Thursday, July 30, 2015

Three Cheers for Public Water Access

Do you ever wonder how we actually get to our river sites? It's a legitimate question for sure, and the answer can actually get quite complicated.

According to the DNR, we may legally access Minnesota's lakes and rivers "if public land or a public road right­-of­-way borders the surface of the water or if you have permission to cross private land to reach the surface of the water" (DNR,

Bridge overlooking Chippewa River site
 Since nearly 100% of our mussel sites border road bridges that cross over the river, we are usually able to walk down the side of the bridge into the water, which can either be common river-entry points with beaten paths, or the complete opposite, sometimes involving a plethora of poison ivy and thistles to battle through to the water's edge. 

We do often knock on the nearby homes of the landowners that live next to the river to ask for permission though, just in case.
Farmland near Chippewa River site

Entry into Snake River site
In case you were also curious about mussel regulations, we are allowed to work with these cool living (and sometimes dead) organisms because we are granted authority under the Minnesota DNR in the form of a permit to handle them in these rivers. Even then, there are many rules to follow, such as careful avoidance of invasive species spreading, the care of endangered and threatened mussel species, and more!

 If you're super excited about our research and hoping to collect some of your own mussel shells, here's a heads up about the DNR's rules about that:
  • People with a fishing license and children younger than 16 may hand-pick or possess up to 24 whole shells or 48 half shells from dead mussels of species that are not endangered or threatened
  • Shell collection is allowed from May 16 through the last day in February
  •  You cannot take mussel shells from the St. Croix River
  •  You cannot possess zebra mussels
  •  Mussel shells cannot be bought or sold 


Happy Regulations!

 Photo Credits: photo 3, Macalester promotional material


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