Over 5,000 Acres of Land Designated For Public Use

DNR designates new wildlife lands for public use

Outdoor enthusiasts now have an additional 5,041 acres of land spread in more than 22 counties where there are opportunities to hunt, trap, hike, cross-country ski and watch wildlife in areas known as state wildlife management areas (WMA).

“State taxpayers get a great deal for dollars that are spent on WMA acquisitions,” said Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “That’s because conservation-minded groups and individuals who partner with the DNR add a tremendous amount of local expertise and financial muscle that stretches public funding much further.”

The total area managed in WMAs is more than 1.3 million acres in about 1,500 WMAs located in 86 of the 87 counties in Minnesota.

Partner organizations that helped to acquire 3,099 of the new acres include Ducks Unlimited, The Conservation Fund, Pheasants Forever, The Nature Conservancy, the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, the Green Corridor Initiative, the Fox Lake Conservation League, the Swan Lake Area Wildlife Association, the Minnesota Sharp-tailed Grouse Society, and the Fergus Falls Fish and Game Club.

“We are grateful for the help of partners in acquiring these critical lands for future generations of hunters and wildlife enthusiasts to enjoy,” Landwehr said. “Both the DNR and partners can simultaneously apply for Legacy funding for land acquisition, resulting in more dollars being spent for this purpose. Simply put, the DNR cannot do it alone.”

Lands in WMAs provide important habitat for wildlife species like pheasants, a species that serves as a good indicator of the general health of our grasslands and other wildlife that live there, said Ed Boggess, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division director.

“Over 70 percent of these designated lands are within the state’s pheasant range,” Boggess said. “The new WMA lands will further the goals from the Minnesota Pheasant Summit held in December of increasing the state’s pheasant population, improving pheasant habitat and helping to ensure future generations of Minnesota hunters have the opportunity enjoy this popular and important species.”

One example of these newly added WMA lands is the new Gruven WMA, located in the heart of the pheasant range. It was acquired with the help of Pheasants Forever and consists of 134 acres, of which 85 acres is cropland and the rest is remnant native prairie. The tillable acres will be converted to grasses, and the area will be valuable for pheasant nesting and provide additional opportunities for pheasant hunting. Winter food plots may be added to help overwintering pheasants and deer.

Funding sources Of the 5,041 new acres of WMA land, 3,300 acres were paid for with funds from the Outdoor Heritage Fund as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council and approved by the state Legislature. The Outdoor Heritage Fund is one of several created by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the constitution in 2008.

In addition to Legacy funds, other major funding sources were the $6.50 surcharge on each small game hunting license sold, and the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Critical Habitat Matching Program that equally matches private donations of cash or lands.

The RIM matching dollars came from the sale of the critical habitat license plates. The $30 per year charge for each of these colorful plates generates over $3 million a year that can be used to equally match private donations. The RIM matching dollars are used to acquire or develop critical habitat in the state.

Those looking to find existing public hunting, fishing and trail access can use the DNR Recreation Compass feature online or can purchase DNR Public Recreation Information Maps (PRIM) available from the DNR gift shop, Minnesota’s Bookstore, or several sporting goods and map stores around the state. The PRIM maps may also be purchased online.

Managers began posting and developing parking lots and accesses on the lands over the spring and summer months.

The new WMA land is made up of 631 acres in three new WMAs, and 4,410 acres in 29 existing WMAs.

New WMAs

  • Rush Creek Woods WMA, 261 acres, Fillmore and Houston counties.
  • Sanborn Lake WMA, 236 acres, Le Sueur County.
  • Gruven WMA, 134 acres, Martin County.

Expanded WMAs

  • Gun Lake WMA, 762 acres, Aitkin County.
  • Gordie Mikkelson WMA, 40 acres, Anoka County.
  • Hubbel Pond WMA, 83 acres, Becker County.
  • Gilfillan Lake WMA, 12 acres, Blue Earth County.
  • Lac qui Parle WMA, 82 acres, Chippewa County.
  • Root River WMA, 286 acres, Houston County.
  • Bethel WMA, 75 acres, Isanti County.
  • Spencer Brook WMA, 40 acres, Isanti County.
  • Dalton Johnson WMA, 20 acres, Kandiyohi County.
  • Perch Creek WMA, 112 acres, Martin County.
  • Rich Valley WMA, 114 acres, McLeod County.
  • Thoen Lake WMA, 60 acres, Meeker County.
  • Four Brooks WMA, 790 acres, Mille Lacs County.
  • Swan Lake WMA, 122 acres, Nicollet County.
  • Groth WMA, 71 acres; Nobles County.
  • Lake Bella WMA, 145 acres, Nobles County.
  • Twin Valley WMA, 315 acres, Norman County.
  • Pembina WMA, 156 acres, Pennington County.
  • Lamberton WMA, 160 acres, Redwood County.
  • Beaver Falls WMA, 80 acres, Renville County.
  • Huntersville WMA, 9 acres, Wadena County.
  • Yaeger Lake WMA, 255 acres, Wadena County.
  • Manston Marsh WMA, 410 acres, Wilkin County.
  • Rothsay WMA, 160 acres, Wilkin County.
  • Pelican Lake WMA, 40 acres, Wright County.
  • St. Michael Meadows WMA, 9 acres, Wright County.


