Minnesota counties and residents benefit from PILT payments

Minnesota’s 87 counties are the beneficiaries of $35.9 million in state payments that help support public lands.
The state’s Department of Revenue recently distributed annual payments for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), a property tax relief program that offsets tax revenues not collected on public lands. Counties have received PILT payments annually since 1979 in place of property taxes on 5.6 million acres of state-managed lands and 2.8 million acres of county-managed tax-forfeited lands. Money for the payments comes from the state’s general fund.
Every county in Minnesota has public lands within its borders and receives an annual PILT payment. In July, counties received anywhere from $21,443 in Red Lake County up to $3,792,842 in St. Louis County.
“PILT is an important and consistent revenue source for counties, but the benefits of public lands for Minnesotans go far beyond these annual payments,” said Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “Public lands support local economies through timber and mineral production, provide space for outdoor recreation and tourism, create habitat for wildlife, and help provide clean air and water.”
The state makes PILT payments on public lands including state parks and forests, scientific and natural areas and wildlife management areas, school trust lands, Consolidated-Conservation lands as well as county-managed tax-forfeited lands. Even lands that could never be developed and placed on the tax rolls are included in PILT calculations used to compensate counties.
Payment rates vary according to land type and range from $2 per acre, to three-quarters of 1 percent of appraised value. Payment for Lake Vermilion Soudan Underground Mine State Park is assessed at 1.5 percent of the appraised value of the land.
A breakdown of PILT payments for each county is posted on the Minnesota Department of Revenue website.
More information about Minnesota’s public land portfolio, PILT payments, and a brief history of major public land transactions is available on the DNR's public lands page.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Check for invasive species when removing docks, equipment

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reminding lake property owners to carefully check boats and trailers, docks and lifts, and all other water-related equipment for invasive species when removing equipment for seasonal storage.
This is important, as several new zebra mussel confirmations in recent years were initially reported by people removing docks, boats and boat lifts.
“These late summer/early fall confirmations are the result of Minnesotans being more vigilant and checking for invasive species when taking equipment out of the water,” said DNR Invasive Species Unit supervisor Heidi Wolf.
It’s especially important to follow Minnesota’s law and keep docks and boat lifts out of the water for at least 21 days before putting them into another body of water. This state law is central to the training DNR-permitted lake service provider businesses receive. Anyone transporting a dock or lift from the adjacent shoreline property to another location for storage or repair may need a permit, to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
The DNR recommends these steps for lake property owners:
* Look on the posts, wheels and underwater support bars of docks and lifts, as well as any parts of boats, pontoons and rafts that may have been submerged in water for an extended period.
* Hire DNR-permitted lake service provider businesses to install or remove boats, docks, lifts and other water-related equipment. These businesses have attended training on Minnesota’s aquatic invasive species laws and many have experience identifying and removing invasive species.
* Contact your area DNR aquatic invasive speciesspecialist if you think you have discovered an invasive species that has not already been confirmed in your lake.
More information is available on the aquatic invasive species page.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Wisconsin land conservation leaders to be honored

MADISON, WI - Gathering Waters: Wisconsin’s Alliance for Land Trusts will honor the achievements of five land conservation leaders from around the state at its 2019 Annual Land Conservation Leadership Award Celebration.
The ceremony is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 26, at the Monona Terrace in Madison.
The Land Conservation Leadership Awards recognize individuals, land trusts and others for outstanding commitment and leadership in helping to protect Wisconsin’s land, water, wildlife and way of life. This statewide conservation event brings together hundreds of land trust leaders, supporters and volunteers from all areas of Wisconsin.
“This year’s nomination pool was incredibly competitive,” said Mike Carlson, Executive Director of Gathering Waters. “We are pleased to host an event that recognizes the amazing accomplishments of these conservation leaders. They are helping us preserve valuable natural resources for the next generation.”

Conservationist of the Year – Chambers Island Nature Preserve Executive Committee
The Chambers Island Nature Preserve Executive Committee is made up of four individuals who own property on Chambers Island in Door County: Mary Brevard, Suzanne Fletcher, Barbara Frank and Mary Jane Rintelman. Appreciating the unique ecological value the island holds, these four set out to create a 1,000-acre preserve. With a clear vision, plan and resolve, they demonstrated commitment and leadership. By the end of 2019, nearly 850 acres will be permanently protected as a direct result of their extraordinary efforts. The Chambers Island Nature Preserve will be managed by Door County Land Trust.

Harold “Bud” Jordahl Lifetime Achievement Award – Ben Niemann
Ben Niemann of Sawyer County has been improving conservation practices and outcomes in Wisconsin for over 50 years. Niemann used his background as a landscape architect and Director of Land Information and Computer Graphic Facility (LICGF) to harness the power of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to make informed decisions about land use, planning and conservation. The application of these technologies has helped to preserve innumerable acres throughout the state, including his most notable project, the establishment of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway.

