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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.


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Superior National Forest Update - April 19, 2019

National Forest Update – April 18, 2019.https://soundcloud.com/wtip-community-radio/snf-robertsen-2019apr19

Hi, this is Steve Robertsen, education and interpretation specialist, with the National Forest Update, letting you know what’s up in the woods in late April.

Mud season continues, but while there is still ample snow on the ground, spring has really turned a corner.  Why do we say this?  It is because migrating birds are suddenly returning in abundance.  Yellow-rumped warblers, grackles, tree sparrows, hermit thrushes, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, red-winged blackbirds – they’ve all returned in the past two weeks.  Many of them showed up just after our recent winter storm, riding the coattails of the storm in the form of southerly winds on the back side of the low pressure system.  These early spring birds are those that rely partially on insects for food, but also can survive without insects.  Later arrivals may be more reliant on insects and need a steadier bug supply than is available in April in Minnesota.  Migration is hard on a bird, and you can help them refuel after their trip from the tropics by putting out bird feeders.  Remember though, that birds aren’t the only ones showing up this time of year.  Bears are waking from their winter hibernation, and are also looking for food.  It may be time to feed the birds, but it is also time to start taking in feeders at night, and making sure your bird seed is stored in a bear proof place such as a garage.  The first bears to venture out are the males.  Females with cubs are the last to leave their dens, protecting the cubs from the wide world for as long as possible.

When people hear the word ‘hibernate’, they usually tend to think ‘bears’ or ‘chipmunks’ or ‘woodchucks’.  Not as many think ‘butterflies’, but if you go outside right now, you’ll see a lot of butterflies that spent the winter hibernating in the forest.  The anglewing butterflies, a group that includes the dark colored ‘mourning cloak’ and the orange and black ‘comma’ and ‘question mark’ butterflies, overwinter as adults tucked under bark or in crevices.  They have to survive subzero temperatures, winter storms, and hungry woodpeckers in order to emerge as our first flying butterflies of spring.  Anglewings get their name from the ragged look to their wing edges, which may help camouflage the hibernating insects.  This time of year, they might also have truly ragged edges as well due to the harsh winter.  You’ll find these butterflies grouped at mud puddles in a behavior called, not surprisingly, ‘puddling’.  They are finding both water and nutrients at the puddle, as well as basking in the sun.

Many of those puddles are in the road, which isn’t good for the butterflies.  If you are driving and see them, and it is safe to do so, slow down and let them fly off.  Hitting a butterfly isn’t going to send you to the body shop like hitting a deer, but from the butterfly’s perspective, it is pretty much a disaster.

Going slow is a good idea this time of year anyway.  Not only are there plenty of deer along the roads, but in the Forest, our roads are soggy and soft.  Main roadways are in good shape and mostly free from snow and ice, but side roads still have surprising ice or snow patches in shady areas, and almost all the roads have soft shoulders.  If you do need to pull off the road, proceed with caution.  A shoulder that looks nice and flat and firm may be mud that will give way under the load of your vehicle.  Roads are soft enough that there is no log hauling being done right now and there are weight restrictions in place in both Lake and Cook counties.

While it is wet out there now, spring fire season is coming up soon.  The period between snow melt and spring green up can be a dangerous one for fires.  Dry grasses and leafless brush are excellent fuels, and it doesn’t take much for a fire to get going.  Right now is a good time to do some Fire Wise pruning and clean-up around your house to help protect it in case of a wildfire.  Burning permits are required, so if your clean-up involves burning, pick up a permit and keep an eye on conditions and the fire when you burn.  Make sure all fires are dead out and soaked with water when you are done.  Don’t rely on a fire to ‘burn itself out’, always put it out and leave it cold.
Between spring rain and snow showers, there are some gorgeous sunny days this time of year, so watch the roads but do get out to welcome back the birds and butterflies and join them in enjoying some of the warmth of spring. 

Until next time, this is Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.
 

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Superior National Forest Update - April 5, 2019

National Forest Update – April 4, 2019.

Hi, this is Steve Robertsen, Forest Service interpretation and education specialist with this week’s National Forest Update – a collection of things you may want to know before you head out.

One thing you probably already know is that it is our favorite season of the year:  mud season.  Not enough snow to ski, too much to go hiking, too much bare ground for snowmobiles, too wet for four wheelers.  And just to make it more aggravating, there’s warm weather and bright sun that really make you want to be outside – it’s just hard to figure out what to do once you are out there.  On the plus side, this means that this is the season when a lot of garages get cleaned out, cars get vacuumed, and yards get picked up because at least you can be outside doing those things!

