Tuesday, September 29, 2015

MnDOT conducts aerial photography near communities in northern Minnesota

BEMIDJI, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Transportation will conduct aerial mapping of several locations in northern Minnesota this fall. This work must be conducted after the leaves have fallen off of the trees and before any snow has fallen.

Weather permitting; work will begin in early October in the following locations:

·         Erskine- Highway 2
·         Halstad- Highway 75
·         Northome- Highway 1
·         Saint Hilaire- Highway 32
·         Warren- Highway 1/75
·         Warroad- Highway 11

The mapping will create a record of existing infrastructure and landscape along MnDOT right of way for transportation planning and operations. To take the photos, crews place an “X” on the ground as a reference point for the aerial photographer.

“Crews paint large white ‘X’ targets on paved surfaces” said Dan Domeier, MnDOT Land Surveyor. “For unpaved locations they use a wood panel target. A survey crew then records the coordinate position and elevation of these targets, and provides that information to the aerial photography company.”

The wood panel targets are temporary and will be removed when the photography is completed. MnDOT requests that landowners not remove or disturb the targets until the photography is completed.

If a target must be moved, please contact MnDOT District 2 survey staff at 218-755-6533 or by email at Daniel.Domeier@state.mn.us.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Hunters: Blaze orange clothing required

With Minnesota’s small game hunting season underway, conservation officers (CO) with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources report some hunters not wearing required blaze orange clothing.
“The blaze orange requirement is for safety,” said CO Marty Stage of Ely. “One hunter said that he wasn’t very far from his home, to excuse him from needing blaze orange.”

Making a blaze orange fashion statement this fall might not get you on the best-dressed list, but it just might save your life.

“Wearing blaze orange clothing is a safety requirement to hunt or trap during Minnesota’s small game season or firearms deer season,” said Jon Paurus, DNR enforcement education program coordinator. “It’s important to be seen by others.”
Small game seasons: At least one visible article of clothing above the waist must be blaze orange when taking small game, except when hunting migratory birds from a blind or on the water, wild turkeys, raccoons or predators, when hunting by falconry, when trapping (outside deer seasons) or when hunting deer by archery while stationary.

Deer season: The visible portion of at least one item of a cap and one item of outer clothing above the waist, excluding sleeves and gloves, must be blaze orange when hunting or trapping during any open season where deer may be taken by firearms (including special hunts, early antlerless, youth seasons and muzzleloader). Blaze orange includes a camouflage pattern of at least 50 percent blaze orange within each square foot.

“The failure to wear to wear blaze orange puts a hunter in jeopardy of not being seen by someone who does not take the time to properly identify their target and what’s beyond it,” Paurus said.

Paurus recommends faded blaze orange garments be replaced.

“Blaze orange clothing is a tremendous aid in helping hunters maintain visual contact with one another, particularly when moving through dense cover or woods,” Paurus said. “Any hunter who has ever identified someone strictly by seeing blaze orange knows its value in keeping track of other hunters in the field, especially in low light conditions.”

For those who use ground blinds, Paurus said to remember to place some blaze orange on the outside of the blind for others to see.

Some safety tips for non-hunters:
  • Wear bright clothing. Choose colors that stand out, like red, orange or green, and avoid white, blacks, browns, earth-toned greens and animal-colored clothing. Blaze orange vests and hats are advisable.
  • Be courteous. Don’t make unnecessary noise to disturb wildlife. Avoid confrontations.
  • Know the dates of hunting seasons. Learn about where and when hunting is taking place.

Avoid deer-vehicle crashes this fall


Most deer-vehicle crashes statewide occur from September through January, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The combination of fewer daylight hours with the increased movement of deer due to mating season and hunting season increases the risk of collisions between deer and vehicles.

Though most people would expect these crashes to be more likely in rural areas, motorists in urban areas also need to watch out for these dangerous — and sometimes deadly — accidents involving deer.

Use these driving tips to help avoid collisions with deer:
  • See the signs: Deer-crossing signs are posted in high-risk areas. Drive with caution, especially in the posted areas.
  • Deer often run together: If one deer is near or crossing the road, expect that others may follow.
  • Danger from dusk to dawn: Watch for deer especially at dawn and after sunset. About 20 percent of these crashes occur in early morning, while more than half occur between 5 p.m. and midnight.
  • Safety begins behind the wheel: Always wear safety belts and drive at safe, sensible speeds for road conditions.
  • Never swerve to avoid a deer in the road. Swerving can confuse the deer on where to run. Swerving also can cause a head-on collision with oncoming vehicles, take the vehicle off the roadway into a tree or a ditch and increase the chances of serious injuries.
If a vehicle strikes a deer, motorists should report the crash by calling local law enforcement, the sheriff’s department, the Minnesota State Patrol or the Department of Natural Resources.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Fall once again triggers the arrival of two special deer hunts, the Accessible Deer Hunt and the Mentored Youth Deer Hunt, held on the Rydell NWR each year. Both hunts are held under special permits from the Minnesota DNR.

