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Outdoor Notes - March 19

Pelicans in flight. Minnesota DNR photo

Chippewa National Forest needs summer volunteers

CASS LAKE—The Chippewa National Forest is looking for enthusiastic people who want to share their love of the outdoors by volunteering as hosts this summer at recreational sites across the forest, according to a news release from the Forest Service.

Volunteer hosts have been an integral part of successful summer for nearly 40 years on the Chippewa National Forest. Volunteer hosts provide key coverage at campgrounds and visitor centers from May to Labor Day, greeting visitors and offering forest information.

There are currently two campground host positions open for the 2017 summer camping season. Hosts are needed at North Star campground near Marcell and Mosomo Point campground north of Deer River. Both sites are smaller campgrounds on popular fishing lakes.

North Star campground has electric for campground host use. Hosts receive a prime lakeside camping spot in the campground and $10 per day for food. Campground hosts enjoy meeting new people and often make lifelong friends with campers.

Local volunteers are needed at the Norway Beach Visitor Center near Cass Lake.

Visitor center hosts support summer naturalist programs, assist with the pollinator garden and provide information to visitors. Hosts also help with daily sales at the visitor center bookstore.

Norway Beach Visitor Center is open Wednesday through Sunday from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. Visitor center hours and schedules are flexible. Volunteering to work just one day a week helps provide coverage for full-time staff.

If you are interested, call the Chippewa National Forest Supervisor's Office at 218-335-8600. To apply online, visit www.Volunteer.gov. Visit www.fs.usda.gov/chippewa to learn more about the Chippewa National Forest.

Once-rare pelicans on yearly return to Minnesota

American white pelicans are making their yearly migration to Minnesota about two weeks early this year, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

With bright white plumage, a 9-foot wingspan, and bright orange bill, the once-threatened species ranks among the largest birds in the world. Its graceful flight, pouch-like throat, and awkward gait makes it a favorite among bird watchers.

The pelicans spend winters along the Gulf Coast from Florida to Mexico and typically return to Minnesota in early spring as the thawing of lakes and rivers allow.

"Southern and western Minnesota's prairie pothole lakes are native habitat for American white pelicans," said DNR nongame wildlife specialist Lisa Gelvin-Innvaer. "In fact, more than one-fifth of all pelicans in North America will nest in western Minnesota alone."

Shallow lakes with islands are generally ideal for pelican nesting grounds, and have abundant food sources, which typically will be the plentiful rough fish and crustaceans found in prairie pothole lakes. Pelicans typically live in large colonies and use teamwork to gather food, much to the delight of bird-watchers. Pelicans will group up and swim in a semicircle to herd their prey into shallow water before scooping up fish and water in their beak pouch.

To catch a glimpse, Gelvin-Innvaer advises to do so from afar, and rely on binoculars to watch. Pelicans are particularly sensitive to human disturbance, and are easily scared off of nests. That could lead to nest and egg abandonment and nest failure.

"A good rule of thumb," said Gelvin-Innvaer, "is if the pelicans are reacting to your presence, you're too close."

The pelican's comeback story, while still being written, is due to conservation efforts and federal regulations. In Minnesota, pelicans received help in the form of monitoring, habitat restoration and technical guidance from the DNR Nongame Wildlife Program. Its comeback has been gradual, and it remains one of Minnesota's Species in Greatest Conservation Need.

American white pelicans experienced steep declines and were considered threatened. From 1878 to 1968, Minnesota had no reports of nesting pelicans. Today, however, wildlife biologists estimate 22,000 pairs of pelicans that nest on seven lakes across the state.

"They nest in relatively few places in Minnesota, which makes them particularly vulnerable here on breeding grounds," Gelvin-Innvaer said.

They also face hazards on their wintering grounds such as contaminants from oil spills. Researcher found pollutants inside pelican eggs in Minnesota, linked to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Even in small amounts, this potentially could have a large impact on the development of the young.

For more information on American white pelicans, visit www.mndnr.gov/pelicans.

More information on Minnesota's Nongame Wildlife Program, including how to donate can be found here: mndnr.gov/nongame.

Trout Unlimited troubled by proposed elimination of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

ARLINGTON, Va.—Trout Unlimited is troubled by the Trump administration's proposed fiscal year 2018 budget, which would eliminate critical programs that protect and restore coldwater resources and that form the foundation of multi-billion dollar commercial and recreational fishing economies, according to a Trout Unlimited press release.

The release states the proposal would significantly cut funding to the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies, entirely eliminating programs such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Chesapeake Bay Program.

Since 2010, the GLRI has supported more than 3,400 projects, totaling nearly $1.76 billion, in the Great Lakes region, including TU projects improving stream connectivity and restoring instream habitat. The president's budget proposes to eliminate the $300 million GLRI.

"Trout Unlimited relies on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to work with local communities and other partners to complete projects that strengthen trout, salmon, and steelhead fisheries and benefit local economies," said Keith Curley, Trout Unlimited's vice president for Eastern Conservation. "You don't hear these words very often, but thank goodness for Congress. We will need the bipartisan Great Lakes congressional delegation to reverse these cuts in this year's appropriations bills."

Projects to improve fisheries have been completed in all eight Great Lakes Basin states. Wisconsin is seeing a $750,000 investment in infrastructure to improve fish passage in and around the Nicolet National Forest, Michigan has received funding to improve the Rogue, Pere Marquette, Manistee, and Little Manistee rivers, and Minnesota has benefited from projects on Lake Superior tributaries like the Sucker River and Stewart River, just to name a few Trout Unlimited initiatives.

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