Wednesday, October 28, 2015

DNR provides buffer mapping project details


The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is providing a timeline and other details about its production of maps for the state’s new law requiring vegetative buffers around bodies of water. The information is available at

“We understand people have questions about the buffer initiative,” said Dave Leuthe, DNR project manager. “This information explains the process the DNR will use for the mapping project, the timeline in which maps will be developed, and opportunities for local governments and the public to engage in the process.”

Gov. Mark Dayton’s landmark buffer initiative was signed into law earlier this year. The law will establish new perennial vegetation buffers of up to 50 feet along rivers, streams and ditches to help filter out phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment.

The DNR is responsible for producing maps of public waters and ditch systems that require buffers under the new law. Local governments will provide information on ditches, which the DNR will integrate with information on public waters to develop preliminary buffer maps. The DNR is scheduled to produce final maps by July 2016, using a four-phase approach:
  • Phase I - This fall, the DNR will use existing digital data to identify public waters that require a buffer (50-foot average width) and provide the information to local governments for review.
  • Phase II - Beginning this fall and continuing through winter, the DNR will coordinate with counties and watershed districts to transfer local information on ditches, within the benefited areas of public drainage systems, into digital data. This will be used by the DNR to help identify ditches that require a one-rod (16.5-foot) buffer.
  • Phase III – In late winter 2016, the DNR will use the combined public water and ditch system data to produce preliminary buffer maps. Local governments such as cities, townships and soil and water conservation districts, will review the maps, take input from landowners, and provide comments to the DNR.
  • Phase IV – In summer 2016, the DNR will deliver integrated buffer maps to the Board of Water and Soil Resources, local soil and water conservation districts, and other local governments. The Board of Water and Soil Resources is responsible for the implementation process.
There will be public engagement opportunities when the preliminary maps are available. The maps will help landowners identify whether they need to create a buffer and, if so, whether they need a 16.5-foot or 50-foot average buffer width.

Local soil and water conservation districts will work directly with landowners and help them use the maps to create the right size buffer, or help the landowner select an alternative water quality practice in lieu of a buffer.

Go to to learn more about how the DNR is producing maps for the governor’s buffer initiative.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

BBB Says Watch For Tech Support Scheme

Burnsville, Minnesota – October 27, 2015 – Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) is once again noting an uptick in reports of the “Tech Support” scam. Generally, this scheme is perpetrated over the phone: homeowners or business owners receive calls from ‘technicians’ saying there’s a problem with their computer. But these supposed experts are only interested in collecting credit card information or gaining remote access to users’ computers. A newer wrinkle to this scheme involves pop-up messages telling people their computer has been infected by a virus and they need to call the number on their screen for assistance.

“These pop-up messages are often dramatic, using capital letters and exclamation points, in order to get people’s attention,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “We’re advising people not to panic and not to listen to whatever the message is saying.”

Based on complaints in BBB files, it appears some of these pop-ups direct people to contact companies which may provide some type of technical support. However, if these companies – as many customers allege – are the ones who make such warnings appear on users’ screens, via adware or malware or spyware, as a means of gaining new business, that’s a problem.

One such company that appears to employ this tactic – First Choice Tech Support, based in Boynton Beach, Florida – denied in a statement to BBB that they infect people’s computers with any malware, adware or spyware. Further, they claim their pop-up advertisements clearly state they are advertisements and can be closed by clicking on an x in the top right corner. However, a consumer who says they dealt with the company recently alleges they had no indication the pop-up was an advertisement.

“We’re once again reminding people that when there’s a problem with their computer, they call the experts; not the other way around,” adds Badgerow. “And simply because you receive a pop-up saying your computer has a virus that may not always be the case.”

No matter if you’re confronted with this scheme via a phone call or a pop-up message, it’s important to avoid allowing unknown parties to gain remote access to your computer. According to Microsoft, anyone given such access to someone else’s computer can install malicious software, steal personal information, take control of the computer or direct customers to fraudulent websites where they are asked to enter their credit card information.

BBB offers these tips to avoid the Tech Support scam:

·         Don’t trust cold calls. Remember, computer firms don’t call you about a problem – you call them. If a caller claims there’s a problem with your computer, hang up.
·         Protect your computer. All computers should always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall.

·         Don’t let pop-ups panic you. Remember, pop-up messages can’t always be trusted. Look for an ‘X’ to close out the screen. If you’re concerned your computer has a virus, call an expert. Research businesses for free at

·         Address the issues. If you’ve allowed unknown individuals to gain remote access to your computer, contact a computer expert. If you’ve supplied your financial information and suspect fraud, contact your bank or credit card provider immediately.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

DNR reminder: be careful this fall when burning

Fire danger continues to increase in northwestern Minnesota. Dry and moderate drought conditions exist in portions of Polk, Red Lake, Pennington, Mahnomen, Clearwater and Beltrami counties.

“Warm weather, killing frosts and multiple days of windy conditions have elevated fire danger,” said Dan Carroll, DNR Bemidji Area fire prevention forester. “Peat is also igniting, requiring significant mop up efforts.”

Carroll reminds landowners that they are responsible for supervising their fires until they are out cold. This can require checking fires multiple times over multiple days after they are lit.

Burning permits are required to burn vegetative debris and agricultural fields when there is less than 3 inches of snow on the ground. Citizens should know the burning restrictions for their county, and check the weather forecast, before lighting a fire.

Burning permit activations may be restricted when weather conditions allow fires to spread at uncontrollable rates.

Current information on statewide fire danger and burning restrictions is available on the DNR website at and by calling your local DNR Forestry office.

Burning permits are available online, from local fire wardens or at local DNR Forestry offices.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Miss America 2006 Tara Conner to Speak at UMC

CROOKSTON, Minn. – Tara Conner was crowned Miss America in April 2006 and began traveling the country and the world. By December of that same year, Connor was sent to Caron Treatment Center when she tested positive for cocaine. Her struggle and how she achieved sobriety will be the topic of a presentation on Wednesday, October 21, 2015, at the University of Minnesota Crookston. Conner will speak at 7 p.m. in Kiehle Auditorium and highlights National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week on the Crookston campus. The event is free and open to the public; no parking permits required.

After Conner’s very public struggle with addiction, she became a public advocacy consultant for the Caron Treatment Centers. She has shared her experience with audiences all over the United States in order to raise awareness that addiction is a disease, and that many people who have struggled with this disease can go on to lead healthy, productive lives in recovery. For more on Conner, visit

Conner’s visit to the U of M Crookston is sponsored by RiverView Health Recovery Center, Crookston Police Auxiliary Association, and several groups on the Crookston campus including the Chancellor’s Office; Residential Life; Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs (ATOD); Student Programming and Activities for Campus Entertainment (SPACE); the Honors Program; and Career and Counseling Services.