Gypsy moths are tree pests that can defoliate large sections of forests and are among America's most destructive tree pests, having caused millions of dollars in damage. These moths are common in Wisconsin, but are now threatening Minnesota as well. Their preferred hosts are oak, poplar, birch and willow trees. The moths spread slowly on their own, but people can unintentionally speed up the process if they unwittingly transport firewood and other objects on which the moths have laid their eggs.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has recently completed treatment of approximately 150,000 acres of land in Carlton and St. Louis Counties to slow the spread of the moth. The infestation was identified last summer and the MDA has been working hard to slow down the infestation before it takes hold.
Although widely known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota is also home to 90,000 miles of rivers and streams and more than 800,000 registered watercraft. The vast number of lakes, rivers, and streams throughout Minnesota led the state to establish what is now the oldest and largest water trails system in the nation. This is why Governor Dayton has proclaimed July 14, 2012 to be State Water Trails Day in Minnesota.
View the Governor’s Proclamation here.
The Water Trails System, managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), is comprised of a series of recreational routes mapped and managed for canoeing, kayaking, boating, and camping. One of the most scenic trails is the 155-mile Lake Superior Water Trail, which hugs the shores of the world's largest freshwater lake. The newest addition to the water trail system, the Cedar River State Water Trail, flows from just north of Austin, Minnesota to Southeast Iowa, where it joins the Iowa River.
The DNR is encouraging all Minnesotans to experience the state's water systems Saturday. You can see more about it and learn more about Minnesota’s State Water Trail system, including locations, outfitting, and safety information, at the DNR website. If you are new to paddling and want to gain some skills for the water, check out the offerings in the "I Can Paddle!" program. This is on ongoing part of the DNR's "I Can!" outdoors course offerings, which includes instruction in camping, fishing and climbing.
With summer officially underway in Minnesota, the Department of Natural Resources is offering residents a chance to learn the ropes of camping and climbing through their introductory “I Can Camp!” and “I Can Climb!” course offerings at Minnesota State Parks throughout the summer.
The “I Can!” program series is organized by the Parks and Trails division of the DNR as a way to introduce young families to the many opportunities that Minnesota offers for outdoor recreation. Beyond their camping and climbing programs, the “I Can!” series also includes lessons in fishing, paddling, and archery.
While all of these courses will be available at Minnesota state parks throughout the season, those interested in camping and climbing can benefit from combined weekend courses being offered in late June at Blue Mounds and Interstate parks.
Minnesota is already a high-risk area for Lyme, a disease found primarily in northeastern and upper Midwestern states. A record-high 1,293 cases of Lyme were reported in 2010 and many experts predict we are on track to have more this year. Ticks can survive Minnesota’s harsh winters and become active when the temperature reaches 38 degrees, so while these parasites usually won’t be seen until March, they may have been active in January and February this year.
Lyme is carried by the Eastern blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick. They are smaller than the common American Dog tick – better known as the wood tick. In order to prevent picking up a tick and the Lyme bacteria they can carry, take precautions when outdoors this summer. The Minnesota Department of Health recommends you avoid walking in brush or tall grass if you are in wooded areas; keep your feet, ankles, and legs covered; and use an insect repellant containing DEET on uncovered skin (except the face).
If you find a tick, remove it by the head with a tweezers – pulling it off by the body can leave the head embedded in your skin, increasing the risk of Lyme transmission. If you are unable to do this, visit a doctor. Since early treatment is key to a quick recovery, you should also visit a doctor if you suspect you may have contracted Lyme. Symptoms include a red “bulls-eye”-type rash around the bite area, as well as joint pain, fatigue, and flu-like fever or chills.
Governor Dayton has proclaimed this week, May 20-26, to be Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week in Minnesota. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an invasive species of insect that has killed millions of ash trees in North America. It is not native to the U.S., but was discovered in Michigan in 2002; in 2009, the first Minnesota case of EAB was found in Ramsey County. It has since been found in the counties of Houston, Hennepin, and Winona.
The biggest risk of spreading EAB comes from people moving firewood or other ash tree products with EAB or EAB larvae inside. In order to help prevent the spread of EAB throughout Minnesota and beyond, you should try to use only local firewood, and you should avoid transporting firewood if possible. In order to prevent the spread of this destructive species, the Department of Agriculture has prohibited the movement of ash trees, ash limbs and branches, ash logs or untreated ash lumber with bark attached, firewood from hardwood trees, and uncomposted wood chips and ash bark chips greater than one inch in two of three dimensions from the affected counties. More tips on preventing the spread of EAB can be found at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture website.
You should also watch for signs that ash trees on your property are infested: heavy woodpecker activity, S-shaped tunnels under the bark, dead branches in the top canopy of the tree, and D-shaped exit holes approximately 1/8 inch in diameter are all signs of EAB presence in a tree. If you suspect a tree is infested, you can follow procedures for seeking treatment or removal of the tree from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.
The Governor's Fishing Opener will be held this weekend, May 11 -12, on Lake Waconia, popular for fishing, sailing and other water recreation. The town of Waconia sits right along the southern shore of Lake Waconia, the second largest lake in the Twin Cities area. This is the first time Waconia, a community of about 10,000 residents along the western edge of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, will host this event.
A pair of accomplished anglers from Waconia will host Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon on Lake Waconia. Travis Frank will fish with Governor Dayton, and Matt Peters will fish with Lt. Governor Prettner Solon. Travis Frank is a professional angler, founder of Trophy Encounters Professional Guide Service, and a producer for Ron Schara Productions. Matt Peters grew up on Lake Waconia. Like Travis Frank, Peters has fished since he was old enough to hold a rod and reel, and he too started his first guide service at the age of 16.
On Thursday morning Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon bought her fishing license at Marine General in Duluth. The Minnesota Fishing Opener is about two weeks away, and the Lt. Governor will be one of the half-million people on the waters on that day.
The Governor’s Fishing Opener is a tradition in Minnesota since 1948. The event was organized to promote the development of Minnesota’s recreation industry, and now it serves as a kick-off celebration to the state’s summer tourism season. Fishing accounts for a large part of the state’s tourism economy. The sport brings in $11.3 billion every year or about $31 million each day.
Each year, thousands of Minnesotans embrace winter by trekking to one of the many ski and snowboard areas across the state in an effort to take advantage of snow sports. The proclamation notes that "learning a winter sport such as skiing or snowboarding provides an excellent way to make the most of our winter weather by using the great outdoors as a healthy alternative for cabin fever."
Governor Dayton was joined by John Edman, Director of Explore Minnesota Tourism; Leigh Nelson, Owner, Welch Village; Chris Walch, CFO, Welch Village; Perry Eisert, VP and Hill Manager; Stephanie Prink, Public Relations Manager, Welch Village; and Peter Zotalis, Ski and Snowboard Services Director, Welch Village.
The first-ever Minnesota Governor's Pheasant Opener here Saturday proved that even political adversaries can find common ground in pursuit of wily ringnecks.
On a brilliant autumn day, Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, and Rep. Kurt Zellers, Republican House Speaker, hunted pheasants together to kick off the season.