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.
Q: Are there statewide rules about where I can place my dock?
A: Statewide rules do not specify where a dock needs to be placed. However, there are a few rules to keep in mind. You need to own or control the land from which your dock originates, avoid posted fish spawning areas, and you cannot install a dock that obstructs navigation or creates a water safety hazard.
Docks and lifts should be placed so that mooring and maneuvering of your watercraft can normally be confined within your property lines as if they were extended into the water perpendicular to the shoreline. Due to the curvature of some shorelines and the configuration of lots, sometimes property lines extending into the water can run at angles rather than perpendicular to the shoreline.
When the shoreline curve is tight, the water level low, or an additional dock is installed, conflict can be minimized by the dock owners working together to arrive at the best placement, or possible sharing of a common dock.
There are some counties and communities around the state that have adopted ordinances that regulate lot line setbacks and other aspects of dock placement. Your local planning and zoning office should be able to answer questions about local restrictions on dock placement.
For more information about docks and access in public waters, go to: http://go.usa.gov/VD7.
-Tom Hovey, DNR public waters hydrologist
Q: Given the drought situation over most of Minnesota last summer and fall, how did turtles and frogs fair?
A: We did have some pond kills because the oxygen levels got too low in ponds that had reduced water levels and shallower depths. There were a few winter kills of turtles as a result of low water levels, deep frost, and low oxygen going into winter. Severe drought concentrates populations of both turtles and frogs, which can lead to increased disease transmission and stressed animals. It’s possible that there was some mortality as well as increased predation due to concentrated animals.
This year, turtles and frogs are on the move, away from areas where there is excessive water. There’s also a delay in nesting for turtles due to cooler water and air temps. We suspect there’s some impact to timber rattlesnake dens in a few areas from severe floods that occurred in past years during the summer. With recent heavy rain and severe flooding in areas of southeastern Minnesota at a time when more snakes are in stream corridors, we may see impacts to some dens.
-Jaime Edwards, Nongame wildlife program
Q: I just bought a personal watercraft. Are there restrictions on the hours I can operate it?
A: Yes, operation of personal watercraft is allowed only from 9:30 a.m. to one hour before sunset. For more rules and regulations regarding personal watercraft, go to www.mndnr.gov/regulations/boatwater.
-Kara Owens, DNR boat and water safety specialist
Q: Finding a place to ride an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or other off-highway vehicle (OHV) takes a little research. Are there different levels of riding choices - from novice to adventurous? How can riders find the trail that fits their needs?
A: Minnesota is using the standard symbols to identify level of difficulty. The symbols are: green circle – easiest that include the most developed, almost road-like trails with rolling hills and few obstacles; blue square – more difficult, narrower trails with steeper hills and switchbacks and some moderate obstacles; and black diamond – most difficult or technical with very steep grades, narrow trails, rough or loose tread surfaces and obstacles. Most public OHV trails are green with some blue levels available. The Red Dot and Spider Lake systems are two sites that have some blue level trails.
The only public riding area with significant black diamond level opportunities is the Iron Range Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Area in Gilbert. It is important for riders to know their abilities and know their machines. Most of the difficult trails do not provide alternative routes – once the course is started, it must be finished. For more information see http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/ohv/difficulty.html.
More information about trails can be found in the DNR’s book Trail Planning, Design, and Development Guidelines, available for purchase from Minnesota's Bookstore. You can also get information by calling the Parks and Trails Division at 651-259-5600 or toll-free at 888-646-6367.
-Mary Straka, OHV program consultant