News & Articles

  • 30 Apr 2019 5:08 AM | Jack Mackenzie (Administrator)

    Briana Bierschbach April 12, 2019

    Minnesota joined 17 states and the District of Columbia on Friday in requiring drivers have their cellphones in hands-free mode while their vehicle is moving. 

    Gov. Tim Walz signed the bill in a ceremony on Friday surrounded by family members who lost loved ones to distracted drivers and have been pushing for nearly two decades to change the law.

    But there’s still work ahead: the Department of Public Safety, law enforcement and the families are launching a public education campaign to make sure Minnesotans have heard about the new law before it goes into effect in August. 

    Here’s a primer on what you can — and more importantly, can’t — do under the new law. 

    Under the new law, what can’t you do? 

    It was already illegal in Minnesota for drivers send text messages and emails while driving, as well as access or browse the internet, but phone calls were allowed if the driver wasn’t distracted. Under the new law, drivers can send messages or place calls while driving only if their device is in hands-free or voice-activated mode. The law makes an exception for emergency calls.

    The new law also means things like manually punching in a phone number or an address into a navigation app are not OK, as well as scrolling through a list of contacts or text messages. Hands-free technology, such as Bluetooth, allows a driver to do these things without actually holding their phone. 

    After August 1 police can stop anyone they see holding a phone while driving. 

    What about my GPS device? Can I use that? 

    Yes, the bill does make an exception for GPS devices that are solely used for navigation purposes. But since scrolling is still prohibited, drivers should have their addresses punched in before the vehicle starts moving. 

    What if I can make calls through my vehicle? Is that allowed? 

    The bill does make an exception for devices that are affixed or physically integrated into a vehicle. 

    Can I still listen to a podcast on my phone while driving? 

    You’re still allowed to stream a podcast from your phone, but make sure you’ve opened up your podcast app, picked the one you want to listen to and press play before you start moving in the vehicle. Don’t go searching for the In the Dark podcast while your vehicle is moving. 

    So, can I receive and send text messages as long as I’m not touching my phone? 

    The bill does not specifically ban voice-to-texting, which are text messages that are read to you by your phone or software in your car. Some lawmakers have expressed concerns about this because there’s no indication that a text was sent with voice or manually, meaning officers could pull someone over and have no indication that they weren’t touching their phone. 

    Can I pick up my phone to make a call while I’m at a stoplight? 

    No: You are still technically operating a motor vehicle even while you’re stopped in traffic or at a red light. 

    What about tucking the phone into a hijab or scarf wrapped around your head? 

    Despite an amendment explicitly allowing this practice added to the Senate bill, that provision was taken out of the bill in negotiations with the House. Law enforcement has argued it’s not necessary because it won’t violate the law if the phone is in hands-free mode and if people are not handling the phone between conversations.

    What’s the penalty if I get caught?

    The penalty for violating the law is a petty misdemeanor, carrying a $50 fine for the first violation and a $275 fine for subsequent violations.

    • 23 Apr 2019 8:33 AM | Jack Mackenzie (Administrator)

      By DAVE ORRICK | dorrick@pioneerpress.com | Pioneer Press

      PUBLISHED: April 22, 2019 at 5:01 pm | UPDATED: April 22, 2019 at 5:18 pm

      The Minnesota Court of Appeals has overturned a court decision regarding White Bear Lake’s fluctuating water levels.

      Monday’s decision — split 2-1 by a panel of three appellate judges — is a victory for the Department of Natural Resources and local municipalities and a loss for property owners and residents who believe the state has hurt the lake by allowing too much water to be pumped out of the ground.

      The issue of the lake’s water levels might have lost some of the urgency it once had, as water levels have rebounded recently. But the case is hardly over, and its implications are far-reaching.


      The immediate impact is this: Nothing happens.

