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Superior National Forest Update

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.

What's On:

Superior National Forest Update: March 20

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Hi.  I’m Steve Robertsen, education and interpretation specialist on the Superior National Forest, 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 March 20th, here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
First and foremost, it’s official!  It is now spring!  Three big celestial events happened on March 20th.  If you happened to be in Northern Europe, you got to see a solar eclipse, but it happened at the wrong time of day for us over here.  There also was what is called a Supermoon, which happens when the moon is at its closest point in its orbit to Earth.  The Supermoon on the 20th happened when the moon was new and not visible, so that’s two events we couldn’t actually see.  So, the most important event for us in Minnesota was that the 20th was the spring equinox.  Day and night on the equinox are exactly the same length, but from then on, days will be longer than nights until September.  That’s something we can actually see!  The equinox marks the official beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere!
Also in astronomical news, a large solar storm took place this week.  While the storm wasn’t visible, it caused beautiful northern lights.  With that storm subsiding, there is less of a chance of an aurora, but the possibility lingers, making it worth going outside before bedtime.
Despite astronomy saying it is spring, there is still some winter left out there.  Cross country ski trails up the Gunflint Trail are still open and actually not bad skiing.  At the time of recording, Pincushion ski trails are also still very skiable, and even the Sugarbush area down near Tofte has a 3 to 6 inch base.  Be on the lookout for bare spots though, nothing will stop you faster than hitting grass at the bottom of a hill.
If you are out driving, there are a couple of logging operations going on.  One is off the road to Wilson Lake on the Tofte District, and the other is off the Greenwood Lake road on the Gunflint District.  Due to the spring thaw making gravel road beds mushy, the county has imposed load limits on county roads which means that there is not much in the way of logging truck traffic right now.  While this means you don’t have to watch for large trucks as much, it also means you have to watch for washouts, crumbling shoulders, and water over the road.  Since we didn’t have much snow this past winter, conditions are better than they are some springs.
Most roads that were not plowed during the winter are still impassable due to snow.  Plowed roads have been thawing and refreezing, and with cold weather anticipated this weekend, they will probably be very icy in spots.  One of our people reported that some plowed roads were so icy, it was hard to even walk on them.  Enjoy spring, but keep a watch for those remaining bits of winter!
With all the snow and ice, you are probably not thinking of forest fires.  Our fire people are already preparing for the spring fire season though.  The prediction is that this will be a warm and dry spring, nice for hiking, but also good for accidental fires.  Until May when we start to get thunderstorms, humans are the only source of wild fires, and conditions predict a higher than normal potential for fire.  We’ll be talking more about this in weeks to come, but the main message will always be to be careful with fire.  As Smokey says, only you can prevent wild fires.
While we’ve seen signs of raccoons, I have yet to hear a report of a bear being up and about.  But, this is the time for the bruins to start waking up.  If you have bird feeders out, it is also the season to start taking them in at night, unless you really want bears to take them down for you.  Gulls have returned as well, and it just makes me feel warmer when I hear the cries of the gulls as I walk the shore.
Enjoy the gulls and the Forest, and until next week, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.


Superior National Forest Update: March 13

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NOTE:  Seasonal road restrictions are now in effect (as of 12:01am Friday March 13th) and will continue for a minimum of eight weeks.  All Cook County roads are limited to 5 tons per axle unless otherwise posted. More information is available from the Cook County Highway Department at 387-3014. 

