Monday, December 30, 2013

Minnesotans age 16 or older fish free with kids Jan. 18-20

Minnesotans age 16 or older can try ice fishing or spear fishing without purchasing an angling or spearing license if they take a child younger than 16 fishing during Take-A-Kid Ice Fishing Weekend Saturday, Jan. 18 through Monday, Jan. 20, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

“Take-A-Kid Ice Fishing Weekend is a great opportunity for family and friends to get those special kids in their life outdoors enjoying the fun and beauty of a Minnesota winter,” said Roland Sigurdson, DNR aquatic education supervisor. “What better way to celebrate our winter heritage than by passing on the tradition of ice fishing.”

Ice fishing presents some unique challenges, but with basic equipment, a few skills, and good planning, ice fishing can be easy, enjoyable and exciting.

Here are key ice fishing tips from DNR’s MinnAqua program, which provides resources to teach fishing skills, aquatic ecology and conservation stewardship of our lakes and rivers:

  • Dressing in layers is the best way to deal with winter’s icy chill. Layers keep you warm in cold conditions by creating pockets of warm air and helping moisture evaporate.
  • Portable ice shelters can increase the enjoyment of the experience by keeping kids warmer.
  • Plan for a shorter, quality experience that will make a happier memory. Cold, bored kids don’t ask to go again.
  • Bring snacks and warm beverages to make a comfortable experience.
  • Bring a variety of baits to increase chances of success.

More tips are available online at

Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring coordinator and Mike “Smitty” Smith from the “Ice Team” share insights and information about kids, mentoring and ice fishing in an online podcast audio program available on DNR website at

Additional Resources:

Let’s Go Ice Fishing:

MN State Park & Trails offer "First Day Hikes"

Looking for an invigorating way to kick off the New Year? The Department of Natural Resources encourages people to ring in 2014 with a First Day Hike on Wednesday, Jan. 1, at a state park or trail. All 50 states are participating in the third annual event that invites everyone to celebrate the New Year amid the sights, sounds and wonder of the natural world with fun, guided hikes.

“We have five First Day Hikes taking place at Minnesota state parks and trails on New Year’s Day,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division, “but if you can’t make it to one of those events, remember that Minnesota state parks and trails are open every day, even in winter, so come out and hike whenever and wherever it’s most convenient.”

Check out the maps online or ask a staff person to recommend a route. "They know best, and we want you to have a good time so you come back,” Nelson said.

First Day Hikes will take place in Minnesota on Jan. 1, at:

  • Afton State Park (Hastings) 10-11:30 a.m.: Join naturalist to find one thing that inspires, intrigues or increases awareness of the natural world.
  • Gateway State Trail (St. Paul), 2-3:30 p.m.: This naturalist-led hike will take place on a paved trail through a scenic part of metro area. Meet in the parking lot of the Ramsey County District Court building at 2050 White Bear Ave.
  • Jay Cooke State Park (Carlton), 1-2:30 p.m.: A naturalist will lead a snowshoe hike through the park (child and adult snowshoe rentals are available; call ahead to reserve a pair, 218-384-4610, ext. 229). Meet at the River Inn Interpretive Center.
  • Lake Carlos State Park (Alexandria), 1-2:30 p.m.: A naturalist will guide hikers through the park and talk about its history, natural resources and cultural significance. Bring snowshoes if conditions warrant (rentals are available; call ahead to reserve a pair, 320-852-7200. Meet at the Lake View Group Camp (near the beach). 
  • Minneopa State Park (Mankato), 10-11:30 a.m.: Learn natural and historic facts about area on a naturalist-led hike from the group campground to the confluence of Minneopa Creek and the Minnesota River. Meet at picnic shelter on falls side of park.

A vehicle permit is required to enter Minnesota state parks ($5 for a one-day permit or $25 for a year-round permit). Those who don’t already have a Minnesota state parks vehicle permit ( can purchase one at any of the parks.

Last year, First Day Hikes hosted 22,000 people, who covered nearly 44,000 miles in 700 state parks all across the country, according to Priscilla Geigis, president of the National Association of State Park Directors.

“These family-friendly outings provide a great chance to get outside and experience the beauty of our parks, stay fit and build lasting traditions with loved ones,” Geigis said.

First Day Hikes originated more than 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation — a state park in Milton, Mass.
America's State Parks and American Hiking Society are teaming up to promote these hikes as a healthy and memorable way to start the New Year.

