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Superior National Forest Update - February 8, 2019

Superior National Forest Update
Superior National Forest Update

National Forest Update – February 7, 2019.
Hi, this is Steve Robertsen, education and interpretation specialist with the Superior National Forest, bringing you the first National Forest Update of 2019! 

It may seem strange that this is the first Update of the year, but this has been a somewhat strange year so far for us government agencies.  We’d like to start this Update with a big thank you to all of our partners who kept trails groomed and open during the recent government shutdown.  We’d also like to thank the public.  There have been stories of vandalism and other problems at other Forests and Parks, but not here.  People did a great job of leaving no trace, and they made our jobs a whole lot easier when we returned to work.  Also, thank you for your patience in realizing that being furloughed for a month can’t help but result in delays on some actions.  We’re making up for lost time as fast as we can.

February is really the heart of winter.  This is the best time to get out and play in the snow.  Snowshoeing, skiing, fat-tire biking, sledding, mushing, snowmobiling, skijoring, ice fishing, or just driving around looking at snow on trees – this is the time to do it.  We’ve been getting lots of snow, so trails for snow sports are in great shape.  In fact, the only problem may be that you’ll have to wait for the trail to be groomed because of more snow.  Links to sites with condition reports can be found from the recreation pages of our website so you can get up to the minute news on conditions.  New to our website this year will be georeferenced pdf trail maps.  These are digital maps that can be downloaded to your phone or mobile device and are designed to be used with wayfinding apps such as Avenza.  Once downloaded, you don’t need a cell or internet connection, and your phone will put a dot on the map showing exactly where you are on the trail.  Right now, only the Flathorn Gegoka Ski Trails have a georeferenced pdf available, but we are working on adding them for the rest of our ski trail systems.  You can also get georeferenced pdf versions of our Motor Vehicle Use Maps on our website, and a georeferenced version of the Visitor Map showing roads in the entire Forest is available for purchase through the Avenza map store.  Of course, printable simplified maps of Gunflint and Tofte ski and snowmobile trails are available on our website, with links to locations with more detailed maps.

All the snow may make driving difficult though.  After a snow event, roads in the Forest are cleared by several different groups.  County and state roads are cleared by the county and state, but plowing on some interior small county roads may lag considerably behind plowing on major county roads outside of the Forest.  Many Forest roads are not plowed in winter.  Those that are plowed are plowed by contractors, and often by businesses involved in timber sales taking place along those roads.  Response time is widely variable, depending on the level of activity on those timber sales.  If you are out driving, be sure to be prepared with winter survival gear for you, and a shovel and traction material for your vehicle.  When you are out on the roads, be watchful for log trucks hauling on the Wanless Road, Lake County 7, and the Greenwood Road.  Be especially careful on Firebox Road, which is a dual-use road with snowmobiles. 

Do get out though.  We live in a place with a great winter, and everyone should take the time to enjoy it. 

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