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Superior National Forest Update - July 19

Superior National Forest Update
Superior National Forest Update

Superior National Forest Update
Steve Robertsen
July 19, 2019

Midsummer.  Warm days, sun, mosquitoes, and thunderstorms.  It’s a time of year for all kinds of outdoor activities, and the busiest time out in the Forest.  People who have been out have been asking the Forest Service a lot about outbreaks of spruce budworm in several places around our side of the Superior National Forest.  This is a species of moth whose caterpillar specializes in eating the buds and needles of spruce, although in reality, it is more often found eating balsam fir instead of spruce.  It will first cause the ends of the branches to go brown, then strip the needles from the tree, then create large silk bags which shelter several of the insects while they pupate and change to the adult moth.  It is a native species, not an invader.  Like the eastern forest tent caterpillar, known locally as army worms, spruce budworm has outbreaks where a certain area on a certain year will host huge numbers of budworms.  Trees will recover if they are in good health to begin with and if they are not defoliated two or three seasons in a row.

On a forest scale, outbreaks are usually left to run their course, ending once the food supply has been reduced.  Dead trees after an outbreak can be a wildfire hazard, so we often do some type of management to reduce fuel in afflicted areas.  Individual trees, like a favorite in your yard, can be treated with the insecticide Bt.  This insecticide is effective, but also kills other moths and butterflies which are both lovely and beneficial, so it is best used in a limited way to save specific trees.

Of course, there’s more than just budworm out there though.  The Heck Epic mountain bike race takes place this weekend.  The course runs from Two Harbors to Grand Marais and back.  Bikers will be fairly well spaced out, so watch for individual bikers on roadsides. You should also be watching for log trucks because there is a fair amount of log hauling going on.  In Tofte, haulers are on the same roads as last week – the Dumbell River Road, Wanless Road, Lake County 705, the Four Mile Grade, the Grade, and Cook County 27 and 8.  On the Gunflint District, hauling is happening on the Lima Grade, South Brule Road, Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, Blueberry Road, Cascade River Road, Pike Lake Road, and Cook County 6 and 7.  There is also hauling across the Superior Hiking Trail southeast of Cook County 6.

Beginning this week, culvert replacement will be happening on the Grade’s east end from Brule Lake east to Two Island Lake.  I’m planning on staying out of this area entirely for a while.  Not only will the driving be difficult, but you can expect waits of up to thirty minutes when the culvert is installed.

Some people are using this time to do their own road work by clearing roadways leading to their cabin or favorite area.  If you plan to clear brush from a remote Forest Service road, please stop by the office and pick up a permit first.  The permits are free, and we appreciate the help, but we need to keep track of when work was done on what road, so just take a couple of minutes to grab a permit before you begin.  The Gunflint office will also have information on permits for burn piles to dispose of the slash you generate when you brush the road.

Speaking of burn piles, a large bear was sighted in several places this past weekend.  He was carrying a shovel and wearing a ranger hat and was riding on a Forest Service truck in the parade for Bay Days in Silver Bay, and also was hanging around up in Grand Marais getting ready for Fishermen’s Picnic.  If you see this bear, don’t worry, he’s friendly.  He sure gets around a lot for an almost 75 year old bear, and he’s getting ready for his birthday party in August.  He did stop by to thank everyone who has been out on the Forest this year – we are all doing a good job of being careful with fire so far in 2019, and had a fire free Fourth. 

Keep up that good work, enjoy summer on the Superior, and remember what the bear says: “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires”!
 

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