National Forest Update February 5th, 2015
Hi. I’m Jon Benson, Recreation Specialist for the Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Districts. I’m here today with the Superior National Forest Update. For the week of February 5th, here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
Winter recreation on the Superior National Forest is in full swing. Along the shore snow levels are making some of the snow-based winter recreation opportunities more difficult to groom, but thanks to some excellent work by our ski and snowmobile trail partners, all trails are currently open. Skiers and snowmobilers on trails close to the lake may see some areas with minimal snow cover, but the fact that there are so few of these areas is a tribute to the hard work of dedicated ski and snowmobile volunteer groups. As a reminder, skiers on any of the major trails near the shore are required to have a Great Minnesota Ski Pass. The small fee for these passes goes directly into helping volunteer groups maintain these trails so it is well worth the $20 annual pass.
On the lakes, we have been hearing reports of a great start to Lake Trout season. As usual, please use caution when walking on frozen lakes. We recommend that anyone planning to travel on the ice not do so by themselves but if you must, make sure that someone knows where you will be and when you plan to return. For those hardy fishermen and women out there, please make sure that your car is fully off of the road when you venture on to the ice so that plows and other vehicles can get through.
The winter camping season is also going strong. For those of you who partake in this activity, or for those that simply want to have a fire while out on the ice, please look for dead and down trees away from the shoreline. I realize that this is a little more work, but cutting seemingly dead trees along the shoreline results in visual impacts to summer paddling trips. We have been seeing some evidence in the BWCAW of freshly cut cedar trees along the shorelines of lakes. Please remember that the rule for gathering firewood is to seek out dead and down trees.
While driving, you can expect logging traffic on the Mark Lake Road, Caribou Trail, Swamp Lake Road, Cascade River Road, Cook County 45, Cook County 7, Bally Creek Road, Devil Track Road, Ball Club Road, The Grade, Gunflint Trail, South Shore Drive, and Meridian Road. There is a short stretch of the Gunflint Snowmobile Trail on the Meridian Road south of Devil Track Lake that will be used for hauling activity. Use caution in this area, and watch for signs indicating logging traffic. Hauling is only permitted Monday through Friday on this section of trail, but snowmobilers should use caution when sharing the road with log trucks.
If folks are recreating in the area between Isabella and Ely, extra caution should be used on the Tomahawk Trail. Three timber sales are currently being harvested on the Kawishiwi Ranger District and hauling traffic is present on the Tomahawk Trail from the junction of Filson Creek and the Spruce Road (Forest Road 181) to Nickel Lake. Logging activity is expected to continue through the end of March.
In other news, District reforestation personnel are currently making plans for this spring’s planting season. District personnel have recently ordered seedlings and tree seed for the 2015 planting and aerial seeding program. This upcoming spring, over 270,000 seedlings will be planted across 900 acres on the Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Districts. Planting activities will aid in the reforestation of previously harvested sites, as well as enhance wildlife habitat in non-harvested poorly stocked stands (especially for moose). Float planes will be used to aerial seed 61 pounds of black spruce, jack pine, paper birch, and red pine on 265 acres of formerly harvested stands. In addition, winter shearing activities will begin shortly on 65 acres to prepare sites for planting in the Spring.”
I hope you all have an excellent weekend and you can get out and enjoy the outdoors. Until next week, this has been Jon Benson with the Superior National Forest Update.