Recently in In the News Category

Your input is needed on new rules to protect the Mississippi River
Attend a public meeting on the draft MRCCA rules in July. Let's make sure the public's support for strong river protections is heard loud and clear by the DNR.

The DNR has released draft Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area (MRCCA) rules and opened their public comment period which will close August 15, 2014. Your voice, values, and concerns need to be heard to protect, enhance, and restore the Mississippi River corridor and the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA) in the Twin Cities area for generations to come.

Let your voice be heard!
1) Attend an upcoming DNR meeting
Three public information meetings are scheduled:

Wednesday, July 16th - 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Greenhaven Golf Course (courtesy of City of Anoka)
2800 Greenhaven Road, Anoka, MN 55303

Tuesday, July 22nd - 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Nova Classical Academy
1455 Victoria Way W., St. Paul, MN 55102

Thursday, July 24th - 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Schaar's Bluff Gathering Center (Spring Lake Park Reserve)
8395 127th Street E, Hastings, MN 55033

2) Submit written comments
For submission information and tips on written comments, please visit the DNR's site.

Interested in more information?
1) Visit FMR's Critical Area webpage

2) Contact us!
Irene Jones, River Corridor Director
651-222-2193 x11

Alicia Uzarek, Policy Advocate
651-222-2193 x29

Zebra mussels confirmed in Lake Melissa in Becker County

Zebra mussels have been confirmed in Lake Melissa, located southwest of Detroit Lakes in Becker County, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

A citizen discovered the zebra mussels earlier in the week while collecting shells on the south end of the lake, near the outlet structure.

"This is the first confirmed zebra mussel find in the Detroit Lakes area," said Barry Stratton, DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division, southern district manager. "We're extremely pleased that this discovery was reported so quickly and with such detail. The report included specific location information and photos that allowed us to respond immediately to the exact spot."

Following the confirmation, DNR staff conducted a search on Lake Sallie, which is upstream from Lake Melissa in west-central Minnesota. The crew inspected more than 700 items, but no zebra mussels were found. The DNR also briefly searched Mill Pond, downstream of Lake Melissa, and found nothing. Both lakes are connected to Lake Melissa via the Pelican River.

Due to their location downstream, Lake Melissa, Mill Pond and Minnow Pond (Buck's Mill Pond) will be designated as infested. All waters downstream of Mill Pond are already designated as infested with zebra mussels.

This latest zebra mussel discovery underscores the importance of the tax bill signed in May by Gov. Mark Dayton that adds an additional $10 million per year in state spending targeted to local governments for programs to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS).

"While this discovery is unfortunate, the AIS funding to our county couldn't have come at a better time," said Tera Guetter, Pelican River Watershed District administrator.

Zebra mussels are non-native species that can crowd out native mussels and compete for food sources with other aquatic animals such as larval fish. They attach to boat hulls and their shells may wash up onto beaches in large numbers.

Becker County officials, the Pelican River Watershed District, area lake organizations and the DNR are partnering to coordinate DNR inspectors and train volunteer inspectors to work at Lake Sallie and Lake Melissa boat accesses. The DNR will designate and post infested waters signs on Lake Melissa and Mill Pond. Becker County has temporarily closed the tram at Dunton Locks County Park between Lake Sallie and Muskrat Lake as a precautionary measure. Zebra mussel search efforts will continue in Lake Sallie and Muskrat Lake.

"These partnerships are critical to the invasive species fight," said Steve Skoog, Becker County Environmental Services administrator. "Our county AIS plan has been developed to deal with these situations and we need all eyes and ears and resources now to help us implement this plan."

The DNR also recently confirmed the presence of zebra mussels in Lake Ida near Alexandria in Douglas County and will designate it as infested, as well as Lake Charley and Lake Louise, which are both downstream from Lake Ida.

Preventing the spread of invasive species takes personal responsibility. Before leaving any water access or shoreland, boaters must remove all aquatic vegetation, dispose of bait, drain all water by removing drain plugs and keep drain plugs out while transporting watercraft.

More information about zebra mussels, how to inspect boats and other water-related equipment, and a current list of designated infested waters is available on the DNR website at

Getting Credit for Appreciating Nature

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Getting credit for appreciating nature
By Daily Staff, Published June 2, 2014
Community College Daily

‚ÄčIn 2010, Jennifer Braido and Kristen Genet, biology instructors at Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Minnesota, re-designed a field biology course to include a naturalist certification program and open it to the community.

Since then, more than 50 students and community members have become certified as Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers and completed various service learning projects that have provided innovative learning experiences for students and tangible benefits to the community. Projects have included:

Conducting a sugar maple tree inventory at local nature center
Designing interpretive signs for a local ecosystem science reserve and an environmental education area
Developing pre-K-12 curricular materials about Minnesota's gray wolf, porcupine and fox
Assembling enrichment materials for black bear, gray wolf and cougar enclosures
Investigating potential diseases of captive gray wolves as an undergraduate research project
Designed to develop a corps of well-informed citizens dedicated to conservation education and service in their communities, the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program is co-sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the University of Minnesota Extension. Almost every state in the U.S. has such a program, often developed in conjunction with universities and county extension offices. The programs are similar to the Master Gardeners Programs around the country.

Keeping in practice

Enrollees in the Anoka-Ramsey program receive many hours of classroom and field instruction. Upon graduating from training, master naturalists are expected to complete a number of hours of volunteer service in their first year and 20 hours annually thereafter along with annual continuing education requirements.

The program allows six spots for community members along with the 18 spots for Anoka-Ramsey students. That means community members can experience a college-level field biology course while earning the certification without paying college tuition.

"By incorporating this Master Naturalist Certification into our field biology course, we have expanded the age and socioeconomic range of volunteers for the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program to include a younger collegiate audience enthusiastic about conserving the state's natural resources and attracted community members who are not necessarily biology majors, but who may choose to continue taking additional courses here because of their positive experience in this course," Braido said.

One student, Brittany Pedersen, described her experience in capturing and banding birds.

"Mist netting is one of the safest ways to capture and band birds without harming the animal," she said. "Once they are banded, their migration patterns can be tracked. On campus, we captured chickadees, robins and nuthatches. I really enjoyed watching how the different birds reacted to being handled by humans; some of them were reasonably calm, while others were really aggressive."

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