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Superior National Forest Update



Contributor(s): 
USDA Forest Service

The Superior National Forest Update helps you keep up to date with Forest activities that you might encounter while driving, boating, or hiking in the Superior National Forest’s Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Districts.  It includes road and fire conditions, logging and other truck activities, as well as naturalist programs and special events.  

The USDA Forest Service has more information on the Superior National Forest website.


What's On:

Superior National Forest Update: December 2

Hi. This is Brandee Wenzel, administrative support assistant, with this week’s National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior National Forest. For December 2nd, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.

Our website is all set for winter if the weather would cooperate. There are links from our recreation page to our trail partners who groom ski trails, and to other sources for ski and snowmobile trail information. We also have some tips for driving on winter roads for those of us who have forgotten what snow is like over the summer.

One reason to be out in your car in the forest is that it’s the season for harvesting holiday greenery! Tags for Christmas trees are available for five dollars at district offices, and, if you are in fourth grade, you are eligible for a free Christmas tree tag through the Every Kid In A Park program! When you are selecting a tree, there are some rules to keep in mind. Trees cannot be ‘merchantable timber,’ in other words, they need to be small trees, not just the top off a big tree. The maximum stump height you can leave behind is 12 inches. The best tree to cut from a forest point of view is balsam fir. They grow back readily, and in many places we are looking to actually decrease the number of fir trees. True pines grow back more slowly, so we’d like to keep the young pine in the forest. You are not allowed to cut white pine or cedar for Christmas trees.

Balsam boughs may be harvested for wreaths, though you will need a permit for this activity. Princess pine, which is actually an herbaceous plant called a club moss, is often used to decorate wreaths, but its harvest is not allowed on the Superior National Forest.

Speaking of cutting balsam fir, people may have noticed either a piece of equipment or a crew with brush saws working in several areas this past season to remove brush and balsam fir. These areas will be planted in the spring with white pine, white cedar, and yellow birch. The young trees will be protected from deer with cages. We are doing this along the North Shore where we are working with partners including the state, private landowners, and the North Shore Forest Collaborative to restore some of these
long-lived forest trees. You may have seen the material being hauled with ATVs along County Road 6 and 60, at Pincushion, and around Cascade State Park, the Onion River Road, and Hovland.

On a grander scale, you can expect trucks hauling larger trees on Trestle Pine Road, Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, Firebox Road, and Powers Lake Road. They are also using Blueberry Road, Rice Lake Road, Clara Lake Road, and the Honeymoon Trail. On the Tofte District, expect trucks on the Trappers Lake Road, Dumbell River Road, and Wanless Road. Use caution in these areas, especially with our wintery mix of road conditions including ice, mud, and slush.

Good luck to all in selecting the perfect tree, balsam bough, or just selecting the right road to travel. Enjoy the woods, and until next time, this has been Brandee Wenzel with the National Forest Update.

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Superior National Forest Update: November 18

