June 24, 2019 - DNR seeking comments on transmission line environmental review document

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is accepting comments through July 24 on an environmental assessment worksheet for a proposed electric transmission line and substation in Itasca County.

Great River Energy proposes to construct a 14-mile, 69-kilovolt transmission line that would connect to a new substation built by North Itasca Electric Cooperative northeast of Brush Shanty Lake. The project would address electrical reliability and low voltage concerns and provide capacity for growth in the project area.

The EAW is available to review on the DNR website. 

A hard copy may be requested by calling 651-259-5115.

The EAW is also available for review at:

  • DNR Library, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155.
  • Headwaters Regional Development Commission, 403 Fourth St. NW, Bemidji, MN 56619.
  • Hennepin County – Minneapolis Central Library, Government Documents, Second Floor, 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1992.
  • Bemidji Public Library, 520 America Ave. NW, Bemidji, MN 56601.
  • Grand Rapids Area Library, 140 NE 2nd St., Grand Rapids, MN 55744.

The EAW notice was published in the June 24 EQB Monitor, a publication of the Environmental Quality Board. Written comments on the EAW may be submitted no later than 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, to the attention of Cynthia Novak-Krebs, EAW project manager, Environmental Policy and Review Unit, DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4025.

Electronic or email comments may be sent to environmentalrev.dnr@state.mn.us.Use “Scenic 69kV” in the subject line. Providing the commenter’s name and mailing address would allow the DNR to follow up with any questions if needed. Written comments may also be sent by fax to 651-296-1811.

June 21, 2019 - 4 invasive carp confirmed in Minnesota waters

Latest fish captures do not indicate reproduction

 The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed the capture of a bighead carp and two silver carp, and detection of a third, tagged silver carp, within the past several weeks. The bighead carp was captured at the Xcel Energy King Power Plant in Oak Park Heights. All of the silver carp were in Pool 4 of the Mississippi River between Red Wing and Wabasha in southeastern Minnesota. 

Bighead carp

“The DNR has confirmed between two and seven individual invasive carp captures each spring since 2013,” said DNR invasive fish coordinator Nick Frohnauer. “It is unusual that several of a single species would be captured in a short span of time. But, given the persistent high water this spring, this is not a surprise.”

Frohnauer noted that while the DNR continues to be very concerned about the potential impacts of invasive carp in Minnesota waters, individual adult fish captures do not indicate reproduction or an established population of invasive carp in the Mississippi River or elsewhere in the state.

Persistent high water in southern Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois has created “open river” conditions in which fish can move upriver unimpeded by locks and dams. Open river conditions can be beneficial to native species like lake sturgeon and paddlefish, which can swim hundreds of miles in search of preferable habitat. These conditions also allow other, non-native species to move upriver more easily.

A DNR telemetry array detected a silver carp in Pool 4 that was originally tagged much farther south, in Pool 16, in April 2017 by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). A silver carp was caught by an angler in Pool 4 May 24, and another was captured in Pool 4 June 4 by Xcel Energy. The bighead carp was captured on Thursday, June 20 during routine monitoring conducted by the DNR.

Fish telemetry in Minnesota started as a small system to better understand fish passage at Lock and Dams 1 and 2 in the Twin Cities. The DNR expanded the system farther downstream and into the Minnesota and St. Croix rivers, to better understand fish movements in Minnesota’s big rivers. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) then connected Minnesota’s array with a Missouri array at Lock and Dam 19, in Keokuk, Iowa, in the southeastern part of the state. This Upper Mississippi array has been valuable in understanding large-scale movements of native fish and movement patterns of invasive carp.

In 2018, the USFWS provided funding for a dedicated invasive carp tracking crew to enhance Minnesota’s telemetry project. This crew will work to find the invasive carp detected by the telemetry array. If the fish is located in Minnesota waters, the DNR will work with the USFWS and USGS to deploy nets and other sampling methods in the location of detection.

Invasive carp have been progressing upstream since escaping into the Mississippi River in the 1970s. These large fish compete with native species and pose a threat to rivers and lakes. No breeding populations have been detected in Minnesota waters. Individual invasive carp have been caught as far upstream in Mississippi River Pool 2 near the Twin Cities (bighead, grass, and silver), the King Power Plant on the St. Croix River by Oak Park Heights (bighead), and just downstream of Granite Falls in the Minnesota River (bighead).

The DNR Invasive Species Program has built partnerships with state and federal agencies, conservation groups, university researchers and commercial businesses to prevent the spread of invasive carp. The 2015 closure of the Mississippi River lock at Upper St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis was a major accomplishment of these efforts.

The DNR is actively engaged with several prevention efforts.