The Accessible Deer Hunt is coordinated through Options in East Grand Forks, MN, who generates funds and volunteers, and provides meals and door prizes for an average of 20 hunters each year. Specialized accessible equipment such as portable hunting blinds, temporary screens, accessible platforms and adaptive hunting equipment help to facilitate a safe and effective hunting environment on the Refuge.

The Mentored Youth Hunt is sponsored by the Friends of Rydell NWR and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association and is open to youth 12-15 years old. An adult parent/guardian mentor, who may not hunt, must accompany youth participants while hunting at all times and abide by all hunting rules. The hunt is open to up to 15 youth.

Rydell National Wildlife Refuge will be closed to the public on the following days to anyone not participating in these special deer hunts:

Accessible Deer Hunt:         October 8-10, 2015

Mentored Youth Deer Hunt: October 17-18, 2015

The Refuge will remain open for normal hours of operation on the days prior to and following the special deer hunts.

For more information contact Gregg Knutsen, Manager, at Rydell National Wildlife Refuge (218) 687-2229 extension 16

Monday, September 21, 2015

MnDOT asks motorists, farm equipment operators to safely share the road during harvestseason

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Motorists traveling on Minnesota highways this fall need to be aware of large farm equipment transporting crops to markets, grain elevators and processing plants, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. 

“Harvest season is in full swing and farmers in every corner of the state are out using the highways,” said Sue Groth, state traffic engineer. “Motorists need to be prepared to encounter slow-moving farm vehicles, especially on rural, two-lane roads.”

Farm equipment is large and heavy, making it hard for operators to accelerate, slow down and stop. The machines also make wide turns and sometimes cross over the center line. In addition, farm vehicles can create large blind spots, making it difficult for operators to see approaching vehicles. All of these factors can cause serious crashes. 

During 2012-14, 414 traffic crashes took place on Minnesota roads involving at least one farm vehicle, resulting in 13 fatalities and 202 injuries. Of the 13 fatalities, eight were farm vehicle riders; of the 202 injuries, 48 were farm vehicle riders.

“The biggest factors contributing to farm equipment/vehicle crashes are inattention, unsafe passing and speed,” Groth said. “Motorists should always slow down and use caution when approaching farm equipment.”

Motorists should:
  • Watch for debris dropped by trucks hauling sugar beets and other crops. It is safer to brake or drive through debris than to veer into oncoming cars or off the road  
  • Wait for a safe place to pass
  • Wear seatbelts
  • Drive with headlights on at all times

Farm equipment operators should:
  • Use lights and flashers to make equipment more visible  
  • Use slow-moving vehicle emblems on equipment traveling less than 30 mph  
  • Consider using a follow vehicle when moving equipment, especially at night  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Minnesota Farm Link

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) announces the creation of Minnesota Farm Link, a web-based tool designed to link farmers and farmland. Minnesota Farm Link includes all types of farming, from small fruit and vegetable farms, to large grain and livestock operations. Whether it’s helping someone find a farm, matching an experienced or retiring farmer with a beginning farmer, or exploring mentoring opportunities, the goal is to connect people.

The MDA’s website also features a directory of Beginning and Transitioning Farmer Information: www.mda.state.mn.us/beginningfarming. The directory is a clearinghouse of programs and services for all types of farmers, which includes farmers seeking land, financial assistance and loans, farmer education, legal services, multi-cultural programs, networking, mentoring and transitioning, and succession planning.

Minnesota Farm Link and the Beginning and Transitioning Farmer Information are a valuable tool for both retiring and beginning farmers. “We think it’s important to connect beginning farmers who are looking for farmland and/or mentorship opportunities with retiring farmers who want to see their farm continue,” said Commissioner Dave Frederickson.