Hi.  This is Chris Beal, Gunflint wildlife biologist, with this week’s National Forest Update -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior National Forest.  For the week of November 18th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
This is the last weekend of the rifle deer season, so wear your orange and be on the lookout for parked vehicles along roads.  While Sunday will be the end of the rifle season, bow hunting will continue, and the muzzleloader season will begin on the 26th.  Seasons for small game and grouse are also still open, so even after Sunday, orange is a good color while you’re out and about. 
Heavy snow is coming, and it is time to think about winter driving.  Plowing in the National Forest is done by state and county plows on state and county roads, and by private contractors on forest roads.  Many forest roads are unplowed in the winter.  If you are wondering if a road you are planning to travel is plowed, check with a Forest Service office.  While driving, if you run into a small Forest road which is plowed, be aware that this is usually an indicator that there may be logging activity up the road.  Watch for trucks!
In fact, watch for trucks particularly in these areas.  On the Tofte District, log hauling is taking place on Sawbill Landing Road near Sawbill Landing, the Dumbell River Road, Rice Lake Road, and Clara Lake Road. On Gunflint, expect trucks on the Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, Blueberry Road, Firebox Road, Powers Lake Road, and Trestle Pine Road. 
With snow comes snowmobiling and skiing!  Snowmobiles are allowed to travel cross-country on the Forest and use unplowed roads if the snow depth is over four inches.  Travel on designated snowmobile trails also requires adequate snow cover, and that depth may vary between trails.  The DNR website is the best source of information on which state trails are officially open. 
For cross-country skiing, our website provides links to the websites of our trail partners who groom the trails.  This is your best source of information on trail conditions.  There are also maps of trail systems on our website.  These maps should not be considered to be totally accurate as trail locations may have shifted since the data was collected.  They will, however, give you a good indication of the extent and location of the trail system. 
If you are interested in getting outside and helping on a worthwhile project this weekend, the Northwoods Volunteer Connection is hosting a clean-up on The 600 Road (Forest Service Road 166) this Saturday, November 19th from 10 am to 1 pm. Volunteers will work to pick up litter along the roadside near the junction with the Sawbill Trail. The group will meet at the Tofte Ranger Station at 10 am and carpool to The 600 Road at 10:15 am. Gloves, safety equipment and lunch will be provided to volunteers.
Whether by car, truck, ski, or snowmobile, take it easy through this first round of winter until we are all used to it again.  We are switching to doing these updates every other week, so on behalf of the Superior National Forest, safe travels and have a wonderful Thanksgiving next week.  Until next time, this has been Chris Beal with the National Forest Update.

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Superior National Forest Update: November 11

Hi. This is Steve Robertsen, forest interpretation and education specialist, with this week’s National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior National Forest. For the week of November 11th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.

We are in the middle of the firearms deer season. That means that there are lots of hunters out in the field, and a fair number of vehicles parked by the side of the road. Both are things to watch out for. If you are out in the woods this time of year, you need to be wearing orange and be aware of your surroundings. Hunters need to know that you may not discharge a firearm within 150 yards of a recreation site or trail, not including designated hunter walking trails. Hunting from vehicles and on the road is not legal. Also not legal is cross-country travel by ATV, so plan on doing some walking if you are hunting. People who are not hunting need to respect the hunters, and give them the room and quiet they need. If you are just out for a hike during these few weeks, consider hiking in an area where hunting is not allowed.

With the nice weather, people are extending their summer into November. If you are planning on camping or boating, know that the water is off in campgrounds, and the boat docks are out for the winter. Possibly more importantly, while outhouses are open, we don’t restock toilet paper during the off season. Be prepared! Prepare yourself in other ways too. It is not hard to get turned around in the woods when you are concentrating on something else, like hunting. Besides map and compass, there are excellent mapping apps available for smartphones which will help you find your way back to the car. They only work though if you’ve downloaded maps ahead of time, as there is little cell coverage out here, and if your battery is charged. Don’t rely only on having a smartphone or GPS as it is too easy to drop them or have their batteries run low.

While driving, there is some logging activity to be aware of, mostly in the same places as the last few weeks. On the Tofte District, trucks will be using the Sawbill Landing Road near Sawbill Landing, the Dumbell River Road, the Rice Lake Road, Clara Lake Road, and the Honeymoon Trail west of White Pine Lake. On the Gunflint, trucks are on the Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, Powers Lake Road, and Trestle Pine Road. If you are planning to park your vehicle off the road while you go into the woods, be extra careful in these areas to make sure your vehicle is completely off the roadway so a truck can pass. Always park your vehicle in a safe location with good visibility.

Enjoy our extra dose of summer, and good luck hunting, whether it be with a rifle, or binoculars and camera. Until next time, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.

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Superior National Forest Update: October 28

Hi.  This is Brandee Wenzel, administrative support assistant, with this week’s National Forest Update -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior National Forest.  For the week of October 28th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.

