Friday, December 30, 2016

Wildlife Stressed, Snowmobile Riders Stay Clear

With significant snow storms dropping record to near-record snowfall on much of the state the past several weeks, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds snowmobile enthusiasts to stay clear of wildlife and its habitat so animals do not suffer additional stress.

Wildlife chief Jeb Williams said North Dakota’s wildlife population has already suffered significantly this winter.

“Any undue stress makes it worse,” Williams said.

Snowmobiles cannot be used to flush, chase or pursue wildlife. Running snowmobiles near, through or around winter habitat such as thickets, cattails and wooded areas may inadvertently scare wintering wildlife, causing them additional stress or injury.

Snowmobiles can be used off an established trail while fox or coyote hunting, but chasing a coyote through cover or across an open field on a snowmobile is illegal.

Williams said Game and Fish is concerned about the state’s wildlife, especially since it is still early in winter.
“Pheasants seem to be doing okay in some areas, but no doubt suffered losses in other areas,” Williams said. “What this winter will mean in terms of pheasant hunting opportunities next fall is hard to tell. The rest of the winter will be very telling, and good nesting conditions in spring will be critical.”

Reports of dying or dead deer are not uncommon in tough winters, and this holds true this winter as well. Mostly fawns and older deer are affected by the cold and wind. In addition, heavy snow cover prevents deer from accessing their usual food sources, which can result in deer dying because of grain overload – a result of deer switching their natural diet to a diet comprised mostly of corn and/or other grains.

Observers witnessing harassment or chasing of wildlife are encouraged to call the Report All Poachers hotline at 800-472-2121.

Riders are encouraged to use snowmobile trails and avoid situations that could disturb wildlife. Information on the North Dakota trail system is available at the Snowmobile North Dakota website at 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

DNR seeks to join lawsuit over project to divert Red River

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said today it is asking a federal judge to allow the agency to join a lawsuit seeking to delay action on a flood diversion project on the Red River.

The project as proposed would redirect flows through the Fargo-Moorhead metropolitan area via a dam and diversion channel system.

The DNR is seeking intervenor status to join a lawsuit filed by the Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority (JPA) in 2013. The plaintiffs initially sued the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Board of Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to halt any construction prior to completion of Minnesota’s environmental impact statement.

In a continuation of the original case, the JPA is now seeking to bar construction unless the DNR issues the necessary dam safety and work in public waters permits for the project.

The JPA’s suit alleges that the proposed project will damage farmland upstream of Fargo-Moorhead, violate Minnesota environmental laws, and doesn’t consider alternative plans to protect the region from flooding.

After completing an environmental impact statement on the proposed project, the Minnesota DNR denied the Diversion Authority’s permit application. The proposed project would need both a dam safety and work in public waters approval from Minnesota in order to proceed. The DNR is the permitting authority for the project in Minnesota.

Despite Minnesota DNR’s permit denial, the Corps of Engineers recently awarded a construction contract for the inlet control structure portion of the proposed project. Work could begin on the project as early as January 2017. In addition, the Diversion Authority recently issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the diversion channel portion of the project.

“The DNR has publicly stated that it is fully prepared to work with all the affected communities in search of a ‘Plan B’ approach to flood protection, since the proposed project doesn’t meet Minnesota environmental standards,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “But the Corps’ and the Diversion Authority’s recent actions force us to join the lawsuit. If the DNR allowed construction to proceed without objection, we would be risking our standing to object at a later date. Moreover, we cannot credibly work on an alternate plan while the Corps and the Diversion Authority are beginning construction of this contested project.”

Landwehr said his agency has empathy for people who experience flooding and agrees that enhanced flood protection is warranted for some places in the project area.

“The DNR’s decision to intervene isn’t about stopping flood protection, which is important. We want to find a mutually agreeable solution that speaks to the shared responsibility we have to protect Minnesotans and North Dakotans living in this flood plain,” Landwehr said. “Indeed, Minnesota has invested more the $230 million on flood control and protection efforts in Moorhead and the greater Red River Valley over the past eight years alone. But the proposed project is not the right way to achieve that enhanced protection for the region.”

According to Landwehr, “The project needs state permits. Unfortunately, as proposed, the project does not meet the standards under Minnesota law and thus cannot be permitted.”

In October, the DNR denied the Diversion Authority’s permit applications for three reasons: the project does not meet the requirement to be reasonable, practical, protect public safety and promote public welfare; is not consistent with some state and local land use and water management plans in the project area; and the project’s mitigation plan and demonstrated fiscal capacity to implement that plan do not meet the requirements in Minnesota law.

The Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority lawsuit is currently pending before U.S. District Court Judge Tunheim. By seeking intervenor status, the DNR is asking to become a party to the lawsuit. Minnesota will ask the court to prohibit construction of the dam and diversion channel because the Minnesota has not issued the necessary permits.