If you do venture out into the Forest, be careful on the roads.  The spring melt has softened roadways, and shoulders in particular can be dangerously soggy.  Our engineer was describing one not uncommon situation where a culvert can be exposed and then worn through, creating a large pit in the road.  We try to repair roads as fast as we can, but in some situations repair is impossible until things become drier.  Be on the lookout for flags or cones that make bad spots in the road, and report any new ones that you find along the way. 

Roads also change considerably from morning to afternoon.  What seems to be a good solid road in the sub-freezing morning may thaw by afternoon into the consistency of chocolate pudding.  When driving in the morning, evaluate the roads along the way to make sure they will be drivable when you plan to leave.  When parking your vehicle on a roadside in the morning, beware of shoulders that may collapse under your truck when they thaw in the afternoon.  Lastly, there is often ice on roads in the morning and in shaded spots throughout the day.  In many ways, spring driving can be more treacherous than winter driving because the hazards are harder to spot.

The rewards of getting out this time of year make the effort worth it.  Chickadees are singing their ‘dee-dee’ song, calling for mates and setting up territories.  I heard my first red-wing blackbird of the year this week, and to me, that ‘konk-er-ee’ song is the real sound of spring’s arrival.  The male red-wings appear weeks before the females and are claiming territories in cattail marshes, setting up housekeeping in hopes of having one or more females move in.  The males do a lot of displaying, doing a sort of fluttering song flight where they try to fly while in a hunched over position that best shows off their bright red wing patches.  Away from the marshes, birds just migrating through still can’t help themselves from singing, even if they aren’t really trying to set up a territory there.

Other animals are moving around too.  If you’ve driven anywhere at all over the last few weeks, you’ll know that deer are everywhere.  They haunt the roadsides this time of year as the snow melts there quickly and grass and other plants start to green up.  Wolves, coyotes, and other scavengers are on the roads too as a winter’s worth of roadkill thaws out and is exposed for dinner. 

On August 9th this year, Smokey Bear will be 75 years old!  All this year, we will be celebrating our favorite fire prevention bear and telling you some bear tales.  A good bear tale right now is a reminder that it is time to start bringing bird feeders in at night, shutting your garage doors, and otherwise getting ready for bears to be waking up.  Smokey will be waking as well, getting ready for the spring fire season, and we will be keeping you up to date on that as the spring progresses.

Meanwhile, if you can avoid the mud, get out and enjoy springtime in the woods!  Until next time, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.
 

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Superior National Forest Update - March 22, 2019

Superior National Forest Update – March 20, 2019.

Hi, this is Renee Frahm, Visitor Information Specialist with the Superior National Forest, and this is the National Forest Update, information for you if you’re headed out the road and into the woods. 

Snow is melting, and it is now officially spring!  The spring equinox was this past Wednesday, so according the stars, it is now springtime despite the feet of snow still on the ground.  It is spring according to the animals as well.  There have been lots of eagles moving northward through Hawk Ridge in Duluth, and we’ve been seeing more gulls up the shore as well.  Chipmunks have reappeared above the snow, and you may see red squirrels in love chasing each other through the trees.  It’s actually the only time red squirrels tolerate each other at all – they are generally loners, and only get together to mate in March.  Red squirrels are pretty much absent caretakers – the male will return to his territory, and the female will be left to do all the child rearing.  By midsummer, young squirrels will be kicked out by mom as well, and have to carve out their own individual territories.

It is a great time of year for ice fishing for trout.  Most lakes still have plenty of ice on them, and the slush has melted and refrozen making travel easier.  Your ice house should be off the lake now, but it is nice and warm out for sitting on a bucket waiting for fish to come.  Our snowy winter means that despite the warm temperatures, it is still pretty good for snowmobiling and skiing too.  Visit our website for links to trail conditions, things can change rapidly in the spring.  Also, when you are out, watch for bare patches on south facing slopes.  People are injured skiing every year when they come to an abrupt halt at the bottom of a hill when the snow turns to dirt.