This Sarah Poznanovic, biological science technician on the Tofte Ranger District, with this week’s edition of the Superior National Forest Update  -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest.
For the week of March 13th, here’s what’s happening on and around the Forest.
The most obvious thing going on all over is that temperatures have warmed and the snow is melting!  There is still inland snow, but conditions are getting to be pretty hazardous for skiing.  Trails alternate between ice and slush, so you either are going too fast on ice, or making a sudden stop when you hit slush.  Many trails are listed as open, but conditions are changing fast.  A good alternative to trails for a workout is to ski on lakes because bare ice is a lot easier on skis than rocks.  Of course, the ice is melting too, but most lake ice is still pretty thick… for now.  Don’t take anyone’s word for it though, do your own checking and make sure that the ice is thick enough before you venture out onto a lake.  Ice should be at least 4” thick to safely walk on, and it is also recommended that you have ice picks along with you.
Most snowmobile trails are listed as open by the DNR as of March 5th, but again, trail conditions are changing rapidly.  Check the DNR website before you head out for up to date information.  Bring along what you need to pull your sled out of slush if you get mired.  And, of course, use your good judgment.  If the trail is listed as open, but all you see is dirt and rocks, you can assume that route isn’t one to travel on.  Remember that cross country travel on a snowmobile requires at least four inches of snow on the ground to be legal.
Our gravel roads are also getting soft this time of year, particularly on the shoulders.  This means to really watch for truck traffic as it will be harder for either you or the truck to pull to the side.  There is still hauling taking place on the Tomahawk Road, 4 Mile Grade, Lake County 7, and possibly the Honeymoon Trail, so be on the look out for log trucks, especially along those routes.
We’ve seen water across some roadways due to clogged culverts, a pretty common occurrence this time of year, even on major roads like Highway 61.  Water on the road is always worth slowing down for, since you never know how deep it may be.
So far, this has sounded a lot like a list of ‘watch out’s and ‘be careful’s.  But, even though spring around here is known as the mud season and comes with some warnings, there are a lot of reasons to get out and enjoy the forest.  Skiing in short sleeves can be a lot of fun, and the smell of warm soil after a cold winter is always great.  It won’t be long until spring migration begins, and chickadees are already singing their short but sweet two note spring song.  Soon we’ll be seeing the first robins arriving for the year and chipmunks emerging from hibernation.
Enjoy the warm weather and what may be the last bit of our winter season.  Until next week, this has been Sarah Poznanovic with the Superior National Forest Update.


Superior National Forest Update: February 20

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Hi.  I’m Cathy Peterson, Administrative Support Assistant for the Tofte district of the Superior National Forest, and this is the National Forest Update for the week of February 20th.  As we ease out of February into March, it may seem that spring is right around the corner, but we know up here that there is plenty of winter left to go.
There have been enough small snowfalls now that ski and snowmobile trails are in pretty good shape, thanks to the grooming done by our trail partners.  Be sure to respect trail use designations though, there isn’t a lot of snow to repair ski trails marred by snowshoes or snowmobiles.
Some visitors to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on recent weekends may have been surprised by groups of students winter camping.  The culminating event for an outdoor recreation course for several Twin Cities schools is a trip to the Boundary Waters in the middle of winter.  Students learn how to adequately prepare for extreme weather conditions and overcome the challenges of winter camping.  They also learn the rewards of what is really a wonderful time to camp.  If you’ve never been winter camping in the Boundary Waters, you’d do well to learn from these students and give it a try…properly prepared, of course.  The two big advantages are that you can pretty well eat as much as you want, and there are no bugs at all!
There is logging activity going on in the Forest outside of the Boundary Waters.  In the distant past, almost all logging was done in the winter when logs could be slid out on sledges traveling ice roads and across frozen rivers and lakes.  Now we log in the summer as well, but winter is still a good time for timber harvest.  Watch for traffic on the Tomahawk, Four Mile Grade, and Trappers Lake Road.  Also, remember that almost any plowed side road was probably plowed for logging traffic.
If winter has you down, it may cheer you up to realize that there are some signs of spring around.  Owls have laid their eggs, and some may be starting to hatch.  Denning bears usually give birth in late January, so there are probably cubs around in the bear dens.  Even better, we’re up to 10 and a half hours of daylight, up from a mere 8 and a half in December.  We still have two hours to gain before the spring equinox around March 21, but we’re half way there.
For now though, keep thinking snow, and enjoy the winter.  Until next time, this is Cathy Peterson for the Superior National Forest Update.



