James T. Martin 2016 keynote address
DNR Roundtable 2016 Plenary
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources works closely with the conservation community to conserve the state's abundant natural resources and maintain high-quality outdoor recreation opportunities.
On Friday, January 15, 2016, 400 stakeholders and conservation leaders in Minnesota gathered for the Department of Natural Resources' 26th Annual Roundtable Event. This year's Roundtable focused on "the complexity of managing Minnesota's natural resources" for diverse interests in a changing world.
The event highlighted "complexity" as a critical ingredient in several very important natural resources issues. As an example, the morning plenary speakers kicked off this theme with a discussion of Mille Lacs Lake.
This year's event was held on Friday, January 15, 2016.
Download the Agenda »
The 2016 Roundtable featured many topics associated with natural resource complexities. Below is a sampling of this year's presentations.
Northern Pike Regulations
DNR fisheries is exploring the idea of implementing a zone concept for northern pike fishing. Such an approach could protect large pike in the northeast, increase pike populations in the south and eventually solve the problem of an over-abundance of small pike in north-central Minnesota. At the 2016 Roundtable, Dr. David Fulton and Dr. Sue Schroeder will discuss preliminary results of recent surveys of northern pike anglers and dark house spearers, and Area Supervisor Gary Barnard will provide an update on the DNR's zone concept proposal, including public input gathered over the last six months.
New Muskellunge Waters
TJ Debates, Area Supervisor, will provide an update on DNR's proposal to manage for muskellunge in 2016 in four lakes spread geographically throughout Minnesota. In 2008, the DNR prepared a long-range plan which called for up to eight new waters to be stocked with muskies by 2020. Public comment was solicited from October 30, 2015 - January 3, 2016. Debates will discuss key themes from the input received, and explain next steps for final decisions on the proposed new muskie waters.
In Dec 2014, Minnesota hosted the Governor's Pheasant Summit in Marshall. The DNR and numerous partner agencies and NGOs took the recommendations from the Summit and distilled them down to ten Action Items. These Action Items are specific goals that can be reached over the next 3-4 years and provide a base for grassland conservation into the future. These include identifying habitat complexes across the pheasant range, developing a report card to track annual progress, as well as specific ways to add to and manage grassland habitat on the landscape.
Elk Management and Restoration
John Williams, Regional Wildlife Manger will give a brief history of elk management in the state and discuss the newly revised MNDNR Elk Management Plan. The Plan includes management objectives for Minnesota's 3 elk herds in northwestern Minnesota including a new population goal for the Kittson Central herd. The Plan is an excellent example of managing natural resources in a complex social and ecological environment. Mike Schrage, Wildlife Biologist for the Fond du Lac Band, will then discuss the Band's proposal with the University of Minnesota and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to study the feasibility of restoring elk to eastern Minnesota.
Non-toxic Shot on Farmland Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs)
Paul Telander, wildlife section chief, will present the scientific and economic rationale for why the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is proposing to require non-toxic shot on state wildlife management areas in the farmland zone. During the 60-day public comment period, which ended Dec. 13, 2015, many comments - both in support of and some opposed - were received. Much of the public opposition to the proposal appears to be based on a lack of understanding about the purpose of the proposed rule. Telander will address this directly in his presentation. An opponent and proponent of the proposal will also present their points-of-view, and will be available to help answer questions.
The generation of maps and data that identify lakes and watercourses requiring buffers is a significant effort that will require DNR staff to work with public ditch authorities to map the contributing areas of public drainage systems. This presentation will demonstrate the tools and methods that are being used to facilitate this collaborative effort to develop an authoritative set of information that local governments can use to help landowners understand where buffers are required and how wide they should be.
In some parts of the state, the unseen, underground aquifers that make up our groundwater resources are under pressure to meet growing needs for domestic water supplies, irrigation, industrial and other uses. These groundwater resources also are interconnected with lakes, streams and wetlands that we value for commerce, recreation, and water supplies. The DNR has been consulting with Stakeholders for several months to develop recommendations to the legislature that will guide ongoing and future decisions about water withdrawal. These recommendations will provide clear statutory direction to balance the economic needs for water with protection of water resources and avoid emergency room crisis management.