Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Minnesota commodity councils elect new leadership

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Agriculture producers in Minnesota have elected new members to serve on the barley, corn and soybean commodity research and promotion councils.  Each board membership position serves a three year term.

The councils play an important role in developing and promoting Minnesota farm products, including grains and meats.  “Commodity council elections allow producers a say in how their check-off dollars are spent. It’s very important they take advantage of this opportunity and I want to thank all the candidates and producers who took the time to cast a ballot,” said Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner, Dave Frederickson.

2014 commodity council elections for barley, corn and soybean:

Barley Research and Promotion Council
Brian Lacey, Wendell

Corn Research and Promotion Council
District 1, 2 & 4 - Dwight Mork, Bellingham
District 7 - Richard Peterson, Mountain Lake
District 8 - Jerry Demmer, Clarks Grove
District 9 - Marty Amundson, Zumbrota

Soybean Research and Promotion Council
District 1, 2 & 3 - Drew Parsley, Warroad
District 4 - Patrick O’Leary, Benson
District 5 & 6 - Patrick Sullivan, Franklin
District 7 - Craig Bangasser, Garvin
District 8 - Rochelle Krusemark, Trimont

Monday, April 28, 2014

Public meeting on storm water pollution prevention June 4 in East Grand Forks

BEMIDJI, Minn. – The public is invited to attend an informational meeting to learn about the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s program for preventing storm water pollution and the permit process for the municipal separate storm sewer system.

The meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 4, 2014 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the training room of the East Grand Forks City Hall, 600 Demers Ave, East Grand Forks.

MnDOT staff will give a brief overview and describe the coordination and education components of the program with other entities.

Individuals who cannot attend the meeting, but wish to comment or ask questions, can contact John Wingard, MnDOT District 2 hydraulics engineer, at 218-755-6527 or john.wingard@state.mn.us

To request an ASL or foreign language interpreter or other reasonable accommodation, call Janet Miller at 651-366-4720 or 1-800-657-3774 (Greater Minnesota); 711 or 1-800-627-3529 (Minnesota Relay). You may also send an email to janet.rae.miller@state.mn.us (please request at least one week in advance).

DNR names 2014 Conservation Officer of the Year

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer (CO) Scott Staples, Carlton, a K-9 officer, was named 2014 Conservation Officer of the Year during a ceremony April 16 at Camp Ripley near Little Falls.

“He trains officers from other agencies, helps educate court and county attorney staff and above all educates the public in what we do, how we do it and why it is important,” said Enforcement Director Col. Ken Soring, who presented the award.

Staples has been described as a reliable “field leader” by both his supervisors and field officers who takes pride in his work and brings good common sense and roadside manners when dealing with the public.

Over his 17-year career as a conservation officer he has been involved as a use of force instructor, academy instructor and a field training officer. He is also an experienced investigator and K-9 handler.

“It’s really easy to keep working and having fun at your job when you have great people to work with, a supportive family, and a nice furry partner riding with you all the time,” Staples said.

Other top officers were also honored: Pat McGowan, Hastings, 2014 Boat and Water Officer of the Year; CO Jeff Denz, Willmar, 2014 Waterfowl Enforcement Achievement Award; 1st Lt. Jackie Glaser, District 13 supervisor, 2014 Willard Munger Wetland Achievement Award; and CO Scott Fritz of La Crescent, 2014 Enforcement Education Achievement Award.

Division of Enforcement Lifesaving Award recipients include CO’s Bret Grundmeier, Hinckley; Tony Musatov, Sauk Rapids; Rick Reller, Buffalo; Todd Langevin, Center City; Jason Beckmann, Windom and Brandon McGaw, Mora.

Lt. Col Rodmen Smith, DNR Enforcement assistant director, received the DNR’s Meritorious Service Award for his work on producing the Enforcement Division’s record management system. Other recent awards include CO Phil George, Rochester, Turn In Poachers Officer of the Year Award and CO Paul Kuske, Pierz, Shikar-Safari Club International Wildlife Officer of the YearAward.

The awards recognize conservation officers with superior work records or those who perform meritorious acts or services, which contribute to the protection and preservation of Minnesota’s natural resources and the people that enjoy them.

Soring praised all of the officers, “These prestigious awards are not given out, but earned through dedication, perseverance and hard work.”

