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Superior National Forest Update - August 9

Superior National Forest Update
Superior National Forest Update

National Forest Update – August 8, 2019

Hi.  I’m Steve Robertsen, interpretation and education specialist with the Superior National Forest.  This is the National Forest Update for the week of August 9, 2019.  It’s late summer:  fireweed and asters are blooming, blueberries are ripe, locusts are buzzing, and a few white crowned sparrows have begun singing as they work their way south.  It’s a wonderful time to get outside and go for a walk in the woods.

Our recent batch of cloudbursts has damped down the forest so that fire danger is low right now.  That’s giving our fire people a chance to do some fuel reduction work along the Gunflint Trail.  You may have noticed that there are piles along the Gunflint from the Brule River to the East Bearskin Road.  We are using contractors to clear out small diameter balsam fir in this area.  Small firs are what are called ladder fuels – trees that basically can carry a fire up to the tops of the big pines and start a crown fire.  We’re clearing them out along roadsides so that in the event of a fire, the road would remain usable for evacuation and fire fighting for a longer amount of time.  You can expect to see this activity along roads for the next three to five years.

Cloudbursts have also given us a chance to do some grading, so roads are mostly in good shape.  We aren’t aware of any washouts from the rain, but it wouldn’t be surprising if there are.  If you encounter any, please let us know so that we can get those areas repaired.  Culvert work is continuing on the Grade, but is currently not requiring long closures.  Expect only short delays if you are traveling in that area.  The wet weather has made working in the woods difficult, but logging operations are continuing in some areas.  Watch for logging traffic in Tofte on the Dumbell River Road, Wanless Road, Perent Lake Road, Lake County 705, the 4 Mile Grade, The Grade, Cook County 27, and Cook County 8.  In the Gunflint District, hauling is going on on the Lima Grade, the South Brule Road, the Cascade River Road, the Pike Lake Road, Cook County 7, Cook County 6, and on the Superior Hiking Trail southeast of Cook County 6.

We’ve been talking for a while now about Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday – and it has finally arrived!  On August 9th you can party with the bear, get a picture, and sign a birthday card.  Smokey’s look has changed through the years, but his message has remained the same… well, ok, it did change a little.  He used to say ‘Only you can prevent forest fires’ and now because we understand that some fire is necessary for good forest ecology, he says ‘Only you can prevent wild fires’.  Accidental human caused ignitions are not what we want on the forest, and Smokey has been right all these years… only you can prevent them by making sure your campfire is dead out, following regulations on burning brush, and teaching your children not to play with fire.  It’s sad to say, but in 2016, data showed that still 9 out of 10 wildfires were caused by humans, around 60,000 each year.  Only you can change those figures.

Smokey’s mischievous cousins are still misbehaving at some of our campgrounds.  Be sure to look for current bear alerts at the campground registration kiosks, or talk to the campground host about bear activity.  But, whether there is activity or not, keep a clean camp, store food in your vehicle, and dispose of garbage immediately in the proper container.  Bar dumpster lids after closing.  It is much easier to keep a bear from becoming a problem than to deal with a bear once it has become a problem. 
So, join us for Smokey’s birthday, or do what he probably would like to do and go for a hike in the beautiful summer weather, snacking on blueberries as you go. 

Until next week, this is Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.