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Superior National Forest Update

USDA Forest Service

The Superior National Forest Update helps you keep up to date with Forest activities that you might encounter while driving, boating, or hiking in the Superior National Forest’s Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Districts.  It includes road and fire conditions, logging and other truck activities, as well as naturalist programs and special events.  

The USDA Forest Service has more information on the Superior National Forest website.

What's On:

Superior National Forest Update - October 19, 2018

National Forest Update – October 18, 2018.
Hi.  I’m Renee Frahm, Visitor Information Specialist with the Superior National Forest.  This is our weekly National Forest Update, useful information for anyone planning a trip out into the woods.  From trucks to birds to leaves, we’ve got it all.
If the snow wasn’t a dead giveaway, let me tell you that it is getting colder outside.  To protect our water systems, we’ve shut the water off in all of our campgrounds now.  That means that campgrounds in the Gunflint and Tofte Districts are not collecting fees, with the exception of East Bearskin Campground where water is still available from the nearby lodge building.  It’s been cold enough that there was actually a fairly good amount of ice on some of the lakes recently, so we’ve also pulled our docks from boat landings.  The ramp is of course still there, but you’d better bring some tall waterproof boots and a towel if you are planning a fishing trip. 
The fall color season is past peak, but there is still some color in the woods.  Crisp sunny fall days when the leaves have fallen are perfect for getting outside and sitting on a rock in the sun.  As you sit there, you’ll notice that there are a lot of hawks migrating along the shore.  On October 17th, observers at Hawk Ridge in Duluth counted 1377 red-tailed hawks go past.  Several Forest Service employees noticed a huge flock of crows that same day, 200 or so birds all working their way south.  While some birds will travel far south, past the Gulf of Mexico, crows and hawks are short distance migrants, stopping when the food supply increases.  Little dark-eyed juncos are passing through in large numbers too right now, and snow buntings are beginning to show up as well.
If your idea of birding involves firearms and a roast goose or a grouse dinner at the end, the fallen leaves make the game easier to spot.  For grouse and other upland species, remember that firing from a vehicle or across a road is not legal, and for waterfowl, be sure to use non-lead shot.  That’s actually a good idea for any hunting.  Lead is poisonous, and shot that gets into the environment and is eaten can kill.  For example, lead poisoning has been shown to be one of the leading causes of death in adult loons.  Finally, regardless of what you are hunting, or even if you are hunting, make sure you and your dog have your orange on.  It’s good to be seen.
We had said the leaves have fallen, but what do you do with the ones that have fallen in your yard?  Composting is the best answer, either in your own pile or at the yard waste composting area at the recycling centers in Grand Marais or Silver Bay.  If you feel you need to burn leaves, check the regulations.  You will need a burning permit when there is less than three inches of snow on the ground, and other restrictions may apply depending on where you are.  Also, check your common sense.  If there are gale force winds, it is never a good idea to light that match.  Brush may be disposed of at several gravel pit locations which you can find through the Firewise Brush Disposal website.  These brush piles are burned by Forest Service and Fire Department crews under controlled circumstances.
Falling leaves certainly pose no barriers to log trucks.  They can be found using the Frank Lake Road, Trappers Lake Road, Dumbell River Road, the Wanless Road, Lake County 7, the 4 Mile Grade, the Grade, Caribou Trail, Murmur Creek Road, and the Hall Road.  Watch for trucks on those roads, and be prepared to pull to the side to let them go by.
Don’t let your MEA weekend go by without some kind of outdoor time.  This looks like it could be a beautiful late fall weekend to get out and enjoy the last bit of color. 
Until next week, this has been Renee Frahm with the National Forest Update.



Superior National Forest Update - October 12, 2018

National Forest Update – October 11, 2018.

Hi.  I’m Jake Todd, information assistant with the Superior National Forest and this is the National Forest Update.  Every week, we feature the information people headed out into the woods need to know, so if you are planning a visit or just want to know what’s up out there, this is for you.

Chances are good that if you are in the woods, you will be using a trail.  It may be a portage, or a hiking trail, or a biking trail, or later in winter a ski or snowmobile trail.  Trails are what give us access to the forest, and without them, we’d be, well, literally lost.  Some of our trails were established long before the National Forest existed by Native Americans and later fur traders.  Others were created only in the past few years.  Whatever the trail, they don’t maintain themselves, much as we wish they would, and many of our trails are maintained by volunteer trail organizations.  If you are interested in any of our trails and are considering volunteering to help keep them in good shape, the Northwoods Volunteer Connection will be hosting a ‘Trails Roundtable’ at the Voyageur Brewing Company in Grand Marais from 5 to 7 o’clock on October 24.  Anyone who is interested in volunteering on trails is welcome to attend.

