Adults who are interested in becoming a Department of Natural Resources-certified volunteer firearms safety instructor can register for training being offered in Grand Rapids on April 4 or Brainerd on April on April 2. This course is for new volunteer instructors, and active and former instructors who need to be re-certified. Full Story
Become a DNR-certified volunteer firearms safety instructor
Groundwater sampling planned for Winona County
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will collect and analyze water samples from about 90 wells in Winona County this summer. Full Story
2016 Mille Lacs regulations designed to keep walleye fishing open
Regulations designed to protect the fish needed to rebuild Mille Lacs Lake’s walleye population will require that walleye anglers use only artificial bait and immediately release all walleye when Minnesota’s 2016 fishing season opens Saturday, May 14.
Celebrating 20 years of frog and toad surveys, DNR launches new mapping application
Frogs and toads are one of the best indicators of the health of wetlands. Each year, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Nongame Wildlife Program recruits volunteers to participate in the Minnesota Frog and Toad Calling Survey to help track population changes in the state’s fourteen frog and toad species. Full Story
Be aware of bears this spring
Anyone living near bear habitat is reminded to be aware of bears this spring and check their property for food sources that could attract bears, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said. Full Story
DNR to host PolyMet public information meeting in advance of permit application
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is hosting a public information meeting on Tuesday, April 19, about PolyMet Mining, Inc.’s potential permit to mine application for its proposed NorthMet project. The meeting will be at Mesabi East High School, 601 North 1st St. W., Aurora, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Bald eagles on spring migration back to Minnesota
Bald eagles are migrating back to Minnesota and may be seen in large numbers across parts of the state over the next few weeks, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Pelicans on annual spring migration to Minnesota
Flocks of giant white birds are catching the eyes of outdoor enthusiasts across Minnesota, as once-rare American white pelicans migrate north to their nesting grounds across the state, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
Spring burning restrictions begin March 21 for central Minnesota
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will start burning restrictions in the central part of the state beginning March 21. In the past few weeks, firefighters have responded to wildfires in central Minnesota as conditions for fire have increased.
DNR names Jim Leach as Fish and Wildlife director
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has announced that Jim Leach, a veteran natural resources manager with deep ties to the state’s conservation community, will be the next director of the agency’s Fish and Wildlife Division. Full Story
Report card on pheasant action plan highlights need for support
Actions to improve grassland pheasant habitat and pheasant populations are off to a positive start, but much of the work remains ahead, according to a report card developed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources that tracks progress on the state’s Pheasant Summit Action Plan. Full Story
More trap shooting grants available
Minnesota shooting clubs will have another shot at developing or rehabilitating trap-shooting facilities as well as other ranges open to the public through a grants program from the Department of Natural Resources. Full Story
DNR announces seasonal road and trail closures around the state
As warm weather approaches, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has temporarily closed many of its roads and motorized trails on DNR-administered land. Full Story
DNR seeks comment on Tower area lake management plans
Citizens interested in commenting on Minnesota Department of Natural Resources strategies for managing Tower area lakes are encouraged to review current or draft management plans and ask questions or submit comments by Thursday, March 31, 2016. Full Story
DNR seeks comments on Aitkin area lake management plans
Citizens interested in learning about or commenting on Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) strategies for managing Aitkin area lakes and streams have until March 25 to ask questions or submit comments. Full Story
DNR to hold a public meeting in regard to proposed wildlife lake designation on Long Lake in Cottonwood County
A proposal to formally designate Long Lake in Cottonwood County (DOW#17004802) for wildlife management will be the subject of a public meeting hosted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on Monday, March 28. Full Story
Minnesota state parks to make customer service improvements
Full inventory of campsites will be reservable in time for Memorial Day weekend
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced that some key customer service improvements are coming to Minnesota state parks and recreation areas this summer.
According to DNR Parks and Trails Division Director Erika Rivers, the following changes, which begin taking effect in early May, are important steps to modernize services and meet the needs of today’s visitors to the state’s 75 parks and recreation areas.