Cow/Calf Days Seminar Tour and Trade Show in January and February

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. (12/22/2016)The University of Minnesota Beef Team is proud to host the annual Cow/Calf Days Seminar Tour and Trade Show at 10 locations across the state in January and February. This event has been held for over 40 years and continues to be the leading information, technology, and research outlet for cow/calf producers in the state of Minnesota.

The 2017 event will feature information on managing scours in calves, results of a U of M study on the impact of different hay rake designs, grazing management, and results of a U of M study on the impact of hay feeder design on hay waste. Updates from the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association will also highlight the event. The corresponding tradeshow will feature vendors with new information, technology, and products with a wide-array of practical uses for the operators in the cow-calf sector.

The program is directed at cow/calf producers, allied industry representatives, and is open to the public. A meal will be served with the program and a registration fee of $10 per person (register and pay at the door) will include the meal, proceedings book, and program materials.

Location and start times are listed below; each session is approximately three hours. More information can be found at the Cow/Calf Days Seminar Tour and Trade Show website: or contact Eric Mousel at 218.398.1916,

Southern Tour
JAN 23 – Mora, MN, 5:30 PM, Kanabec County Jail, 18 N Vine Street
JAN 24 – Starbuck, MN, 9:30 AM, Jim Wulf Bull Development Center, 30819 250th Street
JAN 25 – Pipestone, MN, 9:30 AM, MN West Community & Technical College, 1314 N Hiawatha Avenue
JAN 26 – Oronoco, MN, 5:30 PM, Tony Rossman Farm, 7000 70thStreet NW
JAN 27 – Le Center, MN, 9:30 AM, Le Sueur County Fairgrounds, 320 S Plut Avenue

Northern Tour
FEB 7 – Staples, MN, 9:30 AM, Central Lakes College, 1830 Airport Road
FEB 7 – Bagley, MN, 5:30 PM, American Legion, 288 Main Avenue N
FEB 8 – Lancaster, MN, 5:30 PM, Community Center
FEB 9 – Roseau, MN, 5:30 PM, Gene’s Bar & Grill, 1095 3rdStreet NW
FEB 10 – Iron Junction, MN, 5:30 PM, Clinton Community Center, 8907 MN-37

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Applications open Jan. 1 for 2017 Made in Minnesota solar incentive program

SAINT PAUL – Applications for the fourth year of the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program will be accepted beginning on Jan. 1, 2017, and ending at 4:30 p.m. CST on Feb. 28, 2017.
Administered by the Minnesota Commerce Department, the program helps fund new solar electric and solar thermal systems for Minnesota residents, businesses and communities. In the program’s first three years, it has supported nearly 1,100 solar project statewide.
“The Made in Minnesota program is helping drive growth in the state’s rooftop solar market,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “The program is boosting Minnesota’s clean energy economy by making solar more affordable, creating more clean energy jobs and diversifying the state’s energy resources.”
The Legislature established the 10-year Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program in 2013 to expand the state’s solar industry. In the same year, it set a Solar Electricity Standard that requires investor-owned electric utilities to obtain 1.5 percent of their power from solar by 2020, with a goal of 10 percent by 2030.
Applicants for Made in Minnesota solar electric, or photovoltaic (PV), systems who are randomly selected for the program receive an annual incentive payment for 10 years based on the system’s electricity production. For owners of solar thermal systems, the program offers a one-time rebate up to 25 percent of the installed cost.
Solar electric systems generate electricity for a home or building, while solar thermal systems provide supplemental space heating or water heating.
Program boosts state’s solar industry
During the program’s first three years, funding was awarded in support of 1,048 solar electric projects and 36 solar thermal installations.
The PV projects equal about 15 megawatts (MW) of electric capacity. When all installations are completed and generating power, they will generate enough electricity to power 1,856 average Minnesota homes.
Over 10 years, the Made in Minnesota program is expected to help fund as many as 4,000 solar installations and increase the state’s solar electric capacity by about 65 MW, or more than four times the total capacity when the program began.
Who can apply for Made in Minnesota solar incentives?
The solar incentive program is available to Minnesotans who install solar PV or solar thermal systems using solar modules or collectors certified as manufactured in Minnesota.
Applications for the two parts of the incentive program (solar PV and solar thermal) are accepted from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28 each year and are awarded through a random selection process.
The solar PV incentive program is open only to customers of investor-owned utilities (Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power and Otter Tail Power). It is also available to developers of community solar gardens (less than 40 kW). Solar thermal rebate applications are open to utility customers throughout the state, with priority given to customers of investor-owned utilities.
More information is available at the Made in Minnesota sectionof the Commerce Department website. For questions, contact the Commerce Department’s Energy Information Center by email at or by phone at 651-539-1886 or 800-657-3710.