High wind and ground softened by rain have made work for our trail crews recently as they clear deadfalls and downed branches.  They report that while there haven’t been large amounts of damage, there are some trees and branches down and hikers should wear good footwear in anticipation of needing to possibly detour over and around deadfalls.  With all the water, there are some very muddy trails out there too.  Rather than walk around muddy spots and widen the trail by use, we encourage people to walk through the mud and keep the trail narrow.  The trail crews would also like to remind people, through bitter experience, that even it if isn’t currently raining or snowing, snow and rain on branches will sometimes dump right on your head – so dress accordingly.

This a prime weather for hypothermia.  In winter, people usually dress for cold, but in wet fall weather, people often underdress with the hope that maybe it isn’t quite time to break out the stocking hat and mittens.  I’m sorry to say that it’s time to admit winter is coming and find the cold weather gear so you don’t end up hypothermic in the woods.  Wear layers so you don’t overheat, choose fabrics that stay warm when wet, and top off your outfit with something waterproof.  Finally, don’t forget your hunter orange – it’s the color of the season.

Our road system is in fairly good shape.  While we’ve had a lot of rain, we haven’t had the sort of torrential rain which overwhelms drainage systems.  There are some wet spots and soft shoulders, so drive carefully.  Fall color season is winding down, but still, expect slow moving vehicles on our main fall color routes and back roads.  Logging haul trucks are using the Frank Lake Road, Trappers Lake Road, the Dumbell River Road, the Wanless Road, Lake County 7, the 4 Mile Grade, The Grade, the Caribou Trail, and the Murmur Creek Road so be careful in those areas.

We are continuing to shut down water systems at the campground and put them into non-fee status.  Iron Lake, East Bearskin, Flour Lake, Kimball Lake, and Devil Track have all had their water systems put to bed for the winter.  Two Island Lake Campground has a portable water tank, but if the weather is cold enough, the faucet may freeze.  Though the campground water system is shut down at East Bearskin, water is still available from Bearskin Lodge so they will still be collecting nightly camping fees and providing garbage service until the cross country ski trails are groomed.  Campgrounds in a non-fee status are still open for use, but you will have to supply water and pack out your garbage.  Later, when there is snow, these campgrounds will not be plowed out and outhouses may not be accessible.

But, this week, before there is too much snow, be sure to take advantage of those breaks in the rain to get outside and enjoy some of the final days of fall. 

Until next time, this is Jake Todd with the National Forest Update.



Superior National Forest Update - September 21, 2018

National Forest Update – September 20, 2018.
Hi.  I’m Jake Todd, information assistant with the Superior National Forest, and I’m here with this week’s National Forest Update, a round-up of everything that may affect your visit to the Superior.  Fall continues to progress, and after some rain, we should have a few days of perfect fall weather.
A lot happens in the fall, including the end of our fee season at our fee campgrounds.  With the end of fees comes the end of water and garbage service at campgrounds.  Divide, McDougal, and Little Isabella River Campgrounds will end the fee season at the end of the month, with the rest ending the following week.  You are still welcome to camp at the campgrounds after fee season, but you’ll need to pack out your garbage and be sure to bring water with you.  Certain campgrounds may have water available from concessionaire offices after campground water systems are put to bed for the winter, but for most, the arrival of possible frost means we have to shut the water off.
There’s also some final work being done on roadways before things freeze up.  On the 600 Road, a favorite for leaf peepers in the fall, work is being done to clear out ditches so they can handle meltwater in the spring.  Some heavy equipment, such as a backhoe and dump trucks, will be periodically blocking the roadway, mostly between the Temperance River Road and the Cramer Road.  If you encounter them, just wait until they pull to the side to let you through.  The 600 Road is also having potholes filled, and you’ll notice that the Honeymoon Trail and Temperance River Road are also freshly graded for the fall season.
Fall burning has also begun.  Our fire crew will be burning piles as weather allows during the next month or so.  This may create smoke in areas where burning is going on.  If you see a smoke plume, it is always a good idea to report it and we will be able to tell if it is just from some of our activity.  If you are in an area where burning is happening, watch for trucks and personnel on the roadways, and respect any temporary road closures.
There’s some log hauling happening out there.  In the Gunflint area, expect trucks on Pike Lake Road, Cook County 7, the Caribou Trail, and    Hall Road in Lutsen.  On the Tofte end, Dumbell River Road, Wanless Road, Trappers Lake Road, Lake County 7, the 4 Mile Grade, and the Grade are included.  While log trucks are big, don’t forget that during this time of year, you may encounter slow-moving leaf watchers almost anywhere on the Forest.  It’s best to just assume there will be oncoming traffic around corners and over hills.
There are hunters out there too, and everyone, not just hunters, should start to wear orange when they’re out in the woods.  We have several hunter walking areas designed for grouse and small game which are used as hiking trails as well.  This time of year though, it is best to leave these trail systems to the people who are hunting.
Rain over the next few days might batter the trees, but most of the leaves are still pretty solidly attached, so we expect the peak of fall color to happen sometime in the next couple of weeks.  Sunny days help develop leaf color, along with cool nights, and that’s what should be moving in after the rain clouds leave.  Overall, this seems to be shaping up to be a great fall color season, but it doesn’t last long.
That means that whether you are out there for fall color, or hunting, or both – it’s a good time to get out into the Forest.
 Have a great time out there, and until next time, this is Jake Todd with the National Forest Update. 



