Watch your heads, Minnesota boaters: Asian carp have arrived

Categories: Outdoors
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Commercial fishermen hold Asian carp caught March 1 in Mississippi River near Winona. From left to right, the fish are grass carp, silver carp, and bighead carp.
Batten down the hatches -- Asian carp have arrived in Minnesota. A silver carp and a bighead carp were caught in the Mississippi River March 1 near Winona, the furthest point upstream the fish have been seen thus far.

Recent reports make the invasive fish sound like villainous creatures from a sci-fi flick -- "the silver carp is known to jump out of the water and strike boaters in the head," MPR notes; according to the EPA, reported injuries from flying silver carp include "cuts from fins, black eyes, broken bones, back injuries, and concussions."

Not only can Asian carp lay the smack down on humans, but they mess up ecosystems as well. Bighead carp can weigh up to 100 pounds, silver carp up to 60, and the voracious eaters can easily out-compete native fish for scarce food supplies.

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Blake Buck attaches engagement ring to fish; girlfriend reels in fiancé

Categories: Outdoors
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Fergus Falls Daily Journal
Blake Buck and his buddy came up with a proposal for the ages.
Only in Minnesota.

Last Saturday, Blake Buck took his girlfriend Kellie O'Leary ice fishing on Otter Tail Lake near Fergus Falls. She ended up reeling in a fiancé.

Buck and his buddy, Mike Metzger, concocted an elaborate plan to have Kellie reel in a fish with the engagement ring attached, and the friends pulled it off without a hitch.

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Minnesota state parks campsite reservation system back online today

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DNR Facbook Page
Interstate State Park is open and enticing.
The shutdown was rough on Minnesotan outdoorsmen and women. No boat or fishing license renewal. Closed state parks. A minefield of poop outside of locked public restrooms.

Well, it's all over now. And starting this morning, the Department of Natural Resource's online campsite reservation system will boot back up. All the choicest spots for Fourth of July weekend 2012 are unclaimed and ready to be snatched.

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Major Northern Lights event predicted tonight

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The northern lights, at another time, in another place (Alaska).
The folks at Science Buzz say the sun spewed forth a mighty belch of solar particles yesterday, and they're expected to bombard the Earth tonight for a major display of the northern lights.

The spooky yet awesome light show is pretty common Up North, but it ought to be visible with the naked eye across a lot of Minnesota tonight -- if the sky is clear, and you can get away from city lights.

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Voodoo lily brings rotting corpse smell to Minnesota Zoo

The new voodoo lily at MN Zoo
Just in time for spring, the Minnesota Zoo has acquired a flower that blooms and smells like something died.

Amorphophallus konjac--also known as Voodoo lily or Devil's tongue--landed at the zoo on Tuesday and is expected to bloom within the next few days. You don't want to miss this, because when it does, the air will be filled with the rotting scent of death.

"I read one thing that says it smells like Hannibal Lecter's compost pile on a hot afternoon," says Kim Thomas, horticulture supervisor at the Minnesota Zoo.

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Rob MacIntyre discovers bottled-urine graveyard near his house

Categories: Outdoors

Photo by Hellochris, Flickr.
Try not to think about how long the containers had been sitting there.
Rob MacIntrye made an unpleasant discovery late last week: The wooded area near his north Minneapolis house was being used as a dump site for bodily fluids.

It's not that someone had merely been using the forest as a toilet. That would have been far less disgusting. MacIntyre actually found a hoard of various containers filled with urine.

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Minneapolis Park Board seeking public input on next superintendent

Categories: Outdoors
Photo by Mulad
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board voted earlier this year to start a search for a new superintendent. Now the Park Board is now asking for the public's input as it begins the official search process.

Superintendent Jon Gurban's contract ends June 30. We wrote about Gurban and his controversial tenure last month. Check out the story here.

If you've got an idea of what you want out of the park's next leader, there are several ways to have your voice heard.

Check out your options below.

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Minneapolis chops ash trees before emerald ash borer strikes

Categories: Outdoors
We've heard from a couple concerned residents who saw what seemed to be healthy trees meeting their fate shortly after being spray-painted with the green ring of death. Apparently the city decided to clear out the ash trees in the city before the emerald ash borer even has a chance to strike. It's kind of like killing off your potentially alcoholic friends before alcohol does it for you. Sort of.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is taking a "proactive" approach to the nasty little bug using a $98,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Emerald Ash Borers are invasive beetles that attack ash trees by feeding on the tree's inner bark. The beetles have killed more than 40 million ash trees nationwide and there is no cure.

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Jon Gurban, Minneapolis parks superintendent, won't seek contract extension

Jon Gurban, Minneapolis Park and Recreation superintendent, will end his contact June 30 as planned, but he won't be gone from the Park and Recreation Board just yet.

The Board voted last month not to renew Gurban's contract after its June 30, 2010 expiration. Gurban has been a controversial figure in the Minneapolis parks since his hiring in 2003. He was hired by the board on a 5-4 vote after not applying for the job. He has since caused tension between park advocates and staff members for his trouble dealing with public criticism and handling controversial projects.

Check out the City Pages feature story about Gurban's tenure here.

Board President Jon Erwin was considering a plan to keep Gurban on as interim superintendent until the board completed the formal search and hiring process of his replacement. Gurban submitted a letter to the Board last week saying he will not seek a contract extension.

The Board is considering an option to keep Gurban on as a consultant for the next year and hire former superintendent David Fisher as the interim replacement until the search is complete. Fisher served as superintendent from 1981 to 1999.

Both items are on tonight's Park Board agenda. Read Gurban's letter and consultant contract here. The proposal to hire Fisher can be found here.

Only in Minnesota: Speed dating on skinny skis

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Photo: Fil and Al/Flickr
Rick Howell says he's a bit taken aback by the sudden interest in the Nordic skiing speed-date event he helped plan for 6 p.m. at the Elm Creek Reserve in Maple Grove. He and a friend, Kati Campbell, just wanted a way for folks with similar interests, and who were in the market for companionship, to break the ice, as it were.

"We thought it would attract a few people," he said. But that was before notice of the event made it onto, a popular Web site for Nordic skiers in the Twin Cities. Then it was posted on, and eventually at "It just snowballed from there."

Here's how it works: Nordic skiers of any ability are welcome to show up between 6-6:30 p.m., and pay for a trail pass and a $10 entry fee. They'll get paired up according to age, ability and other factors, and then light out for an easy 2 kilometer loop and get-to-know-you moment. Maybe phone numbers and waxing tips will be exchanged. Then they'll return and repeat the experience with a new partner, again and again, as long as they can hold up (one guesses).

Want to know more? Check the links above. And be careful out there.