Driving out in the woods is starting to get trickier.  Spring weight restrictions are now in force in both Lake and Cook Counties, which means that the roads are getting soft.  It means there won’t be big logging trucks out and about during the day, though in some places, they could be active at night when the roads freeze again.  The soft roads will affect your vehicle too, even if it isn’t a big truck.  Be on the lookout for wash outs and frost boils where melt water erodes the road from the bottom creating almost a quicksand area.  Be equally on the lookout for icy patches on north slopes and shady spots that can send your car spinning.  And lastly, always be on the lookout for deer and other wildlife.  If you are lucky, you’ll even have a moose licking salt off your car.  They are very active this time of year, and often favor roads as travel routes.  All this makes for a season when it is easy to find yourself stuck somewhere out in the Forest.  Plan for it, and bring emergency supplies.  While it may be warm, it still gets cold at night, so make sure you always bring winter gear along, even if you may not need it.

Although the snow is melting, you still need a permit to plow unplowed Forest Service roads.  Please stop by the office and tell us of your plowing plans before your truck hits the road. 

Spring can be a great combination of winter activities with warm weather, so be sure to take advantage of these few spring days before all the snow is gone for good. 

Until next time, this is Renee Frahm with the National Forest Update.
 

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Superior National Forest Update - March 8, 2019

National Forest Update – March 7, 2019.

Hi, this is Steve Robertsen, education and interpretation specialist with the Superior National Forest, with the National Forest Update, information for you if you’re headed out the road and into the woods.
 
With eight foot piles of snow by the curb, it may seem strange to start planning for canoe trips, but if you’ve got a date and lake in mind, now’s the time to reserve an entry permit for the Boundary Waters this summer.  The online reservation system is up and running for permit reservations.  We are asked sometimes why there is a permit system and limited numbers of permits available.  The answer is that we have around a quarter of a million visitors to the Wilderness every year, and the permit system helps to spread those visitors through time and space.  That is key to giving people the best Wilderness experience possible, as well as limiting the stress on the resource itself.  Imagine if all 200,000 people decided to go in on the same lake over the same weekend…it wouldn’t be a pretty sight.  The online reservation system allows you to see in real time the number of permits available at entry points.  We recommend you plan ahead by having several back up dates and entry points for your trip, just in case your first choice has no available permits.  Be open to exploring new places in the BW, and consider boldly going where you haven’t been before.

While thoughts of summer and canoeing are great, the reality is that it is still winter here.  Rather than sit around the house grumbling about it, get outside and take advantage of what has turned out to be one of the best snow seasons we’ve seen in a while.  Ski trails are in excellent shape, and we now have digital georeferenced pdf maps available for Pincushion, Bally Creek, Sugarbush, and Flathorn Gegoka Ski Areas.  These downloadable maps with a geolocating app will put you right on the map on your phone, so you’ll never be lost… until your battery wears out.  A word of caution – always bring a paper map as well; a GPS of any sort should never be your primary source of navigation.  The Minnesota DNR has similar geoPDFs of the trails in all the area state parks, so you can ski for miles!  The DNR site also includes snowmobile trails, so if skiing isn’t your way to get outside, jump on a sled and take off.

Unplowed roads in the Forest can be used by snowmobiles during the winter.  Plowed roads, on the other hand, are not open to snowmobiles, except for certain designated dual use roads.  If you are considering plowing a road, you need to stop by a Forest Service office for a permit.  Restrictions on motorized vehicle use on the Forest are shown on our Motor Vehicle Use Maps, which are also available as georeferenced pdfs on our website, or as hard copies at our offices.

While you are out in the woods, keep an eye on our resident birds such as ravens, owls, and eagles.  These non-migratory species start setting up housekeeping early.  Owls may be on eggs already, and people are observing eagle flights where they lock talons and spiral downwards.  That may look like fighting, but it is actually love and the re-establishment of pair bonds.  The deep snow has forced many animals to use roads for travel, which has created some great opportunities for critter watching.  In the past few weeks, we’ve had reports of people seeing bobcat, coyotes, wolves, marten, lynx, snowshoe hare, and of course, hundreds of deer.  Seeing the animals is great, unless you are going 55 miles per hour and the animal is five feet in front of your car.  Be careful driving, and remember that if you see a deer in the road, it probably has four friends just off the side waiting to run out in front of you. 

As usual, there are also some logging vehicles to watch for as well.  This time of year, be very cautious if you pull off the road.  Ditches are full of snow, and may be plowed level with the roadway.  What appears to be a nice level shoulder may be a pit filled with snow.  You may need to back up to find a safe spot to pull off and let the truck go by.

