MPCA to withdraw Wild Rice rulemaking

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is withdrawing the Wild Rice rule from the rulemaking process that it has been in for nearly a year.
“We’ve heard many, many voices, including the Administrative Law Judge on this topic, and the message is clear,” says MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine. “Although the science is accurate, when it comes to how best to apply the science and affordably implement the rule, we still have more work to do. So, the MPCA will withdraw it from the rulemaking process. We look forward to working with legislators over the next three weeks to determine an alternative path forward.”
Recent findings by an Administrative Law Judge and the ongoing expressions of concern from all sides led the agency to reevaluate their plans, according to Stine.


Nolan’s North Country Scenic Trails Bill passes House Natural Resources Committee

Bill would help put the finishing touches on a unified 4,600-mile national hiking trail system from North Dakota to New England and the East Coast
The House Natural Resources Committee today unanimously passed U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan’s bipartisan bill (H.R. 1026) to incorporate the more than 400 miles of Superior Hiking Trail, Border Route Trail and the Kekekabic Trail into the North Country National Scenic Trail. The measure, which will proceed to the full House for final passage, brings the trail’s total length to approximately 4,600 miles and extends the route into Vermont from its current terminus near Crown Point, NY.
Nolan noted that the plan doesn’t involve any new dollars or require taking any land through eminent domain or condemnation. The new route skirts around and protects about 100 miles of environmentally sensitive bogs and wetlands that had been included in an earlier suggested route but had not been built.


Public comment sought on Minnesota’s first deer plan

The Minnesota DNR has released a draft copy of a statewide deer plan. An open house will be held Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. at the in Mt. Iron.
For hunters in the northeast portion of the state, the plan puts moose over deer. The DNR will continue to set low deer population goals wherever moose are present.
“From a moose management perspective, the most feasible and potentially effective management strategy to reduce this negative impact on the moose population is to maintain deer densities on their shared range as low as practical,” the plan states.
Anyone interested in deer can comment on Minnesota’s draft statewide deer management plan now through Wednesday, May 9.
Comments can be submitted online at mndnr.gov/deerplan or at the 35 public open houses being held around the state in April where people can talk to wildlife managers, ask questions and provide input.


On the lookout

UP A TREE and up the Fernberg Trail was this handsome pine marten. Photo by Pam Roberts


Bear hunt applications available; May 4 deadline

Applications for bear hunting licenses are being accepted now through Friday, May 4, wherever Minnesota hunting and fishing license are sold, online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense and by telephone at 888-665-4236.
A total of 3,350 licenses are available in 13 permit areas. Bear licenses cost $44 for residents and $230 for nonresidents, and there is a $5 application fee. The season is open from Saturday, Sept. 1, through Sunday, Oct. 14.
Notification to lottery winners will be made by Friday, June 1. The deadline to purchase licenses awarded by lottery will be Wednesday, Aug. 1. Any remaining unpurchased licenses will be available over the counter starting at noon on Monday, Aug. 6.
An unlimited number of bear licenses will be sold over-the-counter for the no-quota area that includes east-central and far northwestern Minnesota. No-quota licenses are valid only in the no-quota area. Hunters with a no-quota license can harvest one bear.


New northern pike fishing regulations here for opener

New regulations for catching and keeping northern pike will be the most significant change anglers will see when they open up the 2018 Minnesota Fishing Regulations Booklet being distributed throughout the state.
“Anyone who wants to keep pike in Minnesota’s inland waters needs to take a close look at these regulations and be prepared to measure the pike they want to keep starting on the Saturday, May 12, fishing opener,” said Al Stevens, fisheries program consultant with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The new fishing regulations have three distinct zones to address the different characteristics of pike populations in Minnesota. While not designed to manage for trophy pike, the new regulations are meant to restore pike populations for better harvest opportunities across the state for sizes that make good table fare, up to around 28 inches or so.


Sheriff's Office issues warning about water skipping snowmobiles

The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office, in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, is issuing a public notice to those that plan on participating in any water skipping activities that this practice is not allowed and those participating will be cited under Minnesota Statute 84.87 Sub 2 which states: It shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate any snowmobile in the following unsafe or harassing ways:
• at a rate of speed greater than reasonable or proper under all the surrounding circumstances;
• in a careless, reckless or negligent manner so as to endanger the person or property of another or to cause injury or damage thereto;
• without a lighted head and taillight when required for safety; or
• in any tree nursery or planting in a manner which damages or destroys growing stock


Another walking adventure for Steve Cole

by Anne Swenson
On February 12, Steve Cole of Ely started his hike to International Falls, arriving in the Falls 12 days later. He started from Lake Vermilion pulling a sled with his all his supplies, following snowmobile trails to get there.
Cole keeps a diary of sorts, noting his progress. In it he noted that this is his third hike.
He started at Oak Narrows, hoping to stay at Gruben’s, but ended up that night sleeping on the ice. A couple times he got rides from pickup truck drivers. From the Vermilion Hotel in Cook he got a ride to Elbow Lake and then walked to the Ban Lake Trail where he pitched his tent.
By day four, he hiked on the Arrowhead Trail most of the day. The next day he made it to Melgeorge’s Resort where he stayed for the day and ate at the restaurant there.
By day seven, Cole faced snow much of the day over the 16 miles but managed to find the Black Duck River Shelter as it got dark.


DNR seeks comment on area lake management plans

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Tower area fisheries is seeking comments through Friday, March 30 on management plans for a number of area lakes.

Management plans describe the past, present and desired future conditions of the fishery and identify specific management activities planned for that lake in the next five to 20 years. The plans include background on the water body including water chemistry, temperature, habitat quality and species present, and are important in understanding the potential of a fishery.


Spring is coming to the northland

A nesting pair of eagles, over Birch Lake, passing each other at the bottom of a loop in their aerial courtship dance. Photo by Pete Pastika.


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