Superior National Forest Update: February 6

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National Forest Update February 5th, 2015
Hi.  I’m Jon Benson, Recreation Specialist for the Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Districts.  I’m here today with the Superior National Forest Update.  For the week of February 5th, here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
Winter recreation on the Superior National Forest is in full swing.  Along the shore snow levels are making some of the snow-based winter recreation opportunities more difficult to groom, but thanks to some excellent work by our ski and snowmobile trail partners, all trails are currently open.  Skiers and snowmobilers on trails close to the lake may see some areas with minimal snow cover, but the fact that there are so few of these areas is a tribute to the hard work of dedicated ski and snowmobile volunteer groups.  As a reminder, skiers on any of the major trails near the shore are required to have a Great Minnesota Ski Pass.  The small fee for these passes goes directly into helping volunteer groups maintain these trails so it is well worth the $20 annual pass.
On the lakes, we have been hearing reports of a great start to Lake Trout season.  As usual, please use caution when walking on frozen lakes.  We recommend that anyone planning to travel on the ice not do so by themselves but if you must, make sure that someone knows where you will be and when you plan to return.  For those hardy fishermen and women out there, please make sure that your car is fully off of the road when you venture on to the ice so that plows and other vehicles can get through. 
The winter camping season is also going strong.  For those of you who partake in this activity, or for those that simply want to have a fire while out on the ice, please look for dead and down trees away from the shoreline.  I realize that this is a little more work, but cutting seemingly dead trees along the shoreline results in visual impacts to summer paddling trips.  We have been seeing some evidence in the BWCAW of freshly cut cedar trees along the shorelines of lakes.  Please remember that the rule for gathering firewood is to seek out dead and down trees.
While driving, you can expect logging traffic on the Mark Lake Road, Caribou Trail, Swamp Lake Road, Cascade River Road, Cook County 45, Cook County 7, Bally Creek Road, Devil Track Road, Ball Club Road, The Grade, Gunflint Trail, South Shore Drive, and Meridian Road.  There is a short stretch of the Gunflint Snowmobile Trail on the Meridian Road south of Devil Track Lake that will be used for hauling activity.  Use caution in this area, and watch for signs indicating logging traffic.  Hauling is only permitted Monday through Friday on this section of trail, but snowmobilers should use caution when sharing the road with log trucks.
If folks are recreating in the area between Isabella and Ely, extra caution should be used on the Tomahawk Trail.  Three timber sales are currently being harvested on the Kawishiwi Ranger District and hauling traffic is present on the Tomahawk Trail from the junction of Filson Creek and the Spruce Road (Forest Road 181) to Nickel Lake.  Logging activity is expected to continue through the end of March.
In other news, District reforestation personnel are currently making plans for this spring’s planting season.  District personnel have recently ordered seedlings and tree seed for the 2015 planting and aerial seeding program.  This upcoming spring, over 270,000 seedlings will be planted across 900 acres on the Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Districts.  Planting activities will aid in the reforestation of previously harvested sites, as well as enhance wildlife habitat in non-harvested poorly stocked stands (especially for moose).  Float planes will be used to aerial seed 61 pounds of black spruce, jack pine, paper birch, and red pine on 265 acres of formerly harvested stands.  In addition, winter shearing activities will begin shortly on 65 acres to prepare sites for planting in the Spring.”
I hope you all have an excellent weekend and you can get out and enjoy the outdoors.  Until next week, this has been Jon Benson with the Superior National Forest Update.