Superior National Forest Update - September 14, 2018

National Forest Update – September 13, 2018.
Hi, I’m Steve Robertsen, forest interpreter, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update.  Every week, we bring you information on what’s going on in the Forest and how it might affect your visit.
This week saw a huge increase in the amount of fall color in the woods.  Connected with that, we have put out signs for fall color touring routes along the Caribou Trail, Honeymoon Trail, Sawbill Trail, the 600 Road, and Two Island River Road.  People using these roads should be aware that there will be people driving slowly and parked along those routes.  If you are a fall color enthusiast, be aware of other vehicles using the roads.  Pull over if you are driving slowly to let others pass.  Park only in spots where visibility is good and you can get off the roadway.  Some of the best fall color areas are good exactly because the road is narrow and winding, but that also means that you should park somewhere else and walk off the road back to the best spot. 
Drivers should also be aware of road work being done on the 600 Road between the Temperance River Road and County 7.  Construction equipment may be blocking the road for short amounts of time, but the work crews will move equipment to let vehicles pass.  Please follow all directions given by the workers at the site to ensure the safety of everyone.
Fall color route maps are available at the Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Stations, and, coming soon, digital versions will be available online for use with the Avenza mapping app on your phone.  If you are using a phone for navigation, make sure to keep your eyes on the road, not the phone, when you are driving. 
This past week saw the anniversary of the Pagami Creek Fire.  This large fire burned in September of 2011, eventually moving through 92,000 acres.  It started with a lightning strike that smoldered for several days in the duff layer.  While its cause was natural, the smoldering start is common to many human-caused fires.  People often build campfires on peat or heavy duff under trees and think they have put the fire out when it is actually still smoldering.  Remember, if there is an established fire ring or grate, use it.  If there is none, think twice about having a fire.  If you choose to go ahead, the best method is to use a fire pan you bring with you as a base.  Aluminum turkey roasting pans, old snow saucers – there are lots of things that can be used as a fire pan.  Otherwise, clear away all flammable material from your campfire area and NEVER build a fire on peat.  Peat fires can become very hard to put out.  After you are done, make sure the fire is completely out, and practice leave-no-trace by dismantling any rock rings and scuffing out any fire scars.
There is a little logging traffic this week.  On Gunflint, expect trucks on Cook County 7, the Caribou Trail, and Pike Lake Road.  On Tofte, trucks are using the Dumbbell River Road, the Wanless Road, the Trappers Lake Road, Lake County 7, the 4 Mile Grade, The Grade, and the Caribou Trail.  You may also run into graders and gravel trucks as they work to surface roads before fall is over. 
Safe travels on the Forest, and enjoy the fall.  It is a short season, so make the most of it! 
Until next time, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update. 



Superior National Forest Update - August 31, 2018

National Forest Update – August 30, 2018.
Hi.  I’m Jasmine Ingersoll, recreation technician on the Tofte District, with the National Forest Update.  I help maintain and care for recreation sites on the Forest, and with miles of trail and dozens of sites, I’m a very busy person!  If your plan this weekend is to visit the State Fair, I’m not much help, but if your plan is to get away from the hordes of people on the Midway and enjoy some peace and quiet, our National Forest is for you.

