Comments sought on proposed

Comments sought on proposed

Minnesota deer population goals

Comments on proposed deer population goals recommended by citizen advisory teams in 40 of Minnesota’s 128 deer permit areas will be accepted Thursday, April 2, through Wednesday, April 15, on the Department of Natural Resources website at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

The DNR will evaluate advisory team recommendations and public comments on those recommendations before determining the final deer population goal for each of five goal-setting blocks. Once goals are established, the DNR will announce those goals, and wildlife managers will implement harvest strategies to meet and maintain them.

“We’ve used a fairly extensive process to revisit deer population goals in large portions of northeastern, north-central and east-central Minnesota,” said Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader. “To date, the public engagement process has included public meetings, opt-in questionnaires and written comments, and most recently, the assistance of citizen advisory teams to review public input and provide recommendations for revised deer population goals.”

The DNR also conducted statistically representative surveys of hunters and landowners in the five goal-setting blocks to learn about their perceptions and attitudes.

People serving on the advisory committees represent a cross-section of interests including archery, firearm and muzzleloader hunters; area residents and landowners; farmers; land managers, local government staff and appointed officials; local business owners; and members of hunting, conservation and agricultural organizations.

Specific population goal recommendations will be posted online, along with the factors advisory team members cited when making recommendations. People should review this supporting information before submitting comments, which will only be accepted online at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

Revisiting deer population goals began in 2012, when similar area teams helped set new goals for some permit areas in the Windom, Floodwood and Tower areas. Last year, new goals were set for southeastern Minnesota. The DNR plans to have new goals in place for all Minnesota deer permit areas before the 2016 firearms deer season.

More information on the process is available on the DNR’s deer management Web page atwww.mndnr.gov/deer.

Spring burning restrictions

take effect this week in much of Minnesota

The Department of Natural Resources will restrict debris burning in many northwestern, southern and central Minnesota counties this week, beginning Wednesday, March 25, and in other parts of the state beginning in April.

Burning restrictions mean the state will not allow the open burning of brush or yard waste. Debris burning is especially dangerous during April and May when most wildfires occur in Minnesota.

Spring burning restrictions coincide with increasing fire potential throughout much of the state due to the early snow melt and dry fuels like grass and leaves. With the snow gone, exposed dead grass and brush can light easily and fires can spread quickly. Restrictions last until sufficient green vegetation forms, normally from four to six weeks.

“The spring fire restrictions have resulted in a dramatic decrease in both the number and size of accidental fires,” said Ron Stoffel, DNR wildfire suppression supervisor.

Counties can be quickly added to the restrictions list during dry, windy days when fires could easily burn out of control. Therefore, residents are encouraged to visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/firerating_restrictions.html or call their local forestry office to obtain up-to-date information on fire danger and burning restrictions.

In addition, many local counties and municipalities have specific burning regulations or restrictions. Check with local authorities to obtain proper permits before burning.

The burning restrictions do not apply to campfires; they are still allowed. Clear an area around the campfire, watch it continuously and make sure it is out and cold to the touch before leaving.

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says North Dakota’s share of specialty crop development funds should encourage more farmers, ranchers, food companies, researchers and others to get involved in specialty crop production and processing.

“I have been informed by USDA that North Dakota will receive $2.3 million dollars for specialty crop grants,” Goehring said.

Goehring said the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) is now accepting applications for 2015 Specialty Crop Grants.

“Projects that promote the production, processing and use of specialty crops in the North Dakota are eligible for these grants,” he said. “Organizations, institutions and individuals are encouraged to submit proposals on their own or in partnerships.”

Eligible applications include developing new and improved seed varieties, reducing distribution costs, investing in specialty crop research, enhancing food safety, pest and disease control and development of local and regional food systems. Projects that directly benefit specific, commercial products or profit a single organization, institution or individual are not eligible.

USDA defines specialty crops as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops.” Specialty crops grown commercially in North Dakota include dry beans, dry peas, lentils, potatoes, confection sunflowers, grapes, honey and various vegetables.

Goehring said an information manual with application instructions, scoring criteria and an application template can be found on NDDA’s website: www.nd.gov/ndda/program/specialty-crop-block-grant-program.

Applications must be submitted in electronic form by 4 p.m. CDT Thursday, April 30, 2015. An external review committee will review and score the applications. The successful applications will be forwarded onto the USDA for final approval. The grants will be awarded in late fall/early winter.

Projects funded by the grants must be completed within 21 months.

Goehring said persons needing more information should contact Emily Edlund at (701) 328-2191 or edlund@nd.gov.

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