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Superior National Forest Update - February 14

Superior National Forest Update
Superior National Forest Update

National Forest Update – February 13, 2020.

Hi.  This is Steve Robertsen, education and interpretation specialist with the Superior National Forest with the National Forest Update.  It’s our birthday this week!  In 1909, on February 13th, Theodore Roosevelt signed the Superior National Forest into being.  At that time, a lot of the land was bare.  The mixed pine forest had been cleared during the intensive logging era of the late 1800s, so, as with many of the national forests declared in the east, the Superior was less a forest than it was a brushy stump field.  Thanks to replanting efforts by the Forest Service, hard work later by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the forest’s own natural resiliency, the woods grew back and made the forest we see, enjoy, and use today.  So, happy birthday, Superior!

While we’re in history mode, the Tofte Ranger Station recently was gifted a bit of National Forest history.  A kind individual donated a lifetime’s collection of Smokey Bear memorabilia, from early Smokey stuffed animals to a music box with Smokey in a jeep playing John Denver’s ‘Country Roads’.  We’ll be featuring portions of the collection on display in our office, so check out early Smokey next time you stop in.

Shifting from history, we can look into the future.  Well, ok, we can at least tell you at least a couple of things happening this weekend.  There are two ski events on February 15th.  One is the annual Pincushion Winter Festival including several levels of ski races, skijoring, and the Y-ski Winter Carnival.  The other is a candlelight ski on the Sugarbush Trails starting at the Oberg Mountain trailhead.  Both events are sponsored by partner organizations which maintain and groom our trail systems, and without which we quite possibly would have not have groomed trails.  So, we’d like to thank the North Superior Ski and Run Club for all the work they do at Pincushion, and the Sugarbush Trail Association for their work with the Sugarbush and Moose Fence trails.  Good job, club members!

When you’re headed out to ski, or do anything else outside, this is a good weekend to check the weather.  Our forecasted temperatures are all over the place from below zero to 32 degrees.  It is a good weekend to heed your mother’s advice and dress in layers so you can adjust to whatever nature throws at you.  Plan ahead and bring extra clothes or an empty pack for clothes you shed.  You don’t want to end up wearing below zero gear when it is near the melting point, and you don’t want to be wearing a light jacket and baseball cap when it’s below zero.
You can plan for trucks to be hauling logs on some roads.  On the Gunflint District, logging traffic will be on Cook County 14 and 60, the Sunfish Lake Road, Greenwood Road, the Gunflint Trail, and the Pike Lake Road.  Tofte District will have trucks using the Trappers Lake/Sawbill Landing Road, Perent Lake Road, The Grade, and Cook County 27.

It is harder for us to tell you which roads deer will be using.  Deer are on the roads a lot right now, partly because travel in the deep snow in the woods is difficult.  One person at our office hit a deer about a month ago, crumpling the hood, breaking the right headlight, and causing hundreds of dollars in damage… then was lucky enough to hit another deer with the newly painted and repaired car last week, breaking the other headlight, smashing the fender, and so on.  This is not an unskilled or poor driver, it was just bad luck.  So, keep your eyes on the roadsides and don’t speed.  With the new speed limit of 60 on portions of Highway 61, it is tempting to go even faster – but don’t. 

On the plus side, if you do drive slower and keep your eyes open looking for wildlife, there’s a lot to be seen besides deer.  Both great grey and snowy owls are around the area right now, and great greys in particular love to roost on street signs.  I saw a beautiful wolf on the road this morning, and eagles scavenging deer carcasses are abundant.  You can’t really beat that for a morning commute.

Enjoy the Forest and stay warm!  Until next time, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.