For cold weather hiking tips, visit

For more information, visit or contact the DNR Information Center at or call 651-296-6157, toll-free 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and
4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Friday, December 27, 2013

New law requiring greater radon disclosure during home sales begins in January

A new law requiring more detailed disclosure and information about radon in Minnesota homes during most residential real estate transactions will go into effect January 1, 2014, state health officials said today.

The Minnesota Radon Awareness Act requires sellers to inform buyers whether their home has been tested for radon and if so, what the levels are and whether the home has been mitigated for radon.

Radon is the leading environmental cause of cancer deaths in the United States and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. More than 21,000 lung cancer deaths are attributed to radon each year in the U.S.

Fortunately, the risk is largely preventable, by testing homes and fixing radon problems. About 2 in 5 Minnesota homes have dangerous levels of radon gas and state health officials say every home should be tested.

Radon is an odorless, colorless and tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally in Minnesota soils. It can enter into all kinds of homes through cracks or openings in walls or foundations. The only way for residents to know if their home has radon is to test.

According to the new disclosure law, sellers will need to provide three kinds of information to buyers before signing a purchase agreement to sell or transfer residential property:

A radon disclosure form that includes a.) whether a radon test has occurred; b.) records of radon concentrations; c.) a description of any radon concentrations, mitigation, or remediation; and d.) information regarding the radon mitigation system.

A radon warning statement outlining the health risks of radon, the potential for radon in Minnesota homes and recommending testing.

A two-page publication entitled "Radon in Real Estate Transactions" that provides more details on radon topics.

Considering that there are approximately 100,000 home sales per year in Minnesota, increasing radon awareness during real estate transactions has the potential to increase radon testing and mitigation of homes significantly, according to indoor air specialists at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). "This law will help improve the health and safety of Minnesotans by informing home buyers about the harmful effects of radon gas at the point of sale," said Dan Tranter, indoor air program supervisor for MDH. "This allows potential buyers to be educated on radon and to request a radon test be performed on the property in a similar manner as home inspections are requested and conducted."

Experience in others states has shown that once a buyer is aware of a radon problem, many will elect to install a radon reduction system, Tranter said. In Illinois, the rate of homes tested during real estate transactions increased 400 percent after the passage of that state's radon awareness act. Currently, about 30 percent of home sales in Illinois have a radon test conducted during the purchase process.

Radon tests can be incorporated into a home inspection. The law does not require radon testing or mitigation; only disclosure of whether testing or mitigation of the home has been done.

Testing is easy, inexpensive and only takes 3-5 days. The best time to test is during the heating seasons, but testing can be done year-round. Test kits are available at city and county health departments, many hardware stores, or directly from radon testing laboratories. A list of participating health agencies and test kit vendors can be found on the MDH website at

Tests should be done in the lowest level of the home that is frequently occupied. If your home's level is at or above 4 piC/L, you should consider verification testing and having a radon mitigation system installed. Anyone interested in mitigating his or her home for radon should consult MDH's list of certified radon mitigation contractors at

January is National Radon Action Month and Gov. Mark Dayton has proclaimed it Radon Action Month in Minnesota. During the month of January, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is sponsoring radio ads in the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota to encourage people to test their homes. In addition, MDH has partnered with local public health departments to make test kits available to local residents at low or no cost.
For more information on radon testing and mitigation visit or call the Minnesota Department of Health Indoor Air Unit at 651-201-4601 or 1-800-798-9050. To see how radon has affected the lives of cancer patients and their families visit

DNR closes wolf season in northwestern Minnesota

The 2014 wolf hunting and trapping season in northwestern Minnesota closes at the end of shooting hours on Friday, Dec. 27, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

By Thursday evening, Dec. 26, hunters and trappers had harvested 86 wolves, three wolves short of the northwest wolf zone’s harvest target. DNR officials called for the closure anticipating that the target harvest would be met by the end of Friday, Dec. 27. 

Wolf hunting and trapping continues in the east-central wolf zone for anyone with a valid license. The late season in the east-central zone is scheduled to end on Friday, Jan. 31, or whenever the target harvest is expected to be met, whichever comes first.

As of Dec. 27, hunters and trappers had harvested five wolves in the east-central zone during the late season.

