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Superior National Forest Update

Hi.  This is Brandee Wenzel, administrative support assistant, with this week’s National Forest Update -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior National Forest. For the week of October 7th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
Just like you, we are taking care of some tasks before winter comes.  When undergrowth is cleared for fuel reduction in some areas, brush piles are made.  This is the time of year when our fire crews burn those piles.  Pile burning will be attended by fire personnel while they are actively burning, then they will be checked on a daily basis until they are out completely.  They may be smoldering for a few days while all the material is consumed, and you may notice smoke in the air in these areas.
We’ve started with the last round of road grading for the year, so watch for loose gravel and slow moving graders along gravel roads.  The culvert work which has been happening on The Grade is done for the year.  That means that there are no further road closures on that road, though some ditch and gravel work will still be happening until freeze up. 
Major work has been taking place on the Border Route Trail.  The Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa, the Border Route Trail Association, personnel from the Flathead National Forest, and our own crews have been working steadily to clear and maintain this wilderness trail.  It should start out 2017 in great shape.
Campgrounds will be going into their winter hibernation on October 15th.  This means that the water will be shut off and garbage service will end at our fee campgrounds.  Fee collection will end when those services end.  The exact date will vary between campgrounds, so be prepared to pay the camping fee if the campground hasn’t been winterized, but also be prepared to supply your own water if it has.  Bears are also looking at hibernation soon, and as summer food sources dry up, they may be more actively looking for alternatives - like your cooler or garbage bag.  Be sure to store your food and garbage safely while camping, particularly since dumpsters may be closed.
Our leaf color is at its peak right now.  If you haven’t gotten a chance to drive the Forest, now’s the time to do it.  Be careful of other leaf watchers out there, and be sure to respect other drivers by parking responsibly and not blocking roadways. 
In a few places, you may also be sharing the road with logging traffic.  On Gunflint, harvest is taking place off of Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, Powers Lake Road, and Trestle Pine Road.  On Tofte, watch for logging trucks on the Sawbill Landing Road near Silver Island and Sawbill Landing, and on the Dumbell River Road.
Of course, another fall color is blaze orange.  There are a lot of grouse hunters out looking for birds.  Be sure to check the hunting opportunities on our Hunter Walking Trails, developed in cooperation with the DNR and the Ruffed Grouse Society.  The trails do loop around, so watch your field of fire.  Recreational Opportunity Guides with trail maps are available on line and at our offices in Tofte and Grand Marais.
Whether you are camping, hunting, hiking, or just driving around, this should be a great weekend to get out and enjoy the Forest.  Until next week, this has been Brandee Wenzel with the Superior National Forest Update.