Friday, April 25, 2014

MDA reminds Minnesotans to use pesticides and fertilizers with care

ST. PAUL, Minn. – With the arrival of spring, people begin to think about their lawns, trees, and gardens. Whether you apply pesticides or fertilizers on your own or hire a professional, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) reminds everyone to avoid contact with lawn care products, read the product label and follow all label directions. The directions on a product label will explain how to use a product safely and effectively. 

Minnesota law requires anyone commercially applying weed and feed products; pesticides that control weeds, insects, fungus or other unwanted pests; and/or fertilizers supplying plant nutrients to hold a license issued by the MDA. Persons licensed by MDA have passed examinations that demonstrate that they have the needed qualifications and knowledge to use lawn and ornamental care chemicals safely and effectively.

Most professional applicators understand the importance of obeying the Law, according to MDA Licensing Manager Joe Spitzmueller, and abide by state and federal regulations. 

“It is essential that people read and follow label directions to reduce risks for people and the environment,” said Spitzmueller. “Watch out for unqualified persons and companies promoting tree, lawn and garden care services.”

Whether you are hiring a professional or doing the work yourself, these tips from the MDA will help ensure lawn, garden and tree-care services are performed correctly:
  • Licensed professionals must carry a valid ID card;
  • Be cautious of persons who make promises that are too good to be true, make claims that their products are completely safe, or pressure you to commit to and sign a service contract;
  • Never apply lawn care chemicals in bad weather conditions, such as in excessive heat or in high wind where products can drift off-site and potentially harm people or plants;
  • Notice warning flags that are posted at entry points after a treatment that alert persons to be careful around a treated area;
  • Sweep up any product from sidewalks or other hard surfaces and reapply it to the intended site;
  • Review the application record provided by the applicator that documents their work including products used and amounts applied; and
  • Buy only what you need and store unused product safely.

Consumers can call the Better Business Bureau at 800-646-6222 and ask for customer satisfaction history about lawn care companies. For information about applicator licenses, call the MDA at 651-201-6615. To report an unlicensed person making a pesticide or fertilizer application, please file a complaint online at the MDA website, www.mda.state.mn.us, click “Register a Complaint” on the homepage, and then go to “Pesticide Misuse Complaint.”

Monday, April 21, 2014

Burning restrictions extend to northern Minnesota counties

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will restrict debris burning in 11 counties in northern Minnesota beginning April 28. The additional counties under restrictions reflect increasing fire potential as the snow recedes. With the snow gone, the exposed dead grass and brush can light easily and spread fires quickly.

Counties beginning restrictions on April 28 include: Beltrami, Carlton, northern Cass (entire county is now under restrictions), Itasca, Kittson, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Pennington, Roseau, and southern St. Louis (south of a line running from Silica on the west to Central Lakes and Brimson on the east. The exact line is a township line between 55 and 56 north and includes all of township 56). 

With the 11 northern Minnesota counties, there will be 38 counties under spring burning restrictions. Burning restrictions are already in place for many central Minnesota counties. Burning restrictions mean the state will not give out burning permits for burning brush or yard waste.  Debris burning is especially dangerous during April and May when most wildfires occur in Minnesota. The restrictions normally last from four to six weeks until sufficient green vegetative growth occurs.

“The spring fire restrictions have resulted in a dramatic decrease in both the numbers and sizes of accidental fires,” said Ron Stoffel, DNR wildfire suppression supervisor.

The DNR advises that even though a county is not currently under spring burning restrictions, residents can’t be ensured they may conduct open burning. Local DNR forestry areas monitor conditions and are able to turn off burning permits in individual counties whenever conditions warrant. This could occur if there is a dry, windy day where fires could start easily and burn quickly, Stoffel said. 

Many local areas, counties or municipalities have specific regulations or restrictions that affect burning operations. Check with local authorities to obtain proper permits before burning.

Campfires are still allowed. Clear an area around the campfire, watch it continuously and make sure it is out and cold to the touch before leaving.The DNR will add the far northeastern counties (Cook, Lake, and northern St. Louis) as conditions warrant.

Fire conditions may change quickly. Find more information and maps, and check fire conditions online www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/firerating_restrictions.html.

10 candidates hope to join DNR conservation officer ranks

Ten conservation officer candidates with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will begin training Wednesday, April 23, at Camp Ripley in Little Falls.

