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Join Jay Andersen and Gary Atwood for a program packed with news, music and some humor.  Listener favorites like For the Birds, The Environment Report, Morning Business Report, and The Predator Moment provide a regular foundation for this program that also covers politics, local news and issues, and, the funnier side to the news. DayBreak airs 7-8 a.m. on weekdays.

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Superior National Forest Update: October 23

Hi.  I’m Bre Schueller, Fire Management Specialist for the Gunflint and Tofte Ranger Districts, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update  -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation here on the east side of the Superior National Forest. For the week of October 23rd, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
Most of what has been happening is the annual shutting down.  The water has now been turned off at all the fee campgrounds.  This means that you will have to pack in your own water, as well as pack out your garbage.  You can’t make camping reservations any more, but you also don’t have to pay a camping fee.  Campgrounds and outhouses remain open for use year round, but they are not plowed out or maintained through the winter.
Another part of the preparation for winter was the removal of docks from water accesses.  Boat ramps remain usable, but you’ll have to manage without a dock if you are headed out for some late season fishing.
The fall color tour signs are coming down too, as the fall color season is mostly over.  The weekly color reports and photos will still be on the web through Halloween, but there should be fewer people in the woods as we shift from fall to winter.
One of the few things opening instead of ending is the new bridge over the Temperance River on the 600 Road near the Sawbill Trail.  The bridge is now open for traffic, and will allow the North Shore Snowmobile trail to return to its usual route this winter.
Speaking of Halloween, we are participating in an attempt to set a world record for the most bat houses built in a day.  At sites across the nation, people will be building bat houses on October 31st to help support our bat population.  Right now, bats are dealing with a disease called white nose syndrome, which kills them in large numbers.  One way to help is to provide roosting sites for healthy bats in the form of bat houses.  You can help bats and set a world record by joining us at the AmericInn in Silver Bay during their annual Trick or Treat event.  From 3 to 6 pm on Halloween, you can build a bat house from a free kit, and then take the house home with you to put up where you want more bats and fewer mosquitoes.  This program is made possible with a generous donation of lumber from Hedstrom’s Lumber Mill, and the cooperation of Tettegouche State Park and AmericInn Silver Bay.  Supplies are limited.
In keeping with the season, snowy owls have been sighted in the area.  These beautiful owls are active during the day and like open areas, so they are more easily seen than most owls.  It also helps that they are bright white!  Watch for them along roadsides and other openings, but also watch out for them flying low over roadways in pursuit of mice.   
Brush piles are being burned by our fire crews at several locations throughout the Forest as weather permits.  You may see smoke from these fires, but if you are unsure where smoke is coming from, it is always worthwhile to report possible wildfires to the Forest Service.  There was one small wildfire on an island in Sawbill Lake this past week which started from a campfire.  Make sure any fires you light during the fall are kept under control, and left only when they are completely out.

Timber hauling is taking place in the same areas as last week.  Hauling on the Gunflint District is taking place on the Murmur Creek Road, the Caribou Trail, The Grade, the Bally Creek Road, the Greenwood road, the Firebox Road, the Shoe Lake Road, the Old Greenwood road, the South Brule River Road, the Lima Grade, and the Gunflint Trail.
In Tofte, watch for trucks on the Sawbill Trail, in the vicinity of Jack Lake with hauling on FR 369 (Sawbill Landing Road or Trappers Lake Road) down to Hwy. 1 at Isabella, and on The Grade. 
Enjoy the end of our fall, and get out in the woods before winter sets in!  Until next week, this has been Bre Schueller with the Superior National Forest Update. 
 

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Superior National Forest Update: October 2

Hi.  I’m Mary Ann Atwood, administrative support assistant on the Gunflint Ranger District, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Gunflint and Tofte Districts of the Forest.  For the week of October 2nd, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.

