With a total catch of 24 pounds, 8 ounces, Keith Tuma won the Baxter Bass Snatchers tournament Aug. 17 on Gull and Crow Wing rivers.

Placing second was Paul Ruff with a total catch of 19 pounds, 4 ounces. In third place was Dennis Lothspeich with a total catch of 18 pounds.

In total for the tournament, 18 anglers caught and released 82 bass. Ruff had the Lunker of the Day with a 6 pound, 20 ounce bass.

DNR invites public input on proposed forest trails in Rum River State Forest and nearby scattered forest lands

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources invites the public to attend a meeting on Oct. 21 to review proposed changes to recreational trail systems in the Rum River State Forest and nearby state forest lands. The affected lands are in Mille Lacs and Morrison counties. The meeting will be from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Onamia Lions Community Center, 806 W. Kathio St., Onamia.

Proposed changes include adding 5.9 miles of off-highway motorcycle, 5.1 miles of all-terrain vehicle (class one)/off-highway motorcycle and 1.1 miles of off-road vehicle. The draft proposals reflect feedback gathered during an open house in March 2018.

The forest is classified as “limited” with respect to motor vehicle use, which means that OHVs may only use forest roads and trails that are posted open. The DNR does not propose changing the “limited” classification.

The DNR invites people to attend the meeting to review maps of existing and proposed trails, discuss the DNR proposals, submit comments and suggest modifications to the proposed changes. The DNR will also accept written comments through 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 4.

Comments received at the meeting and during the public comment period will be used to develop a final recommendation that will be submitted to the DNR Commissioner for approval. Changes to state forest trail designations must be made by Commissioner's order and published in the State Register.

Written comments may be submitted by fax to: 651-297-1157, by email to foresttrailplanning.dnr@state.mn.us, or by mail to: Joe Unger, DNR Parks and Trails, 500 Lafayette Rd, St. Paul, MN 55155-4039.

For more information, call:

  • The DNR Division of Parks and Trails central office in St. Paul, 651-259-5279.

  • The DNR Division of Parks and Trails area office in Sauk Rapids, 320-223-7861.

Information is also available online at mndnr.gov

DNR manages wild rice lakes with an eye on water levels and climate

On a recent visit to Lower Dean Lake, Ann Geisen, wildlife lake specialist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, looked out at what she called a gorgeous stand of wild rice.

“We’re happy to have a part in managing this lake for wild rice and wildlife. Favorable weather helps the rice, too,” Geisen said. “Wild rice and its harvesting are fundamental to Minnesota’s tribal nations, and many other Minnesotans also enjoy harvesting wild rice. Our state has more acres of natural wild rice than any other state in the country.”

Wild rice harvesters are preparing to scout and harvest rice this year, and wildlife managers around the state are seeing highly variable rice conditions. Harvesters are allowed to take ripe wild rice each year between Aug. 15 and Sept. 30.

More than 2,000 lakes and rivers in 64 Minnesota counties contain wild rice, with concentrations of rice being the highest in Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Itasca and St. Louis counties. But harvestable stands of rice can be found from the Canadian border to the Twin Cities metro area.

In some parts of the state this year, rice stands are poor due to abundant rain and high water. But other parts of the state have excellent rice beds. Harvesters who spend some time scouting waters before the rice is ripe should have good success.

In 2001, the DNR and Ducks Unlimited began a cooperative project to manage water levels on wild rice lakes by keeping outlets free of beaver dams and obstructions. That effort continues today. As many as 110 wild rice lakes have been managed annually in Minnesota as part of the project.

While wild rice management helps keep lakes at the appropriate water levels, rainfall adds to the equation. With Minnesota’s climate changing rapidly, the state is seeing larger, more frequent extreme precipitation events. For wild rice, the extreme weather events associated with climate change can cause water levels to rise rapidly, resulting in failed rice stands.

“We are concerned with predictions that there will be more heavy rain events in the future,” Geisen said. “For the DNR, this means we need to do what we can, where we can to manage water levels for wild rice.”

In addition to being a traditional food source for Minnesota’s early inhabitants and an important part of American Indian culture, wild rice is an important food staple for migrating waterfowl each fall. The growing plants also provide important habitat for fish, invertebrates and waterfowl broods.

Peak harvesting dates are estimated to be in late August to mid-September as long as weather remains mild and dry. Like other forms of gathering, finding a mentor who is willing to share skills and knowledge can greatly improve success. Scouting lakes ahead of time can also be very helpful for finding harvestable stands of rice and locating access sites.

Minnesota’s green rice law makes it illegal to harvest unripe or “green” rice, even within the Aug. 15 to Sept. 30 harvest season. So even though rice beds may look like they are ready, ricers must make sure the grain is ripe and falling easily from the stalk before attempting to harvest it.

For a wild rice season outlook, more information about wild rice management, and wild rice harvesting license and regulation information, visit the DNR’s wild rice management page at mndnr.gov/wildlife/shallowlakes/wildrice.html.

Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer Training to be held at Long Lake Conservation Center

PALISADE -- Long Lake Conservation Center in Palisade is hosting a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer Training beginning Sept. 9.

Master Naturalist volunteers complete a 40-hour hands-on course with expert instructors and fellow learners – studying natural history, environmental interpretation, and conservation stewardship. Final certification comes with the completion of 40 hours of volunteer service. The program offers three courses that correspond to Minnesota’s three major ecosystems – entitled “Big Woods, Big Rivers,” “Prairies and Potholes,” and “North Woods, Great Lakes.”

This class will cover the natural and cultural history of the “Big Woods, Big Rivers” region. We will provide an in-depth overview of the deciduous forest ecosystem and participants will observe and learn about the variety of plant and animal communities of the region. Through the course, participants will develop their ability to observe nature and will learn tools to improve these skills. In addition, participants will improve their communication skills by sharing knowledge with other participants and working on a group project.

The classes will 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, Sept. 9 to Sept. 13.

For more information and register online go to https://www.minnesotamasternaturalist.org/courses/register/?courseId=889. For registration assistance call Julie Larson at 320-589-1711 Ext. 2120, 888-241-4532, or email info@minnesotamasternaturalist.org.

Minnesota Master Naturalist is sponsored by the University of Minnesota Extension. Minnesota Master Naturalist is supported, in part, by a grant from the National Science Foundation.