The Forest is really entering ‘winter hibernation’ mode now.  All campgrounds are in their winter status and the docks are gone from the boat landings.  Except for two pit piles, our fire crew is finished with all the pile burning that they have been doing, and their engines have been winterized and won’t be staffed again until spring.  We are also starting to see people out harvesting balsam boughs for holiday wreaths.  Remember, you need a permit for this. Personal use permits are free, but commercial use permits are based on the amount harvested.  If you’re out for firewood instead of balsam boughs, a permit is needed for that as well.  For both firewood and boughs, information covering what specifically you can harvest, where you can legally harvest, how you do the harvesting, and how much you’ll pay for the permit, is available online, or at the Tofte or Gunflint Ranger Stations.

We’ve had a lot of moose sightings by our crews in the woods this past week.  That’s a good sign, and everyone loves seeing the big animals.  Be careful though, it is easy to approach a moose too closely while trying to get a good photo.  Get your pictures from far enough away so as not to disturb the animal.

Trapping seasons for beaver, otter, mink, and muskrat open on October 29, and the deer firearm season opens on November 5.  Remember, for all firearms, whether you are hunting grouse or deer, you may not shoot unless you are at least 150 feet from a developed recreation site or road. 

Speaking of roads, if you are out driving, here’s where you can expect some logging traffic.  On the Tofte District, trucks will be using the Sawbill Landing Road near Sawbill Landing, the Dumbell River Road, the Rice Lake Road, Clara Lake Road, and the Honeymoon Trail west of White Pine Lake.  On the Gunflint, trucks are on the same roads as last week.  Harvest is taking place off of Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, Powers Lake Road, and Trestle Pine Road.

This week was National Bat Week!  You may have seen the bat boxes on posts at our district offices and at some campgrounds.  If not, you may want to check out this “government subsidized housing” for bats.  In honor of Bat Week, we’ve put up signs under the boxes explaining more about what you can do to help our native flying bug zappers.    

Last, but not least, watch out for zombies, ghosts, vampires, and the occasional Disney princess on Monday.  Enjoy your weekend, and have a scary but safe Halloween!  Until next week, this has been Brandee Wenzel with the National Forest Update.
 

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Superior National Forest Update: October 21

Hi,
This is Steve Robertsen, interpretation and education specialist, with this week’s National Forest Update -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior National Forest. For the week of October 21st, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.

While some fall colors still cling to the branches right along Highway 61, most of the leaves in the interior have fallen to the ground.  Despite this, there are still some slow moving vehicles out looking for leaves.  It is also grouse season, so you’ll find slow and parked vehicles belonging to hunters out there as well.  That means that you still have to take it easy rounding corners or cresting hills as you never know what might be blocking the road ahead.

There are some beautiful warm fall days still ahead of us, but this time of year can also have rapidly deteriorating weather conditions.  When you head out, make sure to prepare for all kinds of weather.  A t-shirt that was comfortable in the sunny morning will not be enough when the temperature drops and sleet starts to fall in the afternoon.  In addition to personal preparedness, part of being prepared means leaving word with someone at home about where you are planning to go, and when you plan to be back.  A walk out from a broken down car may be just an inconvenience in summer, but can lead to hypothermia in the fall.

All our campgrounds are now in their winter status.  Fees are no longer being collected, and water and garbage service is no longer available.  You are still welcome to use the campgrounds, but be aware that campground regulations, including the “nine people per campsite” and “no more than 14 days at a site” regulations, still apply.  As the season progresses, you should also know that we don’t plow out campgrounds or outhouses in the winter, and, most importantly, we don’t restock toilet paper either. 
Docks have mostly been removed from boat launches, and all should be gone by the end of the week.  If you are still planning on some fall fishing, be ready to get a little wetter than you might have earlier in the season, but you can still use the boat launch, and there are still fish out there just waiting to be caught.

Speaking of campgrounds, our fee campgrounds are operated by concessionaires.  We are taking bids for the operating concession on three campgrounds in the Tofte District.  If this sounds like a good opportunity to you, check out our website, or call the Tofte or Gunflint Ranger District for more information.  Bids close on Friday, December 2nd.