Trucks will be using the Wanless Road, Lake County 7, Lake County 8, and Cook County 1.  They will also be on the Greenwood Road and Pike Lake Road.  Be especially careful on the Firebox Road and Blueberry Road where the trucks share the road with snowmobiles on the Grand Portage –Gunflint Snowmobile Trail. 

So, while you may be wishing for sun and warm temperatures and green grass, take advantage of our snowy winter while you can.  Honest, spring will come, and sulking in the house won’t speed its arrival. 

Until next time, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.
 

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Superior National Forest Update

Superior National Forest Update - February 8, 2019

National Forest Update – February 7, 2019.
 
Hi, this is Steve Robertsen, education and interpretation specialist with the Superior National Forest, bringing you the first National Forest Update of 2019! 

It may seem strange that this is the first Update of the year, but this has been a somewhat strange year so far for us government agencies.  We’d like to start this Update with a big thank you to all of our partners who kept trails groomed and open during the recent government shutdown.  We’d also like to thank the public.  There have been stories of vandalism and other problems at other Forests and Parks, but not here.  People did a great job of leaving no trace, and they made our jobs a whole lot easier when we returned to work.  Also, thank you for your patience in realizing that being furloughed for a month can’t help but result in delays on some actions.  We’re making up for lost time as fast as we can.

February is really the heart of winter.  This is the best time to get out and play in the snow.  Snowshoeing, skiing, fat-tire biking, sledding, mushing, snowmobiling, skijoring, ice fishing, or just driving around looking at snow on trees – this is the time to do it.  We’ve been getting lots of snow, so trails for snow sports are in great shape.  In fact, the only problem may be that you’ll have to wait for the trail to be groomed because of more snow.  Links to sites with condition reports can be found from the recreation pages of our website so you can get up to the minute news on conditions.  New to our website this year will be georeferenced pdf trail maps.  These are digital maps that can be downloaded to your phone or mobile device and are designed to be used with wayfinding apps such as Avenza.  Once downloaded, you don’t need a cell or internet connection, and your phone will put a dot on the map showing exactly where you are on the trail.  Right now, only the Flathorn Gegoka Ski Trails have a georeferenced pdf available, but we are working on adding them for the rest of our ski trail systems.  You can also get georeferenced pdf versions of our Motor Vehicle Use Maps on our website, and a georeferenced version of the Visitor Map showing roads in the entire Forest is available for purchase through the Avenza map store.  Of course, printable simplified maps of Gunflint and Tofte ski and snowmobile trails are available on our website, with links to locations with more detailed maps.

All the snow may make driving difficult though.  After a snow event, roads in the Forest are cleared by several different groups.  County and state roads are cleared by the county and state, but plowing on some interior small county roads may lag considerably behind plowing on major county roads outside of the Forest.  Many Forest roads are not plowed in winter.  Those that are plowed are plowed by contractors, and often by businesses involved in timber sales taking place along those roads.  Response time is widely variable, depending on the level of activity on those timber sales.  If you are out driving, be sure to be prepared with winter survival gear for you, and a shovel and traction material for your vehicle.  When you are out on the roads, be watchful for log trucks hauling on the Wanless Road, Lake County 7, and the Greenwood Road.  Be especially careful on Firebox Road, which is a dual-use road with snowmobiles. 

Do get out though.  We live in a place with a great winter, and everyone should take the time to enjoy it. 

Until next time, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update. 
 

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Superior National Forest Update - December 14, 2018

Superior National Forest Update - December 14, 2018

Hi, this is Renee Frahm, Visitor Information Specialist, with this week’s National Forest Update.

At the moment, we’ve had a week of temperatures around the freezing mark and some lovely freezing drizzle and clouds.  That kind of weather has really cut into our snow cover and changed our thinking from checking that we have gas for the snowblower to crossing our fingers that there will be a white Christmas.  This is northern Minnesota, where we brag to our friends that we survive and enjoy being outdoors when it is twenty below – we shouldn’t have to be worrying about whether there should be snow for Christmas.  We should be worrying about whether we can shovel the driveway out in order to get to work – so we should all be thinking snow!

