June 2009

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.





Loons are nesting now and, as a result, can be especially vulnerable at this time of the year. What should anglers and boaters know as they take to the lakes?

 Loons began nesting in early May. Like many wildlife, loons are very sensitive to disturbance. Boats, including canoes, passing too closely to a nest may cause the adults to abandon their nest. This exposes the eggs to predators like raccoons and gulls. The two most traumatic times of the year for loons are Memorial Day weekend, when the adults are sitting on their nests, and the Fourth of July, when the adults are with their young. Thus, boaters can help the long-term survival of Minnesota's state bird by avoiding nesting sites and looking for loons while out fishing or boating. Loons that nest in a less disturbed area show a significantly higher hatching success rates. Minnesota’s loon population is about 12,000 and appears stable.

Anglers can also reduce the risk to loons by not discarding old fishing line in lakes or streams, and by using non-lead jigs and sinkers. About 25 percent of all loon mortality that has been documented in Wisconsin and Michigan is caused by lead poisoning that results from loons swallowing lead jigs and sinkers that have been lost by anglers.

-Carrol Henderson, DNR Nongame Wildlife Program supervisor


Summer is a busy time for landscaping projects and planting trees. What is the proper way to plant a tree to ensure that it will survive and grow to it’s full potential?

 The most common threat to the survival of newly planted trees is desiccation - not getting enough water. When planting a tree, the first thing property owners need to do is dig a hole big enough to accommodate all of the roots; no roots should be exposed. Once the tree is in the hole, the roots should be arranged so that they are in as near a natural position as possible to avoid root deformities that could weaken the root system. After the tree is in place be sure to refill the planting hole so that there are no air pockets and all of the roots are covered with soil; it is important to maximize soil-root contact to ensure trees get the moisture and nutrients they need. Finally, be sure that the tree gets plenty of water, but not too much as it should not be in standing water. Following these steps should give all trees a great jumpstart on a long and healthy life.

-Rick Klevorn, DNR Silviculture Program coordinator


Because of their flat hulls, canoes and kayaks can navigate just about any body of water, but are there trails specifically designated for these types of activities? If so, where are they located and where can a person find information about them?

Minnesota has 30 state-designated water trails, one kayak route (Lake Superior Water Trail) and nearly 2,000 water access sites across the state. Many of these routes may require a certain level of experience, so they should not be attempted by all watercraft users. Rivers and rapids are rated by class level according to the International Scale of River Difficulty. In Minnesota, the lowest class level is “class I” (easy), and the highest is “class VI” (cannot be attempted without great risk of life).

Free water trail guides, which include maps and descriptions of public access points, campsites, rest areas, navigational features, and river miles are available through the DNR Information Center by calling 651-296-6157 or toll free 1-888-646-6367. Information regarding the DNR Water Trail System can be found on the DNR ’s Web site at http://www.mndnr.gov/watertrails.

- Erik Wrede, DNR Water Trails coordinator



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