DNR Increases The Number of Watercraft Inspectors

Media contact: Adam Doll, watercraft inspection program coordinator, 651-259-5056,

DNR partners with local governments for
record number of watercraft inspectors

The Department of Natural Resources has been partnering with local governments such as counties and cities to increase the number of watercraft inspectors at public water accesses in Minnesota. Inspectors are an important component in the effort to protect state waters from aquatic invasive species.

This year, more local governments than ever have signed delegation agreements with the DNR, allowing them to hire local authorized watercraft inspectors. These local inspectors are managed by the counties, cities, and soil and water conservation districts and have the same authority as DNR inspectors.

DNR staff has trained more than 660 local government watercraft inspectors since April, in addition to the DNR’s 100 watercraft inspection staff. “These partnerships have been very successful in increasing the number of inspectors at public water accesses around the state,” said Adam Doll, watercraft inspection program coordinator.

“Increased watercraft inspectors add to the efforts to protect Minnesota’s waters from aquatic invasive species by adding more eyes in the field and providing valuable education on how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species,” Doll said.

Under a law passed by the state Legislature in 2014, counties statewide were allocated a total of $4.5 million in 2014, $10 million in 2015, and $10 million each year after that to prevent the introduction or limit the spread of aquatic invasive species at access sites within the counties.
Some counties are using a portion of the money to employ their own local watercraft inspectors.

These inspectors receive initial training from the DNR, but they are employed and supervised by the counties or other local governments.

In addition to inspections, watercraft inspectors focus on teaching boaters to:

  • Clean their watercraft;
  • Drain all water by removing drain plugs, and keep drain plugs out while transporting watercraft;
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

To reduce the risk of transporting aquatic invasive species, the DNR also recommends that boaters:

  • Spray boat with high-pressure water.
  • Rinse boat with hot water (120 degrees for two minutes, or 140 degrees for 10 seconds).
  • Dry boat and equipment for at least five days.

All watercraft inspectors should be clearly identified by hiring unit. Inspectors all ask the same questions and go through the same watercraft inspection process. If you have any questions about the watercraft inspection process or comments on your experience with a watercraft inspector, please note the date, time and location and send them to wip.dnr@state.mn.us so a DNR staff person can respond.

The Invasive Species “Starry Stonewort” Found in Stearns and Meeker County Lakes

Invasive species starry stonewort confirmed in Stearns, Meeker county lakes

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed the presence of starry stonewort (Nitellopsis obtusa) in Lake Koronis and Mud Lake, connected to Koronis, in Stearns and Meeker counties. This is the first confirmed case of this invasive species in Minnesota.

Starry stonewort was first discovered in the U.S. in the St. Lawrence River in 1978 and has spread into lakes in the northeastern U.S. Starry stonewort was also confirmed in Wisconsin in 2014 and has been reported in Michigan lakes for more than a decade.

Lake Koronis property owners contacted DNR fisheries staff and expressed concern about abundant aquatic vegetation. DNR staff investigated and found starry stonewort in 53 acres of Lake Koronis. The plant is widely distributed in high densities in the southeast bay near the public water access off Highway 55. It is also growing outside the bay extending into the main basin, the northeast side of basin and into Mud Lake.

Starry stonewort are grass-like algae that may produce dense mats, which could interfere with use of the lake. The invasive plant also may choke out native plants and possibly alter habitat for young fish.

The invasive species was likely spread by lake users who transported fragments of the plant from an infested body of water. Because starry stonewort is widely distributed and well established in the southeast bay of Lake Koronis and has spread into the main basin, rapid response treatments such as hand removal or herbicide applications to try to remove the species would not be effective.

The DNR has surveyed many of the lakes within a 10-mile radius of Lake Koronis and Mud Lake, so far no other lakes have been found to be infested with starry stonewort. Staff will continue to determine the extent of the infestation and review management options.

