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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: May 29

Hi.  I’m Chris Beal, Wildlife Biologist, 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 May 29th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
In the Grand Marais and Gunflint areas there are two road construction sites this summer.  You may have already encountered the construction on Highway 61 at Cutface Creek.  It is a single lane with traffic light control.  Expect that to remain until October 1st.  Starting on Monday, June 1st, there will also be construction restricting the Gunflint Trail to a single lane from the Fox Ridge Road to the western intersection with County Road 92.  That should last until mid-August.  Allow yourself extra time when traveling these areas, be patient, and watch for workers on the road. 
Most spring load limits are lifted, although there are a few remaining in Cook County.  You can expect timber trucks hauling on the Shoe Lake and Greenwood Roads and the Gunflint Trail on the Gunflint District, and on the Four Mile Grade, Lake County 7, and Forest Road 369 on the Tofte District.  The recent floods in Texas are a good reminder that drivers need to use caution after any heavy rain event as roads can get soft.  If water covers the roadway, stop in a safe place and get out and look before you drive into it.  If there’s any question on the depth or road condition, be safe and find an alternate route.
With the rain and the spring green up of the woods, comes reduced fire danger.  You still need to make sure your campfires are dead out when you are done.  Sometimes a campfire might smolder until conditions are drier, and then start a wildfire, so fire safety should always be practiced, regardless of the fire danger level. 
Memorial Day weekend saw a lot of people out camping and enjoying the Forest.  It also saw some people setting up camp in spots like boat launches.  Please, camp in the designated campsites, not boat launches!  If you plan on dispersed camping outside of campgrounds and other developed recreation sites, check our website under Dispersed Camping or stop at a ranger station to review the rules on where you are permitted to set up camp in the general Forest.
This Saturday morning, May 30th, the Forest Service will be giving a family program on birding at North House Folk School.  North House is also hosting the Northern Landscapes Festival this weekend with many activities. Our program is free and open to everyone, not only festival attendees.  We do ask that you phone North House ahead of time to register for the program so we have an idea of group size.  We will be meeting to learn about families of birds and family bird watching at 9:30 at North House, and going for a hike as well.  Kids are more than welcome, but they must be accompanied by an adult.
It looks like a little rain on Friday morning, but the rest of the weekend looks like a great one to get outside and try to put off mowing the lawn.  Enjoy the Forest, and until next week, this has been Chris Beal for the Superior National Forest Update. 
 

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Maximizing broadband's potential for the County: community meetings, June 2,3

The Blandin Foundation will be back in town to talk with residents about potential broadband projects.  WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with county broadband commission chair Bob Pranis about two up-coming public input meetings.

The Cook County Broadband Commission hosts two community input meetings to gather ideas regarding broadband applications that can have positive rural impacts.  Bill Coleman of the Blandin Foundation will facilitate the discussion.   Input from the meetings will be used to develop and submit a grant application with Blandin.  The first meeting is at Birch Grove Community Center in Tofte on Tuesday, June 2nd from 6:30 to 8:30pm; and the second is at the Cook County Community Center on Wednesday, June 3rd from 4 to 6pm.  To get the discussion going, the Broadband Commission will be present two ideas, 1) development of a co-working/co-location site and 2) multiple teleconferencing sites at public spaces around the community to reduce travel by having remote interaction by broadband.  Additional ideas are welcomed from the residents and visitors of the County.  More information from Broadband Commission Chair Bob Pranis at 387-2358.

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Superior National Forest Update: May 8

