Thursday, August 10, 2017

Ripe wild rice harvesting season opens in late August



Wild rice harvesting season opens annually between Aug. 15 and Sept. 30 and wildlife managers say it’s shaping up to be an excellent season this year.
More than 1,200 lakes and rivers in 54 counties contain wild rice, with concentrations of rice being the highest in Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Itasca and St. Louis counties. Harvestable stands of rice can be found from the Canadian border down to the metro area.
“Overall, wild rice is looking great across the state,” said Ann Geisen, wildlife lakes specialist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Some areas were affected by the cold spring or lots of rain. But for most areas it looks like it will be an outstanding year for rice harvesting.”
Peak harvesting dates are estimated to be in late August to early September as long as weather remains mild. Like other forms of gathering, finding a mentor who is willing to share their skills and knowledge can greatly improve success. Scouting lakes ahead of time can also be very helpful for finding harvestable stands of rice and to locate access sites.
Here are some updates from around the state:
  • Detroit Lakes – Everything looks good right now for a nice fall crop.
  • Park Rapids – Rice looks good on most local lakes and rivers.
  • Grand Rapids – Rice looks good; seems like the perfect growing year so far.
  • Tower – The rice crop will be average to below average due to abundant rain in June and July; plants are about 7-10 days behind schedule.
  • Bemidji – Rice is dense in most of the rice lakes and looks excellent.
  • Brainerd – Looks to be a good season this year; many of the area’s wild rice lakes will have good access and great rice for harvesting.
  • Little Falls – The unusually cold spring hurt the rice, resulting in delayed growth and below average stands.
  • Metro area – Rice is looking good to excellent.
Minnesota’s green rice law makes it illegal to harvest unripe or “green” rice. So even though rice beds may look like they are maturing well, ricers must make sure the grain is ripe before attempting to harvest it.
In addition to being a traditional food source for Minnesota’s early inhabitants and an important part of American Indian culture, wild rice is an important food staple for migrating waterfowl each fall. The growing plants also provide important habitat for fish and invertebrates.
A license is required to harvest wild rice, unless a harvester is a Minnesota resident age 17 or younger and is accompanied by a licensed harvester. Wild rice harvesting regulations are available at mndnr.gov/wildrice with management and harvesting information at mndnr.gov/shallowlakes.
The 1854 Treaty Authority website at 1854treatyauthority.org/wildrice provides updates from ground and aerial surveys on some lakes within the 1854 ceded territory in northeastern Minnesota. The aerial surveys are tentatively scheduled for mid- to late August; the results will be posted soon after.
Those interested in harvesting wild rice are reminded that it is unlawful to take wild rice grain from any of the waters within the original boundaries at the White Earth, Leech Lake, Nett Lake, Vermilion Lake, Grand Portage, Fond du Lac and Mille Lacs reservations except for American Indians or residents of the reservations listed.
In addition, all nontribal members wishing to harvest or buy wild rice within the boundaries of the Leech Lake Reservation must have Leech Lake Reservation permits.
Aquatic invasive species are a serious threat to Minnesota waters. Like any other water users, rice harvesters must follow cleaning protocols to avoid spreading invasive plants and animals, available at mndnr.gov/invasives/aquatic.
Harvesting licenses can be purchased online via desktop browser and smartphone at mndnr.gov/buyalicense or any DNR license agent. Funds from the sale of wild rice licenses support DNR management of wild rice, including managing water levels on wild rice lakes, improving or maintaining outlets and assessing habitat.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Livestock Grazing Tour

Attention all livestock producers…an educational tour is being held and there are still openings available.  Beltrami Soil and Water Conservation District, USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service and Giziibii Resource Conservation and Development Association are joining together to host a tour of local grazing systems in Beltrami County.  The tour will include several sites with rotational grazing systems that are in varying stages of completion (starting construction to 8+ years of established grazing management).  Information on maximizing forage production through proper grazing will be discussed.

Tour will be held on August 24th from 9 am to 4 pm.  Participants will travel by motor coach from Tenstrike Community Church to sites in the Blackduck area.  Lunch is included in the cost of registration.

Participants will learn techniques, sources for supplies, recommendations for quick success and a brief overview of local and federal resources available to help.  Pre-registration is required and must be completed by noon, August 17th.  Space is limited so do not wait!  Fee to attend is only $10.00 to cover expenses. 

To register, contact the Beltrami SWCD at 218-333-4158. 

This environmental learning opportunity is brought in partnership with Enbridge through an Ecofootprint grant funded to Giziibii RC&D.  Giziibii RC&D is a nonprofit organization serving the counties of Beltrami, Lake of the Woods and Mahnomen. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

MDA Encourages Farmers to Take Survey on Alleged Dicamba Damage



St. Paul, Minn. - The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is gathering information on plant damage that may have been caused by the use of the herbicide dicamba. The MDA is encouraging anyone with damage to completea survey. The survey will be open until September 15.

“We are trying to gather as much information on this issue as possible,” said Assistant Commissioner Susan Stokes. “Often, neighbors don’t want to file a formal complaint regarding crop damage against their neighbors. This survey, along with information we’re gathering from the product registrants, applicators, and farmers, will help us collect info to assess the scope of the situation. We’re asking for everyone’s cooperation on this issue."

Dicamba is a herbicide used to control broadleaf weeds in corn and a variety of other food and feed crops, as well as in residential areas. In 2016, the United States  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conditionally approved the use of certain new dicamba products on dicamba tolerant (DT) soybeans.

Dicamba is a highly volatile chemical that can drift and/or volatilize. Dicamba drift may cause unintended impacts such as serious damage to non-DT soybeans, other sensitive crops, and non-crop plants. This survey looks to gather information about these unintended impacts to other crops and plants.

As of Thursday, August 3, the MDA had received 102 reports of alleged dicamba damage; not all of those reports requested an investigation. Those who have already submitted a report to the MDA are encouraged to completethe survey.

If you believe dicamba was used in violation of the label or law, and you wish to request an MDA investigation, you will also need to complete the pesticidemisuse complaint form or call the Pesticide Misuse Complaint line at 651-201-6333.

You can find out more information on dicamba at http://www.mda.state.mn.us/dicamba.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

MnDOT accepting applications for Local Road Improvement Program funding



ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota cities, counties and townships can apply for funding support for transportation infrastructure projects on local roads as part of the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Local Road Improvement Program.

Approximately $25.3 million in bond funds is available for constructing or reconstructing local roads in 2018, 2019 or 2020. Funding may be requested for projects that will reduce traffic crashes on rural County State Aid Highways, for projects on local roads that have regional significance or for the local share of a trunk highway project.

Types of projects previously funded include roundabouts, pavement reconstruction, curve and roadway alignment, pavement resurfacing and reconditioning, and safety improvements such as turn lanes, traffic signals and rural intersection warning systems.

“This funding assists cities, counties and townships in paying costs associated with eliminating a transportation system deficiency. In turn, this program promotes local, regional or state economic development efforts and improves safety,” said Mitch Rasmussen, State Aid Division assistant commissioner.

Deadline for counties and state aid cities (population greater than 5,000) is Nov. 3, 2017.

Deadline for non-state aid cities and townships is Dec. 1, 2017.

The application and more information is available online at www.dot.state.mn.us/stateaid/lrip. Applications can be submitted electronically at saltirhelp.dot@state.mn.us.

Questions about the solicitation may be directed to Patti Loken at 651-366-3803 or Patti.Loken@state.mn.us.

Since the program was created in 2005, the Local Road Improvement Program has provided about $139.8 million in grant funds to 289 projects.