If you have questions about Minnesota Farm Link, please contact Jim Ostlie at 320-842-6910 or jim.ostlie@state.mn.us. To learn about other beginning farmer resources, contact Becky Balk at 651-201-6369 or becky.balk@state.mn.us.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

BBB Warns - Be on the lookout for bogus Vikings tickets

Scammers may run fakes past fans before home opener

Burnsville, MN – September 16, 2015 With the NFL season underway and the Minnesota Vikings home opener just around the corner, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is warning fans to watch out for scammers that might be trying to peddle counterfeit tickets online and outside the stadium right up until the opening kickoff. BBB reminds everyone that they run the risk of getting thrown for a big loss if they decide to gamble on a less than reputable ticket source. 

 “We hear too often about fans who thought they were going to get into the stadium only to discover they’ve bought phony tickets online or from scalpers,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “We’re reminding everyone it’s important to watch out for fake handoffs before the game, and not just this week but every week.”

To avoid getting ripped off buying game tickets, BBB recommends you:
  • Choose a reputable online ticket broker. Visit the official NFL online ticket exchange at nfl.com/tickets. When purchasing tickets through any other online brokers, look for the BBB seal on their website and research them online at bbb.org. Review the company’s track record and what their policy is if tickets purchased through their site are fake or not as advertised. When buying tickets online, ideally pay with a credit card because that form of payment offers consumer protections debit cards generally don’t provide.
·         Be leery of buying from scalpers at the event. Buying tickets near the venue on game day can be a game of roulette. The seats may be just as advertised or you might find yourself outside the stadium and also out whatever money you paid. Keep in mind that scammers have gotten quite good at counterfeiting tickets.
  • Never wire money to someone you don’t know. If you find an out of town seller online that claims to have tickets to the game, be careful. Any request by the seller to have you wire money to pay for the tickets should be the big red flag that makes you walk away. This is virtually always the sign of a scam.
On their website, the Vikings offer these additional tips:
  • Always check with the Vikings Ticket Office or the ticket booths to see if tickets are available. Oftentimes the visiting team may return tickets on the day of the game.
  • Never buy an Eticket or TicketFast ticket (printed on 81/2” x 11” paper) from anyone! Most counterfeits are Etickets or TicketFast tickets. If you purchase Vikings tickets from an unauthorized source you run the risk that it is fake.
·         Ask the person who is selling tickets on the street if you could take a picture of him/her with their valid ID before the transaction. If they refuse, move on.
Finally, apply common sense. Tickets for the best seats and the big games are in high demand because they’re hard to get. The chances of you getting lucky and finding an unbelievable deal are slim. If a situation sounds too good to be true, such as someone selling tickets for much less than they’re being offered elsewhere, the offer is probably not on the level.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

MDA issues consumer advisory for Fergus Falls Locker breakfast sausage

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and Fergus Locker Plant LLC of Fergus Falls, have issued a consumer advisory for pork links (breakfast sausage) that were produced without the benefit of state inspection and do not have the necessary records to document the product was produced according to state and federal regulations. The violation was discovered during a routine daily inspection by the MDA.

The pork links were produced on July 31, 2015 and were sold during the month of August at Fergus Locker Plant and Lakeway Market, both located in Fergus Falls. The product label includes Lot #731 and establishment #843 located inside the State of Minnesota mark of inspection. A photo of the packaging is included below. Consumers who purchased this product from these locations during the month of August should return it to the place of purchase.

The MDA and the locker plant have received no reports of illness due to consumption of the product. Anyone who consumed the product and may be concerned about illness should contact their healthcare provider.

Consumers with questions about this advisory should call Brent Schmitz at the Fergus Locker Plant at 218-736-4285.

MnDOT is installing warning systems at 54 rural intersections statewide

ST. PAUL, Minn. - More rural areas of the state this summer are getting intelligent transportation systems at high-risk intersections that will help reduce crashes and improve safety, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

MnDOT is installing the Rural Intersection Conflict Warning Systems at 54 high-risk locations around the state. The sites are ranked for factors such as limited visibility before the intersection, whether there is a railroad or commercial development close by, traffic volume, previous crash history and distance on the road from the last stop sign.

The systems are used at stop-controlled intersections to alert drivers when vehicles are approaching the intersection. The system uses a combination of traditional signing, flashing lights that turn on when traffic is approaching an intersection and sensors that trigger the lights to flash.

“The system gives real-time warning to motorists approaching a stop sign that there is traffic approaching and also warns drivers on the road without the stop sign that a vehicle is stopped or entering the intersection,” said Ken Hansen, RICWS project manager.