Hi.  I’m Paulette Anholm, Information Receptionist 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 May 8th, here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
First off, this is the start of our real recreation season.  The fee campgrounds on both the Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Districts have their water systems turned on, which means that they are also now accepting reservations and collecting fees for camping.  Of course, the rustic campgrounds are still free, but have no water supply.  We want to remind people that campsites must be occupied the first night.  No putting out your stuff ahead of time to claim a site for the weekend, then going home to sleep.  There is also a fourteen day limit for campsites, except for a few long term sites which are available.  If you like camping with all the comforts of home, be aware that quiet hours are from 10 pm to 6 am, which means generators and other noise making equipment need to be off during the night.
A lot of the campers this weekend will probably be fishing.  It is the opener, and it looks like a good one.  Ice has cleared off even Gunflint and Saganaga Lakes.  Almost all of our campgrounds are near good fishing spots, and barring unforeseen problems, all the docks should be in the water this weekend.  Many of our lakes are free of invasive pest species.  Be sure to clean your boat and trailer between lakes to keep them that way.
On your way to the lake, you may start to encounter logging traffic.  At the time this was recorded, weight restrictions were still keeping the trucks off the back roads, but those should be lifted soon.  Expect trucks near the timber operations at Harriet Lake and at Shoe Lake as soon as the restrictions end.
Our fire people have been busy.  An 80 acre fire spread over 5 miles was on the west side of the Forest near Sand Lake.  This fire was small patches along a road, leading to the thought that something traveling the road started the fire patches.  Despite occasional small showers, the forest is dry and things haven’t started to green up fully.  That means it is easy for fires to start.  Green is beginning to appear though, and if we get through the next few weeks, the fire conditions will become a lot better.  Some of the fires on the Forest this past week have been intentional prescribed burns.  This is a good time of year for fire crews to use prescribed burning to reduce the amount of fuel on the ground for wildfires.  It may seem strange to start a fire to prevent a fire, but it is a method that works very well.  You may want to check at a ranger station for prescribed burns coming up so you know where you may see smoke, and you can avoid driving through the middle of an operation.  On Monday, May 11th and Tuesday, May 12th you can attend a fire open house to learn more.  Those are from 4 to 6 pm at the Gunflint Ranger Station on Monday and at the Poplar Lake Fire Hall on Tuesday.
Fire crews aren’t the only busy ones in the spring.  Wildlife biologists are surveying all sorts of species.  Two surveys that started this week are woodcock counts and frog surveys, and fish surveys will begin soon as well.  We get volunteer help from citizen scientists for some of these counts, so we’d like to thank all our wildlife, and other, volunteers.
Even if you aren’t an official wildlife counter, this is great time to get out in the woods and set up a tent, or drop a line in the water, and listen to the birdsongs, grouse drumming, frog choruses, and all the other sounds of spring.  Have a great weekend!
Until next week, this has been Paulette Anholm with the Superior National Forest Update.
 
 
 
 

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Superior National Forest Update: May 1

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 May 1st, here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
As you’re driving, you’ll find that the county spring load restrictions are still on.  That means that while there are a few timber sales going on on Tofte and Gunflint, there’s no hauling.  It’s not just the roads which have restrictions, some ATV routes are not open due to spring muddy conditions.  Driving your ATV on muddy trails not only risks a few hours digging it out, but it will damage the trail and create a whole lot of work for someone later to rebuild it, so drive with caution even if the route is theoretically open. 
Soft roads aren’t the only thing that could affect your travel.  You also might run into some of our spring prescribed burns.  You might encounter smoke, vehicles, and fire crews on the roadway.  Areas where this is occurring will be clearly marked, so please take it slow as you pass since visibility might be restricted and there could be pedestrians.
Speaking of fire, there will be open houses on fire safety and awareness on May 4th at the Finland Volunteer Fire Department, May 11th at the Gunflint Ranger Station, and May 12th at the Schaap Community Center on the Gunflint Trail.  All those open houses are from 4 to 6 pm.  You will be able to learn what our 2015 fire outlook is, what prescribed burns are planned, and more about wildfire and fire preparedness.  They are open houses, so you’ll have plenty of time to ask questions and talk to our fire personnel. 
Some of the prescribed burns happening now are to maintain wildlife openings in the forest.  Many kinds of animals from butterflies to moose benefit from these opening.  The shrubs that grow up in openings are also great for our migrating birds, more of which are arriving daily.  The dawn chorus of bird song seems louder all the time.  One voice in that chorus, the one that has the bass line, isn’t a migrant, it is the ruffed grouse doing a drum solo.  Our wildlife people have been conducting grouse drumming surveys, and the preliminary results seem to indicate that this has been a pretty good year for grouse, climbing toward a peak in their cycle. 
In addition to burning, planting begins this week.  White pine and some red oak are being planted along the North Shore in an effort cooperatively funded by a Conservation Partner’s Legacy grant and partnerships with the Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.  Additional partners include the Sugarloaf Stewardship Association, The State of Minnesota, The Nature Conservancy and the North Shore Forest Collaborative.  To minimize deer browsing, these trees will be fenced, so this planting will take a lot of effort.
Opening fishing weekend is coming up.  Ice is out of most area lakes, though some of the lakes up the Gunflint Trail and to the northeast are still ice covered.  Most of that ice is pretty rotten though, and should go soon.  As the lakes open, docks are being put in, and campground water supplies are being turned on and serviced.  The fee season for campgrounds should start in the next week or so with the turning on of the water.  Check our website or at a ranger station to find out the current status of our campgrounds when planning on a trip. 
If it is a Boundary Waters trip you are planning, today, May 1st, marks the start of the quota season.  You will need a permit issued at a ranger station or cooperating business for overnight travel in the Boundary Waters.  Self-issued permits are still available at entry points for day use. 
As you can tell, there is a lot happening on the Forest in the spring.  Check our website and ranger stations for current conditions and updates, and then get out there and enjoy the spring!  Until next week, this has been Steve Robertsen for National Forest Update.
 

