of which could be longer than 20 inches.
“More liberal northern pike and smallmouth bass regulations speak to the fact these species can withstand additional pressure because their populations are at or near record highs,” Pereira said. “The current walleye regulation and the extended night fishing ban will protect upcoming year classes of young walleye, adult spawning stock and help ensure the harvest stays within the safe harvest level.”
Pereira said the suite of regulations reflects significant fish population changes at Mille Lacs. Walleye numbers are at a 40-year low. Northern pike numbers are at record highs. The smallmouth bass population has been increasing since the 1990s. Tullibee and perch populations, both important forage species, are relatively low.
Fish populations likely are being influenced by many factors, including clearer water, climate change, zebra mussels, spiny water fleas, Eurasian watermilfoil and a treaty management approach that focused too much walleye harvest on too narrow a size range of fish.
“Mille Lacs is a system under change and portions of that change began even prior to the treaty management that began in the late 1990s,” said Pereira. “The good news is that we have more than enough spawning walleye and a history of solid egg and fry production. What we need is for the walleye that hatch to grow into strong year classes for anglers to catch. That hasn’t happened since 2008. That’s why we are focused on protecting small walleye and our ample but declining walleye spawning stock.”
Pereira added that the agency is also committed to the long-term protection of the lake’s trophy smallmouth and trophy northern pike fisheries.
The DNR’s approach to managing Mille Lacs is currently under review by a panel of national fish management experts. The agency convened the panel earlier this year as part of a broad approach to involve outside experts and citizens in agency decision making.
Information about panel experts and Mille Lacs management can be found at www.mndnr.gov/millelacslake.
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DNR proposes to extend fall southeastern Minnesota trout season
The fall catch-and-release trout season in all of southeastern Minnesota would be extended from Sept. 30 to Oct. 15 if changes now being considered by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are adopted.
Other proposed changes include allowing catch-and-release angling on designated trout streams in southeastern Minnesota state parks from Oct. 15 to Dec. 31 and extending the winter trout fishing season in some southeastern Minnesota streams to all designated trout streams in southeastern Minnesota.
The proposed new rules and repeal of others will be adopted without a public hearing unless 25 signatures requesting one are received in writing by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 28.
Comments or questions on the proposed changes and written requests for a public hearing should be submitted to Linda Erickson-Eastwood, DNR, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4020.
Complete information on the proposed changes and formal notice of their pending adoption are available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/input/rules/fisheries/se-mn-trout.html.
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DNR, MDHA to conduct deer listening sessions statewide
Listening sessions on deer population management scheduled later this winter throughout Minnesota will provide citizens an opportunity to voice their perspectives.
The Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA) will co-sponsor the meetings. Meeting dates and locations will be announced later this month.
“We’ve been hearing from hunters who are concerned about current deer numbers and potential population impacts as a result of this winter,” said Paul Telander, DNR wildlife section chief. “These listening sessions provide an opportunity for direct interaction and communication.”
The sessions will be open to the general public. Anyone interested in deer management is encouraged to participate. In addition to the public sessions, comments will be accepted on the DNR’s deer management Web page at www.mndnr.gov/deer.
“We appreciate the opportunity to work with the DNR and bring this discussion out to the different regions of the state,” said Mark Johnson, MDHA executive director. “In many areas of the state, our members are seeking changes to the deer hunting regulations that will increase the state’s deer population. We plan to work with the DNR to increase deer numbers in those areas and improve hunter satisfaction.”
Johnson said changes in harvest strategies are needed in the short-term. For the long-term, MDHA also will continue their work with the DNR and others on efforts to enhance deer habitat.
Information on the upcoming listening sessions will be announced to the media and posted online at www.mndnr.gov/deer and www.mndeerhunters.com. Individuals who subscribe to the DNR’s email lists for deer management and hunting information will be notified. To become an email subscriber, sign up online at www.mndnr.gov/emailupdates.
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Minnesota concludes wolf hunting and trapping season
Minnesota concluded its second wolf season when the Department of Natural Resources closed the east-central zone on Saturday, Dec. 28.
A total of 3,433 licensed hunters and trappers harvested 237 wolves during the early and late seasons. The harvest target was 220 wolves.
"Wolf season target harvest limits are set conservatively to not negatively affect Minnesota's wolf population long term," said Dan Stark, DNR large carnivore specialist. "The targets for each hunting zone are used as triggers to close the season. Hunters and trappers have another full day in the field after a zone's closure is announced."
Minnesota's wolf population was estimated at 2,211 wolves last winter. The target harvest is based on about 10 percent of the mid-winter wolf population prior to pups being born. Wolf populations rapidly increase in the spring when pups are born and decline at various rates annually depending on mortality factors in addition to the wolf season.
The DNR will complete an assessment of Minnesota's wolf population status this winter and summarize data from the 2013 wolf season before setting the 2014 wolf season.
Additional information about wolves is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/wolves.
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DNR to fly deer and elk surveys
Pending suitable snow cover, the Department of Natural Resources plans to fly white-tailed deer population surveys from December through March in central and southeastern Minnesota.
“In the transition zone between agricultural and forested lands, which generally stretches from the northwest to southeast across Minnesota, we use aerial surveys to recalibrate the deer population model,” said Gino D’Angelo, DNR farmland deer project leader. “These survey flights help us make decisions on deer permit area designations that achieve our population goals.”
DNR pilots will fly low-level helicopter surveys in 18 deer permit areas during daylight hours at an altitude of approximately 200 feet.
Areas targeted to be flown include:
- Deer permit areas 214, 215, 218, 219, 221, 222, 223, 229, 239 and 241 in Becker, Benton, Clay, Hubbard, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Pope, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, Wilkin and Wright counties.
- Deer permit areas 341-343 and 345-349 in Dodge, Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha and Winona counties.
Aerial elk surveys using both an airplane and helicopter are also planned for the Kittson County and Grygla elk ranges in northwestern Minnesota. The flights are conducted annually during winter.
Questions about survey flights should be directed to the DNR’s farmland wildlife research office in Madelia, 507-642-8478, the northwest regional wildlife office in Bemidji, 218-308-2651 or the Rochester area wildlife office, 507-206-2859.
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