It is the end of summer and the beginning of fall, and this transition time is great for people looking to get away.  We actually do have fewer visitors during the state fair, and as yet, there is no one here coming to look for fall colors.  That makes late summer/early fall a peaceful time on the Forest.  Plus, we also have fewer bugs right now and that alone makes it a perfect time to visit!

We’ve had plenty of rain recently, so right now fire danger is low.  As the forest dries out and prepares for winter though, fire danger can rise rapidly even after a good soaking rain.  Whether fire danger is high or low, you should always control campfires and put fires dead out when you are done.  It’s a big part of leave no trace outdoor ethics.

Fall migration is happening in a big way.  Hard to identify fall warblers are hopping around the trees frustrating birders, but other, easy to identify birds are migrating as well.  Large flocks of hundreds of nighthawks, an insect eater related to whippoorwills, are moving down the shore.  Loons are rafting up in lakes, ready to head south, as are other waterfowl.

Deer are preparing for fall too.  They may not migrate, but antlers are growing, and soon bucks will be rubbing the velvet off so they can both fight and show off a bit.  Bears have been active, and have gotten into dumpsters at some campgrounds.  Make sure to secure the dumpster with the bear bars when you’re camping – the bears are really looking for anything to fatten up on for winter and leftover beans and hamburger buns look pretty good to them.

If you are planning on using an OHV or ATV, make sure you have the current version of the Motor Vehicle Use Map, available for download on our website or for purchase at a ranger station.  The digital version is a georeferenced pdf file, so you can use a phone app such as Avenza to locate yourself on the map.  This can be really handy, but we suggest you have a hard copy as well in case your battery dies.  Riding on a road or trail which is not open to ATVs is a ticketable offense, so make sure you know where to ride.

Bigger things than ATVs are on the roads too.  There is some logging traffic on the Forest.  On Gunflint roads, you can find trucks using the Caribou Trail, the Pike Lake Road, and Cook County 7.  On the Tofte side, trucks will be using the Dumbell River Road, Wanless Road, Trappers Lake or Sawbill Landing Road, the 4 Mile Grade, and Lake County Road 7. 

Enjoy the next week in the woods; this is truly one of the best times of the year.  Until next time, this has been Jasmine Ingersoll with the National Forest Update.



Superior National Forest Update - August 24, 2018

National Forest Update – August 23, 2018.
Hi.  I’m Tom McCann, resource information specialist on the Gunflint District, with the National Forest Update.  ‘Resource information specialist’ means I’m the person who creates maps and does analysis of spatial data in this part of the Superior.  The Superior is moving in new directions for visitor maps and in the coming year, you’ll see more of our maps available online for use with GPS enabled phones.  But, a paper map is still a great addition to any trip into the Forest.  They never run out of batteries, they don’t need a signal, and you can pick one up at either the Gunflint or Tofte office.  As you head out into the Forest, map in hand, here’s some other information for you.

The Minnesota DNR is replacing boat ramps at some sites in the Forest.  Last week, the ramp at Four Mile was closed for replacement, surprising some fishermen.  This week, the ramp at Caribou Lake will be closed while it is replaced.  These are DNR, not Forest Service, facilities, so for other information about boat ramps, check the DNR website.

We are moving into the start of hunting seasons.  While bear season does not start until September, bear hunters can now begin to set up bait stations.  Bait stations need to be clearly marked, and if you run into one while you are out exploring, please leave it alone.  Be careful as well because if the bait is working, there may be bears in the area.  Bait is required to be distant from trails, campgrounds, and other developed sites, so it is rare that you would run into one of these unless you are traveling off the beaten trail.

Sometimes in the late summer and early fall, people will take extended camping trips.  As a reminder, you are not allowed to occupy any campsite for more than 14 days, with the exception of designated long-term sites at Little Isabella River and McDougal Lake Campgrounds.  The definition of ‘campsite’ includes not only campsites in campgrounds, but anywhere on the Forest where you set up a tent.  After 14 days, you have to move.  The ‘nine-person’ rule of a maximum group size of nine is also one which applies to all campsites, with the exception of designated group sites.