Summer 2016 changes include: Full Story
White-nose syndrome, a disease that can kill bats, confirmed in Minnesota
White-nose syndrome (WNS), a disease that is harmful and usually fatal to hibernating bats, has been confirmed at Lake Vermilion – Soudan Underground Mine State Park in northeastern Minnesota, according to the Department of Natural Resources. Starting in late January, several hundred bats have been found dead near the main entrance to the mine. Subsequent testing of bats sent on Feb. 12 to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center confirmed the bats were infected by WNS. Full Story
DNR fisheries seeks comments on Brainerd area lake management plans
Citizens interested in learning about or commenting on Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) strategies for managing Brainerd area lakes and streams have until Monday, March 28, to ask questions or submit comments. Full Story
DNR seeks comments on Finland area lake and stream management plans
Citizens interested in learning about or commenting on Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) strategies for managing Finland area lakes and streams have until Thursday, March 31st to ask questions or submit comments. Full Story
Retiring DNR officer called to serve the public
For retiring Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer (CO) Brad Johnson of Maplewood the most enjoyable or rewarding part of the job was serving the public. Full Story
Long-time Red Wing snowmobile safety instructor honored
Larry Perkins of Red Wing has been named the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Snowmobile Volunteer Instructor of the Year for 2015. Full Story
DNR deems PolyMet mine environmental impact statement adequate
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has determined that the environmental impact statement (EIS) for PolyMet Mining, Inc.’s proposed NorthMet project meets the state’s standards for adequacy.
DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said the process leading to the completion of the state’s EIS has been deliberative and thorough. Full Story
Public forum March 10 on non-toxic shot only on farmland WMAs
People interested in learning more about a possible requirement that only non-toxic shot be used on wildlife management areas in Minnesota’s farmland zone can attend a public forum from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, March 10, at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources headquarters cafeteria, 500 Lafayette Road, in St. Paul. Full Story
Bighead carp caught on Minnesota River
A bighead carp was caught by a commercial angler last week on the Minnesota River near New Ulm, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The 25-pound male fish is the first bighead carp and second invasive carp confirmed in the Minnesota River. A grass carp was caught in the same location in December. Full Story
Possibility of better moose health, desire for more deer prompt permit area changes in northeastern Minnesota
Reducing the passage of parasites and possible disease from deer to moose and increasing the number of deer in areas adjacent to the moose range are the goals of a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources proposed plan to re-align some deer permit area boundaries in northeastern Minnesota. Full Story
20 cow elk now wearing radio collars in northwestern Minnesota
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wrapped up its elk collaring project in northwestern Minnesota last week reaching its goal of capturing 20 adult female elk and fitting them with collars that can precisely track their locations. Full Story
2015 fish, game and trapping licenses expire Feb. 29
Minnesota fishing, hunting and trapping licenses for 2015 expire Monday, Feb. 29. Full Story
Surplus spring turkey hunt licenses go on sale March 7
Hunters who applied for a spring wild turkey hunting license for time periods A or B but were not selected in the recent lottery are eligible to purchase a surplus license on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 5 p.m. Monday, March 7. A total of 1,188 surplus licenses are available. Full Story
DNR seeks input on bear permit unit shifts near Leech Lake
People can give input on a plan by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to change the boundaries of several bear permit units in the Leech Lake area. Full Story
DNR offers outdoor skills programs for women and families
Women and families can learn outdoor recreational skills in a supportive atmosphere by registering for any of a wide range of hands-on learning opportunities in the newly released 2016 Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) and Becoming an Outdoors Family catalog. Full Story
2016 spring light goose harvest begins March 1
A spring conservation harvest of light geese will open Tuesday, March 1, and run through Saturday, April 30. Light geese are snow geese, blue-phased snow geese and the smaller Ross’s goose. Full Story
Tree City USA celebrates 40 years
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Arbor Day Foundation celebrate the 40th anniversary of Tree City USA, a program that recognizes communities that value urban tree canopy and tree care as part of their identity. Full Story
DNR anticipates early snow melt and burning restrictions
With minimal snow this winter and warming February temperatures, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources anticipates early snow melt. This means annual burning restrictions will take effect shortly after snowmelt occurs to help prevent wildfires. Full Story
Northland Fat Bike Rally March 5 at Lake Bemidji State Park
The “race” is on for fat bike enthusiasts as the second annual Northland Fat Bike Rally approaches at Lake Bemidji State Park. The event will take place on Saturday, March 5. Full Story
Early interest leads to long, satisfying career
Dean Olson retires after 26 years in Enforcement Division
An interest in the outdoors and law enforcement at an early age led Dean Olson to his dream job as a conservation officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
“I remember when I was in high school a guidance counselor advised me not to continue my goal of becoming a game warden because there were too many people applying for very few positions. Good thing I didn’t listen,” said Olson, 55.
