Hi. I’m Paulette Anholm, information receptionist, on the Gunflint and Tofte Ranger Districts, with the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Superior National Forest. For the week of May 6, here’s what’s happening on the Forest.
Things are really starting to pick up for spring. Starting on May 1st, Forest Service offices have gone to their summer hours, 8 to 4:30, seven days a week. That means that we have new summer seasonal staff like me starting, so stop in and say hi. Part of the reason for the change of hours is the yearly start of the quota permit season for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. From now until October, you will need an issued permit for overnight trips into the Boundary Waters, available at Forest Service offices or various cooperating business. Day trip permitting doesn’t change. Day trips will still need a self-issued permit, available at entry points or offices.
Lakes in the Boundary Waters, along with lakes everywhere else, are mostly open. Some bays may still have ice, making some portages difficult to access, but even that should be breaking up soon. Outside of the Boundary Waters, we are in the process of preparing campgrounds for the fee season, which will start around May 13th with the fishing opener. Docks are next on the spring to-do list. Most are sitting on shore at this point, but the boat ramps are usable as soon as the lake is open whether the dock is in or not.
Getting to the lake may actually be the hardest part. Roads are still soft, and some have crumbling shoulders and potholes. Many of the roads which were not plowed in the winter have downed trees across them from the heavy snow ‘snowdown’ event this past winter. We are making progress opening up these roads, but it takes time, and there are many roads which are still impassable in sections.
The counties have partially lifted the spring weight restrictions on roads. There are links to their websites from our Current Conditions webpage. Forest Service roads still are under spring weight restrictions, but that will probably be changing in the next few weeks as things dry up. Until then, there is still minimal truck traffic in the woods.
The drying out is also starting to affect fire danger. This time between green up and snow melt can be dangerous. It has been 9 years since May 2007 when the Ham Lake fire on the Gunflint Trail burned 76,000 acres and a number of homes and structures. We don’t want a repeat of that, so please be careful with fire this spring. Before you start a fire, check what restrictions are in force currently, and get a burning permit if required.
One of the least welcomed signs of spring is the emergence of ticks. They are starting to be active and looking for meals. The nymphs of the deer tick are very tiny and hard to spot, so the best thing to do is try to prevent getting any. Put on repellent, and make a fashion statement by tucking your pants into your long white socks. We know you’d rather wear sandals and shorts, but you really don’t want to get any of Minnesota’s tick borne diseases, and covering up is one of the best ways to prevent infection.
Despite their stingers, bees are much nicer than ticks, especially the fuzzy slow buzzing bumblebee. There are 18 kinds of bumblebee in Minnesota, and citizen science is being used to keep track of them. Not much is really understood about these pollinators, so on this Saturday May 7th, there will be a workshop 10 am to 4 pm at the Gunflint Ranger Station to learn to identify bumblebees and help create the Minnesota Bee Atlas. There is a $20 registration fee, call our office for further details.
So, take the time and get out and enjoy this beee - utiful spring, and until next time, this has been Paulette Anholm with the National Forest Update.