Motorists on the major road will see a standard “Entering Traffic” sign, a “When Flashing” sign and a flashing light as they approach and pass through the intersection. The flashing light will only be lit when vehicles are present on the minor road. Motorists on the minor road will see an illuminated LED “Traffic Approaching” sign and “When Flashing” sign with dual flashing lights. The dual flashing lights will only be on when there is traffic approaching. The LED “Traffic Approaching” is constantly illuminated.

He said people tend to think there are fewer crashes in rural areas since they aren’t as populated as urban areas, but about 66 percent of fatal crashes in the state happen on rural roads. This is due to varying terrain, inconsistent sightlines such as trees and vegetation near the travel lanes, roadway skews and motorists driving at higher speeds.

“Injuries in rural areas are usually serious injuries and fatalities,” Hansen said. “Emergency response often takes longer because of the distance between cities. We think these systems will make a difference in reducing crashes and saving lives.”

In 2014, 324 fatal crashes occurred in the state and 214 of those were in population areas of less than 1,000. The number of personal injury crashes in population areas of less than 1,000 was higher than the injuries in areas with populations of 250,000 and greater.

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found that 62 percent of crashes in rural stop-controlled intersections were caused by drivers stopping and looking, but not seeing the other vehicle and proceeding into the intersection. A MnDOT study found that 26 percent of right-angle crashes at stop-controlled intersections were caused by drivers failing to stop.

“Drivers should always obey the stop signs as they approach an intersection, but the added technology is designed to be an additional safety message,” Hansen said.

A new MnDOT video shows drivers how the system works. View the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLAL10hTEXI

For a list of locations where the system is being installed, go to mndot.gov/trafficeng/signals/conflictwarning.html.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Use caution to keep yourself, others safe in work zones during Labor Day weekend

ST. PAUL, Minn. – As Labor Day weekend approaches, the Minnesota Department of Transportation reminds motorists to be alert and use extra caution while driving through highway work zones.
“Most projects will shut down over the holiday weekend, but there are still many work zones around the state that will affect travel,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “We ask drivers to pay attention in work zones and make it a safe weekend for everyone. Check www.511mn.org before you leave to get current road conditions for your route.”

Highway projects that may affect weekend travel Sept. 4-7 include:
Twin Cities area
·         Interstate 494 in Plymouth – multiple lane and ramp closures
·         I-35E in St. Paul and Little Canada – lane and ramp closures
·         Highway 5 between St. Paul and Highway 55 – lane and ramp closures
·         Highway 5 between Waconia and Victoria – road closed, detour
·         Highway 100 in St. Louis Park – ramp closures and lane shift
·         Highway 169 in Jordan – single-lane traffic in both directions
Central Minnesota 
·         I-94 between Rogers and St. Michael – lane shift, narrow lanes and reduced speeds, expect delays
·         Highway 169 along south shore of Lake Mille Lacs – bypass lanes, minor traffic delays
·         Highway 25 at Highway 12 east of Melrose (7 miles south of Buffalo) – closed, detour
West Central Minnesota 
·         Highway 12 between Atwater and Litchfield detour
Northern Minnesota   
·         Highway 29 in Alexandria – lane closures and lane shifts near I-94, delays possible
·         Highway 2 between Cass Lake and Ball Club – lane shifts, flagging activities, some delays
·         Highway 371 between Cass Lake and Walker – lane closures, pilot car, some delays
·         Highway 10 in Detroit Lakes – single-lane traffic in both directions, expect delays
·         Highway 2 (Bong Bridge) between Duluth and Superior eastbound lanes closed, detour
·         Highway 23 between Duluth and Duquette – single-lane, detour
·         Highway 70 east of I-35 both lanes will be open through the weekend, part of roadway will have a gravel surface
Southern Minnesota    
·         I-35 Owatonna to Albert Lea single-lane traffic in both directions, slow traffic
·         I-90 between St. Charles and Stewartville single-lane traffic in both directions, slow traffic
·         Highway 14 between Nicollet and Mankato - detour
·         Highway 59 in Marshall – short detour
For a complete list of projects, including construction dates and traffic impacts, visit www.mndot.gov/roadwork/current.html. Motorists may also sign up to receive email updates for major projects at www.mndot.gov/emailupdates.

MnDOT urges motorists to always be attentive, drive with caution, slow down in work zones and never enter a road blocked with barriers or cones.         

To learn about funding Minnesota’s transportation system, visit Get Connected at www.dot.state.mn.us/getconnected.