Superior National Forest Update: January 23

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Hi.  I’m Steve Robertsen, interpreter on the Gunflint and Tofte districts of the Superior National Forest, and this is the National Forest Update for the week of January 23rd.  If, or hopefully when, you get outside to explore the Forest during this this last week or so of January, here’s some things you may want to know.
It’s no news that we have less snow than last year.  While we have less snow, right now most cross country ski trails are open and either groomed or hand tracked.  That may change, there is sleet and freezing rain in the forecast.  The best source for information is our website with its links to our individual trail partners who do the grooming.  It is probably worth a quick check before you head out, just so you know what to expect.
Skiing on lakes has been excellent though.  Most lakes have a thick ice layer, and there is minimal slush.  I did say “most” and “minimal” though.  Whenever you are on ice keep your wits about you and be ready to deal with slush pockets, pressure ridges, and other potential hazards.  Bring your ice picks, rope, spare clothes, and if at all possible, a partner to ski with.
Sharing the lakes with the skiers are the people ice fishing.  With warmer temperatures and less snow on lakes, it is a pretty good winter for fishing.  If you are driving to the lake, keep a couple of things in mind.  One is that while there is less snow, there is enough now that even large pick ups will get bogged down and stuck on unplowed roads.  Don’t take chances - if the road isn’t plowed, it means no one will be driving down it to rescue you.  When you do park your vehicle, make sure that you don’t block the road.  We’ve also had some “rogue plowing” going on.  You are not allowed to plow Forest Service roads without a permit.  Permits are free and can be obtained at the Gunflint or Tofte Ranger Stations, and help us keep track of the road system conditions.
If a road is plowed, it probably means a timber sale is going on.  Watch for truck traffic near Mark, Pike, and Thompson Lakes in the the Gunflint District, and near White Pine and Outlaw Lakes in Tofte. 
Starting January 25, the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon will bring mushers and spectators into the woods as well.  There will be road signs indicating race crossings, as well as for lots of pedestrians in some areas.  And of course, there will be dogs as well - this event is a great reason to get out and see some wonderful canine athletes.  Best of luck to all of them.
You can start reserving Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness entry permits for the summer on January 28th at   Right now, if you go into the Boundary Waters, you still need a self-issued permit, available at the entry point, but it is not too soon to start planning for your summer trips.

Keep thinking snow, and enjoy the winter.  Until next time, this is Steve Robertsen for the Superior National Forest Update.


Superior National Forest Update: January 9

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Hi.  I’m Steve Robertsen, interpreter on the Gunflint and Tofte districts of the Superior National Forest.  It’s a new year, and time for a new edition of our National Forest Update.
Even though it has been a light snow winter so far, there is getting to be enough of the white stuff to have some fun outside.  There is less snow along the shore of the big lake, but inland there is enough for skiing.  Even some of the trail systems nearer the lake are beginning to be packed even if not groomed.  There are convenient links to most of our trail partners’ websites from the Superior’s National Forest website, providing you with a fast way to find up-to-date information on trail conditions.  We’ll hope for continuous improvement in the snow department as January goes on.  There was enough snow for a successful run of the Gunflint Mail Run dog sled race, and we have our fingers crossed that later this month we’ll see a good running of the John Beargrease dog sled race as well.
If you are traveling by snowmobile instead of dog sled, be aware that you need 4 inches of snow cover to travel cross country.  Many of the local trails are closed or only in poor condition, but a few are listed as fair condition according the Minnesota DNR website.  We have links to those trail conditions as well.  Watch out for those exposed rocks as you ride - the snow cover is pretty inconsistent right now.
With the light snow cover, driving in the Forest is a whole lot easier than it was last year.  Be aware that if a smaller Forest Road is plowed, it is an indication that there is logging activity ahead and there may be trucks.  The Forest Service itself doesn’t plow the roads, so a plowed road means something is happening ahead.  As always, make sure you are prepared with a winter safety kit in your vehicle.
I’ve recently seen a repeated post in social media complaining “Why do I live where the air hurts my face?”  Well, the answer to that is winter is what you make of it.  There is breathtaking beauty in the winter woods, from crystal clear stars at night to snow laden pine trees during a snow fall.  There are plenty of things to do outside in the winter, and if it is too cold, it provides the perfect excuse for curling up with a book and hot chocolate.  Our winters here may sometimes hurt your face, but they are worth it if you make the effort to enjoy them.  You can see other posts about winter and the Forest, with no complaining, if you visit the Superior National Forest’s new Facebook page while you’re sitting there with the hot chocolate.  It’s another way you can be part of the Forest, even if you‘re in your family room at home.
Keep thinking snow, and enjoy the winter.  Until next time, this is Steve Robertsen for the Superior National Forest Update.