With snow cover dwindling, we need to remind snowmobilers that there need to be at least 4 inches of snow on the ground for cross country travel.  It also can be difficult to tell which roads are plowed and which are not.  As a general rule, snowmobiles are not allowed on plowed roads but are welcome to use roads which are not plowed in the winter.  Be careful because the low snow cover may result in cars and trucks using what is normally an unplowed road.  If you are driving a car or truck, beware.  What appears to be a clear road at the beginning may be full of snow at the other end – you may be better off sticking to the plowed roads.  Low snow cover is tempting people to extend the ATV season.  If you are going out on an ATV, be sure to have one of our motor vehicle use maps, available online and free at our offices.  The map will tell you where it is legal to operate your ATV, including seasonal designations for some routes.  The map is also available as a georeferenced PDF file you can use with the Avenza app on your phone.  You don’t need to be online once you’ve downloaded the map, and the app will give you your exact location on the map as you travel.  Or when you’ve stopped – don’t stare at your phone while driving!

Our ATV trail partners have helped make some routes clearer by putting up small reddish brown signs on designated ATV routes.  Unfortunately, some of these signs were removed by vandals, a senseless act which only adds to the confusion over vehicle use.  Remember when you are planning your trip that these and other signs on the ground are only guidance – the motor vehicle use map is the final word on what use is allowed where.

Watch for logging trucks on the Dumbbell River Road, the Wanless Road, Perent Lake Road, The Grade, Ball Club Road, North Devil Track Road, Carlton Pit Road, and the Schroeder-Tote Road.  On the Gunflint District, log trucks will be hauling on the Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, South Brule Road, Lima Grade, Otter Trail, and the Caribou Trail.  The Schroeder-Tote, Firebox, South Brule, and Lima Grade roads are all shared with snowmobile trails, so be cautious in those areas.  Watch for posted signs showing when the dual designation stops and snowmobiles aren’t allowed further. 

As we hopefully get more snow, winter recreation will become more fun.  If you are looking for conditions of ski trails or snowmobile trails, our website provides links to our trail partners who groom the trails or, in the case of snowmobiles, the Minnesota DNR website which keeps a table of trail conditions. 

We’re getting to the last minute for holiday greenery!  If you still don’t have a tree, you can purchase a permit at one of our offices to harvest your own.  Make sure you follow the rules on where and what you can harvest.  If you have a fourth grader in the family, they can join the Every Kid In A Park program and qualify for a free tree permit.  That program will also give you free admittance to national parks and forests across the country.  One of our neighbors with a fourth grader completed a family tour of all the famous western national parks this summer.  The fourth grader was proud that she was able to get her family into all those parks for free or reduced admission.

The Superior National Forest wants to wish all of you a happy holiday season, and here’s hoping for more of that white stuff! 

Until next time, this has been Renee Frahm with this week’s National Forest Update.
 
 

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Superior National Forest Update - November 30, 2018

National Forest Update – November 29, 2018.

Hi, this is Jon Benson, Assistant Ranger for Recreation and Wilderness, with this week’s National Forest Update.
To start with, I would like to wish everyone a very happy holiday season.  As the weather turns cold the types of recreation opportunities on the Superior National Forest transition from warm weather activities to cold weather activities.  Whether you are waxing up your skis, checking the bindings on your snowshoes, or just digging your mukluks and choppers out of storage; winter is here and it is our hope that everyone has a safe and enjoyable time recreating on your National Forest.

One type of recreation that is common this time of year is the collection of boughs and Christmas trees from National Forest System land.  Please remember that you must have a permit prior to participating in any activities that involve removal of boughs or trees.  These permits are available at any Forest Service office between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.

In terms of conditions on the Superior National Forest, snow and ice continue to make roads slippery.  Give yourself and your fellow travelers a little extra space to avoid any undesirable experiences.  If you are someone who lives along a Forest Service Road and hopes to plow that road, please make sure you have checked with the local Ranger District Office to ensure that you have a road use agreement in place.  Unauthorized plowing can create unsafe situations and it is not legal.

Some of the area ski trails are starting to have some snow and a few folks have been out with their skis.  Keep an eye on the Superior National Forest website or the Visit Cook County website for links to ski conditions.  If you are a fat tire biker, please make sure you are aware of trails that are open to fat-tire riding.  If the snow conditions aren’t right then you shouldn’t be on the trail.  Always “Think, before you sink”.

Lake ice isn’t ready yet.  Many of the lakes are starting to freeze over, but the ice is not thick enough to trust.  The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recommends to stay off all ice under 4 inches thick, and that no ice is 100% safe.  It may be time to clean the tackle box or put new line on the reel, but it isn’t time to get out on the ice just yet.

Muzzleloader deer season is still going through December 9 and there also could still be grouse hunters out there, so make yourself visible.

