April 2010

The DNR communications team works with agency experts to develop the weekly questions and provide the answers. This feature addresses current DNR issues, interesting topics, or the most frequently asked questions from around Minnesota.





Do Minnesota state parks currently offer monthly or seasonal camping opportunities?

Yes, five Minnesota state parks currently offer monthly and seasonal camping. These opportunities came about in response to requests from frequent overnight park visitors who wanted to avoid having to haul their camping units back and forth from home to the park, make numerous reservations, or worry about availability. Feedback was very positive after the first summer of monthly and seasonal camping for a pilot program in 2009, so several campsites will continue to be available for extended stays

Hayes Lake, Old Mill, Lac qui Parle, Myre-Big Island, and Upper Sioux Agency state parks currently offer monthly and seasonal camping. A chart detailing dates, pricing and contact numbers for state parks is at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/extended_stay.html.

Visit http://www.mnstateparks.info for more information about the outdoor recreation opportunities at each of the state parks.

-- John Voges, DNR regional parks operation supervisor


How important is the spring runoff to Minnesota’s groundwater supply?

Snowmelt and rainfall during the spring months are the sources of major replenishment for the entire hydrologic system in Minnesota, including groundwater. While a great deal of the spring runoff melts into lakes and rivers, some of it infiltrates the soil into two principal zones: saturated and unsaturated. The saturated zone is where aquifers are found. Water stored as groundwater flows into rivers and lakes through springs and seeps, helping to maintain their levels. Most of the summer precipitation is taken up by growing vegetation or is evaporated. Groundwater pumped from aquifers supplies in excess of 75 percent of Minnesota's drinking water and nearly 90 percent of the water used for agricultural irrigation.

- Laurel Reeves, P.G., Water Appropriations Permit Program manager


With spring here, wildlife is beginning to become more active, and in some cases, perhaps too active. There have been reports of nuisance squirrels finding their way into homes. How can homeowners deal with these critters?

The best method for dealing with squirrels is prevention. Remove trees or over-hanging branches and close off any external openings that might allow access to a home or other structures. Repellents such as mothballs or ammonia soaked rags are an option to help convince a squirrel to leave. However, care should be taken to ensure that human occupants are not affected. Once the squirrel is out, one-way openings, such as an 18-inch section of 4-inch diameter PVC pipe placed at a 45-degree angle pointing towards the ground, can help keep squirrels from returning until the opening can be sealed permanently. State statute does permit the use of lethal removal methods – traps or shooting – but before pursuing this option, homeowners should check local ordinances. Trapping squirrels and relocating them to other areas is not recommended because they typically do not survive.

- Bryan Lueth, DNR area wildlife supervisor


There has been a lot of media attention recently about winterkill in lakes in southwestern Minnesota. Aren’t these lakes aerated?

Typically, Windom area lakes experience some winterkill on an annual basis. However, the severity of the pocket winterkill varies greatly depending on the winter's snowfall and how early significant snowfall events occur. The lakes in this area are highly eutrophic and shallow. As a result, many of the lakes in the Windom fish management area have aeration systems in them that are sponsored and operated by local sportsmen’s groups.

Aeration systems are meant to create refuge areas with higher dissolved oxygen levels near the aeration systems. They are not meant to keep higher oxygen throughout the entire lakes’ volumes. Some species of fish are less tolerant to lower dissolved oxygen than others. For example bluegill, largemouth bass, and channel catfish are not as tolerant as northern pike and yellow perch. Consequently, a lake experiencing pocket winterkill may have reduced numbers of certain species of fish.

Because Minnesota’s lakes are so productive, they are also able to rebound quickly. DNR Fisheries does checks on these reported pocket winterkills so that appropriate fisheries management activities can be planned for improving these lakes.

- Ryan Doorenbos – DNR Windom area fisheries supervisor



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