On the wildlife front, fall bird migration is still going on, with the swarms of white throated and white crowned sparrows giving way to juncos and snow buntings.  Hawks and saw-whet owls are also still moving through.  The hawks are great to watch overhead as thousands of them end up following the shore of the big lake.  Saw-whets, one of the smallest owls, also follow the lake shore, but since they are doing it at night in the forest, you never see them.  You can listen for them though.  They don’t hoot like an owl should, they make a repetitious slow beeping noise.  Count yourself lucky if you do manage to spot one, the hand sized owl is probably one of the cutest birds around.

If you are out driving, there are some logging operations which will have trucks on the road.  Harvest is taking place off of Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, Powers Lake Road, and Trestle Pine Road on the Gunflint District.  There are also operations off the Honeymoon Trail near White Pine Lake and off the Rice Lake Road.  On the Tofte District, hauling is taking place on the Sawbill Landing Road near Silver Island and Sawbill Landing, and on the Dumbell River Road.

No matter which road you choose to take, and whether you are hawk watching, grouse hunting, leaf peeping, fishing, or all of the above, enjoy your Forest and the late fall season.  Until next week, this has been Steve Robertsen with the Superior National Forest Update.

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Superior National Forest Update: October 14

Hi.  This is Renee Frahm, visitor information specialist, with this week’s National Forest Update -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior National Forest. For the week of October 14th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
Wet, windy, and somewhat warm temperatures for fall have all played into a slightly below average fall color season.  Right now though is the peak of the yellow aspen and birch along the shore.  It’s almost worth getting up at dawn just to drive Highway 61 along the lake at sunrise.  You’ll notice too that there is a lot of animal activity along the road.  Migrating juncos, sparrows, and flocks of snow buntings are flying at low altitudes across the roads right now, so keep your speed down and give them a chance.  It’s a good idea anyway as there are also plenty of larger animals like deer moving around in the fall, and while a collision with a sparrow is mostly bad for the sparrow, a collision with a deer is bad for everyone.
Those same weather conditions have made it impossible for us to conduct planned fall burns in the Boundary Waters.  For safety, and so we get the results we want from a burn, weather conditions have to be within a certain narrow window, and nature just hasn’t cooperated this fall.  Fire crews instead have been working on pile burning.  Slash piles from other activities are being burned in many places around the Forest.  They are watched carefully while active, and then monitored when no longer burning actively.  They may continue to smolder for several days, so there may be lingering smoke in the air where this is taking place.
For most of our fee campgrounds, this will be the last weekend with water
and garbage service.  To prepare for winter, water systems are being drained and shut off, and dumpsters are being emptied for the last time.  Campgrounds will go into a non-fee status during the off season.  They remain open for use, but snow will not be cleared and water and garbage service will not be available.  You will have to pack in water, and pack out your garbage.  Please do not leave garbage bags beside closed dumpsters, it will only attract the last bears of the fall, and bring in the first bears of the spring.
Speaking of bears, the end of October and the first part of November is the usual time for them to enter hibernation.  They are flexible though depending on weather.  It’s a good idea to keep bringing your bird feeders at night through the month of November.  Bats will also be settling down for the winter as the bug supply is running short.  Many of our bats locally will winter in the Soudan Mine.  White nose syndrome, the fungal disease which has been wiping out large numbers of bats, strikes during hibernation, so we are all hoping our bat population does well this winter and will return to the skies in time for the spring mosquito hatch.
If you’re out to see the last of the fall leaves, or in search of a grouse or two, the logging activity is the same as it has been for the last few weeks.  On the Tofte District, hauling is taking place on the Sawbill Landing Road near Silver Island and Sawbill Landing and on the Dumbell River Road.  On Gunflint, harvest is taking place off of Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, Powers Lake Road, and Trestle Pine Road. 
Enjoy your Forest, and until next week, this has been Renee Frahm with the Superior National Forest Update.