The DNR reminds boaters and anglers to follow Minnesota laws to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species:

  • Clean aquatic plants and animals from watercraft.
  • Drain all water by removing drain plugs and keep drain plugs out while transporting watercraft.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

FROM THE DNR: Camp Ripley, Youth Waterfowl Hunts, Hunter Safety, and More

Minnesota Hunting – July 2015

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Apply for mentored youth waterfowl hunts by Aug. 10

Youth ages 12 to 15 can apply for the chance to hunt waterfowl under the guidance of experienced mentors on Minnesota Youth Waterfowl Day, Saturday, Sept. 12.

Ducks Unlimited, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Minnesota Horse & Hunt Club and the DNR have teamed up to offer the hunts, which will take place in six areas:

  • Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge near Detroit Lakes;
  • Southern Twin Cities metro area locations;
  • Morris Wildlife Production Area near Morris;
  • Sherburn County private land between Fairmont and Windom;
  • Private land in Fergus Falls; and
  • Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge near Zimmerman.

The application deadline is Monday, Aug. 10. Names will be drawn in a lottery, with preference given to novice hunters. Applicants will be notified within two weeks of the hunt. Successful applicants must attend an orientation on Friday, Sept. 11. More information and an application form can be found at www.mndnr.gov/discover by clicking on mentored youth waterfowl hunt.

Apply by Aug. 14 for youth deer hunts at state parks and refuges

Minnesota youth have from now until Friday, Aug. 14, to apply for one of 18 special deer hunts in October and November.

Of the 18 special hunts, 16 are firearms hunts for youth ages 12 to 15, and two are archery hunts for youth ages 12 to 17. For hunt and orientation dates, and for more information on these hunts and more, visit www.mndnr.gov/discover and click on youth deer hunts.

In addition to the 18 application-only hunts in state parks and refuge areas, any youth ages 10 to 15 can also participate in the youth deer season that runs from Thursday, Oct. 15, through Sunday, Oct. 18, in 27 permit areas that encompass portions of southeastern and northwestern Minnesota and portions of the Twin Cities metro area.

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. Classes are offered in a traditional classroom setting or online. 

Field days are limited and hunter safety classes fill up fast. Find a class by visitingwww.mndnr.gov/safety/firearms/index.html, or by calling 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.

DNR accepting applications for 2015 Camp Ripley archery hunts

Hunters can apply now 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).

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, www.dnr.state.mn.us/licenses.
  • At the DNR license center, 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.

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. Hunt rules and instructions are posted on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources deer hunting Web page at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/deer.

DNR NEWS RELEASE: Mentored Youth Waterfowl Hunts, Mountain Biking Basics, and more


Learn mountain-biking basics at Cuyuna Country SRA


Experience the fun of mountain biking during introductory programs on Saturday, July 25, andSaturday, Aug. 29, at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area in Ironton, about 140 miles northwest of the Twin Cities. Three I Can Mountain Bike! sessions will take place each day, from 9 to 11:30 a.m., from noon to 2:30 p.m. and from 3 to 5:30 p.m.

During the first half of the program, participants will practice shifting, braking and body position
in a wide open setting. During the second half, they’ll take a guided ride and explore the single-track mountain bike trails.

Use of bikes and helmets will be included with the $25 per person registration fee. A Minnesota state parks vehicle permit ($5/day or $25/year) is also required to enter the park. Children must be at least 10 years old to participate and should be able to comfortably ride a bike on pavement prior to attending this program. Anyone under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Reservations are required and can be made online or by phone.

I Can Mountain Bike! is part of a series of skill-building programs offered by the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. Other programs in the series introduce camping, fishing, rock climbing, paddling and archery to beginners.

“If you’d like to create some unforgettable outdoor experiences with your kids but don’t know how to get started, the I Can! skill-building programs are designed for you,” said Erika Rivers, Parks and Trails Division director. “Minnesota has amazing state parks, trails and water trails, and we want to spark interest in more families to get out and enjoy them.”

The I Can! programs are made possible with support from the Parks and Trails Fund, created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008. The Parks and Trails Fund receives 14.25 percent of the three-eighths percent sales tax revenue that may only be spent to support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance.

For more information about the I Can Climb! or any of the other I Can! programs, visitwww.mndnr.gov/ican or contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           July 6, 2015

Wildlife Drive opening July 18 at Roseau River Wildlife Management Area

The 27-mile “Wildlife Drive” through the Roseau River Wildlife Management Area (WMA), 20 miles northwest of Roseau, will be open to vehicular travel July 18-26 and the following weekends through Aug. 16. The drive traverses wetland, woodland, brushland and farmland habitats, providing visitors ample opportunity to see wildlife.

