News that may be of interest to you, provided by Rich Staffon
Minnesota Moose Survey - Here is some good news. The recently completed moose survey finds stable counts and reasons for optimism. See MPR News article below for details:
The Rise and Fall of Deer Populations in NE Minnesota
Here is an interesting and in-depth Outdoor Life article by Patrick Durkin that describes the reasons behind the decline in deer numbers in NE Minnesota. While a problem for us deer hunters, this decline should be benefiting the moose population because fewer deer in the woods means fewer cases of brain worm for the moose.
Legislative Hearing on Dangers of Lead
The Ikes have long advocated for banning the use of lead ammo and tackle because of the deadly impacts to wildlife who accidentally ingest lead from lost tackle and bullet fragements left in animal carcasses. There is some hopeful action on this issue in the legislature this year as recently reported below by John Myers in the Duluth News Tribune:
Minnesota lawmakers hear about dangers of lead - https://edition.pagesuite.com/popovers/dynamic_article_popover.aspx?artguid=a39265c5-d36d-4189-bd65-1b994e0071cf
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)
Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, is a fatal neurological disease that affects cervids, including white-tailed deer. It is found globally and in about half of the states in the U.S. CWD remains relatively rare in Minnesota at this time, but is a concern as there is no known cure. The Minnesota DNR, the IWLA and other organizations are working hard to limit its spread.
On Sept. 7, 2021, the St. Louis County Board passed a resolution for a public hearing to consider a moratorium on captive deer farms in the county. This could be a major step forward in the effort to prevent the spread of CWD into the northern forests of Minnesota.
At the same time, the Minnesota Conservation Federation is leading a coalition of conservation groups, including the Ikes, in drafting a position statement asking the Minnesota legislature to ban cervid farms and the movement of captive cervids in the state (see below). These are encouraging developments, and they mirror a resolution our chapter wrote on the CWD issue in 2019. However, there will likely be a great deal of resistance from the agriculture industry.
IWLA Resolution Statement Regarding CWD and Cervid Farms
Where is the mercury coming from that is polluting the St. Louis River Estuary?
Below is a link to a great article by Stephanie Hemphill on the mercury issue and some of the research that is being done to understand the source of this serious problem.
Bill to Restore America's Grasslands
The Izaak Walton League is encouraging Congress to introduce and pass a North American Grasslands Conservation Act to fund restoration of the nation's disappearing grasslands. The program would focus on work with private landowners since farms and ranches are key to preserving these ecosystems. Grasslands are vital for wildlife, local economies and capturing carbon. Here is a link to learn more about the issue and take action:
Oil in the Water
Here is a link to a article with a surprizing story about oil-polluted water near Otter Creek in Carlton County from a long ago spill that Enbridege is supposed to clean up as part of thier Line 3 pipeline project. Who knew?
Fire in the Arrowhead
Wildfires have been much in the news lately. Here is a link to an very well done and informative article that explains why we are having this problem with fire. This is not so much a climate change issue as it is a forest management issue that magnifies climate change. It details what needs to be done to resolve the problem and to improve our forest compostion and move our northern forest more towrds what it looked like prior to the logging days. It is a classic tale of fighting fire with fire!
For years the MPCA has been unable and unwilling to regulate the discharge of sulfates into the wild rice waters of the state. That has suddenly changed with a recent ruling by the US EPA that requires the state to list 30 of the most polluted wild rice waters on the state's impaired waters list. This is a significant development that could finally force the state to protect wild rice from sulfate discharges by industrial activities like waste water treatment plants and mining. For more details see the April 29 Star Tribune article by Jennifer Bjorhus. The comment period is open until May 31 on this ruling. We plan to submit comments recommending that additional impaired waters be included in the listing. This could be a game changer for mining permits.
Boundary Waters Bill
Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota has recently introduced a bill to protect the Boundary Waters and Voyageurs National Park from sulfide-mining. The bill HR 2794 and can be seen here. The Izaak Walton League and many others have signed on to a letter supporting this legislation. The bill would permanently withdraw from the federal mining program 234,328 acres of federal lands within the Boundary Waters watershed. The bill specifically targets copper-nickel mining and does not limit taconite or sand and gravel mining operations. Please spread the word about this bill and ask folks to contact their representative to support HR 2794. We will need lots of support from other congressional districts to make this happen!
Weak Mining Regulations
Minnesota is touted as a state with strong environmental standards. However, as this Duluth News Tribune article by Ann Cohen, attorney with the MCEA explains, the state's mining regulations are not as strong as we might hope. The Ikes are not opposed to mining per se. We need the minerals these mines can provide, although much more should be done with recycling and reusing first. Until we have regulations and mine plans that truly protect our lands and waters, we believe the minerals should stay in the ground. See more at the Duluth News Tribune.
Douglas Tallamy is the author of "Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens" and "Natures Best Hope." He also has a website Homegrown National Park where you can learn more about planting to restore biodiversity.
homegrown national park™ is a grassroots call-to-action to restore biodiversity and ecosystem function by planting native plants and creating new ecological networks.