The late wolf season closed in the northeast zone on Dec. 18; hunters harvested 37 wolves. During the early hunting season, which concluded Nov. 25, hunters harvested 32 of 33 wolves in the northeast; 56 of 73 wolves in the northwest; and no wolves in the east-central zone.
Complete wolf hunting information, including a map of the wolf zones, is available online at Information about wolf management is available online at

Monday, December 23, 2013

MN Dept of Revenue names Jenny Starr as Senior Manager for Tax Policy

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Revenue announced today that Jenny Starr was named Senior Manager for Tax Policy. Starr will lead the department’s tax policy operations and manage the tax policy development process between the department and the legislature beginning Jan. 4, 2014. She will report to the Deputy Commissioner.

“Jenny is a bright, articulate, effective leader who will hit the ground running as a leader of the department’s tax policy functions,” said Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans. “She has great people skills, a pragmatic vision for tax policy, and a passion for making government better for Minnesota taxpayers.”

Starr has been with the department since 2007 and is currently the lead attorney in the areas of corporate franchise, estate, and gift taxes. She is also an adjunct professor at William Mitchell College of Law. Prior to joining the Minnesota Department of Revenue, Starr provided free legal services to indigent residents of Dakota County as a staff attorney and volunteer programs manager at Legal Assistance of Dakota County.

Starr holds a Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the University of Minnesota Law School and a Bachelors Degree from the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts. She is married with one child and lives in St. Paul.

In November, Susan Von Mosch announced her retirement from the Department of Revenue after 32 years of dedicated public service to state and local government in Minnesota. Susan has been a recognized, thoughtful leader on tax and budget policy for many years and played an integral role in the enactment of significant tax reforms in 2013.

MnDOT releases final Minnesota 20-year State Highway Investment Plan

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota 20-year State Highway Investment Plan has been finalized and is available online, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. MnSHIP connects the Minnesota GO 50-year vision and policies established in the Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan to capital improvements on the state highway system.

“This plan is the result of extensive collaboration among MnDOT, residents, stakeholders and partners throughout Minnesota,” said Charlie Zelle, MnDOT Commissioner. “The success of Minnesota’s transportation system depends on the coordinated efforts of many public and private providers. The investment priorities outlined in MnSHIP provide a framework for MnDOT’s contribution to those efforts.”

MnSHIP establishes priorities for spending projected capital revenue on the state highway system, a 12,000-mile network that plays a critical role in supporting the state’s economy and quality of life. MnSHIP is a fiscally constrained plan, meaning its planned expenditures must align with expected revenues, which total $18 billion. Meanwhile, projected transportation needs on the state highway system during the next 20 years total $30 billion.

MnDOT considers many factors when setting priorities, including federal and state law, system conditions and public input. Priorities for the next 10 years balance preservation of existing roads and bridges with investments in safety, new connections for multiple modes of transportation, and other projects that advance economic development and quality of life objectives. Investments in the second 10 years focus almost exclusively on preserving existing infrastructure. Even with this focus, the number of roads and bridges in poor condition will more than double, and perhaps triple, within 20 years.

“The investment priorities in MnSHIP illustrate the increasing constraints on highway planning in Minnesota. Growth in construction costs continues to outpace growth in revenue and, as the highway system ages, needs are increasing,” Zelle said. “In particular, investments in the second 10 years do not address many system needs.”

MnSHIP also outlines the targeted actions and strategies MnDOT will pursue to stretch available revenue and how MnDOT will seek to leverage available revenues to achieve multiple purposes. “MnDOT will continue to explore innovative methods to use funds efficiently,” Zelle added. “With our partners, we can continue to build and maintain a multimodal transportation system that achieves the Minnesota GO Vision.”

To view the final plan, visit the MnSHIP website at

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

MnDOT reminds property owners of reflector requirements along highways

 DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – Property owners along state highways are reminded to use only blue or clear reflectors when marking driveway entrances and other objects on highway rights of way, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. 

People installing reflectors on the highway right of way need to follow these guidelines:

·         Reflectors posted near mailboxes and driveways should be blue or clear in color and at least three inches wide.

·         Reflectors should be double-sided and positioned so they can be seen from both directions.

·         Driveway reflectors should be posted at least 12 feet from the outside edge of the shoulder and no more than five feet above the ground to reduce the chances of being covered by snow when the road is plowed.

·         Reflectors should never be placed on mailboxes or permanent posts, including red and orange colored reflectors and any type of reflective tape. Motorists may confuse reflectors with vehicle lights

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Precision Agriculture Summit Set for Jamestown Jan. 20-21

The Red River Valley Research Corridor has scheduled the third annual Precision Agriculture Summit at the Farmers Union Conference Center in Jamestown on Jan. 20-21, 2014.

