January 17, 2019 - Successful snowmobile rides start with safety mindset

DNR reminds snowmobile riders of safety tips ahead of Snowmobile Safety Awareness Week

Snowmobile riders throughout the state would welcome a fresh round of snowfall, but despite less-than-ideal conditions in some areas, they’re hitting lakes and trails with a fervor. In advance of Snowmobile Safety Awareness Week – Jan. 19-27 – the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds snowmobilers of the importance of safe and responsible riding. 

Minnesota has more than 22,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, about 21,000 of which are maintained by local snowmobile club volunteers. Add in the thousands of lakes on which people ride and there’s no shortage of opportunity to experience Minnesota atop a sled.

Every year, however, multiple riders are killed or injured while riding a snowmobile.

“Snowmobiling is fun and exciting – and is a great source of physical activity – but every time they fire up the engine snowmobilers should make safety their priority,” said Bruce Lawrence, recreational vehicle coordinator for DNR’s Enforcement Division. “By keeping a clear head and using common sense, snowmobile riders can go a long way toward ensuring a safe ride.”

Here are some key safety points to keep in mind:

  • Don’t drink and ride – alcohol and snowmobiling are a bad combination.
  • Wear a helmet and proper clothing.
  • Drive slower at night and be prepared for the unexpected.
  • Check local trail and ice conditions.
  • Cross with care.
  • Avoid riding alone.
  • Ride safe, stay on the trail and respect private property.
  • Smart riders are safe riders – take a snowmobile safety training course.

To legally operate a snowmobile in Minnesota, residents born after Dec. 31, 1976 must have a valid snowmobile safety certificate. Options for classroom and online safety courses can be found at mndnr.gov/safety/vehicle/snowmobile/index.html. For additional safety tips, see mndnr.gov/snowmobiling/safety.html.

January 14, 2019 - Rules and additional details released for CWD special hunt

First-come, first-served special permits for specific public land available starting Jan. 15

Hunters interested in another opportunity this winter to harvest deer can find details available online at mndnr.gov/cwd about a special hunt that takes place from Friday, Jan. 25, to Sunday, Jan. 27, and Friday, Feb. 1, to Sunday, Feb. 3, in deer permit area 346 in parts of Winona and Houston counties. 

The hunt, prompted by the discovery of chronic wasting disease in a wild deer taken in northern Houston County, is open to both residents and nonresidents. Hunters must present all deer they harvest, including fawns, for CWD sampling at one of five DNR-staffed stations:

  • Houston: BP Gas Station, 801 Highway 16.
  • Rushford: Pam’s Corner Convenience, 107 Highway 16.
  • Witoka: Witoka Tavern, 27999 County Road 9.
  • Winona: Mills Fleet Farm, 920 E. Highway 61.
  • La Crescent: Pump 4 Less (Mannings) Gas Station, 301 Kistler Drive.

DNR officials will be available at the registration locations between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Fridays through Sundays and until noon on Mondays. All deer must be presented the same day of harvest or no later than 10 a.m. Monday morning.

Hunters can move carcasses out of the permit area once they have brought the deer to a station so that DNR staff can take a sample. Although there are no carcass restrictions, hunters are asked to either leave the carcass in a place where it can be recovered, or dispose of the remains in household trash.

“Part of our coordinated effort to reduce risk includes responsibly managing carcass disposal,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager.

Among other rules, centerfire rifles are not allowed and blaze orange is required.

A limited number of special permits will be available on a first-come, first-served basis starting at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 15, for Great River Bluffs State Park, which includes King’s and Queen’s Bluffs Scientific and Natural Area. There is no fee for these permits, and hunters can obtain the permits online or wherever hunting licenses are sold.

During the hunt, the DNR will close the state park except to permitted hunters during the designated special hunt times. Hunters must possess a hunting permit for the park, a disease management tag and a valid state park pass to hunt in Great River Bluffs State Park, and must comply with all other park regulations. It will be a regular firearms hunt inside park boundaries; no crossbows are allowed.

Private land makes up most of the area within the hunt area and hunters must have landowner permission to hunt that land. Public lands including the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge will be open during the regular season are open during the special hunts. Interactive maps providing details about public lands are available on the DNR’s website.

Additional details about the hunt, including hunt rules and considerations, station locations for CWD sampling, a map of the hunt area, and information about the DNR’s efforts to keep Minnesota wild deer healthy can be found on the DNR’s website at mndnr.gov/cwd.

January 14, 2019 - Minnesotans age 16 or older fish free with kids Jan. 19-21

Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend is this Saturday, Jan. 19, through Monday, Jan. 21.
During the weekend, Minnesota residents age 16 or older can fish or dark-house spear without an angling or spearing license if they take a child younger than 16 fishing or spearing. 

“This weekend is a way to encourage anglers to take a kid fishing,” said Jeff Ledermann, education and skills team supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Ice fishing is a great way to get outdoors in winter.”

Before heading out, anglers or spearers should check ice conditions locally. Visit mndnr.gov/icesafety for ice safety guidelines and http://bit.ly/TakeaKidIceFishingWeekend for more information about taking kids fishing.

January 11, 2019 - Discover winter fun at Fort Snelling State Park on Saturday, Jan. 12

Equipment and instruction for a range of activities will be available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. as part of Winter Trails Day

Outdoors experts and enthusiasts will be on hand to promote winter fun during Winter Trails Day at Fort Snelling State Park on Saturday, Jan. 12, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Park visitors will have an opportunity to try a variety of winter activities, with equipment and instruction provided.

Guided nature hikes will take place every half hour, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Adults and kids also can try fat biking, tracking and archery. Between activities, visitors can enjoy hot cocoa around a crackling bonfire. Activities will be set up near the beach area.

Sign-language interpreters will be on hand to help make the day’s activities more accessible to those with hearing disabilities. Stop by the registration tent for more information.

“Winter is more fun when you find an activity you can enjoy alone or with others,” said Kelli Bruns, park manager at Fort Snelling State Park.

She said although there won’t likely be enough snow at Fort Snelling State Park to offer snowshoeing and cross-country skiing lessons during Winter Trails Day, visitors can rent equipment and learn how to use it at many Minnesota state parks and recreation areas.

For a list of the parks and recreation areas that rent skis and snowshoes, and weekly updates on statewide snow depth and trail conditions, visit the Winter Activities Guide on the DNR’s website.

Use of fat bikes and other equipment will be free, but a vehicle permit is required to enter Minnesota state parks and recreation areas ($7 for a one-day permit or $35 for a year-round permit).

Winter Trails Day is made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails Division, REI, Minneapolis Parks Connection, Northern Star Scouting, the Jeffers Foundation, the Loppet Foundation, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and others.

Save time, get vehicle permit in advance

Although permits are available at the park, people attending Winter Trails Day can avoid waiting in line by getting their permit in advance. Visit mndnr.gov/reservations, log in (or create an account), click on “entry permit,” select a duration of “one-day” ($7) or “year-round” ($35), and continue as directed. Registrants will receive an email with a permit that can be printed and displayed in their vehicle during their visit.

For more information, call the park at 612-725-2724 or contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).

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DNR News JAN 17th

Successful snowmobile rides start with safety mindset

DNR reminds snowmobile riders of safety tips ahead of Snowmobile Safety Awareness Week Snowmobile riders throughout the state would welcome a fresh round of snowfall, but despite less-than-ideal conditions in some areas, they’re hitting lakes and t...

Read More