DNR Northwest region celebrates accomplishments [UPDATED]Published 10:03am Tuesday, January 22, 2013 Updated 12:05pm Tuesday, January 22, 2013
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Northwest region is welcoming 2013 by reflecting back on its accomplishments in 2012. Despite some unforeseen challenges, thanks to Mother Nature, there were many achievements to celebrate.
Rapid response to blow downs, fires and aquatic invasive species reports commanded a great amount of time from all DNR divisions – Forestry, Fisheries, Ecological and Water Resources, Enforcement, Parks and Trails, Wildlife and Lands and Minerals. Workers from all divisions responded quickly and safely to protect northwestern Minnesota’s natural resources, its citizens and visitors.
Here are a few highlights from last year. Most of these projects couldn’t have been completed without the help of numerous organizations and local governmental units.
• Rapid and safe response to fires in northwestern Minnesota
Throughout the drought-ridden fall, numerous fires erupted in the region. DNR fire crews and crews from other divisions around the state responded immediately and worked tirelessly to battle the blazes without any reported injuries, underscoring the agency’s commitment to safety.
• Rapid and safe response to the Bemidji area blowdown
On Monday, July 2, a fast-moving storm raced through the Bemidji area, including Itasca State Park and La Salle Lake State Recreation Area, toppling trees and blocking roads. Numerous DNR division crews arrived within hours to clear debris and safety hazards from these parks and the surrounding state forest areas.
Itasca State Park remained open.
• Aquatic invasive species response
Throughout 2012, DNR staff was heavily involved in efforts to curb, investigate and assist in research to address aquatic invasive species (AIS) infestations in northwestern Minnesota. Staff responded quickly to reported discoveries; assisted the New York State Museum and USGS scientists with the Zequanox research study on treating zebra mussels; conducted volunteer and lake service provider training; provided public outreach, enforcement and monitoring programs; and worked cooperatively and collaboratively with local governments and entities throughout the region to address AIS issues.
Lake Christina water level management project in Douglas County
Lake Christina (4,100 acres) is nationally recognized as a critical staging area for migrating waterfowl and is one of the premiere duck marshes in the state. After a lengthy environmental review process, public input meetings and construction of a pump and drawdown system, the lake began its first drawdown to maintain the lake in a clear water state, providing critical migration habitat for waterfowl.
Christine-Hickson dams modification project
Christine and Hickson dams, located upstream from the Fargo-Moorhead area on Red River of the North, posed ecological and public safety problems to river users and migratory fish. The city of Fargo, which owns the dams, the Minnesota DNR and other partners worked together to modify these dams into rock-arch rapids that eliminated the dangerous hydraulic rollers, and provided a safer environment for river recreation. The action also opened migratory routes for many species of fish, and benefited efforts to restore native lake sturgeon in the Red River watershed.
Paul Bunyan State Trail Bridge installation in Bemidji
In 2012 nearly the entire Paul Bunyan State Trail was completed with the construction of the Paul Bunyan State Trail Bridge in Bemidji. The project was a cooperative effort between the city of Bemidji, DNR and Minnesota Department of Transportation and was funded by the 2011 legislative session through bonding. The bridge will enhance the trail system in Bemidji. It will provide a safe crossing at one of the busiest intersections in town and connect the city trail system to Bemidji State University, downtown Bemidji, the Sanford Center and Lake Bemidji State Park.
Aquatic management area (AMA)/scientific and natural area (SNA) dedications
Lester Lake SNA/AMA in Hubbard County encompasses 440 acres and includes Lester Lake, an undeveloped 70-acre lake surrounded by multiple upland and wetland native plant communities. It is recognized as an area of significant ecological value. The purchase was a cooperative effort with funding from the Kabekona Lake Foundation; Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources; and the Outdoor Heritage Fund, created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008. The amendment increased the sales tax by three-eighths of 1 percent. The fund receives one-third of the sales tax dollars and may only be spent to restore, protect and enhance wetlands, prairies, forest and habitat for game fish and wildlife.
Bad Medicine AMA in Becker County combines eight land parcels, representing about nine acres of land and 4,700 feet of shoreline. The area includes portions of a large peninsula, several smaller peninsulas and an island that will be preserved for aquatic habitat while providing public fishing opportunities. The project was funded by lake property owners, the Reinvest in Minnesota program and the Outdoor Heritage Fund.
Land asset management
The first joint pubic land auction between DNR and Roseau County was held Nov. 9 at the Roseau County courthouse. A total of 328 acres of state land was sold, with seven of the eight parcels being trust land. Future joint land auctions are being planned.