Hi. I’m Matt Riederer, Timber Sale Administrator, with this week’s edition of the Superior National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts.
For the week of September 5th, here is what’s going on around the Forest.
Another Labor Day has come and gone, and the crowds are starting to diminish as people head back to work and school; but some campgrounds and entry points can still be busy on the weekend as campers try to fit in one last summer adventure. If a campground is full, make sure you are respectful of others so everyone can enjoy the weekend. Park so as to not block traffic, keep the volume on electronic devices low, and don’t run generators unless necessary – and not at all during quiet hours. But…Do get outside, have fun, go on hikes, roast marshmallows… and try not to think about the snow which could start falling in a couple of months.
Cooler temperatures and less daylight mean that autumn is on its way; and our first fall color report of the season is out. You will probably notice a few of the maples, birches, and aspen starting to turn as you drive through the Forest.
Fire danger is low this weekend, but that is no reason to let your campfire get out of control. Keep fires in grates and fire rings; and remember that it is illegal to burn trash in a campfire. Don’t leave your fire until it is completely out and cool to the touch.
Our recreation staff has spent the last couple of weeks maintaining existing trails, while also beginning construction on two new trails. The Little Isabella Campground Connector Trail will provide an opportunity for OHV riders to connect from the Little Isabella Campground to existing trails shown on the Superior National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Map. One loop of sites in the Little Isabella Campground will soon be open to OHV riders allowing them to ride directly to their campsite. In addition, our recreation personnel have completed a corridor clearing for a re-route of the Beaver Snowmobile Trail near Jonvick Creek in the Lutsen area.
On the road, you can still expect delays on Highway 61. With heavier traffic on the weekend, your trip from Silver Bay to Tofte could easily be twenty to forty minutes longer than usual. The hills on the detour slow down heavy trucks and RVs; so watch out for impatient drivers passing in bad places.
Logging traffic on the Gunflint District will be about the same as the last few weeks. You might encounter log trucks in the Devil Track Lake area, on the Ball Club Road, Bally Creek Road, Shoe Lake Road, Greenwood Lake Road, Pine Mountain Road, the Gunflint Trail, the Swamp and Cascade River Roads, and Cook County 7 and 45. Logging activity is currently much lighter on the Tofte District, with only one active harvest right now. However, you still might see a log truck or two on Lake County 7, the 4 Mile Grade, Cook County 3, the Caribou Trail, Mark Lake Road, and The Grade.
Switching from timber harvests to reforestation - Just over 171,000 trees were planted on about 600 acres this past season. Species such as white, red, and jack pine, white and black spruce, cedar, tamarack, and yellow and paper birch were planted in stands that had been harvested, as well as on some sites that had not been cut. All of the trees were grown at a Forest Service nursery in Watersmeet, MI, from local seed stock here on the east side of the Forest.
If fishing in the Boundary Waters is part of your plan, make sure to dispose of fish waste properly. Recommendations on how to do this have changed through the years. The current best practice is to take your catch and paddle away from your campsite. Clean the fish away from the campsite and the lake, and leave the remains at least 150 feet from water. Don’t dig a big hole, but you can cover the remains with duff. The idea is to minimize the attractive smell of fish guts in your campsite. While you might not think this is particularly attractive, there are plenty of animals that do. Disposing of fish waste in the lake, or leaving it exposed on rocks for birds, are no longer considered to be good ways of dealing with fish guts.
Have a great weekend! And remember, for up to minute information on topics such as fire restrictions or fall colors, be sure to check our website or stop by a Ranger Station.
Hope you enjoy another week in the Forest and on the water. Until next week, this has been Matt Riederer with the Superior National Forest Update.