It’s the first Conservation Officer Academy since 2012, and the 15th class since academy training began at Camp Ripley in 1994.

DNR Enforcement Director Col. Ken Soring praised the 10 candidates on their selection to the academy.

“This is a strong class of candidates that will receive some of the best natural resources protection training in the nation,” Soring said. “I'm confident that when they graduate these men and women will continue in the conservation officer tradition, willing and able to stand watch over our state’s valuable natural resources.”

The Conservation Officer Academy curriculum includes training in fish and wildlife laws, rules of evidence, patrol procedures, search and rescue, and fish and wildlife investigation. The Minnesota Police and Peace Officer Training Board, the licensing agency for police officer training, has certified classes presented at the academy. Upon graduation, the new conservation officers will spend 16 weeks in field training assigned to veteran conservation officers for “hands-on” training.

“It’s an intensive program,” Soring said. “We ask a lot of both the candidates and their families, but it is worth it as these are their future partners.”

Conservation officers ensure the future of natural resources for the people of Minnesota through responsible enforcement of appropriate laws, regulations and rules. A normal station covers 650 square miles so they usually work alone and cover extensive and often remote areas of Minnesota.

List of 10 candidates:
  • Joe Kulhanek has experience as a seasonal park ranger with the National Park Service.
  • Chelsie Leuthardt has been a patrol officer with the Breckenridge and Wheaton police departments, and a corrections and dispatch officer for the Traverse County Sheriff’s Office.
  • Bill Landmark, police officer, Watford City (North Dakota) Police Department; experience with the National Park Service.
  • Jim Van Asch has experience in the building, construction and property management trade. 
  • Erik Benjamin is an Afghanistan and Iraq veteran with more than 15 years of U.S. Army and Army National Guard experience. He was a deputy sheriff with the Anoka County Sheriff’s Department. 
  • Nick Prachar is an EMT who completed a 200-hour internship with multiple Minnesota conservation officers.
  • Hannah Cowden, community service officer, St. Cloud Police Department.
  • Beau Shroyer, police officer, Detroit Lakes. 
  • Marc Hopkins is a Minnesota state trooper. Previously he was a police officer/police chief in Morton.
  • Nick Klehr worked on a dairy farm and a campground/riding stable.  
Graduation is scheduled for July 15. The department has already started the hiring process for the next Conservation Officer Academy tentatively scheduled for 2015.

DNR urges homeowners to resist pruning evergreens with red needles

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds homeowners to wait to prune evergreen tree branches that have brown or red needles.

“This year evergreen trees in Minnesota had a long, hard winter with plenty of opportunity for injury,” said Val Cervenka, DNR forest health program coordinator. “Chances are your trees are alive and healthy even though they have damaged needles.”

Cervenka recommends waiting till late spring after the tree has put on new growth to decide if pruning is needed.

Moisture loss from drying winter winds, intense winter sunshine and low humidity causes damage to evergreen needles. Therefore, the south and southwest sides of evergreens show more winter damage than other parts of the tree. Trees that are protected by snow, shade or less wind show little to no signs of damage.

Evergreen needles are also damaged when deicing salts are splashed on the tree. Brown and red needles are especially noticeable on pines and spruces planted along highways.

To help prevent winter injury, keep evergreens properly watered throughout the growing season until the ground freezes. Choose tree species that are adapted to local growing and winter conditions. Avoid planting white and red pines, balsam fir and white spruce within 150 feet of a roadway to prevent salt damage.

Consider planting yews and arborvitae on the north and northeast sides of buildings, out of exposure to sun and wind. Wrapping evergreen trees in burlap or other materials in late fall can also help prevent moisture loss from the needles.

For more information on tree care and forest health, visit www.mndnr.gov/treecare/forest_health.

DNR announces video-streaming peregrine falcon camera

Once pushed to the brink of extinction, peregrine falcons have returned to Minnesota’s skies and their natural habitat, including the state’s bluffs, cliffs and buildings, the Department of Natural Resources said. 

Live video from a nesting pair of peregrine falcons in downtown St. Paul is now featured on the DNR website at http://webcams.dnr.state.mn.us/falcon/.

The female has already laid four eggs and will incubate them for the next 30 or so days. Last year, the pair laid and incubated three eggs, but none of the eggs hatched.