  • The DNR is an active partner in the Upper Mississippi River Invasive Carp Workgroup. The group includes representatives from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and several federal agencies.
  • In partnership with the DNR, the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center at the University of Minnesota is testing and evaluating carp deterrents in Mississippi River locks and dams. Previously, they had installed and evaluated a speaker system at Lock 8. Development of this technology will continue this year with the installation of an updated speaker system at this location.
  • The DNR’s Fish and Wildlife Division leads a comprehensive sampling program to monitor fish population changes and impacts of management actions. This includes maintaining important relationships with commercial fishers and the angling public.

The Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund and Outdoor Heritage Fund, have provided key funding for deterrent actions and the DNR invasive carp detection and response program.

Invasive carp captures must be reported to the DNR immediately. Call 651-587-2781 or email invasivecarp.dnr@state.mn.us. Take a photo and transport the carp to the nearest DNR fisheries office or make arrangements for it to be picked up by a DNR official.

For more information about invasive carp in the United States and in Minnesota go to mndnr.gov/invasive-carp.

June 21, 2019 - Pollinators are key to Minnesota’s environmental health

Without them, we wouldn’t have some of our favorite foods. They are vital to a healthy environment. They’re also beautiful and fascinating to watch. They’re pollinators, and this week is dedicated to understanding, appreciating and helping them. 

Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are needed to pollinate plants that provide Minnesota food crops such as fruits, vegetables and herbs. Some of these foods are important for wildlife, too. Black bears, for example, eat raspberries that are pollinated by bumble bees. Honey bees and native pollinators contribute millions of dollars to Minnesota’s agricultural economy.

Pollinators play a critical role in keeping our environment healthy. They help maintain the health of the many plants that stabilize the soil and prevent erosion. These plants also buffer waterways, store carbon, and provide habitat for other wildlife. Plus, flowering landscapes are beautiful. Without pollinators, our environment would look very different.

“Pollinators are so important, not just to flowers but to our whole environment, and there are many simple things Minnesotans can do to help pollinators,” said DNR invertebrate ecologist Jessica Petersen.

To help pollinators:

  • Plant a variety of flowers, especially those that are native to the area.
  • Keep gardens blooming all season long; choose plants that provide pollen and nectar in the spring, summer and fall.
  • Provide nesting sites by allowing dead branches and logs to remain, leaving bare earth for ground-nesting insects, or installing bee nesting blocks.
  • Reduce pesticide use.
  • Become a citizen scientist and help researchers collect data about pollinators and their habitat.
  • Tell friends and family about pollinators and inspire them to take action.

A list of pollinator resources is available on the DNR website.

June 20, 2019 - State records topple for 2 species of Minnesota fish

Anglers have set new Minnesota state records for whitefish and golden redhorse.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources certified a record 13 pound, 9 ounce whitefish caught by an Oklahoma angler ice fishing on Lake of the Woods, and a 4 pound, 13 ounce golden redhorse caught by an angler who beat his own state record. 

The DNR certifies state record fish in two categories: for fish caught and kept; and for caught and released northern pike, muskellunge, lake sturgeon and flathead catfish.

The Oklahoma angler, Billy King, was getting an introduction to Minnesota ice fishing with two other anglers April 6. They were catching walleye, sauger, and tulibee, and in the evening were fishing near a sandbar for the sunset walleye bite on Lake of the Woods.

Despite the others initially catching more fish, King stuck to his spot on the ice and was rewarded with not only the biggest walleye of the day, but soon after, the huge whitefish.

“This turned out to be the trip of a lifetime and I have to say that everyone was so nice. Not just in relation to the potential new state record but everyone was so polite and welcoming. It made the trip all the more enjoyable,” King said.

Golden redhorse
Ethan Rasset – already a state record holder for golden redhorse – was fishing for redhorse March 24 on the Otter Tail River with a friend from college.

Rasset caught the record 4 pound, 13 ounce fish with a chartreuse curly-tail artificial lure, on a shallow flat with rubble that had produced a few smaller golden redhorse earlier in the morning.

His previous record was a 4-pound, 8-ounce golden redhorse he caught in April 2018 on the Otter Tail River. Rasset said he was quite excited when he suspected he may have broken his own record.

“Very few people can say they have broken a state record twice!” Rasset said.

Current records and information about how to submit documentation for a record fish are available at mndnr.gov/recordfish.

News & Events AUG 25th

Starry Stonewort in Pleasant Lake

Starry Stonewort has now infested Pleasant Lake (Annandale, MN).  See attached article from August 11, 2018:  startribune.com/Starry Stonewort Infests Wright County Lake

No Starry Stonewort found in Lake Augusta by LimnoPro Aquatic Science during recent inspection:  AISEDS Lake Augusta, 8-24-2018_1.pdf

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Local News JUN 24th

DNR seeking comments on transmission line environmental review document

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is accepting comments through July 24 on an environmental assessment worksheet for a proposed electric transmission line and substation in Itasca County. Great River Energy proposes to construct a 14-mile...

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