New WMA helps form backbone of public land access
Fishing opener: 10 things to know
Catch a tagged fish on Mille Lacs: Get a free lure or find out more
Minnesota state parks offer wildflower walks on Mother’s Day
Twins offer free hat, discounted tickets through partnership with DNR
Aquatic plant removal may require a permitDNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
This is a wildlife management area, and in Minnesota these lands provide vital recreation and habitat roles, from the Roseau Lake Wildlife Management Area in the north to the Minnesota WMA in the south.
Now, future generations will be able to enjoy 303 more acres of public land thanks in large part to a man named Mel Roehrl, a founding and current member of the Stearns County Pheasants Forever chapter.
Roehrl gets the distinction of having a WMA named after him. On Saturday, May 3, he and a crowd of people watched as the now-public stretch of grassland and wetland was dedicated as the Mel Roehrl State Wildlife Management Area, to be managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
“This new WMA shows just how important it is to have local groups like Pheasants Forever chapters and others involved in setting aside land for wildlife habitat and public use,” said Fred Bengtson, DNR area wildlife manager in Sauk Rapids. “Mel helped speak for this land decades ago, and has since 1983 helped continue important conservation work through his local Pheasants Forever chapter.”
The new WMA is located in rural Stearns County southwest of Melrose, with the North Fork of the Crow River on one edge of the area. It consists of a mixture of grasslands and wetlands and is home to a variety of wildlife including pheasants, ducks and white-tailed deer.
“We’re grateful for the leadership of Mel Roehrl and all the folks at Pheasants Forever and other groups who have helped open up access to more quality public land,” Bengtson said. “The tireless effort of folks like these is what helps make Minnesota a great place to hunt.”
Minnesota has 1,440 wildlife management areas constituting 1.3 million acres of habitat.
Local groups also donate to acquire WMAs, and the Mel Roehrl WMA was purchased through a program called Minnesota Build a Wildlife Area. That program is a partnership between a number of groups, and has since 2003 purchased more 3,000 areas for use as public land.
More information is available at www.pheasantsforever.org.
“When it comes to conservation in central Minnesota, Mel is a household name,” said Eran Sandquist, Pheasants Forever’s regional representative for northern Minnesota. “The chapter he helped start is recognized as one of the most productive in the nation and one of only two Pheasants Forever chapters to have spent more than $4 million on the organization’s wildlife habitat mission.”
The Mel Roehrl WMA was purchased with help from:
- The North American Wetland Conservation Act.
- Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Fund.
- Reinvest in Minnesota Critical Habitat Match.
- Pheasants Forever, Build a Wildlife Area Fund and chapters in Jackson, Lyon, Mower, Todd and Stearns counties, and the Tri-County Pheasants Forever and South Central Minnesota Pheasants Forever.
- The Buckentine family.
- Minnesota Deer Hunters Association Central Minnesota chapter, MDHA Hides for Habitat Fund and Habitat Committee.
- Padua Conservation Club.
- Green Grove Rod and Gun Club.
- Steve Thompson Memorial.
Depending on the kind of tagged fish anglers catch on Mille Lacs Lake, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will send either a free lure or the story of the fish caught.
Anglers who catch a walleye with an orange tag will receive a free lure. Those who catch a walleye or northern pike with a yellow tag will receive information about the known history of the tagged fish they caught.
The tagging and return effort is part of a broad effort to better understand the lake’s walleye and northern pike populations.
Orange tags are labeled “REWARD.” Anglers who catch a walleye with such a tag should remove it from the fish, even if the fish is released. Tags should be returned to DNR Fisheries, 1200 Minnesota Ave. S., Aitkin, MN 56431. Include the date of the catch and the length of the fish. A fishing lure will be mailed in return.
Tag return boxes also will be available at several businesses around the lake, or anglers can simply mail them to the address above, which is also posted at the boat accesses.
“Anglers who return their tags are doing all Mille Lacs anglers a favor,” said Rick Bruesewitz, DNR’s Aitkin area fisheries supervisor. “The higher the tag returns the higher the data reliability…and that’s what you want when managing an asset as valuable as Mille Lacs.”
When anglers return information from a walleye or northern with a yellow tag, they’ll receive information about when the fish was tagged, where the fish was when it was captured for tagging and how big the fish was at tagging. Yellow tags should remain on the fish if it is released.
“Some of the larger, older fish with yellow tags can have a pretty interesting history,” Bruesewitz said. “Some of these fish will have been caught six to eight times and we’ve recorded information about that fish each time it’s been captured.”
More information about reporting a tagged fish is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/taggedfish.
DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 8, 2014
Minnesota state parks will offer wildflower walks on Mother’s Day weekend. Park naturalists and volunteers will point out what’s blooming on guided walks, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
- Discover the blooming beauties of Wild River State Park (an hour north of the Twin Cities in Center City) on a walk likely to feature a variety of nodding flowers, the season’s largest flower, flowers pollinated by ants, edible flowers and more. The walk will take place from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, May 10. Meet at the visitor center.
