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Superior National Forest Update: September 19

USDA_SNForest_Update_Larson_20140919.mp34.9 MB

Hi.  I’m Nancy Larson, Gunflint District Ranger, with the Superior National Forest Update, providing you with information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest.  For the week of September 19th , here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
The most obvious change in the Forest is the ramping up of the fall colors.  If you can’t be out in the woods, you can keep track of the season with our fall color reports on our website and links to weekly photos on Flicker.  If you are out in the woods, watch out for other color enthusiasts who might be driving slowly, or have stopped to take pictures.  If you are one of those enthusiasts, be aware of others and park in safe locations, shut your doors when you get out, and pull over to let others pass. 
While driving, you could encounter some logging trucks and timber operations around Bally Creek, Devil Track, Ball Club, Shoe Lake, Greenwood, Pine Mountain, The Grade, Gunflint Trail, Swamp Lake Road, Cascade River Road and Cook County 7 and 45.  On the Tofte end, the only active harvest area is off Cook County 3.  You still might see a few trucks on the 4 Mile Grade as well.
There could be smoke in the air by Harriet, Fulton, and Toohey Lakes.  Slash piles are being burned which is part of preparing a logged area for reforestation.  There is one 40 acre prescription burn off of the Sawbill Trail.  This is what’s called a site preparation burn and is also part of getting an area ready for a new forest.

The roads themselves are in good shape this week.  There is still construction on Highway 61 which will slow you down as you pass through.  There might be heavier traffic than usual on the Cramer Road through the Forest as people try to find alternative routes to 61.  Most of the time, this particular route isn’t a time saver and isn’t recommended.
We may be traveling by road, but this is also the time for birds to travel south by air.  Fall migration is a peak time to see hawks along the North Shore, as well as many other species, but it is also a peak time for window strikes.  You can help reduce the number of birds hitting windows by pulling blinds when you aren’t home so birds can’t see through the window.  You can also things in the window to break up reflections and help the birds to ‘see’ the clear glass and avoid it.
Bears are also getting ready for fall by finding food wherever they can.  They are checking out bird feeders, garbage cans, and other sources of food that they may not have bothered the rest of the summer.  Feed the birds, but not the bears by taking in your feeders at night, and stashing your food in a locked vehicle if you are camping.
Speaking of camping, our campgrounds are still open with water available at the fee campgrounds until October 15th.  It is great insect free time of the year to pack your tent in the car and enjoy a campfire.
Whether camping or not, we hope you can get out into the fall forest.  Until next week, this has been Nancy Larson with the Superior National Forest’s Recreation and Road Report.