      In 2017, following a trial, Ramsey County Judge Margaret Marrinan ruled in favor of the property owners in a sweeping decision that said the DNR had shirked its duty to protect groundwater, put a freeze on new groundwater pumping permits within five miles of the lake, raised the specter of future water restrictions, and seemed to set a path toward many communities switching to surface water, probably via the Mississippi River. (A plan in the Legislature to fund that transition has never gained enough traction to become law.)

      Monday’s reversal of Marrinan’s decision means that’s all on hold.

      An attorney for the property owners said they’ll appeal Monday’s decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court.


      Assuming the Supreme Court takes up the case — and attorneys on both sides believe that’s likely — critical statewide questions of groundwater sustainability could be answered once and for all.

      Among those critical questions:

      ·       What happens when we — as a society — pump too much water from underground wells? Arguably, that’s what has happened around White Bear Lake, which can actually have water sucked out of it via underground aquifers from miles away. The wells tap into those aquifers, but water from the lake can actually come out the tap, scientists have discovered.

      ·       Does the DNR have a duty to protect groundwater in the same way that it protects surface water? Marrinan essentially said that it does, but the majority of the appellate panel said groundwater is different because it’s not publicly owned.

      ·       What if the DNR fails to enforce existing environmental-protection laws? Can the public sue the agency over that? The property owners did, but the appellate panel ruled that they can’t. Not in a wholesale way. Instead, the judges sided with the DNR’s argument that people who object must object to each individual water permit.


      Marrinan retired after reaching her 2017 decision but came out of retirement last year to hear a post-verdict request by the DNR to stay the decision.

      She rejected that request in a stern rebuke of the agency.

      “For more than 20 years the leadership of the DNR has failed to discharge its clearly defined duties by ignoring them,” Marrinan wrote. She added that “the DNR’s lengthy past history of failing to comply with state laws and rules designed to protect the environment is stunning.”

      In Monday’s reversal, the appellate court concluded Marrinan had made two errors. The DNR had lodged nine objections, but once the appellate court majority determined those two errors, the other seven became irrelevant, legally, and the case was reversed and remanded.

      Here are the two errors, according to Monday’s decision, written by Judge John Rodenberg.


      Marrinan had found the DNR violated what’s known as the “public-trust doctrine” by not protecting White Bear Lake and the Prairie du Chien Jordan Aquifer, an ancient underground waterway that is connected to the lake.

      The public trust doctrine is a principle of common law, adhered to throughout the United States, that holds that natural resources, such as wildlife, rivers and lakes, are owned by everyone. Thus, the government must protect them.

      It can be a bit amorphous when it comes to applying specific laws, and in Monday’s decision,  Rodenberg concluded: “In Minnesota, the common-law public-trust doctrine applies to navigable
      waters and does not apply to groundwater withdrawals.”

      Unlike navigable waters, he said, groundwater rights are tied to private property ownership, much like mineral rights. Groundwater has never been held in the public trust in Minnesota, he said, and the appellate court isn’t the proper body to change that.

      “To extend the reach of the public-trust doctrine to groundwater would vest in the state ‘absolute title’ in essentially all groundwater, and would run contrary to the entire history of Minnesota law concerning groundwater.”

      However, he noted, the state Supreme Court could conceivably change that.


      Judge Diane Bratvold wrote a lengthy dissent to Monday’s opinion that is likely to be seized upon by property owners in their appeal.

      In it, she said the public-trust doctrine has — and should — apply in the White Bear Lake case.

      That’s because, Bratvold wrote, the pumping of groundwater around White Bear Lake can harm the lake itself — and the lake is clearly held in the public trust.


      The second error the appeals court found was largely a procedural one: Because the issue here is permitted water pumping, the remedy is in challenging each of those permits — not suing the agency in court.

      In some ways, it’s simply a technical reading of the state’s Environmental Rights Act.

      Chad Lemmons, an attorney representing White Bear Township, applauded the decision. State law allows, he noted, for the creation of water-management districts, which provide another layer of input for the DNR when considering water permits. The DNR used that law to create one of the first such districts in the state surrounding White Bear Lake.

