July 2006





Boat anchors do a good job of keeping boats in place, but they can also cause damage to the aquatic vegetation in a lake or river. Is there any one style that causes little or no damage?

What a person does with a boat anchor - placement and retrieval - has more influence on the amount of damage it might do than the style of the anchor. For example, lower the anchor when your boat has stopped moving, this will keep it from dragging through vegetation. When you are moving your boat to a new location, even a short distance, be sure to lift the anchor off the bottom. It is illegal to drag an anchor while under power. On windy days, when it is difficult to remain anchored in place, only use the anchor in sheltered areas where the anchor will hold your position. It is particularly important to clean the anchor of vegetation and soils before you leave the lake so that you do not inadvertently transport invasive species from one lake to another.

Steve Enger, DNR Aquatic Plant Management Program coordinator


When restoring a shoreline to native vegetation, how does a person find out what plants will work?

The Minnesota DNR has produced several publications to help make the process of landscaping with native plants an enjoyable and fun experience. An interactive CD-ROM, "Restore your Shore: A guide to protecting and restoring the natural beauty of your shoreland," features a searchable plant encyclopedia with information, photos and maps for more than 400 species native to Minnesota. In addition to shoreline owners, it is valuable to homeowners creating backyard butterfly gardens as well as land managers doing large-scale prairie restorations. The Restore your Shore CD-ROM is a sequel to the book "Lakescaping for Wildlife and Water Quality" that set the standard for natural shoreline management. These products and others are available from Minnesota's Bookstore at www.minnesotasbookstore.com or by calling toll free 1-800-657-3757. A directory of Minnesota native plant suppliers and landscapers is available on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us/gardens/nativeplants/suppliers.html.

Jan Wolff, DNR Ecosystem Education Program coordinator


It has been a while since Minnesota has experienced any significant rainfall. Is the state in a drought?

Much of Minnesota has been extraordinarily dry for the past two months. The precipitation shortfalls have led to low stream flows, increased wildfire danger, and deteriorating crop conditions. The National Drought Mitigation Center depicts northwest, central, and east central Minnesota in their "Moderate Drought" category. Rainfall totals since mid-May have fallen short of historical averages by three to six inches in many counties. From mid-May through mid-July, rainfall amounts rank among the lowest on record in some locales. The geographic extent of the drought, and its magnitude, will continue to worsen rapidly without a change in the weather pattern. The drop in river levels has prompted the DNR to suspend some surface water appropriation permits for enterprises that draw water from rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands.

Greg Spoden, DNR assistant state climatologist


Spruce budworms are causing spruce, balsam fir and other trees in northern Minnesota to turn red again this year. Is there any way to stop this occurrence from happening?

Spruce budworm is a native insect that causes yearly defoliation someplace in northeastern Minnesota. Natural factors, such as adverse weather, diseases, predators, and parasites, help control budworm populations. However, several successive years of favorable weather, abundance of host trees, and suitable over-wintering sites can lead to an outbreak beyond the control of the natural agents. Because the insects have stopped feeding and have laid their eggs for next year, it is too late to attempt other control methods, such as pesticide application. Pesticide spraying should take place around Memorial Day or during the first week of June. The safest pesticide to use is a bacterial product - Bacullus thuringiensis or Bt. In the meantime, property owners can help maintain the health and vigor of their white spruce and balsam fir trees by continually watering them the rest of the summer.

Mike Albers, DNR forest health specialist, Grand Rapids


DNR Question of the Week Archive