December 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.





Where can I find information about snow depth and ski trail/snowmobile trail conditions?

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources maintains a web page that provides snow depth and ski trail/snowmobile trail condition information for locations across Minnesota. The information is updated weekly or as conditions warrant. For current conditions see .

Greg Spoden - DNR State Climatology Office


Where does the balsam fir boughs used to make holiday wreaths and garland come from?

The specialty forest products industry uses many of the natural resources found in Minnesota’s forests, such as pinecones, mosses and birch twigs, to make everything from decorative items to medicinal and herbal products.

One of the most important specialty products is the balsam bough. Approximately 4,000 tons of boughs are harvested annually from Minnesota forests, and each ton makes roughly 400 wreaths. However, the number of holiday wreaths and garland made per ton varies depending on the size of each item.

Most of the boughs used by Minnesota’s special forest products industry are harvested from public and private lands across the northern part of the state. Itasca, St. Louis, Aitkin and Cass counties support more than half of the total bough harvest in Minnesota. The state’s balsam bough industry has annual retail sales topping $20 million.

- Keith Jacobson, DNR Forest Utilization & Marketing Program coordinator


What are the educational requirements for the legal operation of a snowmobile in Minnesota?

Current statute requires anyone born after Dec. 31, 1976 to take a safety-training course before operating a snowmobile on public lands or waters. Youth ages 11 – 15 now have two options to choose from for snowmobile certification: an eight-hour introductory course designed for youth or the rider with little or no experience, which includes hands-on training; or an independent study CD-based course where students learn at home.

Adult (ages 16 and up) snowmobile certification may be obtained by completing the DNR adult independent study CD, or by attending a traditional snowmobile certification class.

Once they have successfully completed their courses, students print and mail a certificate of completion to the DNR. Both these courses show students the most common causes of snowmobile accidents in Minnesota, and how to avoid them. Volunteers teach classes across the state.

Information regarding snowmobile certification classes can be found on the DNR's website at .

- Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Division of Enforcement recreational vehicle coordinator


DNR Question of the Week Archive