Hopefully this year will be different.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to watch peregrines raise their young in an urban setting,” said Carrol Henderson, nongame wildlife program supervisor. “It is exciting to watch the birds first-hand, in their normal habitat, without disturbing them.”

A video camera was placed in a nesting box at the top of the Bremer building several years ago. Peregrines have been using the box and raising their young there since 1988, a year after the box was installed.

The peregrine camera was paid for by DNR’s nongame wildlife program, which is largely funded by donations, especially those made when Minnesotans file their state income and property taxes. The lines on the Minnesota income tax form and property tax form, marked with a drawing of a loon, give taxpayers the option to donate to the program, a feature often referred to as the “chickadee check-off.”

The nongame wildlife program works to protect and preserve more than 800 species of animals in the state that are not traditionally hunted or harvested. In addition to peregrine falcons, populations of species such as bald eagles, trumpeter swans, loons, and American white pelicans are directly benefited by contributions to the nongame wildlife check-off. People can help Minnesota wildlife by donating on their tax forms, or donate directly online at www.mndnr.gov/nongame/checkoff. 

Bear hunt application deadline is Friday, May 2

The deadline to apply for a Minnesota bear hunting license is Friday, May 2.

Licenses are available at any Minnesota Department of Natural Resources license agent, online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense and by telephone at 888-665-4236 at a cost of $44 for residents and $250 for nonresidents.

The season opens Monday, Sept. 1, and closes Sunday, Oct. 12. The deadline to purchase licenses awarded by lottery will be Thursday, Aug. 1. Remaining unpurchased licenses will be available to anyone eligible starting at noon on Wednesday, Aug. 6.

An unlimited number of bear licenses will be sold over-the-counter for no-quota areas in east-central and far northwestern Minnesota. No-quota licenses are valid only in a no-quota area. Hunters with a no-quota license can harvest one bear. Information on the fall bear hunt is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/bear.

Biking is a new option at the annual ‘Walk for Glendalough’

The completion of a new paved trail at Glendalough State Park in Battle Lake late last summer means that bikers can now join hikers on the annual fundraiser, “Walk for Glendalough,” at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 26. The event starts at the park’s trail center.

The Glendalough Park Partners, along with Department of Natural Resources, will host the 18th annual “walk” to raise money for new park amenities and features. Over the years, the walk has contributed close to $250,000 in park improvements.

A portion of the proceeds from this year’s event will go toward benches, bike racks, and interpretive kiosks along the new trail, and the construction of an outdoor seating area near the trail center suitable for student activities, interpretive programs and weddings. At least two automated external defibrillators also will be purchased for the park.

Two lakeside yurts -- circular fabric tents -- will be constructed along the new trail this spring that will be accessible by backpacking, biking or canoeing. The yurts will be equipped with bunk beds, similar to the park’s camper cabins.

Funds have been used to provide year-round restrooms at the trail center, restore and furnish the historic lodge, build a picnic shelter and a hiking bridge, add heat and electricity to the camper cabins, purchase rental canoes, construct and fund a bird-feeding station and plant trees and native prairie flowers.

“Many of the amenities that park visitors enjoy today would not have been possible without the funds raised by the walk,” said Park Manager Jeff Wiersma.

Those who chose not to walk can ride a park shuttle down the trail. Returning walkers will gather at the old tennis court to hear the latest park news, total funds raised. The event is an opportunity for park visitors to see new park developments and learn about future park projects.

The park’s new paved bike and pedestrian trail is the first phase of a trail system that will soon connect to the city of Battle Lake, 3 miles away. Completion of the Battle Lake connection is expected in July.There is no fee to enter the park on the day of the walk/bike.

It wraps up by noon, but visitors can always extend their day with an overnight stay in the cart-in campground or one of four camper cabins. For more information, call the park at 218-864-0110 or visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/glendalough.

Upper Red Lake’s summer walleye regulations unchanged for 2014

Regulations that allow Upper Red Lake anglers to keep larger walleye after June 15 will be in effect again for the 2014 open water season, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Beginning Saturday, May 10, to Saturday, June 14, anglers must release all walleye 17- to 26-inches long.

Effective Sunday, June 15 to Sunday, Nov. 30, anglers may keep walleye less than 20 inches and must immediately release all walleye 20- to 26-inches long.

The possession limit for both periods is four fish and only one of those fish can be longer than 26 inches.

