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Superior National Forest Update: June 26

Hi.  I’m Myra Theimer, Forest Service silviculturist, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For the week of June 26th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
First, if you don’t know what a silviculturist is, you aren’t alone.  We are the people who look after the trees on the forest by controlling regeneration, composition, growth, and quality to meet diverse needs. The silviculture department is in charge of inventorying the forest stands, and managing plantations of young trees after harvest.  This spring a quarter of a million trees were planted on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts.  We also help take care of the forest in other ways to make sure that it is strong and healthy, so people can enjoy it and also make use of the timber growing on the Forest. 
Along those lines, if you are out enjoying the forest, be aware that there are two logging operations as well on this end of the Superior.  As in previous weeks, there will be log hauling on the Shoe Lake Road, Greenwood Road, and Gunflint Trail on the Gunflint District, and on the Four Mile Grade south of Wilson Lake, Lake County 7 south of Harriet Lake, and on FR 369, the Trappers Lake Road.  Over all, the road system is in great shape right now, and driving to your favorite lake or campground should be a breeze.
This Saturday (June 27), many people will be biking, not driving, the roads.  The Lutsen 99er mountain bike race will take place on the Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Districts. There may be heavier traffic at times, so please be cautious and respect bikers and spectators. Notable portions of the route include: Honeymoon Trail, Devil Track Road, Bally Creek Road, Mark Lake Road, and Caribou Trail.
If you were lucky enough to be out at night this past week, like I was, you may have seen one of the best displays of the Aurora Borealis in a long time.  They were visible as far south as Arkansas, and here in the north they filled the entire sky.  The lights appear in many forms from patches or scattered clouds of light to streamers, rippling curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow.  Auroral displays appear in many colors although pale green and pink are the most common. Aurora Borealis is caused by charged particles emitted from the sun in solar storms, and can be somewhat predicted by monitoring the sun’s activity.  This information was once, only easily available to astronomers, but now there are several websites with graphic maps that help you decide whether you really need to set an alarm for three in the morning.  The people in the Boundary Waters, far from any artificial light, were really treated to a wonderful display.
Our biologists would like to remind people that this is the time when all sorts of baby animals are appearing.  Deer fawns and moose calves have been reported, but the most common sighting is of young birds.  Many species of birds have a stage of growth where the chicks are too big for the nest, but can’t fly well.  Parent birds feed them on the ground or in bushes.  You can help these little birds by not picking them up to rescue them.  They usually are just fine, and the parents are waiting for you to leave so they can feed their young.  Keeping cats indoors during this time of year when the chicks are most vulnerable to predators is also a good idea.
We gave an incorrect time last week for the naturalist program at Chik Wauk on Tuesdays during the summer. The correct time is 2 pm, and the program runs until 3:30.  This week, we will be talking butterflies… and some other ugly bugs as well.
Have a great weekend, and enjoy the Forest.  Until next week, this has been Myra Theimer with the Superior National Forest Update. 
 

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