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Outdoor Notes for May 26

Upcoming events at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

Saturday, June 1

10:30-11:15 a.m. Minnesota Symbols. Learn about the official bird, flower, tree, fish, butterfly and other symbols that represent Minnesota. Meet at the Interpretive Center.

2-3 p.m. Kids' Activity: Pop Can Casting. Learn about fish that people like to catch in the area and take home a fishing rig you'll make from a pop can. Meet at the Interpretive Center.

Sunday, June 2

10:30-11:15 a.m.

Two Little Owls. A talk about Minnesota's owl species and the characteristics that make them great hunters will be followed by the nature film "Two Little Owls." Meet at the Interpretive Center.

Wednesday, June 5

10:30-11:15 a.m. Snakes Alive! A talk about area snakes will be followed by a visit from our friend Corny the Snake. Meet at the Interpretive Center.

Thursday, June 6

3-4 p.m. Archery in the Park. Join certified archery instructors for hands-on coaching and have a hand at our temporary archery range. Participants must be at least 8 years old. Children 15 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Equipment is provided. In case of rain this program will be canceled. Stop by the Interpretive Center any time between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Meet at the Interpretive Center.

Friday, June 7

10 a.m.-Noon. Fishing Friday Mornings. Join us as we learn all about fishing! We provide the poles, bait and instructors.Minnesota residents do not need a fishing license for this activity. In case of heavy winds or thunderstorms, this program will be canceled. Meet at the Interpretive Center.

Dock regulations balance public water use and protection

Docks and dock platforms provide access to Minnesota's lakes and rivers, and are regulated to help protect public safety as well as aquatic habitat. As summer approaches, the Department of Natural Resources encourages property owners and lake service provider businesses to review the regulations, to ensure the equipment they own, sell or install is in compliance.

Extensive dock systems may shade out important aquatic plants and eliminate critical habitat where fish spawn, feed, grow and find shelter from predators. They can also obstruct navigation or even create a safety hazard if they are too large or improperly placed.

"The current regulations have been in existence for many years, but not everyone is familiar with them," said Jack Gleason, DNR public waters hydrologist. "The DNR worked with property owners, public water users, and business and industry representatives to develop these regulations. They're designed to balance the need for reasonable access to public waters with habitat protection and safety."

To ensure this balance, a dock may not be more than 8 feet wide and may not be combined with other similar structures to create a wider dock.

A modest platform at the water end of a dock is allowed under certain conditions. A single, temporary platform up to 120 square feet measured separately from the access dock, or 170 square feet including the area of the adjacent access dock, is allowed if the following conditions exist:

• The access dock must be 5 feet wide or less, and

• The dock must be on a lake or river with a shoreland classification of General Development or Recreational Development.

Docks must not be a hazard to navigation, health or safety and must allow the free flow of water. A dock should not close off part of the lake or river to other users. Docks must also comply with any local ordinances.

A document about state dock requirements is available on the DNR website.

The DNR website also contains links to other helpful information for property owners about shoreline erosion control and restoration projects to help improve water quality and fish and wildlife habitat.

Clean bird feeders to keep birds healthy

Moldy birdseed and unclean bird feeders can make birds sick. Homeowners who enjoy feeding birds can takes steps now to help birds stay healthy, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

In spring and especially in warm, humid weather, it is common for mold to form on wet birdseed. The mold can cause an avian disease called aspergillosis, which affects the birds' respiratory systems. Salmonella is another disease that affects birds and is associated with unclean feeders. Both diseases can be fatal to birds.

To clean a feeder, use a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water, and scrub the entire surface. Always allow the cleaned feeder to dry out in the sun, as the sunlight will help kill bacteria on the feeder. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned about every week to 10 days during the summer, to keep the sugar water from producing mold.

Staff from the DNR Nongame Wildlife Program urges bird enthusiasts to also rake or sweep up any fallen seeds and seed hulls under their feeder to prevent moldy conditions from occurring on the ground. Seeds left on the ground can also attract meadow voles, house mice, other rodents, raccoons, deer and even bears.

Keep the feed dry by using a hopper-type feeder or a fly-through feeder, and always scrape out old seed that accumulates in the corners. Tray feeders with a screen bottom will allow seeds to dry out from above and below after a rain shower, but thick layers of seed could still trap moisture, so consider more frequent fillings with less seed.

More information about bird feeding is available at mndnr.gov/birdfeeding. Books about attracting and feeding birds include, "Wild about Birds: The DNR Bird Feeding Guide" and "Landscaping for Wildlife." These books were made possible by donations to the Nongame Wildlife Fund.