February 2005

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.






Minnesota has a number of species on the state endangered, threatened or of special concern list. How far have we come in helping to protect and re-establish these populations? Are we close to removing any from these lists?

Minnesota has a total of 96 endangered, 101 threatened and 242 special concern species. The management and recovery of Minnesota's listed species is a major responsibility of the DNR, and species such as the gray wolf, trumpeter swan, peregrine falcon and bald eagle are recovering in response to these efforts. Additional populations of some listed species, such as the threatened Blanding's turtle, have been discovered; and the endangered Higgin's Eye Pearly Mussel has a brighter future thanks to captive breeding and subsequent release into restored habitats. Active management programs are also underway for recovery of the Karner Blue Butterfly, Timber Rattlesnake, Topeka Shiner (minnow) and many other plant and animal species. As some species rebound, others, such as the piping plover, continue to decline due to a loss of habitat. Federal funds and private landowners are key to the success of many programs. Donations to the Nongame Wildlife Checkoff are used to match federal wildlife grant and endangered species funds to protect Minnesota's endangered and threatened wildlife species.

Richard Baker, DNR animal research coordinator/zoologist


The Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) program uses money raised from the sale of the critical habitat license plates to purchase and develop important areas for fish and wildlife. What sort of an impact has this program made in Minnesota?

The Reinvest in Minnesota Matching program was established in 1986 by a recommendation from the Citizen's Commission to Promote Hunting and Fishing in Minnesota. Since that time, the Minnesota Legislature has appropriated $24 million and the Critical Habitat Conservation License Plates have generated more than $11 million for acquisition and enhancement of critical habitat. These funds have matched private donations of land and cash totaling more than $29 million. The money has helped restore wetlands, improve forest habitat, plant critical winter cover, preserve habitat for rare, native plant and animal species, and protect reproduction areas for fish. The program has also created public places for hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife watching and other outdoor activities. With the help of Minnesotans and other conservation-minded people, the RIM Matching Program has been able to acquire and protect more than 68,000 acres of land.

Kim Hennings, DNR RIM Program Coordinator


In the past hunters and trappers had certain exceptions regarding all-terrain vehicle (ATV) use during their specific seasons. How does the 2003 legislation requiring the DNR to reclassify all state forests as " limited" or "closed" impact these uses?

The answer regarding cross-country travel in state forests depends on the classification that is being proposed. Forests proposed as "limited" would still permit hunters and trappers to operate ATVs off of forest trails when lawfully using their machines for hunting big game or constructing hunting stands during October, November and December; retrieving harvested big game in September through December; or trapping during open seasons. These exceptions for hunting and trapping do not allow operation of ATVs in state forests that are "closed" to motor vehicles. When operating an ATV for these activities it is illegal to cause erosion or ruts, or to injure, damage or destroy trees or crops. ATV legislation has been introduced this session and current regulations are subject to change. Additional information regarding forest reclassifications, and trail and road designations can be found on the DNR web site.

CB Bylander, DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife Outreach Section manager


The DNR is currently in the process of reclassifying state forests for motorized uses. Why is this necessary, and why designate specific routes for off-highway vehicle (OHV) use?

The 2003 Legislature mandated the changes due to growing concerns about user conflicts and OHV damage to state forestlands. Currently there are more than 12,163 off-highway motorcycles, nearly 5,500 off-road vehicles and more than 222,500 all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) registered statewide. Twenty years ago, when Minnesota started registering ATVs, there were only 12,235 machines. As OHV use in the state grows, legislators passed a law directing the DNR to classify the forest as closed or limited. Under the current "managed" classification, motorized users of the forests could ride on any roads and trails in the forest unless they were posted closed. Under the "limited" classification, motorized users can ride trails that are marked open to specified kinds of vehicles, and should consider all unmarked trails and roads closed to OHV uses. The Legislature is seeking to provide access and opportunities for multiple kinds of recreation in state forests and minimize damages and conflicts between motorized and non-motorized uses. The change will funnel motorized use onto sustainable trails and roads that can be managed and maintained by the DNR. Another positive result will be that trails that are open for OHV use will have good signage and be better maintained for those uses.

Brad Moore, DNR Assistant Commissioner


DNR Question of the Week Archive