May 24, 2019 - Make safe boating top priority on Memorial Day weekend

Water remains dangerously cold, life jackets a necessity

Memorial Day weekend signals the start of the summer boating season, but boaters should keep in mind water temperatures remain spring-like. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources urges boaters to wear life jackets no matter the water temperature or season, but it’s especially important this time of year, when wearing a life jacket is the one action that significantly increases the chances of surviving a fall into cold water. 

Though temperatures continue to rise, water temperatures across the state generally are around the 50-degree mark, which is cold enough to cause a gasp reflex and incapacitate even the strongest swimmers in less than one minute.

“Cold water affects everyone the same – it reduces your swimming abilities,” said Lisa Dugan, boating safety representative with the DNR. “Even the most experienced swimmers will have trouble within seconds of an unexpected fall into cold water. Wearing a life jacket gives you a fighting chance to get your head above water, stay calm instead of panicking, and call for help before hypothermia sets in.”

In Minnesota, more than one-third of boating fatalities occur on cold water, and accident records show the victims are disproportionately male. Of the 14 people involved in boating fatalities in the state last year, all were male. And during the past decade, there’s been a trend that men between the ages of 20 and 60 are the most likely to drown while boating and are the least likely to be wearing a life jacket.

“It’s pretty clear that wearing a life jacket could easily prevent a significant percentage of boating deaths,” Dugan said.

Before the first launch of the season, anglers are also reminded to review boating regulations, inspect their watercraft and gear, enlist a mechanic to check exhaust systems for potential carbon monoxide leaks, and verify motorboats are equipped with the following:

  • U.S. Coast Guard-approved wearable life jackets for each person onboard (children under 10 must wear a properly fitting life jacket while underway).
  • A throwable flotation device on boats 16 feet or longer.
  • A horn or a whistle.
  • Type B, U.S. Coast Guard-approved fire extinguisher.
  • Navigation lights in working order.
  • Valid boat registration, with numbers visible.

Watercraft can be registered in person at any deputy registrar of motor vehicles, at the DNR License Center in St. Paul, or online at mndnr.gov/licenses.

Further details, including boater education requirements and information on preventing carbon monoxide poisoning while boating, can be found at mndnr.gov/boatingsafety.



May 23, 2019 - Fort Snelling State Park remains closed due to spring flooding and damage

Due to persistent flooding and damage from the winter’s hefty snowpack and spring’s heavy rains, Fort Snelling State Park will remain closed to the public through Memorial Day weekend and the month of June.

Located at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers near the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, Fort Snelling State Park is one of Minnesota’s busiest parks and is a popular destination for hikers, bikers, birders and school groups.

“We know how eager folks are to get out and enjoy nature now that spring has finally arrived, but making sure the park is safe for staff and park visitors is critical before opening,” said Fort Snelling State Park manager Kelli Bruns. “The park experienced significant damage to its main roads, and water lines, and there are downed trees and trail washouts that need to be repaired. Meanwhile, we hope people will consider visiting one of our other state parks.”

The closure could remain in effect until sometime in July, depending on weather conditions and work progress.

Department of Natural Resources and park staff want to remind people to refrain from coming into Fort Snelling State Park.

“We are asking the public to not enter the park at this time. This is important for their own safety and allows workers a safe place to complete repairs and clean-up. Emergency responders would have difficulty locating people in the closed park if needed,” Bruns said.

The DNR is committed to working on opening the park as soon as possible.

The DNR encourages people to get out and enjoy Minnesota’s outdoors as the first holiday weekend of the season approaches. Birds are singing their spring songs, and wildflowers are in full bloom across the state. But due to the ongoing wet weather, the DNR would like to remind people to check on current conditions before heading out. For more information, consult www.mndnr.gov/closures.

 

 



May 20, 2019 - 14 candidates begin training to join state conservation officer ranks

The 19th class of candidates to take part in the Department of Natural Resources’ Conservation Officer Academy has begun training at Camp Ripley. 

This year’s class includes 14 recruits who bring with them a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. Some of them have been sheriff’s deputies and police officers, while others serve for the Minnesota National Guard or decided to make a career change and study to become a conservation officer.

“As with all the men and women who’ve proudly served this division and the people of Minnesota since 1887, I’m confident these 14 people will continue our tradition of enforcing natural resources laws and understanding the importance of education and outreach as we serve the people of Minnesota,” said Rodmen Smith, DNR Enforcement Division director.

The officer candidates began training at Camp Ripley on May 20 and will continue there until August, learning about topics ranging from fish and wildlife laws to patrol procedures, and rules of evidence to fish and wildlife investigation.

They’ll also learn about the vital role conservation officers occupy in their communities and the part they play in developing the next generation of anglers, conservationists and hunters. Upon graduation, they’ll spend several months field training with experienced officers. The candidates will be assigned to their own stations in December.

“Conservation officers live in the areas they serve and, due to the nature of their work, become integral parts of their communities,” said Smith.

Attendees of this year’s Academy bring with them a wide variety of experiences. Some have a traditional law enforcement background while others took part in a program called CO PREP, which provides candidates before the Academy with law enforcement training such that they’re eligible for Peace Officer Standards and Training certification. Over the years, the CO PREP program has been highly successful in creating a conservation officer workforce that more closely reflects the state’s population.

There are 155 conservation officer field stations in Minnesota. Currently, 27 of them are vacant; this current class will reduce the vacancies by about half. Each station covers about 650 square miles.



May 20, 2019 - Clean bird feeders to keep birds healthy

Moldy birdseed and unclean bird feeders can make birds sick. Homeowners who enjoy feeding birds can takes steps now to help birds stay healthy, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 

In spring and especially in warm, humid weather, it is common for mold to form on wet birdseed. The mold can cause an avian disease called aspergillosis, which affects the birds’ respiratory systems. Salmonella is another disease that affects birds and is associated with unclean feeders. Both diseases can be fatal to birds.

To clean a feeder, use a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water, and scrub the entire surface. Always allow the cleaned feeder to dry out in the sun, as the sunlight will help kill bacteria on the feeder. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned about every week to 10 days during the summer, to keep the sugar water from producing mold.

Staff from the DNR Nongame Wildlife Program urges bird enthusiasts to also rake or sweep up any fallen seeds and seed hulls under their feeder to prevent moldy conditions from occurring on the ground. Seeds left on the ground can also attract meadow voles, house mice, other rodents, raccoons, deer and even bears.

Keep the feed dry by using a hopper-type feeder or a fly-through feeder, and always scrape out old seed that accumulates in the corners. Tray feeders with a screen bottom will allow seeds to dry out from above and below after a rain shower, but thick layers of seed could still trap moisture, so consider more frequent fillings with less seed.

More information about bird feeding is available at mndnr.gov/birdfeeding. Books about attracting and feeding birds include, “Wild about Birds: The DNR Bird Feeding Guide” and “Landscaping for Wildlife.” These books were made possible by donations to the Nongame Wildlife Fund.



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DNR News MAY 24th

Make safe boating top priority on Memorial Day weekend

Water remains dangerously cold, life jackets a necessity Memorial Day weekend signals the start of the summer boating season, but boaters should keep in mind water temperatures remain spring-like. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources urges b...

Read More