Superior National Forest Update: December 19

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Hi.  I’m Anna Botner, Wilderness Specialist on the Gunflint and Tofte Districts of the Superior National Forest.  We’ve got a bit more snow, and as it accumulates, so do the opportunities for winter recreation on the Forest.
Light snow cover means that some roads that are usually impassable this time of year look fairly drivable.  But, watch out!  Appearances can be deceiving!  It is easy to get stuck at the bottom of a hill if you are in a conventional two wheel drive car, even in small amounts of snow.  Make sure the safety equipment in your car includes a strong tow strap, shovel and sand, just in case.  Cat litter, by the way, isn’t recommended for traction.  Spinning tires can heat up the snow under it enough to create water, that will simply dissolve the litter. If you bring a cell phone, don’t forget a charger, but remember there are lots of places on the Forest where it will not work.
Do you need a Christmas tree still?  Our three million acre Christmas tree lot is still open.  Pick up a permit at a District office for five dollars, and then go pick your tree.  There are some simple guidelines to follow concerning where you can harvest a tree, and an expedition into the woods in search of the perfect balsam fir is a great tradition to either follow or start with your family.
While driving, you’ll discover that there isn’t a lot of logging traffic right now  except for the Sawbill Trail, the Grade, the Pine Mountain Road, the Pike Lake Road, and the Bally Creek Road.  Though truck traffic is light, remember that they will have a harder time stopping on snow covered roads.
There is enough snow to ski in some areas, but most trails are not being groomed as yet.  Presently, the recommendation is to use older skis, as you may be skiing on rocks some of the time. This is also a good time of year for lake skiing.  As always when traveling on ice, watch for weak spots and be prepared in case you go through with ice picks, rope, and a change of clothing, in a waterproof bag.  The best thing to bring with you when traveling on ice is a partner - rescues with a friend are a lot easier than by yourself.
If you’re snowmobiling, 4 inches of snow cover is required for cross country travel.  For trail conditions, check the Minnesota DNR website. As of December 18th, most area trails are either closed or in poor condition.
Fat tire bicycles have been in the news recently, as more and more people take up the sport.  There are no specific fat bike trails in the Superior National Forest, but they are welcome on Forest Roads.  Bikers need to remember that they are sharing the roads with vehicles, and possibly snowmobiles.  Bikes are not allowed on trails with other use designations, such as ski trails, snowmobile trails, or snowshoe trails.
Think snow, and enjoy a safe holiday season!  This has been Anna Botner with the Superior National Forest Update.


