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Superior National Forest Update: August 18

Hi.  I’m Amy Wilfahrt, fisheries biologist for the Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Districts with this week’s National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior. Here’s what’s happening for the week of August 18.

We are coming into the end of summer where some days feel hot enough for a swim, and some require looking in the closet for that jacket that was put away in the spring.  One of the markers of the season is the fireweed plant.  Most of us are familiar with the spikes of purple blossoms along roadsides and other disturbed areas.  The blossoms start at the bottom and work their way up the spike as time goes on, and the story is that when the flowers reach the top and end, summer is over.  I hate to say it, but they are nearing the top.

Rain has still been keeping fire danger to a minimum, though it is actually high in other parts of the state.  Remember that whatever the conditions are, you need to be careful with fires and make sure every fire you light is totally out when you leave.

One prominent fire which will be out this week is the sun during the eclipse.  It would be amazing if you haven’t heard that there is going to be an eclipse on the 21st, but since this is a once in a lifetime event for some people, we just want to be sure you don’t miss it.  From the point of view of the Superior, the moon won’t completely block the sun, but it will block enough to be noticeable.   Be sure to not look directly at the sun, use proper eye protection, or look at a projected image.  It is predicted to start at 11:46, reach a maximum at 1:07, and end at 2:27.  Don’t miss it!

If you are out driving in the Forest this week looking for that perfect eclipse viewing spot, there’s a number of roads which will see logging traffic.  On the Tofte District, watch for trucks on Lake County 705, Cook County 33, The Grade, and the Sawbill Trail.  On the Gunflint District hauling is taking place on the Firebox Road, Blueberry Road, Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, and Forest Road 1385.  There will also be trucks on the Gunflint Trail, South Brule Road, Lima Grade, Trestle Pine Road, Ball Club Road, Devil Track Road, Cook County 6 and 7, and the Bally Creek Road.

You may also get to see the start of some of the fall migrations.  You’ll notice that geese are gathering in larger groups, and if you happen to be near an abandoned chimney at dusk, you may see small insect eating chimney swifts diving into the chimney to roost through the night.  By the end of the month, these little mosquito eaters will have headed south to South America.  Other birds, such as warblers, who were here for the insects and to raise families, are also starting to move through.  It is not uncommon at night to hear the call notes of high flying groups of small birds headed south.

Moose and deer don’t migrate, but this is a great time to spot them along the roadsides with the bucks and bulls antlers in full velvet.  I think they are at their most photogenic this time of year, but be careful if you stop to take a picture.

Don’t miss the eclipse, but also don’t miss the last of the warm sun of summer.  Until next week, this has been Amy Wilfahrt with the National Forest Update.