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Superior National Forest Update: April 17

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Hi.  I’m Brie Schueller, fire management 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 April 17, here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
Currently, roads are fairly clear of snow and ice, but they are still pretty soggy from the meltwater.  County road restrictions due to the soft roads have stopped most timber hauling operations on the Forest.  Some cutting of timber is still going on, but the work is mostly within the units and doesn’t involve hauling on the roads.  That means that these spring days are nice for exploring the Forest without having to be too concerned with large truck traffic.  You do have to be concerned with the same road conditions that have kept the trucks off the roads.  Soft shoulders and mud are the obvious problems, but a recent drive showed just how alert you need to be while driving.  On that short drive, in two spots, trees whose roots had loosened in the soft soil had blown over across the road.  In other spots, the road had sunk sufficiently to create an area that was less a bump and more of a jump ramp.  Drive with care, road conditions vary greatly and hazards appear with very little forewarning this time of year.
If you are looking for early camping, you need to know that while snow is off most major roadways, many smaller camping areas still have snow over campsites and access roads.  Camping is possible, but in the spring before our fee season begins, campers will not have water or garbage pick-up in campgrounds, and outhouses may not be accessible.  The fee season begins when the water systems can be turned on, usually around mid-May.
Spring migrant birds are coming through in larger numbers each day.  Juncos, vultures, robins, and grackles are just a few of the birds that have arrived over the past two weeks.  Red winged blackbirds are calling in the Twin Cities, but I have yet to hear one up here.  Bears are awake and walking about.  People who are feeding the migrating birds need to make sure to bring in bird feeders and store bird food securely so they don’t end up feeding the bears.  The best way to deal with bear encounters is to avoid them in the first place by making sure food, garbage, and other attractants are not where bears can get them.
It is the mud season, and the spring bird season, but it is also the spring fire season.  Conditions remain dry throughout Minnesota and multiple red flag warnings have been issued this week in our area.  A red flag warning is issued when there are weather conditions that can cause extreme fire behavior.  These conditions include a combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures.  On these red flag days, people need to be extremely careful with fire.  Most people are not aware of it, but there have already been multiple small fires on the Superior this spring, and most of these were somehow ignited by human activity.  You may not think of fire danger because you can still see some patches of snow in the woods, but open areas with brown dry grass will readily carry fire.  There are many of these areas along the Lake Superior shoreline.  During spring, as the last of the snow melts and before the trees green up, is a prime time for fire, particularly in the absence of rain.  Our fire personnel, along with state DNR and local firefighters, will be monitoring conditions closely, but it is up to you to help by reporting any possible fires to 911, and by preventing any accidental ignitions.  Right now, the Superior National Forest has firefighters and engines assisting the Chippewa National Forest to the west in their firefighting efforts but we also have crews on standby locally, just in case. 
Enjoy our spring weather, and until next week, this has been Brie Schueller with the National Forest Update.
 


 

Superior National Forest Update: April 3

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Hi.  I’m Amy Wilfahrt, wildlife biologist 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 April 3, here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
If you are headed out to enjoy a last ski in the winter woods, you may have waited a bit too long.  There is still some snow out there, but there isn’t a lot and what is there is going away pretty fast.  But, if you are planning on paddling anywhere, you’ll have to wait a bit longer.  There is still a lot of ice on the lakes – over two feet on many of them.  It is softening though, and you will have to be careful if you are venturing out on the ice.  It is not very predictable this time of year.
If you are out driving, there are a couple of logging operations going on.  One is off Forest Road 170 on the road to Wilson Lake and another on the Trapper’s Lake Road near Isabella on the Tofte District.  On the Gunflint side, there is one operation off the Greenwood Lake.  Due to the spring thaw making gravel road beds mushy, the county and Forest have imposed load limits on roads which means that even with these logging operations, there is not much in the way of truck traffic right now.  So, you don’t have to watch for large trucks as much, but you do have to watch for washouts, crumbling shoulders, and water over the road. 
Many of the roads that were not plowed during the winter are still impassable due to snow, ice, or soft roadbeds.  Plowed roads have been thawing and refreezing, and may be icy in spots.  One small advantage of our dry spring is we’ve had virtually no washouts this year, but be aware that some roads are very mushy in low spots.  When in doubt, get out and check before driving over suspiciously soggy spots.
Those dry conditions may make for good spring driving, but it also makes the forest ripe for fires.  Until the thunderstorm season starts, virtually all spring fires on the forest are started by people.  That means that despite the dry conditions, we can avoid wild fires, if we choose to.   If you are using fire, be very careful this spring to make sure that it is controlled.  We’ve had some really windy days, and the combination of low humidity, lack of rain, and high winds mean that what normally would be a safe fire could easily get away from you.  While snow cover makes for little fire danger in some areas, the shore of Lake Superior is actually at critical fire danger this weekend.  On the west side of the Forest, the snow is gone and there has already been one eleven acre wild grass fire.  On our east side, let’s see if we can have zero human caused wild fires this year.
Out in the woods, wildlife is noticing the spring.  Robins have shown up in the area, and eagles are sitting on hatching eggs or nestlings.  Melting snow banks on the road sides have exposed the winter’s accumulation of dead deer, and crows, ravens, and eagles are gathered to enjoy the feast, creating a uniquely north woods traffic hazard.  Where else do you need to brake for low flying eagles?
Enjoy our spring weather, and until next week, this has been Amy Wilfahrt with the National Forest Update.
 