Superior National Forest Update: December 5

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Hi.  I’m Steve Robertsen, interpretation and education person on the Superior National Forest.  Winter is upon us, but there are still lots of things to do out in the woods.  For the week of December 5th, here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
While it’s been cold, we haven’t had much snow.  If you are looking to burn brush piles, you will still need a permit until we have 3 inches of continuous snow cover.  There may be some places inland that meet that requirement, but along the shore, we just don’t have that much.  Another snow depth rule to keep in mind is that overland use of snowmobiles is not allowed until we have at least 4 inches of continuous snow cover.  With little snow, people might be tempted to use their ATVs more, but remember that they are only allowed on designated routes - maps are available at Forest District offices. 
Cross country skiing hasn’t been too good either.  Trails are not groomed due to, well, nothing to groom.  Many people are taking to the lakes for skiing, and they are actually pretty good, particularly for working on skate skiing.  However, be very aware of varying ice thickness.  Some lakes are up to a foot thick now, but there are still weak spots in many lakes.  Bring self-rescue equipment like ice picks and a rope for helping others, and know what to do if you break through.  Probably the best thing to bring with is a friend to help, and knowledge of how to help without endangering yourself.  There are excellent videos out there in cyberspace on saving yourself or others if someone goes through, but of course the best method is to avoid breaking through altogether.
One reason for venturing into the woods this time of year is to harvest holiday greenery:  balsam boughs for wreaths and a nice Christmas tree.  This can be a wonderful family tradition - we went out last weekend ourselves armed with a saw and a thermos of hot chocolate and got a nice balsam fir.  You do need a permit - a tree permit is only $5.  Make sure that you are on National Forest land when you choose your tree, and that you follow the other guidelines as explained when you pick up the permit.  And don’t forget the hot chocolate.
When you’re out there, keep an eye out for Canada lynx - either the animal itself or tracks.  Our wildlife people are in the midst of a long term study of lynx in Minnesota which involves DNA analysis of hair and scat to identify specific animals and related families.  Don’t pick up samples yourself, just report where the tracks or animal was, and they will go out to investigate.  Sort of a CSI - Superior National Forest.
While driving, you could encounter some logging trucks on the Tofte District on Cook County 3 near Vyre Lake;  Lake County 705 and Forest Road 369 near Sawbill Landing; and Forest Road 350 off of the Sawbill Trail.  On the Gunflint end, Bally Creek, Mississippi Creek, Mark Lake and the Caribou Trail may have truck traffic, along with the Pine Mountain Road near the Gunflint Snowmobile Trail.   You might not know it, but the Forest Service does not plow our roads.  If a Forest Road is plowed, it is most likely being used by loggers, so take care.  Lastly, if you are headed up to Ely on Hwy 1 to do Christmas shopping, there is heavy truck traffic between Isabella and Ely.  Trucks are turning onto Hwy 1 at a blind corner just north of the Kawishiwi River bridge, so show extra caution in that area.
So, go out and find the perfect tree for your family, make a wreath, and wish for snow.  Until next time, this has been Steve Robertsen with the Superior National Forest Update.


Superior National Forest Update: November 21

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Hi.  I’m Jon Benson, Recreation Specialist for the Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Districts.  I’m here today to provide you with the Thanksgiving edition of the Superior National Forest Update.  For the week of November 21st, here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
Turkey Day is just around the corner and the chill of winter is in the air.  Hunting season is winding down, and many of you have been out looking for that trophy buck.  Good hunting safety practices should remain a key focus as complacency can often be a contributing factor to hunting injuries.  If you plan to be out in the woods during hunting season make sure you, your friends and your pets are wearing high visibility clothing and are taking more notice of your surroundings. 
Trappers in the Finland, Grand Marais and Two Harbors areas can register furbearers on Friday, Dec. 5, between noon and 7 p.m. at area DNR registration stations. A typo in the 2014 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook incorrectly lists the date as Dec. 6.
Trappers may also call to make an appointment for registration during regular business hours prior to the close of any species trapping season. Trappers are reminded that all furbearers must be registered no more than 24 hours after the close of the season for fisher and marten, and no more than 48 after the close of the season for otters and bobcats. Registrations stations are not staffed on weekends so trappers should plan accordingly to meet registration requirements.
When the hunting and trapping seasons end, please remember to take down your hunting stands as permanent stands are illegal on National Forest lands.  For any additional questions related to trapping or hunting licenses, rules, and regulations, listeners should contact the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources or visit their website.
For any information related to OHV use or access into different areas of the Superior National Forest, please stop into any District Office and request a free motor vehicle use map.  Remember that ATV’s and OHV’s are only permitted on roads and trails designated for that use on the motor vehicle use map and cross-country travel is not permitted.
Recreation use on the Superior National Forest is pretty low right now, but we have heard reports of people starting to venture out onto the ice.  Please use caution when walking on frozen lakes especially early in the season.  It is recommended that anyone planning to travel on the ice not do so by themselves and if you do plan to head out on the ice, please use caution and sound judgment before doing so.
Another pretty cool program that I wanted to mention is that the Superior National Forest is in the midst of our 25th year of wilderness education programs.  We have been providing these programs to 2nd, 4th, and 7th grade students in communities ranging from south of Duluth all the way to Grand Marais.  If you have any 7th grade students, they should have recently been visited by our wilderness education team.  Ask them if they learned anything new and interesting about the wilderness.
While driving, you could encounter some logging trucks on the Bally Creek Road, Devil Track, Ball Club, Shoe Lake, Greenwood, The Grade, Gunflint Trail, Swamp Lake Road, Cascade River Road and Cook County 7, Cook County 45, Cook County 3, Forest Road 369, Lake County 705, the Mark Lake Road and the Caribou Trail.  There will also be some hauling and harvest activity starting soon  along the Pine Mountain Road near the Gunflint Snowmobile Trail. 
Speaking of roads, the bridge on the 600 Road in Tofte over the Temperance River is now closed to vehicle traffic and boulders have been placed to prevent vehicle traffic from crossing this bridge.  Snowmobiles will be permitted on the bridge this winter, but the groomer will not be grooming this section of trail.  This bridge has been closed for safety reasons and we are working to find opportunities to fund a new bridge in this location.  The cost estimate for a replacement bridge is beyond what our budgets can currently support.
I hope you all have a happy and safe Thanksgiving and enjoy the start of the winter.  Until next time, this has been Jon Benson with the Superior National Forest Update.