Harold “Bud” Jordahl Lifetime Achievement Award – Bryan Pierce
Bryan Pierce of northern Wisconsin built an incredible conservation legacy throughout Vilas, Oneida, Forest, Florence, Iron, Price and northern Langlade counties. He founded the Northwoods Land Trust (NWLT) in 2001 and went on to lead the organization for 18 years. His approach centered on sustainability, community cooperation, long-term thinking and integrity resulting in the protection of over 13,000 acres of forestland and 70 miles of shoreline in northern Wisconsin.

Land Legacy Award – The Yawkey Lumber Company
The Yawkey Lumber Company of Oneida County made an incredible gift to the Northwoods Land Trust in 2018. Company shareholders, who are all great-grandchildren of the late Cyrus C. Yawkey, donated 431 acres, including woodlands, wetlands, islands, wildlife habitat and 4.4 miles of natural shoreline on Lake Katherine, a highly scenic, clear water lake in the town of Hazelhurst. The total appraised value of the property was over $12 million, making it one of the most valuable and sizable outright gifts of land to a land trust in Wisconsin. The Yawkey Nature Preserve’s natural shorelines and old-growth forests will now be protected and available for people in Wisconsin to explore and enjoy for years to come.

Land Trust of the Year – Landmark Conservancy
Landmark Conservancy, which serves 20 counties in western and northwestern Wisconsin, was born of a merger between two nationally-accredited land trusts: West Wisconsin Land Trust and Bayfield Regional Conservancy. The merger was completed in 2018, after two years of careful deliberation. The two organizations determined a unified and more robust organization could have greater impact on land and water conservation within their service area. The integrated staff of conservation and advancement professionals will help ensure the quality, visibility and permanence of the conservancy’s work. Landmark Conservancy protects and preserves clean water, healthy soils, habitat for wildlife, sustainable food sources and the space to enjoy the beauty of nature.
The Land Conservation Leadership Award Celebration is open to the public. Tickets cost $60 per person. Sponsors receive complimentary admission. In addition to the awards program, the evening will include a raffle, string quartet, savory hors-d’oeuvres, desserts, a free drink and other surprises in honor of Gathering Waters’ 25th Anniversary. For additional information or to register, visit gatheringwaters.org/awards.

SOURCE: Gathering Waters: Wisconsin's Alliance for Land Trusts

History comes to life at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

The Department of Natural Resources invites visitors to Mille Lacs Kathio State Park to join members of the Minnesota Archaeological Society on Sept. 28 for Archaeology Day.
Attendees will learn about the region’s 9,000 years of human history, and how this contributed to the designation of the park as a National Historic Landmark. The event is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the park picnic area.
“Demonstrations, activities and displays will advance everyone’s knowledge of the park and Minnesota history, no matter what their age,” said Kris Erickson, park manager. “The park’s beautiful fall colors will offer an added perk.”
During the day, visitors can:
* Watch how “flint knapping” transforms a piece of stone into a tool.
* See the way prehistoric pottery was created.
* Observe an excavation where artifacts were discovered.
* Examine a spear, and watch a spear-throwing demonstration.
* Learn to shoot an arrow with instructors from the Archery in the Park program.
Minnesota Archaeological Society publications as well as books and pamphlets from the Minnesota Historical Society, Maritime Heritage Minnesota, St. Cloud State University and other sources will be available. Archeology films will run continuously in the Interpretive Center.
The DNR is sponsoring the event, along with the Minnesota Archaeological Society and St. Cloud State University.
There is no charge for Archaeology Day activities. A vehicle permit is required to enter Minnesota state parks. Vehicle permits may be purchased at the park office. The cost of a daily permit is $7. An annual permit, which allows entry into all state parks for one year from the date of purchase, is $35.
Mille Lacs Kathio State Park is located 8 miles north of Onamia, and 14 miles south of Garrison on U.S. Highway 169. For more information, call the park at 320-532-3523.                                                              

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Check out fall events at Mead Education and Visitor Center

