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Superior National Forest Update: May 19

Hi. I’m Steve Robertsen, interpretation and education specialist on the Superior National Forest, with 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 19, here’s what’s going on out there.

The wave of spring green is slowly pushing northwards. There is quite a difference in the amount of green in different areas right now, and it is sort of like traveling in time driving on 61 between our offices in Grand Marais and Duluth. As green leaves appear, the moisture content of the woods increases, and fire danger lessens. Our recent rainy spell has really helped with fire danger as well, but spring is still a season to be extra careful with fire, especially if you are in an area which is still dominated by last year’s brown leaves and not this year’s green ones.

That line of green creeping north has brought with it another pulse of migrating birds. This past week saw the return of many warblers to the woods, as well as the return of our hummingbirds. Orioles and rose-breasted grosbeaks are back, adding some larger splashes of color to the mix. It’s a good time of year to feed birds, but with the rain, make sure to check that your feeders stay clean and the seed doesn’t start to mildew.

Despite the rain, some road weight restrictions have been lifted allowing for more truck traffic in the woods. You may encounter logging traffic near the Trapper’s Lake Road near Isabella, and in other areas as weight restrictions continue to be lifted. If you’d like to check on current restrictions, there is a link under the Current Conditions section of our website to the county and state DOT websites.

All our campgrounds on Tofte and Gunflint are now fully open with water and garbage pick-up, and are collecting fees. As a reminder, dumpsters in campgrounds are for use only by campers. Make sure all your garbage is in the dumpster, not piled alongside, and then make sure that the dumpster lid is fully secured with bars or chains to keep the bears from getting in. Most of our bear problems at campgrounds start with bears and unsecured garbage, so keep a clean camp and put all your garbage and food into secure areas such as the trunk of a car or the closed dumpster. If you drive an SUV or other vehicle with no trunk, use a blanket or luggage cover to hide your coolers. Some bears actually look in vehicles for food, and will try to break in if they see coolers or obvious food. Never store food or garbage in your tent, and don’t assume the screen door on an RV is secure against a hungry bruin. If you do have a bear encounter at a campground, please let us know at one of the district offices as well as telling the campground host
and concessionaire.

If your plans are to camp in the Boundary Waters, make sure to keep things bear safe there as well. Our website shows several methods of hanging food safely, or you can use a bear resistant food container…but, the popular blue plastic barrels are not bear resistant, so don’t count on those to really even slow down a bear. Our seasonal wilderness ranger staff has begun patrols, so if you see them, be sure to say hi. The rangers report that mosquitoes are still rare, so it’s a great time to get out. Black flies are starting to get annoying though, and there’s been plenty of ticks, so watch it.

Have a wonderful spring weekend, and enjoy the currently bug free forest. Until next week, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.

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