Forest Service closes Birch Lake campground and boat access for prescribed burn activities

The U.S. Forest Service has extended the closure of the Birch Lake campground and boat access while the agency conducts prescribed burns on the Kawishiwi Ranger District. The campground and boat access will be closed through Monday, May 10..
This treatment includes burning multiple units on the forest to reduce hazardous fuels in the greater Ely-area. Prescribed burns create fire-resistant forested areas that can reduce future wildfire intensity on the landscape. Prescribed fire helps reduce harvest slash and competing vegetation, while supporting natural regeneration of conifer species.
Forest visitors are encouraged to use other Superior National Forest and public campgrounds, and boat access for their recreational needs. Alternatives to the Birch Lake Campground and boat launch include:


Bear hunt applications available; deadline is May 7

Prospective bear hunters have through Friday, May 7, to apply for a bear hunting license. Applications for the 2021 season should be submitted online or via telephone at 888-665-4236.
A total of 3,575 licenses are available in 13 permit areas. The fee to apply is $5. Bear licenses cost $44 for residents and $230 for nonresidents. The season is open from Wednesday, Sept. 1, through Sunday, Oct. 17.
Lottery winners will be notified by June 1. The deadline to purchase licenses awarded by lottery will be Sunday, Aug. 1. Any remaining unpurchased licenses will be available starting at noon on Wednesday, Aug. 4.
The no-quota area that includes east-central and far northwestern Minnesota is not part of the lottery drawing and will have an unlimited number of licenses available.
Overall, bear permit numbers for quota areas have remained unchanged since last year to allow bear population numbers to gradually increase and support a robust bear population.


BWCA permit education changed for 2021

The U.S. Forest Service will be offering both virtual and in-person Leave No Trace/Tread Lightly education and permit issuance for Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) 2021 permit holders beginning on April 30. Permit holders must attend one education session to receive their permit.
Virtual education sessions will be offered via Adobe Connect every day of the week from April 30 to Sept. 30. Sessions are scheduled for 9 a.m. Permits will be issued the day before or the day of BWCA entry.
Permit holders who have selected an issuing station that is operating virtually must attend one virtual Leave No Trace/Tread Lightly education session to receive their permit via email from the Forest Service.
Permit holders will receive an email approximately seven days in advance of their entry date with a URL link to click to join an online session.
Permit holders will forward this email to alternates and group members to maximize group education opportunities.


Important reminder to drop the drones as the spring wildfire activity increases

Minnesota’s wildland fire management agencies have reported more than 500 wildland fires throughout the state that have burned nearly 20,000 acres since the beginning of March.
The increase in spring wildfire activity is occurring in the dryest parts of the state.
As snowpack has receded, wildfire activity has been most notable in grasses and marshland, with forested areas also a concern in northwest Minnesota.
Wildland firefighters and aircraft capable of dropping water and fire retardant are responding to these wildland fires and will continue efforts throughout the spring as vegetation greens up.
Wildland firefighter and public safety are always a top priority during any wildfire season.


Minnesota’s fishing opener is May 15 this year

Fishing seasons open for walleye, bass, trout in lakes, and northern pike on Saturday, May 15, with this year’s date taking the prize for the latest possible opener under Minnesota statute.
“We know there is some confusion about this year’s opener date,” said Jon Hansen, fisheries program consultant for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Minnesota statute sets the fishing opener as the Saturday two weeks prior to the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. This year, with Memorial Day the latest it can be, on May 31, that puts the fishing opener on Saturday, May 15.
Also related to May fishing, there is an error in the printed version of the Minnesota Fishing Regulations book regarding the dates for the 2021 Take a Mom Fishing Weekend.


Prescribed fires to begin on Superior National Forest

The Superior National Forest is planning to conduct a series of prescribed fires across the forest to improve and maintain forest health and wildlife habitat, and reduce hazardous fuel build up and the risk of intense wildfire. T
he meadow and forest ecosystems in northeastern Minnesota are fire-dependent and rely on periodic fires to stay healthy. Prescribed fires are carefully planned and managed to meet natural resource objectives in a safe, effective manner.
Depending on the fuels and weather conditions, the prescribed fire units could be burned starting as early as March 29 and all the way until June or July.
Prescribed fires are conducted by trained fire management professionals who have studied fire behavior and fire control techniques. These fire professionals help ensure the safety of the burn crew, nearby residents, and property. The window of opportunity for prescribed burning is very small.


Talking deer with Tom

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources invites the public to talk with DNR staff about deer on Wednesday, March 31. From noon until 8 p.m. on that day, wildlife managers throughout the state will be available to discuss deer-related topics with anyone who gives them a call.
For hunters that prefer to call (versus on-line input) to discuss the 2021 deer season, population status, (their) permit areas and antlerless permits, Wednesday March 31 from noon to 8 PM is the designated day. Tower area wildlife manager Tom Rusch will be in the Tower office from noon-8 p.m. to take calls at 218-300-7861.
This is in lieu of an annual post-winter in-person meeting held at Tower or Mt Iron in recent years. Please leave your name and phone number and he will return calls in the order that they are received.


DNR reminds Minnesotans to not import live crayfish for dining or bait

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reminding Minnesotans that it is illegal to import any species of live crayfish into the state. Some people import live crayfish for dining, for aquariums or for fishing bait, without realizing Minnesota is one of at least nine states that prohibit live crayfish imports.
“Some nonnative crayfish pose serious risks to Minnesota fish, wildlife and infrastructure,” said, Chelsey Blanke, DNR aquatic invasive species analyst. “They can destroy aquatic plant beds, displace native species, compete with fish for prey and cause major declines in amphibian, invertebrate and waterfowl populations.” Once introduced, invasive species of crayfish are extremely difficult to remove because they burrow into shorelines, which can also be damaging to nearby infrastructure.
Minnesotans have been doing a good job of keeping the highly destructive red swamp crayfish out of state waters.


Some lawmakers don’t think blaze pink passes muster on hunters, look to change 2017 law

by Nate Gotlieb
Session Daily
DFL lawmakers want to overturn the provision in a 2017 state law allowing blaze pink hunting clothing, out of concern the color is less visible than blaze orange.
HF1562, sponsored by Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul), would only allow blaze gear — required during Minnesota’s deer-hunting season — to be orange.
As amended, the bill, which also contains a number of other environmental policy provisions, was approved along party lines Tuesday by the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee.
Its companion, SF1533, is sponsored by Sen. Carrie Ruud (R-Breezy Point) and awaits action by the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Legacy Finance Committee.
Blaze gear increases visibility and helps prevent hunting-related shooting accidents.


DNR Conservation Officer weekly reports

District 6 - Two Harbors
CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) reports warmer weather and very little additional snow made for trail conditions that continued to deteriorate through the past week. In spite of those worsening conditions, trails were still passible but some spots have already worn down to bare ground. Violations included fishing without a license and snowmobile speed.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely #2) checked trout anglers this past week. Snowmobile riders were out with good trail conditions, which did not last with the warm weather. Velsvaag also took phone calls about fish house removal and litter.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) worked a snowmobile detail with several officers in Cook County. The trails are starting to deteriorate quickly with the lack of snow and warm weather. Time was also spent armoring handguns at Camp Ripley. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile, ATV and fishing violations.


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