 

ISD 166 School Board sets calendar

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A finalized school calendar, industrial arts expansion news and the Knowledge Bowl Team advances to state.  WTIP’s Jana Berka spoke with ISD166 Superintendent Beth Schwarz on Daybreak.  

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Superior National Forest Update: March 20

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Hi.  I’m Steve Robertsen, education and interpretation 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 March 20th, here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
First and foremost, it’s official!  It is now spring!  Three big celestial events happened on March 20th.  If you happened to be in Northern Europe, you got to see a solar eclipse, but it happened at the wrong time of day for us over here.  There also was what is called a Supermoon, which happens when the moon is at its closest point in its orbit to Earth.  The Supermoon on the 20th happened when the moon was new and not visible, so that’s two events we couldn’t actually see.  So, the most important event for us in Minnesota was that the 20th was the spring equinox.  Day and night on the equinox are exactly the same length, but from then on, days will be longer than nights until September.  That’s something we can actually see!  The equinox marks the official beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere!
Also in astronomical news, a large solar storm took place this week.  While the storm wasn’t visible, it caused beautiful northern lights.  With that storm subsiding, there is less of a chance of an aurora, but the possibility lingers, making it worth going outside before bedtime.
Despite astronomy saying it is spring, there is still some winter left out there.  Cross country ski trails up the Gunflint Trail are still open and actually not bad skiing.  At the time of recording, Pincushion ski trails are also still very skiable, and even the Sugarbush area down near Tofte has a 3 to 6 inch base.  Be on the lookout for bare spots though, nothing will stop you faster than hitting grass at the bottom of a hill.
If you are out driving, there are a couple of logging operations going on.  One is off the road to Wilson Lake on the Tofte District, and the other is off the Greenwood Lake road on the Gunflint District.  Due to the spring thaw making gravel road beds mushy, the county has imposed load limits on county roads which means that there is not much in the way of logging truck traffic right now.  While this means you don’t have to watch for large trucks as much, it also means you have to watch for washouts, crumbling shoulders, and water over the road.  Since we didn’t have much snow this past winter, conditions are better than they are some springs.
Most roads that were not plowed during the winter are still impassable due to snow.  Plowed roads have been thawing and refreezing, and with cold weather anticipated this weekend, they will probably be very icy in spots.  One of our people reported that some plowed roads were so icy, it was hard to even walk on them.  Enjoy spring, but keep a watch for those remaining bits of winter!
With all the snow and ice, you are probably not thinking of forest fires.  Our fire people are already preparing for the spring fire season though.  The prediction is that this will be a warm and dry spring, nice for hiking, but also good for accidental fires.  Until May when we start to get thunderstorms, humans are the only source of wild fires, and conditions predict a higher than normal potential for fire.  We’ll be talking more about this in weeks to come, but the main message will always be to be careful with fire.  As Smokey says, only you can prevent wild fires.
While we’ve seen signs of raccoons, I have yet to hear a report of a bear being up and about.  But, this is the time for the bruins to start waking up.  If you have bird feeders out, it is also the season to start taking them in at night, unless you really want bears to take them down for you.  Gulls have returned as well, and it just makes me feel warmer when I hear the cries of the gulls as I walk the shore.
Enjoy the gulls and the Forest, and until next week, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.
 


 

Superior National Forest Update: March 13

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NOTE:  Seasonal road restrictions are now in effect (as of 12:01am Friday March 13th) and will continue for a minimum of eight weeks.  All Cook County roads are limited to 5 tons per axle unless otherwise posted. More information is available from the Cook County Highway Department at 387-3014. 