Superior National Forest Update: November 14

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Hello, I’m Mary Ann Atwood, Gunflint Ranger District’s administrative support clerk, with this week’s edition of the Superior National Forest Update.  Here’s what’s going on that may affect travel and recreation on the Gunflint and Tofte Districts of the Forest over the next week.
You may have noticed that winter has arrived on the north shore.  Tread carefully on Forest Service roads as you will likely encounter a thin layer of ice.   Lakes are starting to freeze up as well.  Our wilderness rangers have encountered 2 – 3 inches of ice cover on most small lakes.  If you’re planning a paddling trip, call the Tofte or Gunflint District offices for an ice report. 
Whether hiking or paddling in the BWCAW, be sure to fill out a self-issue permit, available at entry points and district offices.  And remember; keep wearing orange in the forest during the firearm’s season.
Our fire shop is completing the last of the gravel pit burn piles for the year.  Speaking of burn piles, if you are planning on burning brush piles at your home, you still need a burning permit until you have at least three inches of continuous snow cover.
When driving, take some time to reacquaint yourself with how your car handles in snow.  Check that the winter emergency kit you took out of the back and stored in the garage all summer is back in the vehicle. 
Regarding logging trucks: On the Gunflint side, you can expect log trucks on Bally Creek and The Grade.   On the Tofte side, there will be hauling on Cook County 3 near Vyre Lake, on The Grade, on FR 369 near Sawbill Landing, and on Lake County 705. 
Now that there is snow on the ground, our biologists are recording animal tracks.  All sorts of animals that are hard to count in the summer are easier to monitor in the winter.  Lynx may be invisible in the summer, but their tracks give them away in the winter.  We are interested in collecting any lynx sightings or suspected tracks.  If you find any, stop by or call a district office with your sighting information.
As Thanksgiving approaches, holiday greenery, that is, balsam boughs and trees, come to mind.  Both forest products can be gathered on the Forest with the appropriate permit.  Check our website or pick up a flyer at the district office for details on harvest limits and permit prices. 
That wraps up what is going on in the Superior.  Whether the snow lures you out into the woods, or drives you inside to enjoy a book and hot chocolate, make the most of it and enjoy winter.  After all, we have about four and half months of it left to go!  This has been Mary Ann Atwood with the National Forest Update.