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Superior National Forest Update - June 22, 2018

Baby Peregrines-banding
Baby Peregrines-banding

National Forest Update – June 22, 2018.

Hi.  I’m Renee Frahm, Visitor Information 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 Superior National Forest.  With the solstice this week and the official start to summer, we are looking at days that are almost 16 hours long and they are plenty full of summer activities.

To start with, this Saturday is the Lutsen 99er mountain bike races.  That means that several of the roads in the Forest from Tofte to Grand Marais are being used as race routes.  Information on good spots to be a spectator are on the Lutsen 99er website, as well as race route information for planning your travels in the same area.  Please respect cyclists, follow posted information, and be ready to cheer the racers on.

The cyclists will probably be going much faster than traffic on some parts of Highway 61.  There isn’t a lot of construction right here near the Forest, but south on the highway, there is plenty, so expect to encounter some frustrated drivers even up here.  That means to be extra aware of people passing when they shouldn’t and going faster than they should as they try to make up for lost time in order to ‘hurry up and relax’.  It’s time to remember that Minnesota Nice thing and just realize that it may take longer than you think to get places.

Our Forest Roads are actually in pretty good shape right now.  We’ve had enough rain to allow some grading in rough areas, but not so much as to cause major washouts or road damage.   Logging activity can be expected in Tofte on the Trappers Lake Road and the Dumbell River Road.  On the Gunflint District, trucks are using the Greenwood, Firebox, and the Old Greenwood Road (Forest Road 144).  While our roads are in good shape, all the rain in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan reminds us that it is a good time to remember what to do when you encounter a flooded roadway.  Even shallow water on a road can cause a vehicle to hydroplane and lose control, so it is best to slow down and even stop to evaluate the depth and the condition of the road beneath the water.  Over half of all drownings during flash flood events happen to people in vehicles, so the advice is always “Turn Around, Don’t Drown”.

This week also marks the start of our summer series of Naturalist Programs.  In cooperation with area resorts and Visit Cook County, Superior National Forest has produced naturalist programs, campfires, activities, and hikes since the mid-1980’s.  This year, we have presentations on moose, wolves, bats, voyageurs, and more, so pick up a flyer at a Forest Service office, the Visit Cook County information center in Grand Marais, or online at our website, then come to one of our campfire programs.  We hope to see you there!

All these activities are for people, but there has been a lot of animal activity this past week.  We’ve seen moose with calves, grouse with chicks, and deer with fawns.  Peregrine falcons have chicks in their nests along the cliffs on Lake Superior as well.  As part of a long-term study on peregrines, the chicks are being banded.  This involves people rappelling down the cliff to the nest, putting the chicks in an ‘elevator’ to take them up to the banders on the top of the cliff, then putting the chicks safely back home.  Of course, the parents don’t appreciate this, and the climbers may get hit 50 or 60 times by the parent falcons.  Luckily, chicks, parent birds, and climbers all recover pretty quickly from this experience.  Don’t do this yourself though.  It does stress the birds, so if you come into an area where falcons, goshawks, or other birds are screaming at you – heed their warning and move away from their nest site.

Bears have also been active in the woods.  We’ve had to post alerts at several Boundary Waters entry points due to bear activity.  When you are going camping or entering the BWCAW, make sure to take the time to read the bulletin board or kiosk for information like bear alerts or fire restrictions.  If there is a bear alert, this doesn’t mean the end of your trip.  Just make sure to follow what should be standard procedure anyway on keeping food safe from bears, and be aware that you may have a bear encounter.  Detailed information on handling food in bear country, and what to do if a bear is in your space can be found on our website.
 
So, between bears, birds, and bicyclists, it is pretty busy in the woods.  Join the activity and get out to explore!  Until next time, this has been Renee Frahm with the National Forest Update.
 

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