The Precision Agriculture Summit is organized by the Red River Valley Research Corridor, North Dakota Farmers Union, Lake Region State College's Dakota Precision Ag Center and North Dakota State University's Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering.

John Nowatzki, NDSU Extension Service agricultural machine systems specialist, is collaborating with others to plan the summit and will be moderating crop precision technology sessions.

"The summit is intended to be an opportunity for sharing precision agriculture research, technology and needs among farmers, industry, consultants and university personnel," Nowatzki says. "The 2014 summit agenda includes concurrent crop and livestock precision technology tracks. Parts of the agenda are arranged for both tracks to come together for presentations applying to all areas of precision agriculture."

The main agenda focuses on new trends in precision agriculture technology, such as Google Glass, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and the economics of precision agriculture. Presenters from Boeing Corporation and Trimble Navigation will discuss their work with unmanned aircraft systems in agriculture.

Topics and presenters include:

* Google Glass precision agricultural applications - Jeff Caldwell, and Successful Farming magazine multimedia editor, and Bruce Rasa, Inventive Branding managing consultant

* Macro and micro economics of current precision agriculture technologies - Craig Smith, Fort Hayes State University, and David Roberts, NDSU assistant professor

* UAS applications in crop and livestock production - Kevin Price, Kansas State University

* North Dakota UAS roadmap to establish a test site for the integration of unmanned systems into the national airspace - Bob Becklund, Northern Plains Unmanned Systems Authority executive director

* Overview of available UAS equipment and services - Ryan Jensen, HoneyComb UAS, and Mitchel Fiene, DMZ Aerial

* Available cameras and sensor technologies for use on UAS - David Dvorak, Field of View

* Moderator for the livestock precision agriculture track agenda - J.W Schroeder, NDSU Extension diary specialist

* Michigan animal tracking system - Daniel Buskirk, Michigan State University beef cattle nutrition specialist

* Use of electronic animal sensors for making comparisons of animal lying, temperature and rumination and the use of 3D cameras to measure feed intake and animal body conditions -Amanda Sterrett, University of entucky graduate research assistant

* Current technology in cattle genetics - Lauren Hanna, NDSU Animal Sciences assistant professor

* Cattle reproduction technologies - Carl Dahlen, NDSU Extension beef cattle specialist

* Automated milking and feeding systems for cattle - James Salfer, University of Minnesota Extension educator

* Dealing with soil variability - Dave Franzen, NDSU Extension Service soil science specialist

* Accounting for soil salinity in zone management - Abbey Wick, NDSU Extension soil health specialist and assistant professor

* Optical reflectance sensing of soil variability - Ken Sudduth, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service

* Current status and future trends in precision pesticide applications - Erdal Ozkan, Ohio State University Extension

Speakers from commercial companies will discuss current services for making detailed crop prescription maps and precision sprayer technology. The agenda includes presenters from Monsanto, WinField Solutions, Pioneer, Hagie, Titan Machinery and John Deere.

Sreekala Bajwa, NDSU Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department chair, will conclude the summit with a presentation titled "A Systems Approach to Precision Ag in North Dakota Today and Tomorrow."

For more information or to register, visit the Red River Valley Research Corridor website at or contact Ryan Aasheim at (701) 499-6994 or email

Three Minnesota councils holding elections

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Three Minnesota agriculture research and promotion councils are holding elections for their board members.  Positions are open on the board of directors for the Corn, Barley and Soybean Research and Promotion Councils.  Board members will be selected through mail ballot elections, which will be mailed March 18, 2014. Farmers who voted last year will receive ballots by mail. Those who did not vote last year can request a ballot from their respective commodity council offices or by February 6, 2014. There is one position open in each council district listed below.  All positions are three year terms.

Barley Research and Promotion Council:
District 3
Becker, Big Stone, Chippewa, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Lac Qui Parle, Ottertail, Pope,
Stearns, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Traverse, Wadena, Wilkin

Corn Research and Promotion Council:
District 1, 2 & 4
Becker, Beltrami, Big Stone, Cass, Chippewa, Clay, Clearwater, Douglas, Grant, Hubbard, Itasca, Kittson, Koochiching, Lac Qui Parle, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington, Polk, Pope, Red Lake, Roseau, Stevens, Swift, Traverse, Wilkin & Yellow Medicine

District 7
Cottonwood, Jackson, Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood & Rock

District 8
Blue Earth, Brown, Faribault, Freeborn, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Rice, Steele, Waseca & Watonwan

