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Superior National Forest Update - May 24, 2019

National Forest Update – May 23, 2019

Hi, this is Renee Frahm, Visitor Information Specialist on the Superior National Forest.  It seems like spring has taken a long time coming to the Forest this year, and it may be risky to say so…but I think maybe we can finally take the snow brushes and ice scrapers out of our cars and put away the winter coats.

We have been gearing up towards summer at least.  All our fee campgrounds are now in fee status, which means that the water systems have been turned on and that there is garbage and recycling available.  Remember that dumpsters at campgrounds are only for campers and day users…and not for household garbage.  Also remember that they are not supposed to be feeding stations for bears, so when you are camping, make sure to put all your garbage in the dumpster and then secure the bars across the lid to keep the animals out.  It is particularly important to follow good bear etiquette in the spring because if a bear learns that a dumpster is food supply early on, it may become a pest the entire summer.

The same holds true for your bird feeders at home.  Feeding birds, especially during migration, is both fun and good for the birds.  Feeding bird seed to bears is a different story, so bring the feeders in at night – even if it is raining.  Speaking of birds, we are in our spring peak of bird diversity.  Most of our resident birds have arrived, and we still have some of those that will be moving farther north.  Hummingbirds are back, and it is always amazing to think of those little guys winging their way all the way from the Gulf Coast to our back yards in northern Minnesota.

Birds are lucky because at least they don’t have to travel on the back roads this spring.  Roads are still pretty soft in many areas.  There is a washout on the road to the Trout Lake public water access that has blocked the way to the access.  We are waiting for the road to firm up enough for heavy equipment before we can get in to fix that washout.  Spring weight restrictions are still in place on Forest Service Roads, but will be coming off soon as roads dry out and frost leaves the ground.  That means that right now, there’s no log hauling, but it could start in the next week.  When it does start, look for trucks on the Lima Grade, Greenwood Road, and Blueberry Road on the Gunflint District and on the Trapper’s Lake Road on the Tofte District.

This holiday weekend though, look out for bikes.  It is the weekend of  Le Grand du Nord, a set of gravel road bike races taking place in the Forest out of Grand Marais.  Part of the race is reading the route from cue cards, so we can’t tell you exactly where you’ll find bikers, so be aware they could be anywhere in the area on Saturday.  Of course, there could be bikers around any day, so we should be driving expecting to see bikers all the time.

Our fire shop has been conducting prescription burns as weather permits.  They report that all of their wildlife opening burns are done for the season. The clearings maintained by these burns will benefit animals which eat vegetation close to the ground, like moose and snowshoe hare.  Helping hares will also help lynx who prey on the hare, though the hares would probably rather skip that step.  The burns also benefit smaller critters, like Nabokov’s blue butterfly, a rare species on the Forest.  Prescription burns are also designed with the aim of reducing the amount of fuel in the forest and so reducing the impact of wildfires, and to prepare harvested sites for reforestation.  Since conducting prescribed burns is weather dependent, I can’t tell you precise dates, so if you are interested in when and where these are taking place, check our website for alerts about prescribed fire.

In spite of the recent rainy and snowy days, the lack of mosquitoes, the abundance of birds and wildflowers, and things like the songs of spring peepers in your ponds make this a favorite time to get outside.  It is time to find the paddles and life jackets, and, we hope, put the snowblower and snow shovel back in the shed.  Take the time to enjoy this long drawn out spring.  Here’s to hoping summer will get here sooner than later!  I hope you have some extra time with family and friends this Memorial Day weekend and that you can get out doors and do something fun!  There will be lots of people around, so be safe when you are out and about driving the back roads.

Until next week, this has been Renee Frahm with the National Forest Update.