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This Sarah Poznanovic, biological science technician on the Tofte Ranger District, with this week’s edition of the Superior National Forest Update  -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest.
For the week of March 13th, here’s what’s happening on and around the Forest.
The most obvious thing going on all over is that temperatures have warmed and the snow is melting!  There is still inland snow, but conditions are getting to be pretty hazardous for skiing.  Trails alternate between ice and slush, so you either are going too fast on ice, or making a sudden stop when you hit slush.  Many trails are listed as open, but conditions are changing fast.  A good alternative to trails for a workout is to ski on lakes because bare ice is a lot easier on skis than rocks.  Of course, the ice is melting too, but most lake ice is still pretty thick… for now.  Don’t take anyone’s word for it though, do your own checking and make sure that the ice is thick enough before you venture out onto a lake.  Ice should be at least 4” thick to safely walk on, and it is also recommended that you have ice picks along with you.
Most snowmobile trails are listed as open by the DNR as of March 5th, but again, trail conditions are changing rapidly.  Check the DNR website before you head out for up to date information.  Bring along what you need to pull your sled out of slush if you get mired.  And, of course, use your good judgment.  If the trail is listed as open, but all you see is dirt and rocks, you can assume that route isn’t one to travel on.  Remember that cross country travel on a snowmobile requires at least four inches of snow on the ground to be legal.
Our gravel roads are also getting soft this time of year, particularly on the shoulders.  This means to really watch for truck traffic as it will be harder for either you or the truck to pull to the side.  There is still hauling taking place on the Tomahawk Road, 4 Mile Grade, Lake County 7, and possibly the Honeymoon Trail, so be on the look out for log trucks, especially along those routes.
We’ve seen water across some roadways due to clogged culverts, a pretty common occurrence this time of year, even on major roads like Highway 61.  Water on the road is always worth slowing down for, since you never know how deep it may be.
So far, this has sounded a lot like a list of ‘watch out’s and ‘be careful’s.  But, even though spring around here is known as the mud season and comes with some warnings, there are a lot of reasons to get out and enjoy the forest.  Skiing in short sleeves can be a lot of fun, and the smell of warm soil after a cold winter is always great.  It won’t be long until spring migration begins, and chickadees are already singing their short but sweet two note spring song.  Soon we’ll be seeing the first robins arriving for the year and chipmunks emerging from hibernation.
Enjoy the warm weather and what may be the last bit of our winter season.  Until next week, this has been Sarah Poznanovic with the Superior National Forest Update.
 


 

Superior National Forest Update: February 20

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Hi.  I’m Cathy Peterson, Administrative Support Assistant for the Tofte district of the Superior National Forest, and this is the National Forest Update for the week of February 20th.  As we ease out of February into March, it may seem that spring is right around the corner, but we know up here that there is plenty of winter left to go.
 
There have been enough small snowfalls now that ski and snowmobile trails are in pretty good shape, thanks to the grooming done by our trail partners.  Be sure to respect trail use designations though, there isn’t a lot of snow to repair ski trails marred by snowshoes or snowmobiles.
 
Some visitors to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on recent weekends may have been surprised by groups of students winter camping.  The culminating event for an outdoor recreation course for several Twin Cities schools is a trip to the Boundary Waters in the middle of winter.  Students learn how to adequately prepare for extreme weather conditions and overcome the challenges of winter camping.  They also learn the rewards of what is really a wonderful time to camp.  If you’ve never been winter camping in the Boundary Waters, you’d do well to learn from these students and give it a try…properly prepared, of course.  The two big advantages are that you can pretty well eat as much as you want, and there are no bugs at all!
 
There is logging activity going on in the Forest outside of the Boundary Waters.  In the distant past, almost all logging was done in the winter when logs could be slid out on sledges traveling ice roads and across frozen rivers and lakes.  Now we log in the summer as well, but winter is still a good time for timber harvest.  Watch for traffic on the Tomahawk, Four Mile Grade, and Trappers Lake Road.  Also, remember that almost any plowed side road was probably plowed for logging traffic.
 
If winter has you down, it may cheer you up to realize that there are some signs of spring around.  Owls have laid their eggs, and some may be starting to hatch.  Denning bears usually give birth in late January, so there are probably cubs around in the bear dens.  Even better, we’re up to 10 and a half hours of daylight, up from a mere 8 and a half in December.  We still have two hours to gain before the spring equinox around March 21, but we’re half way there.
 
For now though, keep thinking snow, and enjoy the winter.  Until next time, this is Cathy Peterson for the Superior National Forest Update.