Meet our Volunteers

Volunteers for the DNR

Summer 2016

Sharp-tailed Grouse Trapping and Monitoring: Teri Trail, Canyon, MN

truckload of birdhouses


This past spring, Teri Trail spent more than 20 early and cold mornings monitoring sharp-tailed grouse performing a courtship dance on their dancing grounds (also known as leks.)   Females visit the lek and mate with the best displaying male.  The female nests in grass or beneath a shrub, usually near the dancing area and lays 10 to 14 eggs.

Teri's original duty was volunteering to trap sharp-tailed grouse for a radio-collar breeding habitat study. 

According to Lindsey Shartell, Forest Habitat Assessment Biologist, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Grand Rapids, “ After trapping wrapped up, Teri stayed on to help our natural resource technicians track sharp-tailed grouse hens and monitor their nests.  She also conducted fall lek surveys to determine how frequently sharptails visit the dancing grounds during the fall season.  This is an important time for young birds to disperse over a wide area.  Teri was a great help!”

Thank you, Teri, for volunteering with us!

Buckthorn and Boardwalks: Urban Roots, St Paul

Pat Mortale

Through a cooperative partnership, Urban Roots, a St Paul non-profit organization devoted to youth empowerment, donated over 1,200 hours of work this past year from their high-school aged conservation crews and leaders pulling invasive species, planting native trees and helping lead events in the DNR Central Region.

“Without their help, we could not start to keep up with managing the newly sprouting buckthorn that has emerged after prior buckthorn clearings,” said Gina Bonsignore, Regional Planner, St. Paul.  “The youth have also helped construct floating boardwalks to help make the site more accessible. They developed a management plan to restore a woodland edge that is now a weedy area.”

Thank you, Urban Roots, for assisting with landscape management at the DNR’s Willowbrook site in St Paul!

Native Bee Surveys: Les Rogers, Falcon Heights

Mark Tipler

Les Rogers is a dedicated, dependable, and detail-oriented volunteer. He contributed over 160 hours this past year to support the Minnesota Biological Survey's native bee project.

“At the University of Minnesota Insect Collection, Les has helped to database over 4,000 historic bee specimens! He's also built cardboard trays to store specimens and joined the bee crew for fieldwork near Granite Falls,” said Crystal Boyd, DNR Entomologist, St Paul.

It's important to record what bee species live in Minnesota and which habitats they prefer so we can practice effective pollinator conservation.  Learn more about native bees of Minnesota’s grasslands.

Thanks, Les, for all your wonderful service!

Bob Iten - Lake Level Monitoring on Long Lake, Sherburne County

Austin Dusek

There are 117 public waters named Long Lake in Minnesota, but there's nothing commonplace about the actions of resident Bob Iten, one of our long-serving lake level citizen monitors.

It is very important to Bob to report the lake levels on this lake that has fluctuated over 13 feet in his 44 years on the lake.  Long Lake is part of a landlocked lake system with other nearby lakes.

His wife notes, “He loves doing this.  He even put a crafted stainless steel plate on our patio to mark an elevation benchmark the DNR has set." 

That eagerness has meant Bob has provided over 920 lake gauge readings since 1993 for use by lake and watershed residents. As a member of both local and statewide lake associations, Bob has attended many meetings to advocate for lake protection. 

"For decades, I've talked with people who don't understand science, the Anoka Sand Plain aquifer, the impacts of having a perfect green lawn down to the lake, or the potential impacts of water recreation behaviors,” said Bob.  "I try to get people who live on the lake to practice stewardship.  Just because you can do something legally, doesn't mean you shoulddo it for the environment." 

Taking care of the state's natural resources is a task that requires everyone to lend a hand. According to Sandy Fecht, Ecological and Water Resources, "The information provided by citizen monitors is used by decision makers and lake users for a better understanding of our water resources and its influences from year-to-year.”

Austin DusekAll reported historic lake levels for 1300 lakes are available for all to view and use on the DNR web site, Lake Finder.

Thank you, Bob, for teaching others about stewardship!  We appreciate you working as a citizen monitor in providing a legacy of lake levels and education for generations to come.