Hi. I’m Paulette Anholm, Information Receptionist on the Superior National Forest, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For the week of May 8th, here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
First off, this is the start of our real recreation season. The fee campgrounds on both the Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Districts have their water systems turned on, which means that they are also now accepting reservations and collecting fees for camping. Of course, the rustic campgrounds are still free, but have no water supply. We want to remind people that campsites must be occupied the first night. No putting out your stuff ahead of time to claim a site for the weekend, then going home to sleep. There is also a fourteen day limit for campsites, except for a few long term sites which are available. If you like camping with all the comforts of home, be aware that quiet hours are from 10 pm to 6 am, which means generators and other noise making equipment need to be off during the night.
A lot of the campers this weekend will probably be fishing. It is the opener, and it looks like a good one. Ice has cleared off even Gunflint and Saganaga Lakes. Almost all of our campgrounds are near good fishing spots, and barring unforeseen problems, all the docks should be in the water this weekend. Many of our lakes are free of invasive pest species. Be sure to clean your boat and trailer between lakes to keep them that way.
On your way to the lake, you may start to encounter logging traffic. At the time this was recorded, weight restrictions were still keeping the trucks off the back roads, but those should be lifted soon. Expect trucks near the timber operations at Harriet Lake and at Shoe Lake as soon as the restrictions end.
Our fire people have been busy. An 80 acre fire spread over 5 miles was on the west side of the Forest near Sand Lake. This fire was small patches along a road, leading to the thought that something traveling the road started the fire patches. Despite occasional small showers, the forest is dry and things haven’t started to green up fully. That means it is easy for fires to start. Green is beginning to appear though, and if we get through the next few weeks, the fire conditions will become a lot better. Some of the fires on the Forest this past week have been intentional prescribed burns. This is a good time of year for fire crews to use prescribed burning to reduce the amount of fuel on the ground for wildfires. It may seem strange to start a fire to prevent a fire, but it is a method that works very well. You may want to check at a ranger station for prescribed burns coming up so you know where you may see smoke, and you can avoid driving through the middle of an operation. On Monday, May 11th and Tuesday, May 12th you can attend a fire open house to learn more. Those are from 4 to 6 pm at the Gunflint Ranger Station on Monday and at the Poplar Lake Fire Hall on Tuesday.
Fire crews aren’t the only busy ones in the spring. Wildlife biologists are surveying all sorts of species. Two surveys that started this week are woodcock counts and frog surveys, and fish surveys will begin soon as well. We get volunteer help from citizen scientists for some of these counts, so we’d like to thank all our wildlife, and other, volunteers.
Even if you aren’t an official wildlife counter, this is great time to get out in the woods and set up a tent, or drop a line in the water, and listen to the birdsongs, grouse drumming, frog choruses, and all the other sounds of spring. Have a great weekend!
Until next week, this has been Paulette Anholm with the Superior National Forest Update.