District 9
Dakota, Dodge, Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha & Winona

Soybean Research and Promotion Council:
District 1, 2 and 3
Becker, Beltrami, Cass, Clay, Clearwater, Hubbard, Itasca, Kittson, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, Roseau, St. Louis, Cook, Lake

District 4
Big Stone, Chippewa, Douglas, Grant, Lac Qui Parle, Ottertail, Pope, Stevens, Swift, Traverse, Wilkin, Yellow Medicine

District 5 & 6
Aitkin, Anoka, Benton, Carlton, Carver, Chisago, Crow Wing, Hennepin, Isanti, Kanabec, Kandiyohi, McLeod, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Ramsey, Renville, Scott, Sherburne, Sibley, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, Washington, Wright

District 7
Cottonwood, Jackson, Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, Rock

District 8
Blue Earth, Brown, Faribault, Freeborn, LeSueur, Martin, Nicollet, Rice, Steele, Waseca, Watonwan

Those interested in running for the vacant positions should contact the council listed below:

Barley Research and Promotion Office:  1-800-242.6118 or 218 253-4311

Corn Research and Promotion Office:  952-233-0333

Soybean Research and Promotion Office:  1-888-896-9678 or 507-388-1635

Monday, December 16, 2013

Commerce to administer rebates for Made in Minnesota solar thermal systems starting in 2014

SAINT PAUL, MN – The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced today that it will begin to offer rebates for solar thermal systems starting in 2014 as part of its 10-year, $15-million-a-year Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program for both solar electric and solar thermal.

“Solar energy incentives will help boost the state’s solar market and make solar more affordable for Minnesota consumers and businesses,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “This program will spur local job growth and development in Minnesota.”

The solar incentive program includes up to $250,000 per year in rebates for the installation of “Made in Minnesota” solar thermal systems in the state. The solar thermal system may be installed in residential or commercial facilities for, among other uses, hot water or space heating purposes. A solar thermal system is “Made in Minnesota” if components of the system are manufactured in Minnesota and the solar thermal system is certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation.

Currently, the solar thermal systems certified for the solar thermal rebate program are available from three Minnesota companies: Solar Skies, Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL), and Energy Conservation Products and Services.  All of the solar thermal collectors currently manufactured by the three companies meet the Made in Minnesota certification criteria. The rebate program is attracting interest among manufacturers nationwide. The Solar Thermal Collector Certification Application is available to manufacturers and available on the Commerce Department’s website.

Who can apply for the solar thermal rebate?

Rebates are available to customers of the following investor-owned utilities: Xcel Energy, Alliant Energy, Minnesota Power, and Otter Tail Power. Applications will be accepted annually between January 1 and February 28 each year starting in 2014 through 2023 and will be selected by lottery. Applications for the solar thermal rebates and solar electric incentives will be posted on the Commerce Energy website beginning January 1, 2014.

Solar thermal rebate amounts

Up to $250,000 per year in rebates will be available from 2014 to 2023. The solar thermal system rebates are as follows:

·         Single family residential dwellings

The maximum rebate amount is either 25% of the installed cost of a complete system or $2,500, whichever is lesser.

·         Multiple family residential dwellings

The maximum rebate amount is either 25%  of the installed cost of a complete system or $5,000, whichever is lesser.

·         Commercial installations

The maximum rebate available is either 25%  of the installation cost of the complete system or $25,000, whichever is lesser.

The systems must be installed by a factory- authorized installer. The Commerce Department will allocate approximately 50%  of the rebates each year to solar thermal hot water systems and 50%  to solar thermal air projects if sufficient applications are made for each category.

The Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program is administered by the Department of Commerce with an annual budget of $15 million for 10 years. The program is funded through two sources: 5% of each public electric utility’s total annual Conservation Improvement Program budget and the Xcel Renewable Development Fund, with the RDF providing approximately $12 million in the first year.

More information on the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program is available online. Questions about the program can be directed to the Department of Commerce Energy Information Line: 651-539-1886 or toll free at 1-800-657-3710.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Stay Warm Minnesota

SAINT PAUL, MN — Minnesotans who have a tough time staying warm and safe this winter-heating season can get great information on the Stay Warm Minnesota web page at the Minnesota Department of Commerce website.

“For thousands of consumers who struggle with heating bills or need a better heating system, Stay Warm Minnesota will help them get information and resources,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “Stay Warm Minnesota is a one-stop shop for consumer information for people who need to stay warm.”