A Lake Lillian native, Olson retires Feb. 23 after 26 years with the DNR. Previously he worked as a deputy sheriff in Fillmore County from 1985-1990 and a patrolman in Mabel from 1982-1984.
His DNR career has been spent in Rochester as a field officer or a district supervisor.
“There is also something special about being the community conservation officer,” he said. “Everyone knows you and you became the face of the DNR.”
“My role as a district supervisor gave me an opportunity to recognize and channel the skill set of each team member. I was very fortunate; I felt I had the best team of officers in Minnesota. The skills and dedication of this team to serve the public and protect our natural resources are second to none,” Olson said.
Career highlights include: “Stopping what we call serial poachers. These are people who poach at any given opportunity. Sometimes it involved in-depth planning and hard work over many years. Other times it was good information from the public at the exact time we needed it, and sometimes it was just plain luck,” Olson said.
He also enjoyed working with volunteer instructors and teaching people about the outdoors.
What he will miss most in retirement is making a great case, as well as seeing the smile on a person’s face when they shot a bullseye and the opportunity to educate people to fully appreciate and enjoy the outdoors.
There’s one more thing he will miss.
“I was fortunate to work with folks who have become exceptional officers and are wonderful people,” Olson said.
His advice to current and future conservation officers is to work hard, do the right thing, smile often, and spend quality time with family.
Olson’s retirement plans include finding a part-time job, doing more fishing, camping and traveling with his wife Kris, and hunting more with their lab, Buddy. Also, spending more time with extended family, and doing some volunteering. Full Story
Elk survey results underscore importance of elk research
Fluctuations in the 2016 annual elk population survey illustrate one of the primary reasons wildlife researchers have begun placing GPS collars on elk in northwestern Minnesota and tracking their movements. Full Story
Moose population remains low; 5-year population decline improves
Minnesota’s moose population remains low despite a slowing population decline during the past five years, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said. Full Story
Women new to archery or bow hunting can learn basics in DNR class
Surrounded by autumn woods, you sit motionless as chickadees land so close you hear their wings before seeing them on the branch. You feel at peace and one with the woods – until your heart races. A deer is taking slow steps along a trail. Full Story
Syrup season likely to start early amid warmer temperatures
The El Nino weather pattern responsible for producing relatively mild winters in the Upper Midwest is expected to trigger an earlier-than-usual maple syruping season in Minnesota this year, according to the Department of Natural Resources. Full Story
Learn how to make pure maple syrup at Minnesota state parks
Ever wonder how pure maple syrup gets from trees to the table? Come to one of the free programs at Minnesota state parks and find out how to make a batch of syrup in your own backyard, using basic tools from around the house. Full Story
Taconite State Trail turns 30; communities celebrate with a weekend of events
When the Taconite State Trail opened in 1986, communities along the 165-mile route from Grand Rapids to Ely celebrated the Herculean effort to create a snowmobile corridor that would become one of the most popular trails in northern Minnesota. Thirty years later, the communities of Grand Rapids, Side Lake and Ely are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the trail to affirm its importance to the winter tourism economy. Full Story
Trumpeter swans continue to be a conservation success story
Results from a recent statewide trumpeter swan survey show that Minnesota’s population continues to grow. It is now estimated to be around 17,000 swans, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Nongame Wildlife Program. Full Story
DNR conservation officers receive awards
Six conservation officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources were honored at Camp Ripley, Tuesday, Feb. 2, for outstanding performance and service in 2015. Full Story
DNR to begin elk research project in northwestern Minnesota
A new research project on free-ranging, wild elk of northwestern Minnesota aims to improve understanding of elk movements and habitat use. Full Story