If you’re headed out the road, you'll run into truck traffic on the Tofte District on the Trappers Lake Road, Dumbell River Road, Wanless Road, Lake County 7, the 4 Mile Grade, the Perent Lake Road, Ball Club Road, North Devil Track Road, and The Grade. The Gunflint District will have hauling on the Caribou Trail, the Murmur Creek Road, Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, South Brule Road, Lima Grade, and the Otter Trail. A good rule of thumb is if a back road is plowed in the winter, there is probably going to be log hauling on it.

This has been Jon Benson with the Superior National Forest Update wishing all of you a happy and safe holiday season.
 

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Superior National Forest Update - November 16, 2018

Superior National Forest Update with Forest Interpretation Specialist, Steve Robertsen.
November 16, 2018

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Superior National Forest Update - November 9, 2018

Superior National Forest Update with Jake Todd, information assistant with the Superior National Forest, Tofte Ranger District.
November 9, 2018

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Superior National Forest Update - October 26, 2018

National Forest Update – October 25, 2018.
Hi.  This is Steve Robertsen, forest interpretation and education specialist with our weekly National Forest Update, information for everyone visiting the Forest this week. 

We’ve definitely shifted gears from “fall” to “late fall”, or maybe “fell”.  The leaves have pretty much fallen, and are on the ground just waiting to be raked up.  Well, actually, they aren’t waiting at all, they are blowing around making raking a pretty futile effort right now.  Nobody rakes the forest of course, and in a maple woodland, those leaves are a very important part of the ecology.  During the summer fishing season, we make a big deal over invasive earthworms, and that layer of leaves is the reason we do.  Worms are not native to our area, and they eat the leaf litter.  Researchers have found that the leaf litter the worms are eating is important for our spring wildflowers and for forest regeneration.  In maple woods heavily infested with earthworms, there are fewer wildflowers in spring, and fewer young maples to replace the old. 

In our yards though, you may not want all those leaves.  You can bring your leaves for compost in the Grand Marais area to the recycling center, or create a compost pile of your own.  It is amazing how quickly a giant pile of leaves in the fall is reduced to a layer of soil. 

The governor of Minnesota, along with governors of other states in a national effort, has declared October 24th through October 31st to be BatWeek.  This year, the theme of BatWeek is to “Be a Bat Hero”!  Our bats are in trouble from white-nose syndrome, but also from simply being misunderstood creatures.  Help spread the message during BatWeek that bats are our friends…because anything that eats as many mosquitoes as a bat is a friend for sure!  Right now, most bats in northern Minnesota are either going into hibernation in caves and mines, or migrating south for the winter.  Those going into hibernation are the ones at risk for white nose syndrome, a fungal disease that strikes sleeping bats during hibernation.  While people are working on cures and methods to control the disease, right now it is still capable of wiping out over 90% of bats in a cave, and has even put a common species like the little brown bat in danger of total extinction.  White nose has been found in two large hibernacula in Minnesota:  Soudan Mine, and Mystery Cave.  At Soudan Mine, it killed 70% of the bats, which is a huge blow to an animal which reproduces slowly and can live over 30 years.  We’ll cross our fingers for our bats this winter season and wish them a safe and happy rest, and hope to see them all again next spring when the mosquitoes appear.

If you’re visiting the Forest, chances are good that you won’t be flying around like a bat, you will be on the ground.  If you’re driving, you’ll want to watch for logging traffic on the same roads as last week.  Those are the Frank Lake Road, Trappers Lake Road, Dumbell River Road, the Wanless Road, Lake County 7, the 4 Mile Grade, the Grade, Caribou Trail, Murmur Creek Road and the Hall Road.  You also should watch for road work being done along the 600 Road west of the Temperance River Road.  That road work also includes heavy truck traffic on the Two Island River Road.  Overall though, the road system is in good shape, but the rainy fall has caused potholes and soft shoulders in some places, so keep an eye out for those.

Keep an eye peeled for deer as well.  Fall and spring are prime times for deer/car collisions.  Deer are moving around as food sources dry up and mating season begins, and they are very well camouflaged when standing at the side of the road right before they jump into traffic.

Speaking of jumping, I saw a snowshoe hare the other day jumping down the road.  His body was still summer-brown, but his big feet and legs were white in his winter fur.  Like the hare, we are in transition to winter.  This late fall season, between the fall colors and the snow, can be a great time to enjoy a quiet Forest with few visitors, so pack a lunch, head out the road, and see if you can spot a hare, a flock of snow buntings, or other signs of the winter to come in the woods. 

Until next time, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.
 

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