If your plans included traveling on The 600 Road between the Sawbill Trail and the Cramer Road, be aware that culverts on that road are being replaced.  There can be delays of up to half an hour while this is going on.  Gravel trucks will be hauling loads for the project on the Two Island River Road, the 600 Road, and the Sawbill Trail.  The plan is to have the work completed before the fall color season as the 600 Road is popular fall color route.

Logging trucks will be hauling in a few places as well.  On the Tofte end, trucks will be using the Dumbell River Road, Wanless Road, Trappers Lake or Sawbill Landing Road, the 4 Mile Grade, and Lake County Road 7.  On Gunflint, expect trucks on the Springdale Road, the Caribou Trail, the Lima Grade, and the South Brule River Road.

Although there is rain predicted for this weekend, campers and picnickers who plan on building campfires need to be aware that the Forest is pretty dry right now.  The layer of duff on the ground will stay dry and can support a smoldering fire until we get a really good soaking rain.  Be very careful with fires this season; we’ve already had several small wildfires which started as campfires, and we don’t want any more.  Campfires need to be dead out when you leave them, and any wood you are burning needs to be completely within the fire ring or fire grate.

I hope that you will be able to fit a camping or other trip into the Forest in our remaining summer days.  It’s a good way to relax before school and fall projects begin. 

Until next time, enjoy the Forest, and this has been Tom McCann with the National Forest Update.



Superior National Forest Update - August 17, 2018

National Forest Update – August 9, 2018.
Hi.  I’m Jake Todd, information assistant at Tofte, with the National Forest Update.  I’m a relatively new face on the district, but you’ll see me on the other side of the counter if you come in for a wilderness permit, camping information, or just to say hi.  As far as information goes, here on WTIP, every week we bring you information on things happening around the east end of the Superior that might affect your visit.

The first piece of information you may already have noticed, but you are probably trying hard to ignore.  Here in mid to late August, there are… hints of fall starting appear.  The goldenrod and large-leafed aster are blooming in huge numbers, and here and there you’ll even see a bush honeysuckle turning red.  The flowers on the fireweed are creeping upwards on the spike, and the story is that when they reach the top of the plant, summer is over.  If you are out at night, listen carefully.  You’ll hear small chirps from above which are coming from night flying flocks of birds migrating south.  The weather may still be warm, or even hot, but there’s no denying that there’s change in the air.

One change this time of year is the drying of the forest.  As moisture levels decrease, fire danger increases.  The duff layer on top of the soil, when dry, can be ignited easily and smolder for days until conditions are right for a fire to spring into life. 

Unfortunately, the source of that ignition too often is a careless person.  Right now, our fire crew reports that the Superior overall is averaging one human-caused fire a day.  These small fires have all been under a quarter acre, but remember that the massive Ham Lake and Pagami Creek Fire, and even the Carr Fire burning in California now, started as small fires less than a quarter acre.  Most of our small fires are from campers not putting out campfires completely, and there’s really no excuse for that.  Smokey has been telling us for years to put our fires out, so next time you have a campfire, just remember the bear and that Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.

Speaking of bears, we are coming to the end of the berry season, and our resident bruins will be starting to look for other sources of food to fatten up for hibernation.  They have to put on a lot of fat, a weight gain of around 30% from their spring weight, in order to sleep all winter without food.  Without berries, bird feeders, trash cans, and picnic coolers all start to look more tempting.  Make sure you are safeguarding all your food sources so your bird feeders don’t turn into bear feeders.  If you are at one of our fee campgrounds, you need to bar the dumpster after use.  This small step really helps keep bears from becoming problem animals.

The road to the campground shouldn’t be a problem though.  Our roads are in good shape right now – good enough that it is tempting to really put on some speed.  Please don’t.  There are many reasons to keep your speed down in the forest, from animals crossing the road to logging trucks, and very few good reasons to go fast.

Those logging trucks are busy hauling in a few places.  On the Tofte side, watch for traffic on the Trappers Lake Road, Dumbell River Road, Wanless Road, the 4 Mile Grade, and Lake County 7.  On the Gunflint District, log trucks may be on the Greenwood Road,       Firebox Road, Cook County 60, the Lima Grade, and the South Brule River Road.  Also, be aware that logging operations are scheduled to begin off of Pike Lake Road within the next couple of weeks.

So, try to ignore those signs of creeping autumn, and get out and enjoy the rest of summer 2018.  We still have plenty of good summer weather left to swim, fish, hike, or camp in, and it’s up to you to take advantage of it. 