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Superior National Forest Update

Hi.  This is Brandee Wenzel, administrative support assistant, with this week’s National Forest Update -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior National Forest. For the week of October 7th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
Just like you, we are taking care of some tasks before winter comes.  When undergrowth is cleared for fuel reduction in some areas, brush piles are made.  This is the time of year when our fire crews burn those piles.  Pile burning will be attended by fire personnel while they are actively burning, then they will be checked on a daily basis until they are out completely.  They may be smoldering for a few days while all the material is consumed, and you may notice smoke in the air in these areas.
We’ve started with the last round of road grading for the year, so watch for loose gravel and slow moving graders along gravel roads.  The culvert work which has been happening on The Grade is done for the year.  That means that there are no further road closures on that road, though some ditch and gravel work will still be happening until freeze up. 
Major work has been taking place on the Border Route Trail.  The Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa, the Border Route Trail Association, personnel from the Flathead National Forest, and our own crews have been working steadily to clear and maintain this wilderness trail.  It should start out 2017 in great shape.
Campgrounds will be going into their winter hibernation on October 15th.  This means that the water will be shut off and garbage service will end at our fee campgrounds.  Fee collection will end when those services end.  The exact date will vary between campgrounds, so be prepared to pay the camping fee if the campground hasn’t been winterized, but also be prepared to supply your own water if it has.  Bears are also looking at hibernation soon, and as summer food sources dry up, they may be more actively looking for alternatives - like your cooler or garbage bag.  Be sure to store your food and garbage safely while camping, particularly since dumpsters may be closed.
Our leaf color is at its peak right now.  If you haven’t gotten a chance to drive the Forest, now’s the time to do it.  Be careful of other leaf watchers out there, and be sure to respect other drivers by parking responsibly and not blocking roadways. 
In a few places, you may also be sharing the road with logging traffic.  On Gunflint, harvest is taking place off of Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, Powers Lake Road, and Trestle Pine Road.  On Tofte, watch for logging trucks on the Sawbill Landing Road near Silver Island and Sawbill Landing, and on the Dumbell River Road.
Of course, another fall color is blaze orange.  There are a lot of grouse hunters out looking for birds.  Be sure to check the hunting opportunities on our Hunter Walking Trails, developed in cooperation with the DNR and the Ruffed Grouse Society.  The trails do loop around, so watch your field of fire.  Recreational Opportunity Guides with trail maps are available on line and at our offices in Tofte and Grand Marais.
Whether you are camping, hunting, hiking, or just driving around, this should be a great weekend to get out and enjoy the Forest.  Until next week, this has been Brandee Wenzel with the Superior National Forest Update.
 

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Superior National Forest Update: October 1

Hi. This is Myra Theimer, silviculturalist, with this week’s National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Forest. For the week of September 30th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.

It is the turning of the season, and of the leaves! This weekend could well be the peak of the fall colors, so you owe it to yourself to take a drive or walk, or both, out in the woods this weekend. Be aware that there will be plenty of others doing the same thing though, so drive carefully on our one lane back roads, and show respect for others in how you park and where you stand to take pictures.

September 29, Friday, was the end of our winter office hours, so Ranger Stations in Grand Marais and Tofte will now be closed on weekends. It is also the end of the quota permit season in the Boundary Waters. Starting October 1st, you no longer need the reservable permit picked up at the ranger stations for an overnight wilderness trip. You still need a permit, but you can use the self-issued permit available at most entry points. Bring a pen in your car though - the pencils seem to disappear from our permit boxes!

The fee camping season is almost over as well. Starting around October 15th, we will be shutting down water systems and taking out docks at campgrounds. When the water is shut down, garbage service will end as well, and it will be the end of fee collection for the year. The campgrounds will remain open for use, but you will have to bring water and pack out all your garbage.