- Celebrate spring at the annual Bluebell Festival at Carley State Park (about 15 miles northeast of Rochester) onSaturday, May 10, when thousands of Virginia bluebells are typically blooming throughout the park. Naturalist-led activities will include “Make a Mother’s Day Wildflower Card” from 9 to 10 a.m., “Trout Fishing for Kids” from10 a.m. to noon, “Archery in the Park” from noon to 2 p.m. and a “Guided Wildflower Walk” from 2 to 3 p.m.
- See what grows at Great River Bluffs State Park (20 miles southeast of Winona) and why the Blufflands are so important for many of the plants growing here. Meet the park naturalist at picnic area for a guided walk at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 11.
These programs are all free with a valid state park vehicle permit ($5/one-day or $25/year-round).
For additional wildflower walks and directions to the parks, visit www.mndnr.gov (www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/wildflower_events.html) or contact the DNR Information Center at firstname.lastname@example.org, 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Can’t get to a program on Mother’s Day weekend? Consider buying a Minnesota state parks gift card for a walk later this season. Gift cards can be purchased any of three ways:
“This special promotion between the Twins and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is a great deal for fans of the outdoors and baseball,” said Jenifer Wical, of the DNR outreach section.
The special rate starts with the Sunday, May 18, home game against the Seattle Mariners. It also includes home games on Friday, June 6, against the Houston Astros; Thursday, June 19, against the Chicago White Sox; Saturday, Aug. 16, against the Kansas City Royals; Sunday, Sept. 7, against the Los Angeles Angels; and Saturday, Sept. 20, against the Cleveland Indians.
Discounted ticket prices are $16. Ticket buyers pick up their cap at the game.
“Minnesota culture wouldn’t be complete without hunting, fishing and Twins baseball,” said Phil McMullen, Twins ticket sales executive.
Those who want to buy discount tickets should go to www.mndnr.gov/twins and enter the transaction number, which is printed on the license. The DNR Twins Web page provides ticket buying instructions and shows the location of the transaction number.
A limited number of tickets are available for each game and will be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. The offer is available only through the DNR Twins Web page.
Minnesota 2014 fishing and hunting licenses can be purchased and printed online atwww.mndnr.gov/buyalicense or from any DNR license agent.
By taking due care, property owners can avoid harming a nearby lake or river, and DNR staff can help answer questions about what’s allowed, said Steve Enger, supervisor of the DNR’s aquatic plant management program.
“Aquatic plants prevent shoreline erosion, stabilize bottom sediments, provide habitat for fish and wildlife, and tie up nutrients that might otherwise grow algae,” Enger said. “We encourage shoreline property owners to disturb as little near-shore vegetation as possible. Removing too many aquatic plants can impair their ability to provide these important functions.”
Property owners sometimes do not need permits for smaller-scale removal of plants for recreational reasons such as swimming or boat docking. However, permits are generally required for more intensive plant removal. And some removal methods are not allowed.
AQUATIC PLANT REMOVAL WITHOUT PERMIT
Shoreline property owners can, without a DNR permit, mechanically control a modest area of aquatic plants. However, regulations vary slightly on submerged vegetation compared to floating leaf vegetation.
Managing submerged vegetation like pondweeds, watermilfoil or coontail by cutting, pulling, raking, or harvesting the vegetation is allowed under the following conditions:
- The cleared area may not exceed 2,500 square feet.
- The cleared area may not extend more than 50 feet along the shore, or more than one half the frontage width, whichever is less.
- If the cleared area does not reach open water, a 15-foot wide channel to open water may be added.
- The cut or pulled vegetation must be removed from the water.
Managing floating leaf vegetation like white or yellow water-lilies by cutting or pulling is allowed for property owners looking to clear a 15-foot-wide channel extending to open water, under the following conditions:
- The cleared channel must remain in the same place from year to year.
- The vegetation that is cut or pulled must be removed from the water.
AQUATIC PLANT REMOVAL PERMIT REQUIRED
A DNR aquatic plant management permit is required, for a $35 fee, if plans include the following:
- Using herbicides or algicides.
- Removing emergent vegetation, like bulrush, cattails or wild rice. Emergent plants are rooted in the lake or river bottom, but their leaves and stems extend out of the water.
- Installing or operating an automated plant control device, such as the Crary WeedRoller, BeachGroomer or Lake Sweeper.
- Removing floating leaf vegetation, in an area larger than a 15 foot wide channel (see above).
- Controlling submerged vegetation in an area wider than one-half the width of your frontage or 50 feet, whichever is less (see above).
- Removing or relocating a bog of any size.
These activities are not allowed by DNR aquatic plant management regulations:
- Excavating the lake bottom for aquatic plant control.
- Use of hydraulic jets.
- Using lake-bottom barriers to destroy or prevent the growth of aquatic plants.
- Removing aquatic vegetation within posted fish-spawning areas.
- Removing aquatic plants from undeveloped shoreline.
For more information, see the DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/shorelandmgmt/apg/regulations.html, or call
651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.