Roseau River WMA is one of the viewing stops along the Pine to Prairie Birding Trail, which consists of 45 sites spanning a 223-mile corridor from pine to prairie in the northwestern part of the state. These sites offer some of the most spectacular birding in the state, along with scenic beauty and friendly communities.

The viewing route also cuts through the northern reaches of the Juneberry 3 wildfire, which burned an area in excess of 30,000 acres in October 2011. The fire opened up stands of woody vegetation, creating new foraging sites for birds and mammals and improving nesting cover for a wide array of birds for years to come.

Approximately 149 bird species breed within the Roseau River WMA. Yellow rails, horned grebes and Western grebes are a few of the rare breeding species found within the area’s vast wetlands. Along the drive visitors may encounter trumpeter swans, loons, white pelicans, sandhill cranes, great blue herons, eagles, a variety of ducks and other water birds, sedge wrens, yellow warblers, Nelson’s sharp-tailed sparrows, black bears, deer, beaver, otter, muskrat, red fox, gray wolf and the occasional moose.

Aside from the chance to see wildlife, the WMA “pools” offer spectacular year-round northern pike fishing opportunities. Visitors typically fish along the dike roads or near the water control structures. When the dike roads are closed to motorists, visitors can bike to Pool 1 West or Pool 2 from the parking areas. During the waterfowl hunting season only, motorboats of 10 horsepower or less may be used on the Roseau River WMA.

The Wildlife Drive can be easily accessed at the main dike road, located one and three-quarter miles south of the WMA headquarters on Roseau County Road 3. Only motor vehicles licensed for use on public highways are legally permitted to operate on this road. Motorists are urged to use caution due to narrow roads, soft shoulders, deep ditches and two-way traffic. The speed limit on all WMA roads is 20 mph. Note that the wildlife drive may be closed due to inclement weather or road construction.

For more information, contact or stop by the Roseau River WMA office to pick up a bird list, maps, fishing regulations and additional information before your visit: 218-463-1130, 27952 400th St., Roseau, MN 56751, or visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/wmas/.


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                           July 6, 2015

Apply for mentored youth waterfowl hunts by Aug. 10

Youth ages 12 to 15 can apply for the chance to hunt waterfowl under the guidance of experienced mentors on Minnesota Youth Waterfowl Day, Saturday, Sept. 12.

“Mentored hunts teach youth the skills needed for safe and enjoyable hunting, and they gain an appreciation of the interconnection between land, water and wildlife,” said Mike Kurre, mentoring program coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR has teamed up with Ducks Unlimited, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Minnesota Horse & Hunt Club to offer the hunts, which will take place in six areas:

  • Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge near Detroit Lakes.
  • Southern Twin Cities metro area locations.
  • Morris Wildlife Production Area near Morris.
  • Sherburne County private land between Fairmont and Windom.
  • Private land in Fergus Falls.
  • Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge near Zimmerman.

Application forms must be received at the DNR central office by Monday, Aug. 10. Applicants will be drawn in a lottery, with preference given to novice hunters. Applicants will be notified within two weeks of the hunt, and those chosen must attend an orientation on Friday, Sept. 11.

More information and an application form can be found at www.mndnr.gov/discover by clicking on “Mentored Youth Waterfowl Hunt.”


DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                          July 6, 2015

DNR seeks comment on Solid Bottom Creek Restoration Project

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is accepting public comment on an environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) prepared for the Solid Bottom Creek Restoration Project in Becker County.

Solid Bottom Creek is a trout stream in Becker County that is eroding a steep hillside, contributing sediment to the stream and Elbow Lake. The DNR is proposing to move the stream away from the hillside to reduce erosion and improve habitat conditions for brook trout and other species. The agency will take comments during a 30-day public review from July 6 to Aug. 5.

A copy of the EAW is available online at www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/index.html. Under “Environmental Review,” select “Solid Bottom Creek Restoration Project” from the scroll-down list. A hard copy may be requested by calling 651-259-5082.
The EAW is available for public review at:

  • DNR Library, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.
  • DNR Northwest Region, 2220 Bemidji Ave. Bemidji, MN 56601.
  • Minneapolis Central Library, Government Documents, 2nd Floor, 300 Nicollet Mall.