Until next week, this has been Jake Todd with the National Forest Update. 



Superior National Forest Update - August 10, 2018

National Forest Update – August 9, 2018.
Hi.  I’m Joe Mundell, timber sale administrator, with the National Forest Update.  Every week we bring you information on things happening around the east end of the Superior that might affect your visit from timber hauling traffic to how bad the bugs are.
We can start with the weather this week.  If you live here or have been visiting the last week, you’ll know that we’ve had everything from nights cold enough to start a fire in the morning, to hot humid conditions, to perfect clear days, to thunderstorms with hail.  And fog.  Can’t forget the fog.  It’s a great time to remind people that we can get all sorts of weather.  If you’re camping, be sure to pack for anything, not just the weather your trip starts in.  If you are fishing or just out boating, watch the sky.  Summer thunderstorms can build quickly, and you’ll want to be off the water before they strike.
When you are out and about, you may run into our CCMI crew for the summer.  CCMI stands for Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa.  These young people have signed on for the summer to work in the outdoors doing a wide variety of jobs for the Forest Service and other natural resource agencies.  They have helped this year with portage maintenance, trail work, rec site maintenance, and other tasks – including appearing on floats in both the Bay Days and Fisherman’s Picnic parades!  We’d like to thank them for all the work they’ve done, and if you see them, be sure to wave!
Despite the thunderstorms, we are in a normal period of August drying in the Forest.  Lake and stream levels are low compared to spring, but are about average for this time of year.  They are low enough though that if you are planning a canoe route, some of the streams passable in spring will be portages instead.  This also means that between rain clouds, our fire danger can creep up.  As always, be careful with fire and make sure your campfires are dead out when you leave them.  We have many of our staff helping with wildfires in the west, from crews on the fire line to people helping with logistics and weather reporting.  The west needs all the help it can get out there, so it would be good not to have to deal with any wildfires back here at home.   We can be thankful that due to weather and people like you being careful, we’ve had a year without major fires so far.
There is not a lot of timber activity on the Forest right now.  You may find haul trucks on the Firebox Road, Greenwood Road, and Cook County 60 on the Gunflint District, and on the Trappers Lake Road, the Wanless Road, Dumbell River Road, 4 Mile Grade, Caribou Trail, Springdale Road, Sawbill Trail, and Carlton Pit Road on the Tofte District.  While you need to watch for haul trucks in those places, you never know what may be around the next corner.  A visitor on the Cramer Road recently came over a hill into a swarm of cyclists occupying the entire width of the road.  Cycling on gravel roads is becoming more and more popular, and encounters like this are becoming more common.  All users of the roads need to be aware and share the roadway – don’t assume that because it is a gravel road, car traffic will be slow or absent.
Until next week, enjoy all the weather August has to offer from campfires on cold evenings to swimming on steamy days.  This has been Joe Mundell with the National Forest Update.



Superior National Forest Update - August 3, 2018

National Forest Update – August 2, 2018.
Hi.  I’m Renee Frahm, Supervisory Administrative Support Assistant, with this week’s National Forest Update, information on things happening around the east end of the Superior that might affect your visit.  It is August, and we are in mid-summer!
Mid-summer for many means berries, and though we are little past the peak of blueberries, raspberries and others are still plentiful in the woods.  Many of these berries do best in areas of new growth where a fire or logging activity created a clearing.  When you’re picking, make sure to look back on occasion and be aware of where you came from.  The dense regrowth in prime berry habitat can make it very easy to get lost in a hurry, so be sure to memorize your way back to the car.
We are also easing into our end of summer fire season.  While there is a lot of green out there, dry weather in August can create good conditions for a fire.  Last week, we had a collection of several small fires on the Forest which were a good reminder to practice safe campfire management.  Campfires should be in safe areas, in fire rings or fire grates at developed camping sites, and by DNR regulations, should be no more than three feet in diameter.  When you leave a campfire, it should be cold to the touch and dowsed with plenty of water.  Smokey has been saying ‘Only You Can Prevent Wildfires’ for years, and it is just as true now as it was in the 1950’s.
I said the words “end of summer” back there, and as much as we hate to admit it, this is the start of the end.  Loons are starting to gather in groups on lakes prior to heading south.  There is a lot of warbler activity as well, some of which is due to birds who nested farther north already started to migrating south.  If you have a hummingbird feeder out, you may have noticed more hummers recently.  Hummingbirds switch to insects during the height of summer for feeding their chicks and often aren’t seen at feeders.  Now that the young ones have fledged, they will start using feeders more as they prepare for migration.  Traveling through the woods, you can actually find some bush honeysuckle which has turned red, and even the occasional moose maple or aspen with some color showing.  If your summer to-do list includes sealing the driveway or staining the deck, you’d better get at it because soon the nighttime temperatures will be too low to have projects like that dry correctly.  We had a taste of that last week with morning temperatures in the low 40’s, so consider yourself warned by Mother Nature that fall is just off the horizon.
While traveling, watch for logging traffic on the Trappers Lake Road, the Wanless Road, Dumbell River Road, 4 Mile Grade, Caribou Trail, Springdale Road, Sawbill Trail, Carlton Pit Road in the Tofte area, and on the Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, Old Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, Ward Lake Road, Cook County 39, and Cook County 60 in the Gunflint District.
Until next week, try to pretend that summer will last forever and enjoy some wonderful August weather.  This has been Renee Frahm with the National Forest Update.