Fall Colors
Looks like this will be a fabulous fall color weekend on the forest. Those who predict such things believe we are at or near peak color…perfect timing to get outdoors and drive, hike or paddle your way through the forest.
While leaf-peeping, be aware of slow moving or stopped vehicles and choose safe spots to pull over with plenty of room for other vehicles to pass.
Autumn brings fall color, shorter days and various hunting seasons.  If you are spending time in the forest, wear an orange vest or hat.  This time of year, orange is definitely the new black. 

Logging Operations
Timber operations have somewhat slowed on the Tofte District.  There will be log trucks on The Grade and Sawbill Landing, (otherwise known as Trappers Lake Road), but there are no other operations. 
On the Gunflint district, there is much more activity.  You may encounter trucks on the following roads: Murmur Creek, Caribou Trail, Bally Creek, Greenwood, Old Greenwood, Firebox, Shoebox Lake, South Brule River, Lima Grade, and the Gunflint Trail. 

Fire News
Fire danger in the woods is currently low to moderate.  Taking advantage of this fact, our fire crews are burning slash piles.  Don’t be surprised to see some smoke as piles are burned.  You can call district offices for details. 
If you are planning to burn a brush pile, be sure to get a burn permit.  Permits can be acquired at the district offices or on the DNRs web site.

Additional Autumnal Alterations
As of October 1st, district office hours have changed.  We are open Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 4:30 pm, closed on weekends.
Also as of October 1st  free self-issue permits are all that is needed for day or overnight visits to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  Self-issue permits are available at all entrée points and district offices.
The water systems on Superior’s campgrounds get shut down sometime this month – the timing is weather dependent. Garbage service also comes to an end.  Our campgrounds are open year round, visitors just need to plan a little differently…bring water and pack out your trash.   Campground updates will be posted on Recreation.gov until November, that’s www.recreation.gov.  With this comes good news and bad news.  The bad news is: once the water is shut off, you can no longer reserve a campsite.   The good news is you don’t have to pay a camping fee. 
Keep in mind; while the Chicago Bears can’t win a game, the Superior’s bears are still awake.   Follow the “Leave No Trace” guidelines paying close attention to food and garbage storage.

To quote Lauren DeStefano author of Wither, "Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale."   Savor the Superior this season.
Until next week, this has been Mary Ann Atwood with the Superior National Forest Update. 

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Superior National Forest Update: September 25

Hi.  I’m Suzanne Cable, assistant district ranger for recreation and Wilderness on the Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Districts, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update  -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For the week of September 25th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
Rain, rain is what has been going on in the Forest the last two days.  This is great as far as plants preparing for winter and for keeping fire danger low, but this much rain can be hard on roads. Keep an eye out for water across roads that may soften road surfaces or cause you to hydroplane.  There could even be washouts in some areas, though we’ve had no reports of any at this point.  The rain is also hard on the fall colors, knocking leaves down before colors really get a chance to start.  Some drier weather and some cooler nights are what is needed to kick start color change, and this weekend might be perfect.
There are a number of logging operations that will have trucks hauling timber this week.  On the Tofte District, you may encounter trucks on the Wanless Road near Elixer Lake, the Sawbill Landing Road near Sawbill Landing, both the Four Mile Grade and the Grade, and on the Honeymoon Trail near White Pine Lake.
On the Gunflint District, watch out for trucks on the Murmur Creek Road, Caribou Trail, Bally Creek Road, Greenwood and Old Greenwood Roads, Firebox Road, Shoebox Lake Road,  the South Brule River Road, the Lima Grade, and the Gunflint Trail.  That’s a lot of work being done!  In addition to work and trucks, you can expect to see more personal vehicles in the woods as well.  There are both fall color enthusiasts and hunters out driving, so watch for slow moving and parked vehicles.  If you are slow moving yourself, keep an eye behind you and pull over in safe places to let others pass if they want to drive faster.
Speaking of hunting, there are many hunters who will be using ATVs and OHVs.  The maps showing roads on which you can drive your ATV are reprinted each year with some revisions.  If you are using a 2014 map, you should stop at a Forest Service office and pick up a free copy of the current map.
The North Shore Drive on Highway 61 got some national attention recently as the National Forest Foundation listed it third in nation for fall colors.   So, it may be time to turn off the computer, phone, and television, and get outdoors for a drive, or a hike, or to go hunting, fishing, or camping.  Get out and enjoy the fall.  Until next week, this has been Suzanne Cable with the Superior National Forest Update. 
 