Helpful information on the Stay Warm Minnesota site includes financial assistance, energy efficiency, and heating safety programs provided by the federal and state government, private industry, nonprofits, and energy utilities. Links to nonprofit organizations and government sites are listed, along with publications and tips for saving energy.

For instance, information under “Finding Financial Assistance” describes the Cold Weather Rule and how customers can prevent having their heat turned off if they agree to and keep a payment plan with their utility. It also tells how consumers can apply with the state’s Energy Assistance Program, their utility, and charitable organizations to receive financial assistance to help pay their heating bills.

The Stay Warm Minnesota web page can be accessed online at

For more information, contact the Division of Energy Resources Energy Information Center by phone (651-539-1886 or 800-657-3710) or via email at

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Winter Load Increases To Begin

Winter Load Increases will begin on unrestricted highways in the NORTH and NORTH-CENTRAL FROST ZONES at 12:01 AM on Saturday, December 7, 2013.

Vehicles will be allowed to operate up to 10 percent over the standard legal maximum loads on unrestricted highways during the Winter Load Increase period.  However, trucks must comply with current registration weight laws and not exceed registered gross weight tolerances.  Please check with local agencies (cities, counties and townships) prior to increasing any weights on their routes. The sign erected on the roadway governs the load limit in effect.  A Winter Weight Increase Permit is required to take advantage of the 10 percent weight increase on Interstate Highways only; a permit is not required for state trunk highways.

For questions about legal weight/size trucking, call:

Minnesota Department of Public Safety - State Patrol - Commercial Vehicle Enforcement
(651) 405-6171 (select Option 3, Option 3)

For questions about over legal weight/size "heavy haul" trucking, call:

Minnesota Department of Transportation

Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations - Oversize/Weight Permits

(651) 296-6000


Winter Load Increases starting and ending dates are based on how weather is affecting roadway strength.  These dates are established by monitoring roadway strength as weather conditions change.  Therefore, the ending date for Winter Load Increases is variable and drivers MUST check for updates throughout the year. Vehicle operators are required to check with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) for the exact start and end dates.


All changes are made with a minimum three calendar-day notice.


For the most current information, please go to MnDOT’s automated 24-hour message center at (800) 723-6543 for the USA and Canada, or locally at (651) 366-5400 for the Minneapolis/St Paul area.  This information is also published on the MnDOT Seasonal Load Limits website at

12 lakes opened to spearing

Twelve lakes scattered throughout Minnesota, including two in the metropolitan area, now are open for darkhouse spearing, the Department of Natural Resources said.

Spearing restrictions were repealed effective Dec. 2 on the following lakes: Beers and West Battle in Otter Tail County; Big Mantrap in Hubbard County; Deer, Moose, North Star and connected Little North Star and Spider in Itasca County; Lobster in Douglas County; Cross Lake Flowage in Pine County; Eagle in Hennepin County; Owasso in Ramsey County and Sugar in Wright County.

Darkhouse spearing is limited to northern pike, catfish, whitefish and other rough-fish species.  Other game fish species such as muskellunge are illegal to spear at any time. Anglers ages 18-89 need both an angling license and a spearing license to spear, unless otherwise exempt.

All other regulations related to spearing, angling and shelters apply to these waters. Additional information is available on page 77 of the 2013 Minnesota Fishing Regulations handbook and online at

For more information, contact the DNR area fisheries office nearest the lake of interest using the online directory at

Complete snowmobile safety training now

Now that winter has arrived, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is encouraging snowmobilers to complete safety training.

“If you waited until the snow arrived before taking snowmobile safety training you may be too late to enjoy the season,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR enforcement education program coordinator. “Classes fill quickly, and no snowmobile safety certificate, no snowmobiling.”

Plenty of safety training classes are available right now, he said.

Minnesota residents born after Dec. 31, 1976, must complete a DNR snowmobile safety training course before they can legally ride a snowmobile anywhere in Minnesota, including private land.

By taking a snowmobile safety course, Hammer said students learn about the machine, they learn about the laws, they learn safe operation, they learn the ethics of the sport and they learn how to avoid the most common causes of snowmobile accidents.

DNR snowmobile safety courses can be completed by either attending a snowmobile safety training course from a DNR-certified instructor in a local community or by CD.

To obtain the snowmobile safety training CD, or for general information, call 651-296-6157,
888-646-6367, 800-366-8917, or send email to

More than 1,800 volunteer instructors teach DNR snowmobile safety courses across the state.