      But the Minnesota Environmental Protection Act — and its portion that allows anyone in Minnesota to sue over an alleged violation — is widely recognized in the environmental community as being a bedrock principle.

      In her dissent, Bratvold said that what the property owners did — sue the DNR to get the agency to follow a state law — “is consistent with MERA’s purpose, which the supreme court has described as promoting citizen action.”


      Katie Crosby Lehmann, an attorney representing the property owners, said that they’ll appeal and that it’s appropriate the case reach the state’s highest court.

      “Of course we’re disappointed,” Crosby Lehmann said Monday. “But this is an issue that everyone should want to get decided by the Minnesota Supreme Court because it’s about sustainable-water issues.”


      Barb Naramore, DNR deputy commissioner, issued a statement Monday that didn’t get into the merits of either side in the case.  But she defended the DNR, saying the agency has improved its understanding of how the lake is affected by groundwater pumping.

      “In October 2018, the DNR published an extensive sustainability analysis using a new, state-of-the-art groundwater model,” the statement read, in part. “That model indicated that current groundwater use in the White Bear Lake area meets state sustainability standards, but also that current use patterns can impact recreational uses of the lake under some conditions. The DNR will use this analysis, and other available information, in further reviewing the matter upon remand pursuant to today’s Appeals Court ruling.”

    • 15 Apr 2019 9:38 AM | Jack Mackenzie (Administrator)


      From the GCSAA:

      Tips For Spring Lawn Prep

      April 5th, 10:49 AM CDT by Ryan Sjoberg


      It's that time of the year again as some locals are getting antsy to get out and do a little yard work.

      However, most of the area soil still isn't warm enough to do everything the average home owner would like.

      For example, it's too early to fertilize, cultivate or seed.

      Now would be the perfect time to get the yard ready for those tasks and prepare it properly.

      "Rake up some of those matted down leaves," said Mankato Golf Club Superintendent Fred Taylor. "If there are any snow mold, which you would see is a white furry matter on top of the leaves, and then also look for any vole damage, some people call them snow mice, get that stuff raked up and then take an assessment of what you got out there that you may need to work on in the future."

      Taylor went on to add that the prime time to plant your garden is between April 15th and May 15th depending on the kind of plant it is.

    • 10 Apr 2019 4:02 PM | Jack Mackenzie (Administrator)

      Winter injury on turfgrass is one of the most challenging, and poorly understood, aspects of managing turfgrass in northern climates. A team of researchers from six universities (University of Minnesota, Michigan State University, University of Wisconsin, University of Massachusetts, Rutgers University, and Iowa State University), as well as turfgrass scientists from the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, are submitting a grant proposal to the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative to help fund critical turfgrass winter injury research. Our objectives include monitoring conditions under ice and snow cover, developing best management practices to prevent and recover from winter injury, breeding more winter hardy turfgrass species, and exploring alternative snow mold control strategies. 

      However, we need your help. As part of our project we are proposing to collect environmental conditions during the winter on hundreds of golf courses throughout the winter. Your participation in this project would help in two ways. First, you would be providing important data for improved winter injury management for your golf course. Second, your donation of time would also be contributing towards our matching funds requirement for the proposal. The USDA requires that for every $1 we get in funding from them, we need to raise $1 in matching funding or in-kind donations (i.e. people’s time) from other sources. 

      Below is a description of what a commitment to help out with this would look like. Your commitment to this project is needed before we submit the grant (due in late April), but you will only need to take the measurements if we receive the grant. We should know if the grant is awarded by mid-summer of 2019. 

      How you can help 

      We need you to commit at least one hour per week from Oct 15, 2019 through May 15, 2020 to collect data on a golf green on your course. This would be the minimum we need. If you are interested in taking data on more than one green, or for a second year, all the better! 

      What are you committing to do? 

      Before and after winter (approximately Oct. 15 and May 15) you would estimate visually the percent annual bluegrass and creeping bentgrass (or other desired turf species) on the green, and send in some pictures of the green. Between these dates, you would visit the green each week and record information such as the following: (1) snow depth at 10 locations on the green, (2) presence of standing water, and (3) presence and thickness of ice. 

