Snowmobile safety course to be held in Tower

There will be a Tower area snowmobile safety class offered by the Minnesota DNR and the Penguins Snowmobile Club on March 3.
There will be a field day for the Minnesota snowmobile safety course on March 3 at 9 a.m. until approximately 1p.m.
A knowledge test and information session will be set up in the morning and a skills test on operating will be set up immediately after.
• Youth ages 11 and older can attend a snowmobile safety certification course and receive their certificate. The snowmobile safety certificate becomes valid at age 12.
• DNR snowmobile safety certification is required of anyone born after December 31, 1976 to operate a snowmobile on public land in Minnesota
Students will need to complete the online snowmobile safety course before the start of the class on March 3.


MPCA proposes to deny Minntac draft water permit variance application

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will host a public hearing and take comments about its preliminary determination to deny U.S. Steel’s request for a water quality permit variance for its Minntac facility in Mountain Iron. The proposed permit variance relates to state water quality standards at the facility’s tailings basin.

The meeting will be held January twenty-third from four to six p.m. at the Mountain Iron Community Center, Iroquois Room, 8586 Enterprise Drive South, in Mountain Iron, Minnesota. The meeting agenda includes an MPCA staff presentation about the permit variance request, the agency’s preliminary determination to deny the variance request, and an opportunity to ask clarifying questions and/or make verbal comments. More information is available on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s website by searching for “Minntac variance.”


Notice of Draft Permit to Mine for PolyMet NorthMet Project

Public Comment Period Open Through March 6, DNR to hold 2 Public Meetings in February
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has opened a public comment and objection period on a draft permit to mine for the proposed Poly Met Mining, Inc. (PolyMet) NorthMet mining project. Following review of PolyMet’s permit to mine application, the DNR has prepared draft special conditions for the NorthMet project. Together, the application and the draft special conditions are considered the draft permit to mine. The draft permit to mine and several related fact sheets are posted on the DNR’s permit to mine webpage for the NorthMet project: www.dnr.state.mn.us/polymet/permitting/ptm.html.

Submitting Public Comments and Objections


Anonymous donor gives skis to children

SKIS FOR KIDS - Thanks to donations from the Ely Nordic Ski Club, the Central Cross Country Ski Association, and an anonymous donor, students in Washington Elementary will be joining the “Nordic Rocks” program this year. Thirty pairs of cross country skis and poles were purchased through the program, which was developed to introduce a new generation of children to the sort of cross country skiing. The ‘Nordic Rocks’ program provides elementary and middle school students an opportunity to experience Nordic skiing during the school day, with their teachers and classmates, and to learn the health and lifestyle benefits associated with exercise and outdoor winter fun during physical education and recess. Students are able to ski next to their school, on any surface covered with a minimum of two inches of snow. Welcoming the new skis Monday were kindergarten students Jovie Kessler, Nels Majerus, Amiah Brandau and Aiden Harding.


Ely resident appointed to DNR committee

The commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has appointed 11 Minnesotans to three-year terms on citizen oversight committees that monitor the agency’s fish and wildlife spending.
The appointees are responsible for reviewing the DNR’s annual Game and Fish Fund report in detail and, following discussions with agency leaders and others, prepare reports on their findings.
Appointed to the Wildlife Oversight Committee are Garry Hooghkirk, Duluth; Amanda Leabo, Fergus Falls; Mark Popovich, Welch; John Schnedler, Richfield; and Martha Taggett, Golden Valley.
Appointed to the Fisheries Oversight Committee are Karl Anderson, Greenbush; Jess Edberg, Ely; Nicole Hertel, Shoreview; Benjamin Kohn, Hudson; Mark Owens, Austin; and Craig Pagel, Duluth.
The new appointees join other members whose terms are continuing. The committees will resume work after the mid-December publication of the DNR’s Game and Fish Fund report for fiscal year 2017.


New northern pike fishing regulations coming in spring 2018

Anglers and spearers pursuing northern pike this winter can prepare for new pike regulations that will be in effect for the spring fishing opener on Minnesota’s inland waters.

“Pike regulations remain the same this winter, with major changes coming this spring,” said Chris Kavanaugh, northeast region fisheries manager. “As anglers continue fishing for pike, we encourage them to get used to measuring their catches and even consider keeping some of the smaller ones in the north-central part of the state.”

The new regulations on inland waters will be in effect starting March 1; however, fishing for northern pike is not allowed on these waters until the fishing opener on Saturday, May 12.


Forest Service lists rules for cutting Christmas trees

Cutting your own Christmas tree or balsam boughs on the Superior National Forest can be a festive outing during the holidays. The ritual of hiking through the woods with your family and friends to choose your personal tree or boughs can greatly enrich the holiday season.


Hunters register 70,724 deer during first weekend of season

Minnesota firearms hunters registered 70,724 deer during the first two days of deer season, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
Preliminary numbers from opening weekend show that the number of deer registered was essentially the same as from 2016. Of the deer harvested, 57 percent were bucks, compared to 67 percent of the first weekend harvest of 2016.
In Zone 1, in northeastern Minnesota, total firearms harvest was up 16 percent. In Zone 2, which covers the majority of the state and runs from Canada to Iowa, harvest was down 5 percent and Zone 3, in southeastern Minnesota, was down 20 percent.
“We expected to see an increased harvest this year, and that appears to be so in Zone 1. In the other zones where the first weekend harvest is off, it could be that the amount of standing corn negatively affected deer harvest,” said Steve Merchant, wildlife populations and regulations manager.


Whitefish, tullibee sport-netting to open Nov. 5 on Shagawa, Bear Island, Ojibway lakes

Whitefish, tullibee sport-netting to open on Shagawa, Bear Island, Ojibway lakes.
Dates have been set for recreational netting for whitefish and tullibee (cisco) on Shagawa, Bear Island and Ojibway lakes in the Tower fisheries work area, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

These lakes are Schedule I Lakes, which are more susceptible to sudden changes that impact water temperatures, and are opened and closed on a 48-hour notice posted at lake accesses, other public places, and the DNR website.

Schedule I Lakes (48 hour notice)

Shagawa, open to netting Sunday, Nov. 5 through Monday, Nov. 27, 2017 (minimum 3.5 inch mesh size)
Bear Island & Ojibway lakes, open to netting Saturday, Nov. 18 through Saturday, Dec. 18, 2017 (minimum 1.75 inch mesh size)
Shagawa Lake is designated as infested with spiny waterflea so netters are encouraged to review rules that help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.


Ely Field Naturalists Program Announcement

Sherry Abts’ Northeastern Minnesota Common Loon Report for 2017
The Ely Field Naturalists will sponsor a wrap-up of the 2017 Loon Season with a presentation by EFN’s appointed Loon Ranger, Sherry Abts. Sherry has years of experience observing loons, reporting observations, and working with researchers. Much of the information on loons in the Ely Area flows through Sherry and this will be her yearend revue. Vermilion Community College will host this Wednesday, November 8 meeting at 7:00 p.m. in Classroom CL104 at Vermilion Community College.


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