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Superior National Forest Update: October 23

Hi.  I’m Bre Schueller, Fire Management Specialist for the Gunflint and Tofte Ranger Districts, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update  -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation here on the east side of the Superior National Forest. For the week of October 23rd, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
Most of what has been happening is the annual shutting down.  The water has now been turned off at all the fee campgrounds.  This means that you will have to pack in your own water, as well as pack out your garbage.  You can’t make camping reservations any more, but you also don’t have to pay a camping fee.  Campgrounds and outhouses remain open for use year round, but they are not plowed out or maintained through the winter.
Another part of the preparation for winter was the removal of docks from water accesses.  Boat ramps remain usable, but you’ll have to manage without a dock if you are headed out for some late season fishing.
The fall color tour signs are coming down too, as the fall color season is mostly over.  The weekly color reports and photos will still be on the web through Halloween, but there should be fewer people in the woods as we shift from fall to winter.
One of the few things opening instead of ending is the new bridge over the Temperance River on the 600 Road near the Sawbill Trail.  The bridge is now open for traffic, and will allow the North Shore Snowmobile trail to return to its usual route this winter.
Speaking of Halloween, we are participating in an attempt to set a world record for the most bat houses built in a day.  At sites across the nation, people will be building bat houses on October 31st to help support our bat population.  Right now, bats are dealing with a disease called white nose syndrome, which kills them in large numbers.  One way to help is to provide roosting sites for healthy bats in the form of bat houses.  You can help bats and set a world record by joining us at the AmericInn in Silver Bay during their annual Trick or Treat event.  From 3 to 6 pm on Halloween, you can build a bat house from a free kit, and then take the house home with you to put up where you want more bats and fewer mosquitoes.  This program is made possible with a generous donation of lumber from Hedstrom’s Lumber Mill, and the cooperation of Tettegouche State Park and AmericInn Silver Bay.  Supplies are limited.
In keeping with the season, snowy owls have been sighted in the area.  These beautiful owls are active during the day and like open areas, so they are more easily seen than most owls.  It also helps that they are bright white!  Watch for them along roadsides and other openings, but also watch out for them flying low over roadways in pursuit of mice.   
Brush piles are being burned by our fire crews at several locations throughout the Forest as weather permits.  You may see smoke from these fires, but if you are unsure where smoke is coming from, it is always worthwhile to report possible wildfires to the Forest Service.  There was one small wildfire on an island in Sawbill Lake this past week which started from a campfire.  Make sure any fires you light during the fall are kept under control, and left only when they are completely out.

Timber hauling is taking place in the same areas as last week.  Hauling on the Gunflint District is taking place on the Murmur Creek Road, the Caribou Trail, The Grade, the Bally Creek Road, the Greenwood road, the Firebox Road, the Shoe Lake Road, the Old Greenwood road, the South Brule River Road, the Lima Grade, and the Gunflint Trail.
In Tofte, watch for trucks on the Sawbill Trail, in the vicinity of Jack Lake with hauling on FR 369 (Sawbill Landing Road or Trappers Lake Road) down to Hwy. 1 at Isabella, and on The Grade. 
Enjoy the end of our fall, and get out in the woods before winter sets in!  Until next week, this has been Bre Schueller with the Superior National Forest Update.