      How does this help superintendents? 

      The data collected on (hopefully) hundreds of golf greens across the northern U.S., Canada, and Scandinavia will help us better understand how golf greens (and turf in general) die during the winter. This information then can be used to design and test new turfgrass management strategies before, during, and after winter. We will also use data you collect, along with satellite imagery and weather data, to help build a sensor-based winter-stress damage prediction model that can help turfgrass managers identify times of greatest turf injury risk. Turfgrass breeders can also use these results to better target traits that are affecting winter performance and biosystems experts can develop low-cost sensors that help monitor winter stresses as they are occurring. 

      Submitting a letter of commitment 

      To show your commitment to our project, we need a letter to include with the grant proposal by the end of the day April 15, 2019. We have provided a letter template (Word document) to use to write your letter. The following elements must be included: 

      1. Address letter to: Eric Watkins 

      University of Minnesota 

      1970 Folwell Ave. 

      St. Paul, MN 55108 

      2. The title of the project “WinterTurf: A holistic approach to understanding the mechanisms and mitigating the effects of winter stress on turfgrasses in northern climates” 

      3. Your name and role at your facility 

      4. The name and location (city, state) of your course 

      5. How many hours you are willing to commit to this project each week during the evaluation period. One green (the minimum commitment) will take about one hour, so you should also state the number of greens you are willing to monitor. For example, “I commit to monitoring 1 green during the evaluation period. I estimate that this will take 1 hour per week for each of the 30 weeks.” 

      6. The “cost” of doing this, which would be your hourly rate and cost of benefits (fringe). If you make $25/hr with a fringe benefit rate of 18%, you would state, “This contribution is valued at $29.50/h.” and calculate the total amount contributed (see letter template). Please note that we will keep this information private and it will only be viewed by the project lead and the panel reviewing the proposal. 

      7. Address and phone number 

      8. Signature 

      9. (Optional) It would be great if you could share an example of winter damage on your course, the impact it had, etc. and any other thoughts you have about the value of this project. Statements such as these establish the critical need for the research by our stakeholders. 

      We would prefer that the letter be signed and then scanned/saved as a pdf and emailed to Kristine Moncada at monc0003@umn.edu. If you need help or would prefer to send the letter another way, please contact her. 

      We need these letters by April 15, 2019. If funded, we will send further instructions for how to submit data using your phone or other device. 

      Thank you for your help on this project. 

      Dr. Eric Watkins 

      University of Minnesota 

    • 05 Apr 2019 2:24 PM | Jack Mackenzie (Administrator)

      MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Turf and Grounds Foundation (MTGF) is proud to announce that it is donating $104,475 towards Minnesota Turf and Grounds research. Since 1992, the Minnesota Turf and Grounds Foundation has donated $1,650,516 towards turf and grounds research.

      In March, the MTGF Board of Directors approved four funding requests at its March Board Meeting. The Board approved a donation of $65,000 towards TROE Center operations at its March Board Meeting. The Board feels the continued research at TROE Center is very beneficial for Minnesota turf managers. 

      The MTGF Board approved a MTGF donation of $34,475 towards Teaching, Research, and Outreach Programs at the Urban Forestry, Outreach, Research & Extension (UFore) Nursery and Lab. The funds will go towards Youth Engagement ($7,250); Conservation ($9,975); UM Elm Selection ($6,250); UM ESP Research ($5,500), and Pruning ($5,500).

      For a second year, the MTGF Board approved a $5,000 for students at the University of Minnesota/ Crookston to continue to work on a Pre-Game Agronomic Field Safety Assessment for Sports Fields: Future Implications of Risk Management. Field safety is a concern. This research and information will benefit sports field managers.