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Superior National Forest Update: September 18

Hi.  I’m Tammy Cefalu, wilderness ranger in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update  -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts. Here’s what’s going on in the Forest for the week of September 18th:
Fall continues to progress, in spite of the recent hot weather.  Birches and aspen along the shore are fading from a summery green to yellow green to full-out yellow in some cases.  There’s an occasional maple turning red, and several more as you head out over the hill into the Forest.  The signs are now out marking the Fall Color Tour routes in Tofte, so be sure to check out some of the best fall colors on our favorite roads.  Please be careful of other people on those routes who may be driving slowly, or stopping to take pictures.  You can also get a virtual trip into the woods by heading for the Forest website and checking the weekly fall color reports, photos, and essays. 
September 12th marked the fourth anniversary of the Pagami Creek Fire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Tofte.  Hot and dry conditions that year allowed the fire to progress to over 90,000 acres.  If you visit the Pagami area this fall, you’ll find many 2-to-4 foot jack pine growing as the forest renews itself.  You’ll also find black-backed woodpeckers who like the insects in burned trees, and moose enjoying the heavy growth of shrubs and plants in the open areas.  Fire is part of our forest ecosystem, and the Pagami area in Tofte and the Ham Lake fire area up the Gunflint Trail are two places to explore post-fire forest regeneration.
When you are out driving, you will encounter a busy series of logging operations that’ll have trucks hauling.  On the Gunflint District, hauling is taking place on Forest Road 332 (a.k.a. Murmur Creek Road), the Caribou Trail, The Grade, the Bally Creek Road, Greenwood Road, Forest Road 141 (a.k.a. Firebox Road), Forest Road 309K (a.k.a. Sunfish Lake Road), Forest Road 325 (a.k.a. S. Brule River Road), the Lima Grade, and the Gunflint Trail.
On the Tofte end, there are two operations, near White Pine Lake and Finger Lake, which should be finishing soon.  But hauling can be expected on the east end of the Honeymoon Trail, down the Caribou Trail (CC4), and on the east side of the Timber/Frear Loop (FR 348) as well as on the Four Mile Grade and The Grade.  Full logging operations will be taking place near Sawbill Landing and Cold Spring Quarry, so log trucks will be traveling on the Wanless Road and the Sawbill Landing Road.  Some of the roads mentioned are narrow, winding, and full of washboard.  So please drive defensively! 
In addition to trucks, you should also be on the lookout for hunters, as the small game and archery deer hunting seasons begin on Saturday, the 19th.  You may see hunters’ vehicles pulled off to the side of roads.  If you’re hiking or running your dog, it is the time of year that wearing orange is fashionable for all (including pets).  If you’re hunting, make sure to park in a safe location, especially if you are on any of the roads that will be used by log trucks.  Remember that it is illegal to shoot from a roadway, over a roadway, or within 150 yards of any developed recreational site, such as a campground, dispersed campsite, trail, or portage.  You may want to check out any of the four freshly maintained Hunter Walking Trail areas.  Go to an office or our website for more information on these sites that are maintained for grouse habitat and hunting opportunities.  If you are engaged in hunting activities within the BWCAW, please be sure to obtain the proper wilderness permits.
Have a great weekend, and enjoy the Forest.  Until next week, this has been Tammy Cefalu with the Superior National Forest Update. 
 

