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Minnesota News
Minnesota News

From the Minnesota DNR:

DNR to change trout stocking in Lake Superior

New northern pike fishing regulations coming for fishing opener

DNR increases 10-year sustainable timber harvest target


DNR to change trout stocking in Lake Superior

Genetically screened steelhead will replace Kamloops to bolster fishing opportunities and protect steelhead

To protect Lake Superior’s naturalized rainbow trout population, genetically screened steelhead-strain fish, originating from wild runs in the big lake itself, will replace the hatchery-raised Kamloops trout strain the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources now stocks to bolster fishing opportunities near Duluth.
New advances in genetic testing confirm Kamloops interbreed with wild rainbow trout. When that happens, fewer young survive and the overall steelhead population is reduced.
The change from Kamloops to stocking wild-sourced steelhead lets fisheries managers improve fishing opportunities on area streams while continuing the rehabilitation of the wild fish population.
“We have worked hard to develop a solution that respects what our diverse group of rainbow trout anglers have told us is important to them – harvest opportunities in both the stream and the boat fishery, as well as high quality catch-and-release opportunities for wild steelhead,” said Cory Goldsworthy, the DNR’s Lake Superior area fisheries supervisor.
Since 1976, the DNR has stocked the Kamloops strain of rainbow trout in Lake Superior’s waters near Duluth. Stocking increased angler opportunity and reduced harvest pressure on wild steelhead. The action helped Lake Superior’s wild rainbow trout recover from the detrimental effects of invasive sea lampreys and overfishing.
Despite only localized stocking, the stocked Kamloops genetics have shown up in samples taken from many North Shore streams, the Wisconsin Bois Brule River and Michigan waters of Lake Superior.
“These discoveries confirm that interbreeding is widespread well beyond Minnesota waters,” Goldsworthy said. “It would be irresponsible for the Minnesota DNR to keep stocking these fish that research has shown negatively impact Lake Superior’s steelhead population.”
Numerous genetic studies on the North Shore all point toward the negative impacts of interbreeding on wild steelhead populations, but DNR researchers were never able to confirm genetic interbreeding in the wild even with genetics work done as recently as the 1990s.
“With new tools, we now know without question that we can’t have a goal to rehabilitate wild steelhead populations while at the same time stock the Kamloops strain for harvest,” Goldsworthy said.
The steelhead the DNR stocks will have an adipose fin clipped off, just like Kamloops did. That process, which doesn’t harm the fish, allows anglers to easily determine what can be harvested. Unclipped, wild steelhead will continue to remain catch-and-release only – as they have been since 1997. Because of this, the stocking change means anglers will see the same harvest regulations.
The 1995, 2006 and recently revised 2016 fisheries management plans for the Minnesota waters of Lake Superior all discuss the need for continued monitoring for interbreeding between Kamloops and wild steelhead as well as re-evaluation of using the Kamloops strain should interbreeding be confirmed. 
More information about the Lake Superior fishery, including the 2016 Fisheries Management Plan for the Minnesota Waters of Lake Superior can be found on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/areas/fisheries/lakesuperior.

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New northern pike fishing regulations coming for fishing opener

New regulations for catching and keeping northern pike will be the most significant change anglers will see when they open up the 2018 Minnesota Fishing Regulations Booklet being distributed throughout the state.
“Anyone who wants to keep pike in Minnesota’s inland waters needs to take a close look at these regulations and be prepared to measure the pike they want to keep starting on the Saturday, May 12, fishing opener,” said Al Stevens, fisheries program consultant with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The new fishing regulations have three distinct zones to address the different characteristics of pike populations in Minnesota. While not designed to manage for trophy pike, the new regulations are meant to restore pike populations for better harvest opportunities across the state for sizes that make good table fare, up to around 28 inches or so.
“It’s almost go-time and we’re happy to be at this point after years of discussion on these issues with pike,” Stevens said. “This has been a long-running topic of conversation and is becoming reality in the 2018 fishing season.”
The move toward new regulations was a response to anglers’ concerns about the over-abundance of hammer-handle pike in much of central to north-central Minnesota; the low numbers of pike present in southern waters; and a desire to protect large pike in the northeastern part of the state.
The new pike harvest regulations apply to inland waters of the state.

  • North-central: Limit of 10 northern pike, but not more than two pike longer than 26 inches; all from 22 to 26 inches must be released. 
  • Northeast: Two pike; anglers must release all from 30 to 40 inches, with only one over 40 inches allowed in possession.
  • South: Two fish; minimum size 24 inches.

Darkhouse spearing regulations for pike change slightly and those regulations are listed in the spearing section of the regulations booklet.
Meanwhile, the new pike regulations do not affect border waters fishing regulations and special regulations that cover individual lakes, rivers and streams.
For more information on the new zone regulations visit mndnr.gov/pike or contact a local area fisheries office. Contact information can be found in the fishing regulations booklet, available online at mndnr.gov/regulations/fishing

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DNR increases 10-year sustainable timber harvest target

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced it has set a new 10-year sustainable timber harvest at 870,000 cords offered for sale annually from DNR-managed forest lands. This represents an 8.75 percent increase in the harvest target.
The DNR will also launch a special five-year initiative that could offer up to 30,000 additional cords of ash and tamarack in response to the threat posed by emerald ash borer and eastern larch beetle, two invasive species that kill ash and tamarack trees. 
The DNR manages 5 million acres of forest lands – 29 percent of the state’s total forest lands. Timber harvesting occurs on 2.75 million acres of DNR-managed lands that are in state forests, wildlife management areas, and school and university trust lands. These lands provide about 30 percent of the state’s wood supply for a forest products industry that employs 64,000 people and has a $17.1 billion annual economic impact.
The new sustainable harvest was determined after more than a year of scientific analysis, discussions with stakeholders -- including conservation organizations and the forest industry -- and public input.
“The DNR conducted a rigorous analysis of our state’s sustainable timber supply. We are confident this new harvest level strikes the right balance between the needs of clean water, wildlife, the forest industry, and recreation,” said Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner. “This decision reflects careful consideration of the multitude of uses, habitat needs and ecological benefits that come from DNR-managed forest lands.”
For the past 15 years, the DNR’s annual sale target has been 800,000 cords of timber. Given that forests are dynamic, ever-changing systems, it was time to do a new, full-scale assessment of the timber harvest levels.
In 2016, Gov. Mark Dayton called for an updated assessment to ensure DNR forest management meets the state’s goals of commercial timber production, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, clean water, and recreation.
The DNR sells a variety of tree species from the land it manages, including aspen, red, white, and jack pine, maple, red and white oak, ash, white and black spruce, cedar, and tamarack.
Over the past two decades, the DNR has worked to reduce an oversupply of older-aged aspen on DNR-managed forest lands. That oversupply has been largely eliminated and these lands now have a more desired age distribution of aspen that will support valuable wildlife populations and water quality. As a result, future aspen harvest levels will gradually decrease from 400,000 cords annually to 360,000 cords. However, harvest of some other species will increase.
The final report and more information about the analysis are posted on the DNR’s project webpage at www.mndnr.gov/forestry/harvest-analysis.

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