DNR Questions Of The Month

Q: Water quality is important to all of us. Are there any simple things people can do to help keep our lakes, rivers and wetlands healthy?

A: Removing trash along a riverbank, lakeshore or from a wetland is that step in the right direction. Through the DNR’s Adopt-a-River program, people can sign up to “adopt” a section of a lake, river or wetland to ensure its long-term health through annual cleanups. Volunteers choose their own site from shorelines that have not yet been adopted. The program supplies “how-to” assistance, free rubbish bags, gloves and recognition after a reporting of cleanup results. Between 1989 and 2006 more than 2,200 cleanups have been completed by more than 66,000 volunteers in 64 Minnesota counties. They have removed about 4.8 million pounds of rubbish from 7,500 miles of Minnesota’s public waters, utilizing 226,000 hours of effort.

For information on the Adopt-a-River program, visit the DNR’s Web site at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/adoptriver/index.html.

- Paul Nordell, Adopt-a-River Program coordinator

Q: People who venture out onto a lake in the winter to fish or enjoy another form of activity may often hear booming and cracking sounds from the ice below them. What causes this? What does that mean?

A: The groaning and cracking of ice does not necessarily mean that the lake is unsafe. As the temperature changes, there are tremendous forces at work on the massive ice sheet. The forces exhibited by lake ice are similar to those acting on the earth’s crust. A sheet of ice can develop fault lines, and sudden shifts along these faults can cause the separated sheets to collide, pushing upwards, creating pressure ridges.

These areas can be dangerous, particularly to vehicle traffic as they can cause injuries if someone were to collide with them. The potentially weakened ice underneath these ridges may also cause someone to break through and plunge into frigid waters of the lake below. Shifting ice can also push up along shorelines and form large, leaning ice heaves and potentially hazardous conditions. Parents should be careful that children do not play on or around these dangerous ice formations.

- Greg Spoden, DNR Division of Waters; Kim Elverum, DNR boat and water safety

Q: Spring is the time when wildlife babies are born. What should people do, if anything, if they find what appears to be an abandoned wildlife baby, or a baby bird that fell out of its nest?

A: The arrival of spring also means the arrival of newborns and just-hatched wildlife. These youngsters soon venture into the world on shaky legs or fragile wings. All too often, well-meaning people pick up animals, particularly white-tailed deer fawns and young birds, believing that these animals have been orphaned or abandoned and need to be saved. This is almost never the case because the parents are usually waiting nearby. In fact, a would-be rescuer is causing more harm than good to the young animal. Those early unsteady steps and flights are part of normal development, helping the young learn how to care for themselves. So, it’s important for people to remember that wild animals belong in the wild.

- Lori Naumann, DNR Nongame Wildlife Program

All contents are copyright (c) 2007 by Northern Breezes, Inc. All information contained within is deemed reliable but carries no guarantees. Reproduction of any part or whole of this publication in any form by mechanical or electronic means, including information retrieval is prohibited except by consent of the publisher.