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DULUTH, Minn.—The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is looking for volunteers to trek across the north woods later this winter and count grouse poop in the snow, spruce grouse poop in particular. The spruce grouse may be the Rodney Dangerfield of the northern forest — it doesn't get much respect — often referred to as "fool's hen" because they tend not to fly away when approached.
GRAND RAPIDS, Minn.—The long-awaited restart of the former Magnetation operations just outside Grand Rapids could happen as soon as the summer, with more than 100 people back to work, months earlier than previously expected. New owner Tom Clarke said this week that he now has engineering plans ready and financing in place to complete an estimated $20 million in retrofitting work to the former Magnetation pellet plant in Reynolds, Indiana.
DULUTH, Minn.—Scientists have been saying for years that Minnesota winters are getting warmer, but a new report from the nonprofit group Climate Central shows the region in the bull's-eye for climate change in the U.S. The report, released this week, found winters warming faster in the Great Lakes and Great Plains than anywhere else in the U.S., with winters in parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas and northern New England warming at an average rate of more than 1 degree per decade since 1970 — more than 4 degrees Fahrenheit total.
WASHINGTON—The U.S. House on Wednesday debated legislation that would reopen areas near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota to copper-nickel exploration and potential mining, but stopped short of taking any vote. House members hotly debated the bill that would end an Obama-administration ban on exploration and mining near the federal wilderness. But a memo from the House whip said a final vote was postponed until Thursday, Nov. 30.
MINNEAPOLIS—When U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and former Vice President Walter Mondale spoke at the University of Minnesota on Sunday, an event timed to the 15th anniversary of the death of Minnesota political icon Paul Wellstone, the subject was how Democrats could regain their lost mojo. The party is at a crossroads, promoters of the event noted, with Republicans controlling the White House, Congress and two-thirds of governorships and state legislatures nationwide.
VIRGINIA, Minn. — James Larson says he drives past a lake near his home in Aurora, Minnesota, and, if the rainfall has been right, sees a flourishing stand of wild rice. "Every year it gets thicker and thicker and thicker," said Larson, a union employee at United Taconite. Larson's comments joined a chorus of Iron Range residents, business and civic leaders who asked state Administrative Law Judge LauraSue Schlatter to reject the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's proposed rule to limit sulfate and sulfides in waters where wild rice grows.
DULUTH—Two Duluth-area conservation officers chased down two suspected poachers Saturday night, Oct. 21, in what became a haunting tale of paranormal behavior. Conservation officers Andy Schmidt and Kipp Duncan, who patrol the Duluth area for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, were staking out a cemetery near where there had been recent complaints of people "shining" deer.
GRAND RAPIDS, Minn.—With a rising population of wolves and more of them attacking livestock and pets, a federal program to trap and kill problem wolves in northern Minnesota has run out of money. While Great Lakes-region wolves are currently protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, they are listed as officially "threatened" in Minnesota — a step below endangered that allows U.S. Department of Agriculture trappers to kill wolves where livestock and pets have been killed.
DULUTH, Minn.—One week before public hearings begin on Minnesota's proposed new rules for protecting wild rice from sulfate pollution, the state's mining industry, Steelworkers and Iron Range officials and activists are restating their fervent opposition. Critics say the new rule could cause increased regulation for taconite iron ore processing operations and some municipal sewage treatment plants. If the new rules are applied and enforced, critics say it could cost millions of dollars for the mining companies to comply, spurring mine shutdowns and layoffs.
DULUTH — Drivers on Minnesota highways are slightly more likely to hit a deer this year than last according to an annual assessment by State Farm Insurance. The company said an estimated 1-in-74 Minnesota drivers will hit a deer or other large animal this year, up from about 1-in-80 drivers in 2016. Minnesota retained its rank as No. 7 among all 50 states in how likely drivers are to hit a deer on the road.