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Superior National Forest Update - March 16, 2018

National Forest Update – March 15, 2018.
 
Hi.  I’m Hayley Henderson, CCMI contractor with the Forest Service, with this week’s National Forest Update, a round-up of everything that for the next two weeks may affect your visit to the Superior.  We are on the edge of spring but don’t get too excited yet.  Remember that March is one of the heaviest snowfall months of the year and you never know what might happen.
What has happened so far though is some deterioration of our winter trails?  Right now, trails are mostly rated as good, with some icy conditions on south-facing slopes.  With about of warm weather ahead of us though, users should beware of more glazing of trails and possible bare spots.  Snowmobile trails are rated fair to good, with a couple of very goods, but still, watch for soft spots as melting is expected to continue.  But it is March, and we still may be in line for a good dumping of snow before winter is done, so don’t put away your snow toys yet.  Don’t forget that snowmobiles are not permitted on ski trails; we’ve had indications that a couple of people appear to have missed that message.

The roads are much like the trails.  They are still firmly frozen and good for travel, but just be aware that in the sun the layer of frozen snow may be turning to truck-eating mush in the near future.  If you are unsure, get out and check the road before you go down it.

We are coming close to March 19th, the date ice houses must be removed from lakes in northern Minnesota.  Ice fishing will continue, but you cannot leave your house on the ice unoccupied overnight.  Every year, it seems someone pushes the season and ends up floating out into the lake, or having a vehicle drop into the water.  Don’t let it be your embarrassing picture that is in the news; check ice thickness and be careful.  After all, it could be a lot worse than just embarrassment.

There’s still too much snow on the ground to worry about fire danger, though we are sending some of our fire people to southern forests where the fire season has started already.  But, it’s never too early to start thinking about Firewise!  Firewise is the idea that you can help protect your property by managing it in a way that reduces the possibility of a structure fire.  Materials about Firewise are available online and at the Forest Service offices in Tofte and Grand Marais.

There isn’t a lot of timber activity right now on our eastern side of the Forest.  Hauling is taking place on the Greenwood Road, the Firebox Road, the Greenwood Lake Access Road, the Homestead Road in Lutsen, the Caribou Trail, Cook County 39, the Ward Lake Road, and Forest Road 333.  The Firebox Road and Forest Road 333 are also snowmobile trails, so be extra careful traveling on them.

Biologists have been conducting owl surveys at night recently.  This is the time of year when owls can be quite vocal, so they are easy to locate.  Hawks generally have to fly south in the winter because the snow covers the ground and the hawks can’t see the mice to catch them.  Owls, on the other hand, locate their prey by hearing and can hear the mice right through the snow.  This saves owls the work of migrating and also allows them to start nesting long before the hawks arrive to compete with them for nest space and food.  The facial disc that gives owls their distinctive face is actually part of their hearing mechanism.  The visible disc is the edge of a reflector made of harder feathers that works like a satellite dish to bring sound right to their ears. 

Enjoy the warmer weather, and maybe use it to take a walk outside at night and listen for owls.  After all, they are probably listening to you.  Until next time, this has been Hayley Henderson with the National Forest Update. 
 

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