Zebra Mussels Confirmed In Another Lake

Zebra mussels confirmed in Pickerel Lake in Becker County
DNR: Think safety on the water
DNR seeks comments on EAW for Upper Lightning Lake project
Colorful poster has tips for helping bees and butterflies
DNR Enforcement Division names new operations manager

Zebra mussels confirmed in Pickerel Lake in Becker County

Zebra mussels have been confirmed in Pickerel Lake located 7 miles northeast of Detroit Lakes in Becker County in west-central Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

A citizen found the zebra mussel on Saturday, June 28, while scuba diving on the west side of the lake by the public water access. The zebra mussel was found attached to a rock in 13 feet of water. With the help of other scuba divers, searches continued Saturday and Sunday, but no additional zebra mussels were found.

“This newest report emphasizes the need for everyone to be on the lookout for zebra mussels when out recreating in our state waters,” said Barry Stratton, DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division, southern district manager.

Lake Pickerel is land-locked and will be designated as infested.

This is the second confirmed discovery of zebra mussels in Becker County. Zebra mussels were recently confirmed in Lake Melissa, southwest of Detroit Lakes.

Zebra mussels are non-native species that can crowd out native mussels and compete for food sources with other aquatic animals such as larval fish. They attach to boat hulls and their shells may wash up onto beaches in large numbers.

Preventing the spread of invasive species takes personal responsibility. Before leaving a water access or shoreland, boaters must remove all aquatic vegetation and zebra mussels or other prohibited invasive species, dispose of bait, drain all water by removing drain plugs and keep drain plugs out while transporting watercraft.

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 at http://www.mndnr.gov/ais.


DNR: Think safety on the water

As boaters get ready for the three-day holiday weekend, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reminding everyone to keep boating and water safety top of mind.

“Safety never takes a vacation,” said Kara Owens, DNR boat and water safety specialist. “Boaters should wear a life jacket every time they step on a boat and stay away from alcohol; booze and boating don’t mix.”

In Minnesota so far this year, four people have died in boating accidents compared to nine fatalities for the same time period last year.

Falls overboard, capsizing and failure to use life jackets are the most common factors in fatal boating accidents around the state.

“We want people to get out and enjoy our weather, but don’t put yourself or someone else in danger by making dangerous decisions on the water,” Owens said.

Drowning is often silent and occurs within minutes when help is nearby, Owens said.

Parents need to avoid becoming distracted with a book or cell phone and watch children the entire time they are at the beach, pool or near water.

Water levels remain high around many parts of the metro. “High water levels mean a fast and strong moving current, which many boat operators and swimmers are not used to,” Owens said.

No-wake zones are in effect on many lakes and rivers around the area, including: the St. Croix River from Taylors Falls to Prescott, Wisconsin, Lake Minnetonka and Prior Lake.

The DNR recommends these safety tips for boaters and swimmers:

Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket; even good swimmers need to wear one.
Avoid alcohol. Booze and boating do not mix.
Don’t go boating or swimming alone; water safety increases with numbers.
Watch children around water.
For more information on boating safety go to http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/boatwater/index.html.



DNR seeks comments on EAW for Upper Lightning Lake project

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources seeks public comments on an environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) prepared for the Upper Lightning Lake water level management project, in Grant and Otter Tail counties.

The public watercourse that connects Upper Lightning Lake to downstream Denton Slough has become filled with narrowleaf/hybrid cattail and sediment. The DNR Wildlife Section is proposing to install a pump and lift station at the outlet of Upper Lightning Lake to manage lake water levels, and improve wetland wildlife habitat and water quality.

The agency will take comments on the EAW during a 30-day public review period from July 7 to Aug. 6.

A copy of the document is available online at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/index.html. Under “Environmental Review,” select “Upper Lightning Lake EAW” from the scroll-down list. A hard copy may be requested by calling 651-259-5168.

The EAW is available for review at:

DNR Library, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.
DNR northwest region, 2115 Birchmont Beach Road NE, Bemidji.
Minneapolis Central Library, Government Documents, 2nd Floor, 300 Nicollet Mall.
Fergus Falls Public Library, 205 E Hampden Ave., Fergus Falls.
Thorson Memorial Library, 117 Central Ave. N., Elbow Lake.
The EAW notice will be published in the July 7, EQB Monitor. Written comments must be submitted no later than 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 6, to the attention of:

Jill Townley, planner principal
Environmental Policy and Review Unit
Ecological and Water Resources Division
Department of Natural Resources
500 Lafayette Road, Box 25
St. Paul, MN 55155-4025

Electronic or email comments may be sent to environmentalrev.dnr@state.mn.us with “Upper Lightning Lake EAW” in the subject line. Written comments may also be sent by fax to 651-296-1811. Please include name and mailing address with comments.