MILLADORE, WI - On Monday evenings this fall, the Mead Education and Visitor Center will host a series of presentations about wildlife in Wisconsin.
These talks, which are free and open to the public, are sponsored by the Friends of the Mead/McMillan Wildlife Areas and the Mead Education staff. The schedule is as follows:
* CWD in Wisconsin's Deer Herds - Sept. 23, 6:30 p.m.
Chronic wasting disease, which was first discovered in Wisconsin's deer herd in 2002, is a fatal brain disease that affects wild white-tailed deer, elk or moose for which there is currently no known cure. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Health Conservation Specialist Amanda Kamps will present this topic and address biological, social and policy issues surrounding the disease.
* The Endangered Whooping Cranes - Oct. 7, 6:30 p.m.
Whooping cranes verged on extinction in the 1940s due to hunting and habitat loss, but an attempt is in progress to bring them back to their native landscape. The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership continues to work toward the reintroduction of this species, of which there is currently about 100 birds in Wisconsin. Necedah National Wildlife Refuge biologist Brad Strobel will present this topic.
* Snapshot Wisconsin - Oct. 14, 6:30 p.m.
Snapshot Wisconsin is a year-round, statewide effort to engage citizens in monitoring wildlife populations using motion-activated trail cameras. The goals of the program are to provide necessary data for wildlife management decisions by monitoring wildlife more consistently across the state and increase public engagement with Wisconsin's natural resources. DNR Natural Resources Research Scientist Christine Anhalt-Depies will present this topic and address how citizens can get involved.
* Red-Shouldered Hawks and Saw-Whet Owls - Oct. 21, 6:30 p.m.
Saw-whet owls are Wisconsin's smallest owl species, at about the size of an American robin, and are relatively rare in Wisconsin, occurring mostly in the north-central part of the state. Red-shouldered hawks have documented breeding locations in all but a dozen Wisconsin counties, with wingspans reaching over three feet. Linwood Research Station's Gene Jacobs and Sassy, his great horned owl, will make an appearance to discuss these two raptor species.
* Wolves in Wisconsin - Oct. 28, 6:30 p.m.
Wisconsin is one of about a dozen states in the country with a wild gray wolf population, though that has not always been the case. By 1960, wolves were declared extirpated from Wisconsin and few remained in the lower 48 states, but wolves have made a comeback under the Endangered Species Act. Today, their delisting as an endangered species has become a hot topic. DNR Big Game Ecologist Scott Walter will discuss this and more in the final Monday night presentation of the fall.
The Stanton W. Mead Mead Education and Visitor Center is located at 201517 County Road S, Milladore, WI 54454. Visit the DNR website for more information about the George W. Mead Wildlife Area.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Deadline extended to apply to serve on fish and wildlife budget committees

Minnesotans interested in helping the Department of Natural Resources determine how Game and Fish Fund dollars are spent now have through Friday, Oct. 11, to apply to serve on a review committee.
Minnesota’s Game and Fish Fund is the fiscal foundation for many of the state’s core natural resource management functions. Upwards of $110 million is deposited into this fund annually.
The DNR needs at least 12 people to serve on the fisheries oversight and wildlife oversight committees (a minimum of 6 for each committee). About half of the current members’ terms expire on Saturday, Dec. 14. Appointees will be responsible for reviewing the agency’s annual Game and Fish Fund report in detail.
People who want to serve should have a strong interest in natural resource management, how it is funded, financial review and working together. The goal is for the committee to have members from across the state with diverse perspectives and backgrounds.
DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen will appoint committee members for two-year terms. Applications are available on the DNR website, along with more information about the fund, expenditure reports and oversight committee reports.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

DNR commissioner lauds benefits of 3 measures from 1969 legislation

Fifty years ago, the Minnesota Legislature ensured better land management and conservation through three key conservation measures.
The Shoreland Protection Act, Floodplain Management Act, and legislation authorizing scientific and natural areas were all signed into law in 1969 by Gov. Harold LeVander.
At that time, most lake properties consisted of relatively tiny seasonal cabins built close to the water on small lots in a relatively natural state. Many Minnesota cities routinely suffered extensive flooding, endangering residents and causing massive economic losses. There was no broad program or legislation in place to protect natural landscapes in the state.
Fifty years later, shoreland management protections benefit both lakes and lake users. These measures have proven to be particularly important as large year-round lake homes and lawns, brick or stone hardscaping, and large docks and powerful boats have become common. While some communities still experience negative impacts from flooding, those that have undertaken flood risk reduction projects have fared relatively well, even with today’s more frequent and extreme rainfall events.
Scientific and natural areas protect native habitat and unique geologic features through a combination of private land purchases, land and money donations, leases from organizations like the Nature Conservancy, conservation easements and agreements with local governments.
“Minnesota leaders had tremendous foresight in enacting these measures fifty years ago, and all Minnesotans have reaped the benefits,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “Now, it’s our responsibility to build on the foundation these programs have provided as we manage our natural resources for the future.”
More information is available on the DNR website about how to protect shorelands, how communities can reduce flood risks, and how everyone can enjoy and enhance Minnesota’s scientific and natural areas.                                                         

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR