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Superior National Forest Update: July 28

Hi. I’m Steve Robertsen, education and interpretation specialist with the Superior National Forest with the 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 July 28.

There’s a lot of activity in the Forest this time of year, and this past Wednesday some of that activity was what is called a Bioblitz. A Bioblitz is a single day devoted to recording all the living things in a certain area, and has been described as a biology nerd-fest! Bioblitzes happen across the country on different days, and help us to understand the complex web of life which covers our planet. The Bioblitz in which our Forest Service biologists took part happens annually at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, right next door to the Forest. Participants in this year’s effort included many volunteers - even groups of school age kids from the Twin Cities! All these people searched for plants, birds, insects, mammals, and everything else they could find. By the time they were done, the Bioblitz had recorded over 450 different kinds of life, showing just how rich North Shore nature is.

One aspect of biology which seems to be particularly abundant right now are the insects. Black fly numbers are lower than they were earlier in the year, but it seems to be prime time for butterflies, dragonflies, grasshoppers, and other insects. Many of these are insects which spent the early part of summer as immature nymphs and larvae, and are now flying adults. The adults are searching for mates, and will lay eggs which will either overwinter and hatch in the spring, or hatch now and produce young which will overwinter. For many of our insects, life as an adult is short and most will die with the coming of cold weather. Unfortunately, in their hunt for a mate, a lot of these adults choose to fly over roads which means this is a good time of year to check the washer fluid level in your vehicle - I removed a dozen dragonflies from the grill just from one trip down Hwy 61 in the evening.

Dragonflies aren’t the only thing to watch for while out driving. You should be on the lookout for logging trucks in the following areas. On the Tofte District, there will be logging traffic on Lake County 705, Cook County 33, and the Grade. On Gunflint, hauling is taking place on Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, Shoe Lake Road, Gunflint Trail, Forest Road 1385, Trestle Pine Road, South Brule Road, Lima Grade, and Cook County 6. Additionally, starting this week, there will be trucks on the Bally Creek Road south of Devil Track Lake and Cook County 7. 

Like the insects, you should take advantage of the summer weather to get outside. Explore the Forest, or do your own Bioblitz in your backyard with your family. You’d be amazed at how many living things you share your yard with. 

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