      The mission of the Minnesota Turf and Grounds Foundation is to promote the green industry in Minnesota through support of research, education and outreach at the University of Minnesota and elsewhere. The MTGF pursues its mission in various ways. One of these is an annual "Call For Proposals," titled the "MTGF Research Gift Program," whereby researchers, instructors and outreach faculty and staff involved in turf and grounds work may submit requests for unrestricted gifts to support their activities. As a 501(c)(3) corporation, funding approved by the MTGF will not be subjected to overhead or other indirect charges or costs. The dates for submission, review and approval may change on an annual basis as well as the protocol stipulated for the submission of gift requests.

      For more information about the Minnesota Turf and Grounds Foundation, visit www.mtgf.org or contact the MTGF Business Office at 763-703-4983.

    • 15 Mar 2019 9:17 AM | Jack Mackenzie (Administrator)
      • ·      Would you like to have a blast with industry colleagues?
      • ·      How about enjoy incredible food?
      • ·      Want to receive awesome tournament swag?
      • ·      Add to your resume?

      After hosting 18 3M Championships on the PGA Tour Champions we at TPC Twin Cities will be making the transition to the PGA Tour this summer and hosting the inaugural 3M Open.  Notable players already committed include Jason Day, Patrick Reed, Bryson Dechambeau, and Phil Mickelson.  We would not be able to produce the conditions we do tournament week with out the support of volunteers.  If you don’t feel that you can be here the entire week that’s ok, we are happy to have you for the time you are able to give.  If you would like to rotate shifts with another member of your crew that’s great as well.  If you both could just fill out the volunteer form by following the link at the bottom of the page.  It’s our privilege to have you as part of our team for the week and we will do everything we can to ensure you have an enjoyable and rewarding experience.  Thank you greatly for considering joining us and look forward to having you July 1st-7th.

      Volunteer Link


      Mark Michalski

      Golf Course Superintendent

      Cell: 763-442-7533

      Email: markmichalski@pgatourtpc.com

    • 06 Mar 2019 6:03 PM | Jack Mackenzie (Administrator)

      The Hazeltine National turfgrass team is looking for 30-40 volunteers for this summer’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. The event will take place June 17th-June 23rd. If you had the opportunity to be part of the 2016 Ryder Cup, or if you missed out, the KPMG Championship is another excellent chance to be part of a Major Championship in Minnesota.

      Given this Championship takes place in the busy summer months, we will be accepting applications for shared positions. Please note the two questions regarding this on the application. If you do plan to share a position, we ask that each individual be from the same facility and also that each person fill out their own application.

      Everyone on the Hazeltine turfgrass team looks forward to having many of our Minnesota colleagues take part in this wonderful Championship week.

      Should you have any questions, please feel free to email me at ctritabaugh@hngc.com

       Link to application

      Best Regards,

      Chris Tritabaugh

      Golf Course Superintendent

    • 06 Mar 2019 6:38 AM | Jack Mackenzie (Administrator)

      Do you care about hiring 16 and 17 year olds?

      On February 7th, 2019, House File Number 790 was introduced in the State of Minnesota House of Representatives. Why does this matter to you?

      • ·       This house file will provide clarification to 16 and 17 year-old employees to operate push lawn mowers, self-propelled lawn mowers, ride-on lawn mowers, lawn trimmers, and weed cutters that are not currently permitted. These 16 and 17 year-old minors may then lawfully operate or assist in the operation of these machines.
      • ·       The efforts made by the MGCSA in attending the Minnesota Day on the Hill have already impacted the initiative with the addition of a companion author in the Senate with Senate File 1805 for House File Number 790 on February 28th, 2019.
      • ·       House File 790 authors are: Franson; Layman and Brand
      • ·       Senate File 1805 Authors are: Hall; Anderson, B; Bigham; Pratt; Cwodzinski
      • The files are going to Committee but NEED YOUR SUPPORT to be heard and passed.

      Please phone your legislators in the House and Senate (typically you will leave a voice message as they are very busy, however their staff will weigh the calls) tell them you are a constituent and ask for their support of House File 790 or Senate File 1805.

      Helpful links:  Who Represents Me?

