DNR successes in 2012The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said it tackled important issues in 2012 and achieved major successes.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said it tackled important issues in 2012 and achieved major successes.
Here are some highlights of the work the DNR did in 2012:
FOR THE FUTURE
The Minnesota Forests for the Future program worked with The Nature Conservancy of Minnesota to complete several land protection projects totaling nearly 12,000 acres. Minnesota Forests for the Future also developed and refined a mapping tool to help identify and prioritize future forest conservation protection efforts.
In 2012, the Minnesota DNR dealt with historic flooding, destructive winds, and a drought. DNR staff worked with local governments in the Duluth area following the June storm to address emergency infrastructure repairs for roads and culverts. DNR staff also responded to two major wildfires, and crews were deployed to help with Hurricane Sandy relief.
The DNR broke ground on the new Lake Vermilion State Park near Tower. The agency constructed 3.8 miles of the Gitchi-Gami Trail and completed construction on the Agate Bay public access, both on the North Shore.
The DNR led efforts to implement a major plan and new strategies for prairie and grassland conservation. DNR leads efforts to develop a plan to protect, restore and enhance Minnesota’s prairie. The DNR hopes to increase the number of public lands being grazed from 10,000 to 50,000 by 2015.
AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES
The DNR implemented new watercraft inspection authority and increased enforcement in 2012. DNR staff responded rapidly to reported discoveries of new infestations and increased public outreach efforts. The agency beefed up its training efforts with volunteers, lake service providers and others.
The DNR worked with partners to plan more effective barriers for Asian carp and helped fund a barrier in Iowa to keep carp from entering Minnesota. DNR is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop a design for a barrier at Lock and Dam #1.
FIRSTS IN WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT
The federal government removed the wolf from the list of threatened and endangered species on January 27, 2012. The DNR initiated its first regulated wolf harvest seasons. The DNR made a second round of changes to waterfowl season regulations, including zoned seasons and an earlier opener.
ENGAGING PEOPLE IN THE OUTDOORS
DNR introduced several thousand new people to Minnesota state parks, trails and outdoor recreation through the “I Can!” series of skill-building programs. The DNR also exceeded its target of 1,000 trained Master Naturalists, skilled volunteers that help with natural resource projects.
ENHANCING HUNTER ACCESS TO PRIVATE LANDS
The Walk-In Access program completed its second year of the pilot program in 2012. At least 12,500 private acres of pheasant, small game and deer habitat will be open for public hunting in 21 southwestern counties through 2015. The agency is considering expanding the program to an additional 15 counties and is exploring options for funding through hunter fees.
The DNR held two conservation officer academies and hired 16 new officers. The first group of new officers is now at new field stations across the state, while the second group will be on duty in March 2013.