Colorful poster has tips for helping bees and butterflies

In a one-half acre plot in his backyard, prairie enthusiast Mike Halverson has seen many benefits of planting over 125 different species during the last 15 years.

“I’ve noticed a tremendous increase in bees, butterflies, dragonflies and birds using my yard,” said Halverson, a retired Minnesota Department of Natural Resources employee.

Images taken by Halverson in his yard grace a new poster that highlights the importance of bees and butterflies, and points out ways in which people can enhance pollinator habitat. The poster is now available at no charge by contacting the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157, 888-646-6367 or by visiting http://www.mndnr.gov/roadsidesforwildlife and clicking on “Pollinators and Roadsides.”

Pollinators are critically important to ecosystems and human food production.

Although the poster highlights roadside habitats, the principles can be applied almost anywhere, including shorelines, yards, schools or other public areas. The poster offers tips anyone can use for helping bees and butterflies by improving bee nesting habitat and selecting appropriate nectar and pollen-producing plants.

“Over the past few decades, there has been a significant loss of pollinators from the environment,” said Carmelita Nelson, DNR Roadsides for Wildlife coordinator. “For example, the number of migrating Monarch butterflies sank to the lowest number ever last year, but we’ve also seen declines in the number of honey bees, native bees, birds, bats and other butterflies.”

Pollinator insects rely on plants for nectar and pollen for food and many plants rely on these pollinator insects for pollination in something called a symbiotic relationship – a relationship in which both the plant and the pollinator insect benefit from each other. Many of the foods we enjoy depend on pollinator insects. Foods like tomatoes, peppers, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, apples, melons, sunflowers, pumpkins, plums, squash and canola all depend on pollinating insects to produce.

Some native species of bumblebees are excellent pollinators and can even increase size and abundance of fruit compared to pollination by honeybees. To illustrate the importance of the roll of pollinators, 87 of the world’s 124 most commonly cultivated crops are pollinated by insects and other animals. More than 80 percent of the world’s 250,000 flowering plants depend on animals for pollination.

Unfortunately, these important workers in the environment are on decline. Habitat loss, pesticide use, diseases, parasites and the spread of invasive species are the major causes of pollinator decline. Threats to pollinator communities affect not only pollinators themselves but also natural ecosystems, agricultural productivity, and ultimately food on our tables.

Anyone can help pollinators. Practices to enhance bee habitat around farms, gardens and roadsides include:

Increasing flower diversity.
Using native wildflowers and grasses, with high densities of flowers.
Planting a minimum of three plant species that bloom during spring, summer and fall.
Aiming for season-long blooming plants, with early and late season blooming plants being especially important.
Planting a range of wildflowers of varying colors and shapes.
Providing warm season, clump-forming grasses for bumblebee nest sites.
Delaying mowing or haying entire grassy meadows or roadsides, leaving some habitat for pollinators.
Reducing tillage and avoiding plastic ground cover sheeting for ground nesting bees.
Avoiding or minimizing the use of insecticides.
For more information about the Roadsides for Wildlife program, visit http://www.mndnr.gov/roadsidesforwildlife or contact the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.


DNR Enforcement Division names new operations manager

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has announced that Capt. Greg Salo will be promoted to the rank of major and named the Enforcement Division’s operations manager effective July 16.

Salo replaces Maj. Phil Meier who retires July 15 after nearly 40 years with the DNR.

The operations manager directs the division’s field operations, which includes public contacts and field response, customer service, human-wildlife management conflict, and law enforcement.

Salo joined the DNR in 2007 after spending 13 years with the Fridley Police Department, including more than three years as a sergeant. He was initially assigned to the DNR’s Mora field station before moving to the Cambridge station. He spent two years working the East Metro station before being promoted to captain and Region 3 Enforcement supervisor in September 2010. Salo also served as a DNR Enforcement Division use of force instructor and firearms instructor.

During his tenure with the Fridley Police Department, Salo was in charge of the use of force program and predatory offender program, as well as liquor, gambling, and tobacco compliance and the ‘Safe and Sober’ grant. He also was the field training coordinator, worked undercover with the problem response team, and worked with pawn shops and the automated pawn system.

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