Superior National Forest Update - July 20, 2018

National Forest Update – July 20, 2018.

Hi.  I’m Steve Robertsen, interpretive and education specialist, with this week’s National Forest Update, information on things happening around the east end of the Superior that might affect your visit.  We are getting into the warmest days of the year and some of the busiest days in the Forest as well.

I spent a day with some Girl Scouts this past week helping them earn a badge by learning about Leave No Trace.  In my humble opinion, Leave No Trace is badge we all should try to earn before we head out into the Forest, Scouts or not.  It is a national system of outdoor ethics and while the basic idea is really really simple – that you should leave no trace of yourself behind after you visit an area – the application can be difficult.  The concept is broken into seven principles, which the Scouts got to act out in charades.  Radio is a bad medium for charades though, so I’ll just tell you what they are.  The seven principles are Plan Ahead and Prepare, Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave What You Find, Minimize Campfire Impacts, Respect Wildlife, and Be Considerate of Other Visitors.  These are all important ideas, but as we head into our busiest season, I’d like people to take some time to think about that last one in particular:  Be Considerate of Other Visitors. 

Being considerate means that if you are camping at a developed campground, keep your noise level down and respect quiet hours.  Don’t park in ways that block campground roads.  Remember that those roads are often used by kids on bikes, so drive slowly and cautiously in campgrounds.  At boat ramps, prepare your boat for launch away from the ramp, and clean weeds from the trailer in a place that doesn’t block the ramp.  If there are people doing inspections for aquatic invasives, cooperate with them.  They are there to help you protect our lakes.

In the Boundary Waters, keeping noise levels down is even more important.  Most people’s vision of the wilderness does not include people yelling in the background.  Remember that the “four boat, nine person” limit is for anywhere in the Wilderness, so you may have to patiently wait in your canoe for portages to clear if adding your boat to the mix would exceed the limit.  If, on the other hand, your group is the one on the portage and people are waiting, find another area to have lunch.  Choosing campsites early may be good plan since there are many campers right now, but be gracious in claiming a spot. 

Sharing the road is part of being considerate as well, and in some places that means sharing it with truck traffic.  There is a fair amount of log hauling going on right now.  Watch for trucks on the Gunflint District using the Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, Old Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, Ward Lake Road, Cook County 39, Cook County 60, and the Springdale Road.  On Tofte, look for trucks on Dumbbell River Road, Trappers Lake Road, the Wanless Road, Lake County 705, Carlton Pit Road, Springdale Road, the Sawbill Trail, and the Caribou Trail.

While we’re talking Leave No Trace, I’ll mention the fifth principle too:  Minimize Campfire Impacts.  There’s been some rain the past two weeks which has moderated our fire danger, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful with your fires.  Part of our fire team traveled to Ontario to help with fires in that province because wildfires don’t pay a lot of attention to national borders.  People will remember that during the Ham Lake Fire in 2007, Ontario fire fighters were there to help us.

Lastly, just remember that the most important part of Leave No Trace is summed up in the name.  Before you leave an area, scan it and ask, “Did I leave no trace of myself?”  Pick up litter, fluff up the grass that was under the tent, demolish your sand castle, and let the next person experience the joy of discovering a new place where no one has been before.

Until next week, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.