Hunting seasons are underway for grouse, bear, and archery deer. That means that you should be wearing your orange on you fall hikes, and try not to interfere with hunters. Last year, we redid some of our maps and signs on Tofte and Gunflint’s hunter walking trails, and we invite people to make use of those areas. Maps and locations can be found on the Superior National Forest website under ‘Recreation, Hunting’.

If you are using an ATV for hunting or just to get outside, be sure to get a copy of the newest motor vehicle use map at a district office. These maps show which roads are open to ATV use. There are slight changes from year to year, so don’t trust someone else’s advice on where to ride. Check the map for yourself, or you could end up with a ticket.

You may have noticed - it’s been raining a lot! There were plans to do some prescribed burning this fall, but it may be that we won’t be able to do that due to the wet conditions. Fire crews are going to be burning some piles the next few weeks while things dry out. The piles are a result of cutting undergrowth in some areas to reduce fuel build up.

There is some autumn timber harvest taking place that will have log trucks out on the roads. On Gunflint, harvest is taking place off of Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, and Powers Lake Road. Please use caution when driving or recreating in these areas. In addition, road work will be taking place on the Blueberry Road. On Tofte, logging activity is the same as last week: The Grade between the Sawbill Trail and Baker Lake, Sawbill Landing Road near Silver Island and Sawbill Landing, the Dumbell River Road, and the Wanless Road. There is also still culvert work being done on the Grade between Sawbill Trail and Crescent Lake Campground.

Whether you are hunting grouse or hunting fall colors, have a great weekend! It should be a good one. Until next week, this has been Myra Theimer with the Superior National Forest Update.

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Superior National Forest Update: September 23

Hi.  This is Renee Frahm, visitor information specialist, with this week’s National Forest Update -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Forest. For the week of September 23rd, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
Yesterday, September 22nd, was the fall equinox.  From here on out, until spring, our days are shorter than our nights.  The color change in leaves is actually triggered by day length, so our leaves are starting to turn in larger numbers.  If you’re out in the woods looking at fall color, be sure you are stopping in safe places where you can pull over with space for others to pass.  In addition to leaf watchers, there are also grouse hunters in the woods, along with people bow hunting for deer, so it is time to dig out some blaze orange to wear when you go for a hike.  Watch for vehicles parked along roads, but you may find other obstacles as well.  One of our vehicles was surprised to come over a hill and find the roadway completely blocked by a fallen tree.  They were driving at a sensible rate of speed, and were able to easily stop before the tree, but had they been going faster, it could have been a problem.  With no recent storms or winds, they weren’t expecting a deadfall.  When they got to look, it turned out that the culprit was a beaver who didn’t care where his tree fell.  You never know what might be on our roads.
Of course, added to the leaf watchers, hunters, and beaver felled trees, are logging trucks in some areas.  On the Tofte District, look for truck traffic on The Grade between the Sawbill Trail and Baker Lake, the Sawbill Landing Road near Silver Island and Sawbill Landing, the Dumbell River Road, and the Wanless Road.  On Gunflint, harvest is taking place off of Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, and Powers Lake Road.    
There is fall road work out there as well.  Culverts are being installed on the Blueberry Road, and on the north end of the Richey Lake Road.  The work also continues on The Grade between the Sawbill Trail and Crescent Lake Campground.  There may be road closures between thirty minutes and an hour in all these locations.
One other sure sign of fall happens next weekend.  With the start of October, our district offices return to winter hours, so this is the last weekend Forest Service offices will be open.  Starting next weekend, our Ranger Stations will be open Monday through Friday, 8:00 to 4:30, excluding holidays.  Boundary Waters permitting also changes.  While all users will continue to need a permit, starting October 1st, overnight users will not need a reservation and can use the same self-issued permit as day users.  These permits are available at ranger stations, but also can be found at the information kiosk at most entry points.  That means that this is an excellent time of year for quick wilderness trips - if it looks like good weather, grab a canoe and your tent and head out.
Due to wet conditions in the woods, it is unlikely that the prescription burns planned for some areas in the Boundary Waters will happen over the weekend, and things may need to dry out until the end of next week.  Conditions change rapidly though, and you should check with one of our district offices for up to the minute information on these planned burns.  With the burns delayed, fire crews have been busy clearing the Border Route Trail of downed trees.  They’ve made excellent progress, and most of the trail is now clear.  The last half mile of heavy blowdown near the intersection with the South Lake Trail is expected to be cleared by the end of next week.
So, whether you are out hunting for fall color, or hunting for wilderness solitude, or hunting for grouse, have a great time out there!  Until next week, this has been Renee Frahm with the Superior National Forest Update.