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Superior National Forest Update: September 11

Hi. I’m Susan McGowan-Stinski, administrative support assistant on the Superior National Forest, Gunflint Ranger District, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For the week of September 11, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.

As fall progresses, the natural world continues to get ready for winter. Leaves are turning as trees shut down for the cold season, birds are migrating in huge numbers along the shore, and bats and bears prepare for sleeping away the winter months. You can help with some of this preparation. Keep feeders full this time of year, including hummingbird feeders. It is a myth that you can keep migrating birds from flying south with feeders, all you can do is help fuel their flight. Cats should be kept inside during migration. The birds are exhausted enough without having to deal with a house-cat that doesn’t even need to hunt for its food. Even driving the speed limit helps - I’ll bet that almost everyone that drives Highway 61 has hit a bird at some point.

As far as bats are concerned, the Forest has put up five new bat houses. This doesn’t really help with hibernation or migration, but
fall is a good time of year to put up bat houses. This way, the house will be ready when the bats are waking up next year looking for places to roost.

Bears are really looking for food to get fat on right now, and it is very important that you keep your food and garbage locked up securely when you are camping. So, remember to put the locking bars back into dumpsters, and keep your food in your trunk.
Logging is still going strong in the Tofte District. You can expect to see a log truck or two as you drive through the Forest. The Honeymoon Trail (FR 164), near White Pine Lake, should still have hauling taking place this week. The east side of the Timber/Frear Loop (FR 348) is being used for hauling, as is the Four Mile Grade (FR 170). The heaviest log truck traffic should be on the western side of the district, though. The Sawbill Landing Road (FR 369), near Sawbill Landing, and the Wanless Road (FR 172), near Homestead Lake, will see multiple logging trucks every day.

There will be another kind of migration going on this Friday and Saturday that will affect people using the Superior Hiking Trail south of Lutsen Mountain, as well as people planning to park in the Oberg Mountain Trail parking lot on the Onion River Road or driving up the Sawbill Trail.  This migration is the Superior 100, an annual ultramarathon that routes runners from Gooseberry Falls State Park to Lutsen Mountain.  Runners, spectators, and support crews will be using the trail and parking in lots and along roads where the trails cross.  The most affected areas will be where there are aid stations set up on the Sawbill Trail at the Britten Peak trailhead parking lot and at the Oberg Mountain trailhead parking lot, and at the race finish at Lutsen Mountain.  Expect congestion in these areas.  Where the trail crosses other roads, people are advised to park on only one side of the road to maintain a clear throughway.  There are several different race lengths, so there will be multiples starts and finishes, both on Friday and Saturday.  This is always a pretty exciting event, attracting runners from across the country.  We’d like to say good luck to all the runners! 

Have a great weekend, and enjoy the Forest. Until next week, this has been Susan McGowan-Stinski with the Superior National Forest Update.
 
 
 

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Superior National Forest Update: September 4

Hi.  I’m Steve Robertsen, interpretation and education specialist on the Superior National Forest, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update  -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For the week of September 4th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
September and fall have arrived!  It may not seem so from our recent steamy days, but this marks the beginning of the fall color season.  Starting this week, we’ll be publishing fall color photos and essays on the web every week to capture the season and help people plan their leaf peeping expeditions.  One of the most interesting sections of the website is a photographic record of fall color in one spot off the Honeymoon Trail where we’ve taken a photo every week in the fall since 2007.   You can use this to try to predict for yourself when the elusive peak of fall color will be this year, and get yourself prepped for, eek, the first snowfall as well. 
Progress is being made on the replacement of the Pink Bridge on the 600 Road, just off the Sawbill Trail.  This was an old iron truss bridge with a long history, but had sadly deteriorated to the point where it was no longer safe.  The hope is that the new bridge will be open soon for fall color touring.
While people may be migrating north to see fall colors, many of our birds and other animals are migrating south.  Thousands of night hawks have been seen going south down the Hwy 61 corridor.  They aren’t really attracted by the road, it is the lake that causes the build-up of migrants on the shore.  The dense fog and other weather factors caused a bird ‘fall out’ this past week where all the migrants seemed to have decided it was time for a break.  Our yard was full of warblers of many species, as well as other birds, then the next day, they had vanished.
Birds don’t have to contend with log trucks while they are traveling, but we do.  In your migrations through the forest, be aware that there is logging traffic on the Wanless Road, Sawbill Landing Road, the Honeymoon Trail and the Caribou Trail.  Also watch for increased slow traffic over the next month or so caused by leaf watchers.  If you are one of the leaf watchers, be aware of people behind you, and pull over to let them pass if you need to.  If you stop, be sure it is in a safe place and that your vehicle doesn’t block the roadway.
A good place to stop for a view is at Pincushion Mountain.  Aspen growth on the hillside has been slowly blocking the view over the past several years, but last week a crew worked to open up the scenery again.  It’s worth the short drive up the hill to check it out if you haven’t been there for a while.
We’d like to mention again this week that bear activity has been high.  There are a lot of theories as to why this is so, but it does seem that the bears are all over the place.  We have been upgrading some of the garbage cans and dumpsters on the Forest to bear resistant versions of various styles.  One thing they all have in common though is that they are not bear resistant unless the person using them closes the lid, and in the case of the dumpsters, bars it as well.  Please help us keep our bears out of trouble by securing the garbage cans after use, and storing your food and garbage securely during camping trips.
Have a great weekend, and enjoy the Forest.  Until next week, this has been Steve Robertsen with the Superior National Forest Update. 
 

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Sawtooth Mountain Elementary School

Principal Gwen Carman resigns - and more news from ISD166

Principal Gwen Carman has resigned at Sawtooth Mountain Elementary, and the ISD166 school board is on hold regarding its operating levy referendum, waiting to if and when the Governor sets a special election.  WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with Superintendent Beth Schwarz.
 

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Superior National Forest Update: August 21

Hi.  I’m Steve Robertsen, education specialist, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For the week of August 21st, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
Where has the summer gone?  Despite the fact that I saw people in the grocery store putting up a Halloween candy display, there is still some time for a camping trip or picnic before fall arrives.  Halloween candy in August, in fact, I’d say is a bit ridiculous.  But not totally ridiculous: Birds are certainly feeling the fall in the air.  On still nights in the Boundary Waters last week, we could hear peeps and chirps in the midnight hours which belong to night migrating flocks of birds.  Some species of birds actually navigate by the stars and recognize bird constellations.  This has been shown using captive birds in a planetarium where the stars could be shifted, and the birds’ movements shifted to match the stars.  So, over the next few weeks, go out star gazing in a nice quiet spot and listen for the late night avian commuter traffic.  It is a lot more relaxing than the traffic on Highway 61.
Speaking of traffic, timber hauling is currently taking place on the 4 Mile Grade, the Wanless, The Grade, Honeymoon Trail, Bally Creek Rd., Caribou Trail, Greenwood Lake Rd. That doesn’t include State Operations so there may be Minnesota DNR operations with some trucks elsewhere in the woods.
Encountering a log truck is one thing, but a lot of campers in the forest have been encountering bears.  Bear activity seems high this year, and we have had many reports of bears, particularly at Trail’s End and McDougal Lake Campgrounds.  Seeing a bear at your campsite can be exciting, but a bit intimidating as well.  Keep in mind that black bears are generally not a very aggressive animal, but they are big and you don’t want your actions to cause the animal to become more aggressive.  The best thing to do is to avoid food based encounters.  Keep your food when not in use locked in the trunk of the car, or concealed and securely locked in the car if you have an SUV with no real trunk.  Bears that have tried human food usually like it, and soon learn to recognize coolers.  They will break windows to get to visible coolers in vehicles. Garbage, to a bear, is a great food source. Treat it like food, and lock it up the same way. Use the dumpsters at campgrounds, and use the bars provided to lock the lids down.  Keeping food away from bears and making it so humans and campgrounds are not seen as food sources is the number one best thing you can do to help yourself and the bears live together.  It is sad, but bears that learn to associate food with humans have a very hard time unlearning that, and will often need to be killed.
Heavy rains over the past week not only have been good for forest growth, but they have put a damper on our fire season.  Before the rain though, we did have one small 40 or so acre fire near Silver Island Lake.  It was a good example of fire caused by natural ignition.  Lightning struck a tree, which then smoldered internally for possibly several weeks until the wind and conditions were right for it to spread into a wildfire.  This is why it is so important to watch your own fire use, even in damp conditions.  Smoldering fires are good at waiting, sometimes much longer than you would think.  Make sure every fire you light is totally out when you leave it.
Have a great weekend, and enjoy the Forest.  Until next week, this has been Steve Robertsen with the Superior National Forest Update. 
 

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Superior National Forest Update: July 31

Hi, this is Mary Ann Atwood, Gunflint Ranger District Administrative Support Assistant, with this week’s edition of the Superior National Forest Update. For the week of July 31st, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
FIRE
Due to sporadic rain over the last few weeks, the Superior National Forest is beginning to transition from moderate fire danger to high fire danger.  Keep this in mind while recreating in the forest. 
District Offices
Before, or after, your superior recreation - stop by the Gunflint or Tofte District Offices.  Not only will you encounter a plethora of information but you’ll discover a variety of wilderness books, games, animals (that don’t need feeding) and maps in the Interpretative stores.
Let those truckers Roll 
Timber trucks continue to roll down many of the roads on the Gunflint and Tofte districts.  Drive cautiously and keep in mind; the gravel roads are very dry. A dusty cloud may indicate a vehicle is coming your way. Also, the washboard affect abounds on our gravel roads. 
Forest Facts
Did you know that the Superior National Forest: contains more than 2,000 lakes which total 440,000 acres of lake and 3,400 miles of stream?
With those facts in mind, it’s no wonder water plays such a vital role in Cook County.   This weekend is the 86th Annual Fisherman’s Picnic. The Grand Marais Fish Pic began in the days when the area's economy was based on logging and commercial fishing and the community would gather for a shoreline fish fry of fresh Lake Superior herring.  Which reminds me…How can you tell if a fisherman is going deaf?                                            * Give him a herring test.
Keep an eye out for Smokey Bear and his friend Murray the Moose over the weekend; they are bound to make an appearance in the parade Sunday, August 2nd at 1:00 in downtown Grand Marais.
2015 has been a busy year on the Superior.  Here’s just a sampling of accomplishments:
*      ¼ million trees were planted;
*      Wilderness rangers on the Gunflint Ranger District partnered up with a Conservation Corps of Minnesota & Iowa (CCMI) crew spending 3 ½ muddy days replacing a failing boardwalk on the Meeds to Swallow portage.   This project began last February when wilderness staff used snowmobiles to freight over 40 tamarack planks up to the Wilderness line on the Poplar to Meeds portage. 
Our Faces of Tomorrow crews are having an exceptional summer.  By the way, Faces of Tomorrow is an initiative to increase the diversity of our seasonal workforce.  Some of their achievements include:
*      Building a new 360 foot boardwalk on the South Lake Trail.
*      Rerouting Bower Trail Portage which includes a new boardwalk
*      Constructing stairs on the Northern Lights Trail
Summer brings countless visitors to the Superior’s trails and campgrounds.  When recreating keep in mind:
*               Your behavior has an impact on others.
*               Store food carefully, bears are starting to get active. 
*               Don’t leave campsites unattended for more than 24 hours.  Leaving your gear on a site as a way of “reserving” it - is not allowed.