      Legislator Roster

    • 18 Feb 2019 8:20 AM | Jack Mackenzie (Administrator)

      Monarchs in the Rough Program Goes Local


      The monarch butterfly is a North American icon, but the butterfly’s population has declined by more than 90 percent over the last two decades. To combat this decline and the decline of other key pollinators, Audubon International and Environmental Defense Fund have teamed up to create Monarchs in the Rough, a program that partners with golf courses to restore pollinator habitat in out-of-play areas. We are working to create essential habitat for butterflies and increase awareness of the golf sector’s contribution to the monarch conservation challenge. Join our efforts to support the monarch butterfly and help the golf community be a part of the pollinator solution.

      Monarchs in the Rough is a partnership between Audubon International and Environmental Defense Fund. The program connects and supports superintendents and other golf course staff as they plan, install, and manage habitat projects for the monarch butterfly on their courses. Monarchs in the Rough provides regionally-appropriate milkweed seed to golf courses – enough to establish about one acre of high-quality monarch habitat when planted with a native pollinator seed mix.

      Monarchs in the Rough also offers signage, posters, and technical guidance to golf course managers as they install and manage habitat, and as they communicate with course members about their effort to save the monarch.

      By joining Monarchs in the Rough, golf courses can do their part to prevent further monarch losses while gaining recognition as an environmental leader and connecting with their communities in new ways.

      There are hundreds of courses gearing up for it nationwide, but just twelve Minnesota courses have joined in. We need more involved! Here’s a list of the Minnesota courses joining this great cause to date.

      Somerby Golf Club                          Wildflower Golf Course

      Green Lea Golf Course                   The Wilderness at Fortune Bay

      Enger Park Golf Course                  Minnesota Valley Country Club

      Legends Club                                    The Ponds at Battle Creek

      Keller Golf Course                           Meadowbrook Golf Course

      Braemar Golf Course                      New Richmond Golf Club

    • 01 Feb 2019 4:42 AM | Jack Mackenzie (Administrator)

      Sub-zero temps kill emerald ash borer

      You probably didn’t jump for joy when sub-zero air burned your cheeks this morning. And with good reason: these temperatures, ranging from -20° F in the metro to -40° F in northern Minnesota, pose a danger to us. But there is a silver lining: we can expect this cold to kill a significant portion of emerald ash borers (EAB) in the state.

      Emerald ash borer larvae overwinter under the bark of ash trees. Their larvae use one of Mother Nature’s more fascinating mechanisms to supercool: they generate chemicals to prevent their tiny bodies from freezing at the normal freezing point. It’s similar to the effect of salty compounds on winter roads. Still, they can—and do—freeze when temperatures reach the extreme lows we’ve seen across Minnesota in the past few days.

      “When temps get to -30° F, 70-90 percent of larvae may be frozen,” says Rob Venette, a USDA Forest Service research biologist. “[But] the precise relationship between cold and EAB mortality changes a bit from year to year.”

      The last Polar Vortex, in January 2014, offers a good example. The air temperature in the Twin Cities fell to -23° F that year. Samples taken from cut logs and standing trees that had been outdoors during the winter showed 60-70 percent of larvae had been killed in most locations, Venette says.

      So, this year’s Polar Vortex is good news for ash in Minnesota!

      In case you’re wondering: the extreme cold doesn’t have much of an effect on Minnesota’s native forest pests. They are well adapted to our cold winter temperatures. The eastern larch beetle, for example, can survive down to -56° F as larvae and -43° F as adults. In addition, many adult larch beetles overwinter under the snow line, which insulates them against low air temperatures. The eastern larch beetle has wiped out hundreds of thousands of acres of tamarack in Minnesota over nearly two decades, but it will take more than cold to stop it.

      While the cold won’t do much for our tamarack, it will help our ash. So, the next time you step outdoors and feel your eyelashes freeze, remember your suffering is not in vain.

      The Forest Health Team

    10050 204th Street North
    Forest Lake, MN 55025
    Office: 651 - 324 - 8873

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