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Superior National Forest Update: September 16

Hi.  This is Becky Bartol, environmental coordinator, with this week’s Superior National Forest Update -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Forest. For the week of September 16th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
Fall color is starting up, and with it comes people driving the roads looking at the leaves.  It may be a little early and a little green to see fall at its peak, but it’s a great time of year to get out and go for a drive.  It is also a great time of year for both ‘leaf peepers’ and other drivers to remind themselves of some good driving habits.  First and foremost, respect and be considerate of other drivers.  If you are driving slowly to enjoy the scenery, remember others may want to drive faster because they are on their normal daily commute.  And, if you are one of the faster drivers, remember that you’re likely to run into slow moving traffic this time of year and you need to be patient.  Slow drivers need to pull over in safe areas to let faster drivers pass.  Don’t try to wave someone to pass you on a hill or blind corner.  You may need to speed up for a while until you get to a good spot to pull aside.  Faster drivers need to avoid tailgating, and not be tempted to pass in those dangerous areas.  If you’ve stopped to take pictures, or just to get out and walk in the fall air, make sure your vehicle is off the road far enough to let others pass by.  Close the doors, use your four way flashers, and don’t stop where there is no visibility.  You may not be able to stop next to that perfect tree you want to photograph; you may end up walking back to the tree after finding a good place to pull off.  It all boils down to being aware of others, and being respectful of the rights of other people to use the roads, even if they are using them in different ways than you.
September 12 marked the 5th anniversary of the Pagami Creek Fire.  This was a very large fire which swept through the wilderness north of Isabella Lake, covering many acres in just one day.  The young jack pine growing in the wake of the fire are now three to five feet tall in areas, and it is great to see the forest in natural recovery.  The drive up to the Forest Center site at Lake Isabella is good way to visit the Pagami area and see for yourself what a forest looks like five years after a fire.  Be aware though that the trail down to the lake enters the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and you’ll need to fill out a day use permit if you want to take this hike.  You can also visit this area through the pictures on our website taken every year on the fire’s anniversary to document the forest’s regrowth.
There is still culvert work being done on The Grade between the Sawbill Trail and Crescent Lake Campground.  There won’t be any closures over the weekend though, and the closures for the remainder of the project will be shorter than one day.  The work that had closed the Richey Lake Road is now completed, and that road is fully open again.
Logging traffic is in similar areas as the last few weeks.  On the Tofte District, expect trucks on the Grade between the Sawbill Trail and Baker Lake, on the Sawbill Landing road near Silver Island and Sawbill Landing area, and on the Dumbell River Road and Wanless Road.  On Gunflint, harvest is taking place off of Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, and Powers Lake Road.  Log hauling will be taking place on these roads, so please use caution when driving or recreating in these areas.
Keep an eye out this weekend for migrating hawks.  While Hawk Ridge in Duluth is famous for large numbers of raptors during the fall migration, there are plenty along all of the shore.  The birds follow updrafts along the hills, and end up creating a highway in the air parallel to Highway 61 on the ground.  Other birds are migrating as well.  If you go out at night and are very quiet, you’ll hear chirps from migrating flocks of songbirds as they pass by. 
Whether you are quietly listening for songbirds, driving in search of those early fall colors, or just out in the Forest for some other reason, enjoy the weekend!  Until next week, this has been Becky Bartol with the Superior National Forest Update.
 

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