For more information on the dates and locations of these courses, visit the
DNR website: ( or call

Best start to winter recreation season since 2010

Anyone eager to get out cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling will find an abundance of opportunities at many Minnesota state parks and trails, thanks to this week’s heavy snowfall.

"The recent heavy snowfall and the forecast for sustained cold temperatures offers prospects of substantial, enduring snow cover deep into the month," said Greg Spoden, state climatologist at the Department of Natural Resources. "It will be the best start to the winter recreation season since 2010."

Staff from the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division and local clubs will be busy grooming trails in preparation for the upcoming weekend, but the DNR advises prospective park and trail visitors to check the website for trip planning tips before heading out to a winter recreation destination.

Snow depth and trail conditions are updated every Thursday after 2 p.m. throughout the winter months at

Many Minnesota state parks rent snowshoes, and several rent cross-country skis. For rental locations and prices, check out the “winter activities guide” at

For a schedule of upcoming programs and special events at Minnesota state parks and trails, including the popular candlelight ski and snowshoe events, visit the online calendar at or pick up one of the new “Programs and Special Events” brochures at park offices.

As always, the DNR urges outdoor enthusiasts to exercise caution around lakes and wetlands, because the early snow might act as a blanket over thin ice. Snowmobilers, in particular, should exercise caution and be alert to conditions.

For more information, contact the DNR Information Center at, 651-296-6157 or toll-free at 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Monday, December 2, 2013

USDA Announces Cutest Birds Photo Contest

This fall and winter, bird lovers with charming chickens, delightful ducks or fine feathered friends can show them off in an online photo contest sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

The USDA’s Biosecurity For Birds Campaign is inviting backyard poultry owners and other bird enthusiasts to compete for bragging rights by entering the Cutest Birds Photo Contest.  Submit JPEG files at in two categories: 

1.     Cutest chicken or bird

2.     Cutest bird couple or family

The four month contest begins in December and continues through March 2014.  At the end of each month, the winning photo in each category will be posted on the Biosecurity For Birds web site.  The winners will be considered for inclusion on the 2015 Biosecurity For Birds Calendar.  For an entry form, contest rules and more information visit

The Biosecurity For Birds program began in 2004 and is designed to educate backyard poultry owners and exotic bird enthusiasts about highly contagious poultry diseases and other threats to birds.  The program helps inform bird lovers how to prevent disease and tells them what to do if they suspect their birds are infected.

DNR issues ice warning for aerated lakes

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources warns ice anglers, snowmobilers, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts to use caution when going onto any lake covered or partially covered with ice, especially those that feature aeration systems.

”Open water areas created by aeration systems can shift or change shapes depending on weather conditions," said Marilyn Danks, DNR aquatic biologist. "Leaks may develop in air lines creating other areas of weak ice or open water."

Aeration systems are generally operated from the time lakes freeze until ice break-up in the spring. They help prevent winterkill of fish, but they also create areas of open water and thin ice, which are significant hazards.  

Two types of signs are used to post aerated lakes: “Thin Ice” and "Warning” signs. The person who applies for the permit (permittee) is to maintain “Warning” signs at all commonly used access points to the lake. This sign warns people approaching the lake that an aeration system is in operation and to use extreme caution.

The permittee must also put up “Thin Ice” signs to mark the area’s perimeter. Some municipalities may have ordinances that prohibit entering into the thin ice area and/or prohibit the night use of motorized vehicles on lakes with aeration systems in operation. These local regulations are often posted at accesses where they apply.

Aeration systems are inspected for safety and compliance with regulations by permittees
and DNR personnel. For more information, call a regional fisheries office or the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367,

The following is a list of the approximately 280 lakes that will likely have aeration systems in operation this winter.

When there are lakes in the county with the same name as the aerated lake, the nearest town is shown in brackets. Names in parentheses are alternate lake names. Those names followed by an asterisk are newly aerated lakes.

BECKER: Big Cormorant, Bijou, Ellison, Eunice, Island, Little Cormorant, Melissa, Wolf.
BELTRAMI: Ewert’s Pond.
CLAY: Blue Eagle, Lake Fifteen.
DOUGLAS: Aldrich.
OTTER TAIL: Adley, Big McDonald, Big Pine,* Fish (Parkers Prairie), Fish (Pelican Rapids), Lida, Little MacDonald, Little Pine, Lizzie, Marion, Paul, Pelican, Perch, Rush,* Tamarac, West McDonald.
POLK: Badger, Cable, Maple.
POPE: Signalness.
STEVENS: Hattie, North and South Baker.
WADENA: Stocking.