The EAW notice will be published in the July 6 EQB Monitor. Written comments must be submitted no later than 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 5, to the attention of Kate Frantz, EAW project manager, Environmental Policy and Review Unit, Ecological and Water Resources Division, DNR, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4025.

Electronic or email comments may be sent to environmentalrev.dnr@state.mn.us with “Solid Bottom Creek Restoration Project EAW” in the subject line. If submitting comments electronically, include name and mailing address. Written comments may also be sent by fax to 651-296-1811.


Question of the week

Q: I hear a lot about how zebra mussels are bad for Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. How are native mussels different from these invasive species?

A: Minnesota has about 50 native mussel species, and they are specially adapted to benefit our aquatic ecosystems. Some native mussels can live for decades, while zebra mussels live only a few years. Native mussel larvae must attach to a fish host for the early stage of life, as compared to zebra mussels that simply release larvae into the surrounding water. Using sticky threads, a zebra mussels attaches itself to native mussels or other underwater objects, while a native mussel uses a foot to burrow into the river or lake bottom.

Both native and zebra mussels can form large colonies, but their effects on the surrounding ecosystem are quite different. A key difference is that invasive zebra mussels filter out food that would ordinarily be consumed by fish. Native mussels, on the other hand, primarily filter out bacteria and fungus without intercepting food for fish. In fact, native mussel colonies create biological “hot spots” that favor other macroinvertebrates, which in turn provide food for fish. They essentially function like a freshwater coral reef.

Mike Davis, DNR river ecologist

FROM THE DNR: Zebra Mussels confirmed in Fish Trap Lake in Morrison County

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                               July 6, 2015

Zebra mussels confirmed in Fish Trap Lake in Morrison County

Zebra mussels have been confirmed in Fish Trap Lake near the city of Motley in Morrison County, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Fish Trap Lake will be designated as zebra mussel infested.

On June 30, a lake user reported a zebra mussel attached to a submerged tree branch near shore in Fish Trap Lake that was later confirmed by a DNR aquatic invasive species (AIS) specialist. DNR staff surveyed the lake Thursday and found an established population of adult zebra mussels in widespread areas of the lake. As such, this infestation would not be a candidate for treatment. Treatment methods have recently been used in other lakes with newly reported, isolated populations in shallow waters. More detailed surveys of Fish Trap Lake will be conducted this week.

“Fish Trap Lake is the first lake in Morrison County to be confirmed with zebra mussels,” said Christine Jurek, DNR invasive species specialist in Sauk Rapids. “This new infestation underscores the need for continued diligence in complying with the state’s laws to prevent and curb the spread of invasive species. Boaters and anglers need to be extra vigilant in ensuring their boat and equipment are clean before leaving a lake access, and to contact the DNR right away if they find suspicious aquatic animals or plants.”

The vast majority of Minnesota lakes are not infested by any aquatic invasive species, and less than one-quarter of one percent of Minnesota lakes are known to have zebra mussels. Likewise, most Minnesota anglers and boaters follow the aquatic invasive species laws and do their part to prevent the spread of invasive species. Under law, boaters are required to clean weeds and debris from their boats, remove drain plugs and keep them out while traveling, and dispose of unused bait in the trash.

When a report is made to the DNR, the first step is to confirm that it is an invasive species by obtaining the sample from the individual who discovered it. Once identified, DNR staff immediately survey shorelines and lake bottoms near the reported discovery site in an attempt to confirm the infestation. Sometimes divers are used to search deeper waters.

Jurek offers these suggestions to anyone who thinks they may have made a discovery:

  • Place specimen in a bag or other container to keep it intact.
  • Take a photo of the suspected invasive species.
  • Mark on a lake map or GPS the exact location where the specimen was found.
  • Contact a local DNR office immediately to arrange transport to the office. DNR regulations allow transport of vegetation and animals to field offices for identification purposes.
  • Email a photo and the location of possible discovery to a local DNR office.

Unless it is a sample being transported directly to a DNR office for identification, Minnesota law prohibits the possession or transport of any aquatic invasive species in the state.

Some aquatic invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. Along with the clean, drain, dispose steps required by law, spraying or drying a boat helps prevent the spread of small species. To remove or kill them before moving to another body of water, especially after leaving zebra mussel or spiny waterflea infested waters, the DNR recommends that boaters either:

  • Spray boat with high-pressure water;
  • Rinse boat with hot water (120 degrees for two minutes, or 140 degrees for 10 seconds); or
  • Dry boat and equipment for at least five days.

More information about zebra mussels, how to inspect boats and other water-related equipment, and a current list of designated infested waters is available on the DNR website atwww.mndnr.gov/ais.