The more restrictive size limit is necessary for the early season when angler catch rates are high and mature walleye are extremely vulnerable. As the open water season progresses, catch rates and fishing pressure decline, reducing the impact of harvesting larger walleye.

Winter regulations will not be finalized until open water harvest is determined. Winter regulations will be announced in late summer and will be posted on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/fishingregs.   

UMC Commencement on Saturday, May 10th

CROOKSTON, Minn. – The Class of 2014 will be honored during commencement exercises at the University of Minnesota Crookston on Saturday, May 10. Nearly 250 students will take part in the ceremony, which begins at 2 p.m. in Lysaker Gymnasium. Graduates will represent 13 countries and 29 states and include more than 35 online graduates who are setting foot on the campus for the very first time. The ceremony also recognizes the 20-year anniversary of the Class of 1994, who were the first to earn baccalaureate degrees on the Crookston campus.

A reception in the Northern Lights Lounge, Sargeant Student Center, precedes the commencement ceremony from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The public is welcome to attend both events; no tickets are required. A special reception for international student graduates will be held following commencement exercises at 4 p.m. in Bede Ballroom, Sargeant Student Center.

On Saturday at 2 p.m., the formal procession of faculty, candidates for degrees, and platform guests will begin from the Sargeant Student Center to the gymnasium led by Mace Bearer William Peterson, professor in the Math, Science, and Technology Department. The procession also includes Faculty Marshal W. Daniel Svedarsky, professor and director of the Center for Sustainability on the Crookston campus.

Bringing greetings from the University of Minnesota Board of Regents is the Honorable Clyde Allen, from Moorhead, Minn., who will also assist with the conferring of the degrees. 
U of M Crookston alumnus Tyler Grove ’94 will give the commencement address. Grovewas one of the first to earn a four-year degree from the University of Minnesota Crookston. His major was in plant industries management with an agronomy emphasis. While at the U of M Crookston, he participated in the Crops Team and in NACTA (North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture) competition. In 2007 he earned his master's degree in agronomy from Iowa State University. In 1995, he was employed with American Crystal Sugar Company as an agriculturist for the East Grand Forks district, and in February, 2013, he accepted a position as the ag strategy development manager at the corporate office in Moorhead, Minn. He was named Outstanding Alumni during Homecoming 2013.

University of Minnesota, Crookston Alumni Association (UMCAA) Board President Rory Held ‘11 will bring greetings from the UMCAA and welcome the new graduates to the alumni association. For the first time, the U of M Crookston Community Band under the direction of TJ Chapman will play along with selections during the ceremony by the campus choir under the direction of George French.

Graduating senior Alexmai Addo, Crookston Student Association (CSA) president, will speak on behalf of the Class of 2014 and pass the torch of education, a Crookston campus tradition, to Justin Goodroad the incoming CSA president. Addo, from Monrovia, Liberia, is a communication major.

The 2014 commencement exercises mark the 106th graduating class to be recognized on the Crookston campus. A live audio stream of the commencement exercises will be available at www.umcrookston.edu/people/services/MediaServ/Stream.htm.  

For more information, visit the commencement Web site at www.umcrookston.edu/commencement.

Organic farm transition program returns with the green in 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is offering its Organic Transition Cost Share program to farmers again in 2014.

The program reimburses Minnesota farmers who are transitioning their land or livestock to certified organic status, paying part of the cost to work with a USDA accredited organic certifying agency during the transition period, which typically lasts three years.

“Usually farmers don’t contact a certifying agency until they think they’re finished with the transition,” explained program administrator Meg Moynihan. “Our program gives farmers a chance to get feedback on how they’re doing before it actually counts, like practicing before a big game.”

In addition, farmers can request reimbursement for soil testing costs and registration fees to attend an organic education conference in Minnesota or a neighboring state. Farmers transitioning to organic can receive a 75 percent rebate of these eligible costs. The maximum payment is $750 per year for three years or until they achieve organic certification, whichever comes first.

“In early spring, my phone starts ringing with curious farmers asking what it takes to go organic,” said Moynihan. “We want to make sure prospective organic growers know we’re here to help them with this program during the transition process.”

Transition Cost Share Program application forms and a set of Frequently Asked Questions are available at www.mda.state.mn.us/organic or by calling 651-201-6012.

Farmers who are already certified organic will be happy to know their certification cost share program will return later this year.