Carve out some time to spend in the Superior National Forest - you won’t be disappointed - after all, the Superior has been listed as one of the 50 greatest places to visit in a lifetime!  
Keep hydrated throughout these warm summer days.  Until next week, this has been Mary Ann Atwood with the Superior National Forest Update. 
 
 
 

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Superior National Forest Update: July 24

Hi.  I’m Ali Bickford, Information Specialist at the Forest Supervisor’s Office in Duluth, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For the week of July 17th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
The Superior National Forest is roughly the size of the state of Connecticut, and the Supervisor’s Office, or SO, is its capital city.  We at the SO provide support and forest level direction to the five ranger districts.  In addition to administrators, there are biologists, archeologists, computer specialists, and public relations people all working for the Forest in Duluth to help our field going people in places like Tofte and Grand Marais, as well as Ely, Cook, and Aurora. So Next time you’re in Duluth, feel free to stop in and say hi, we would love to see you!
This should be a good weekend for outdoor recreation, so you may want to postpone that trip to Duluth for a rainier day.  There are some logging operations going on that you might run into during your travels, so watch out for log trucks near Harriet and Wilson Lakes as things wind down on those timber sales. But a crew just started by Hogback Lake this week, so there will still be some traffic on the east end of the Wanless Road and on Lake County 7.  Another crew is on the Dumbbell River Road and log trucks will be hauling there for at least the next week.  Those trucks will be heading west on the Wanless Road, toward Hwy. 1. 
There may be the odd log truck on the Grade and Sawbill Trail, as well.   Be aware that the Fourmile Grade between Richey Lake Road (FR 346) and Lake County #7 was closed this week to replace a large culvert at Wanless Creek.  The plan is to have that open for this weekend, but there is always the possibility of a delay.
Our midsummer is marked by two of what you can call “55 mile per hour flowers”.  These are plants you can identify from your car window when cruising past at 55.  You’ll see the broad white umbrellas of small flowers that belong to a cow parsnip, significantly taller than the other plants along the roadway.  This giant plant can get up to 8 feet high in one season.  It is a native species, but is often confused with a non-native invasive species called giant hogweed.  Giant hogweed is a relative of cow parsnip, but hogweed makes cow parsnip look small.  Hogweed can easily be taller than a house, but its main problem is that touching it causes an awful rash and blisters that can last for a year.  Luckily for us, it isn’t found here yet. Like many invasives, it is brought into an area by people on their travels.  You can help keep plants like hogweed from coming into our area by cleaning your shoes and recreation equipment before you travel back to the Northwoods.  By the way, cow parsnip can also cause a rash for some people, so if you need to clear it, cut it by hand, and use gloves don’t use a weed whip as they spray the juices around.
Our other 55 mile per hour plant is a lot friendlier.  The purple magenta flowers of fireweed are seen along many roadsides from now until the end of summer.  In fact, this plant counts down the summer with flowers starting at the bottom of the spike, and progressing upward each week.  When the flowers reach the top, summer is over.  The plant is called fireweed because it grows in openings after a fire, but it is just as happy to grow in openings caused by roads. 
Also in those openings, you will find ripe blueberries.  That means that you will also find lots of cars parked along the sides of the roads where people are blueberry picking.  If you are parking, try to find a wider spot in the road so you don’t block the roadway, and pull off as far as you safely can.  You may want to have a passenger get out and help spot the edge of the roadway though, many of our roads have an abrupt drop off, and you want to avoid accidently parking in the ditch.
Many of our fire crews have been out west helping with wildfires in Washington and California.  This is possible because so far, this has been a year with low fire danger on the Forest.  Remember that even in low danger times, you need to make sure any fire you light is out when you leave it.  Don’t decide that it is ok to just let a campfire burn out just because it isn’t a high fire danger day - always put your fires out.
With that though, have a great weekend, and enjoy the Forest.  Until next week, this has been Ali Bickford with the Superior National Forest Update. 
 

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