AITKIN: Cedar (McGrath).
CASS: Eagle, George, Loon, Meadow.
CROW WING: Nisswa.
LAKE: Farm, Superior (Marinas).
ST. LOUIS: Colby.

ANOKA: Centerville, Coon, Crooked, Golden, Ham, Martin, Moore (East), Peltier, Shack Eddy, Spring.
CARVER: Eagle, Lucy, Oak, Rice Marsh, Susan.
CHISAGO: Moody.*
CROW WING: Platte.
DAKOTA: Alimagnet, Bald, Blackhawk, Bur Oaks, Carlson, Cliff, East Thomas, Farquar, Fish, Gun Club, Hay, Heine, Holland, Isabelle, LeMay, Manor, Marion, McDonough,* Pickerel, Rebecca [Hastings], Roger's, Schwanz, Thomas (Eagan), Thompson.
GOODHUE: Pottery Pond [Red Wing], Frontenac Pond.
HENNEPIN: Arrowhead, Bass, Cedar Island,* Crystal, Gleason, Hadley, Hyland, Indianhead, Mitchell, Penn (Lower Penn), Powderhorn, Rebecca [Maple Plain], Red Rock, Round, Shady Oak,* Snelling, Sweeney-Twin, Thomas, Wirth, Wolfe.
KANABEC: Knife, Mora.*
MORRISON: Alexander, Shamineau.
RAMSEY: Beaver, Bennett, Birch, Como, Gilfillan, Island, Loeb, Otter, Owasso, Pleasant, Silver (East Silver), Silver (Columbia Heights), Shoreview Community Center Pond, Vadnais, Willow.
SCOTT: Cedar (New Prague), Cleary, Crystal, Krenz(Sunset), Lakefront Park Pond, Legends, McColl, McMahon (Carls), Murphy, O’Dowd, Thole.
SHERBURNE: Ann [Becker], Birch, Fremont, Masford, Unnamed (Fawn).
STEARNS: Black Oak, Carnelian, Marie (Maria) [Kimball].
TODD: Jacobs.
WASHINGTON: Battle Creek (Mud) [Woodbury], Cloverdale, Colby,* Goose, McDonald, Pine Tree, Sand, Shields, St. Croix River (Marina).
WINONA: Winona.
WRIGHT: Augusta, Crawford, Dean, Foster, Little Waverly, Louisa, Mink, Somers, Sylvia.

BIG STONE: Artichoke, East Toqua, Long Tom.
BLUE EARTH: Crystal, Ida, Loon [Lake Crystal], Lura, Mills.
BROWN: Clear, Hanska, Sleepy Eye.
COTTONWOOD: Bean, Bingham, Cottonwood, Double (North and South basins), Mountain [Mountain Lake].
FREEBORN: Albert Lea, Fountain, Morin.
JACKSON: Clear [Jackson], Independence, Little Spirit, Loon [Jackson], Pearl, Round.
KANDIYOHI: East Solomon, Elizabeth, Foot, Long, Mud (Monongalia) [New London], Nest, Ringo [Spicer], Swenson [Pennock], Unnamed (Tadd), Unnamed (Upper), Wakanda, Willmar.
LESUEUR: Clear [Lexington], Gorman, Greenleaf, Mabel [Kilkenny], Scotch, Silver [Elysian].
LINCOLN: Benton, Dead Coon, Hendricks, Shaokatan, Stay (East Stay).
LYON: Clear, Cottonwood, East Goose, East Twin, Lady Slipper, Rock, School Grove, West Twin, Yankton.
MARTIN: Big Twin, Budd, Buffalo, Cedar, Clear, Fish [Trimont], George, Sisseton.
MCLEOD: Marion, Swan [Silver Lake], Winsted.
MEEKER: Star, Thompson.
MURRAY: Bloody, Buffalo [Currie], Corabelle, Current, First (South) Fulda, Fox, Lime, Louisa, Sarah, Second Fulda, Shetek, Wilson (North and South basins).
NOBLES: East Graham, Indian, Kinbrae, Okabena, Ocheda, West Graham.
PIPESTONE: Split Rock.
RICE: Circle, Cody.
SIBLEY: Silver [Henderson].
STEELE: Kohlmeier.
WASECA: Elysian, Loon [Waseca].
WATONWAN: Fedji, Kansas, St. James.