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Superior National Forest Update - July 6, 2018

National Forest Update – June 28, 2018.

Hi.  I’m Tom McCann, resource information specialist, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Superior National Forest.  It is midsummer here, though technically midsummer’s eve was June 24th.  Whoever came up with that date did not live in Minnesota – we know that midsummer is at least in July.  In any event, this is the time of year for swimming, picnicking, and camping – the perfect time to get out into the woods.

There are four different kinds of camping experiences on the Superior.  Our fee campgrounds provide a car camping experience that is a little more remote than some of the heavily used state parks.  On the Tofte and Gunflint Districts, fee campgrounds have no electrical or water hook ups, but they do have water available from a solar powered pump and dumpsters for garbage.  For people who just have to have electricity and bring a generator, remember that quiet hours are between 10 and 6, so motorized equipment should be powered down during that time.  Campsites provide a fire ring, a picnic table, and space for one vehicle.  There are outhouses, but no running water.  Additional non-towed vehicles will have to pay an additional half fee.  Our campgrounds are operated by concessionaires, so who the fee is paid to varies between campgrounds.  If you are making out a check, be sure to look at the information kiosk on who the fee is paid to.  The funds go to both the Forest Service and the concessionaire and without this public/private partnership, we would have difficulty maintaining campgrounds to our standards.  Comments and concerns about fee campgrounds should be sent to both the Forest Service and the concessionaire.  Contact information is usually located on the kiosk near the campground entrance.

Rustic campgrounds are a free alternative to fee campgrounds.  They also have picnic tables and fire rings at campsites, but have no water available and no garbage service.  Almost all of the rustic campgrounds were developed near boat launches, so they are excellent for people planning to spend a few days fishing.  With any campground, the Forest Service limits stays to 14 days or fewer, so no setting up a second summer home at the campground, and you have to occupy your site on the first day and not leave it unattended for more than 24 hours, so no “claiming” sites ahead of time, or ‘saving’ a campsite while you are gone.

We also have backcountry campsites.  These are individual campsites, usually accessed by water, which are similar to the sites in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  They have fire rings and space for a tent, and in some cases a table.  There are no outhouses, but each site has an open air wilderness latrine.  These are great sites for people who want a wilderness like experience without the permitting required for the Boundary Waters, or that would like to use an outboard instead of a canoe.  Just like the BW though, there is a nine person limit at each campsite.  This is actually true of all our campsites and campgrounds, except at designated group sites.

Lastly, the general forest is open to dispersed camping.  You are allowed to set up camp anywhere on the Forest where it isn’t prohibited.  One prohibition is that you are not allowed to camp within 150 yards of a developed area.  That includes campgrounds, but also roads, trails, and boat accesses.  In other words, you can’t declare a boat access as your campsite.  The same rules which apply to campground camping apply to dispersed camping as well:  there is a nine person limit, 14 days or fewer at a site, and you can’t abandon your gear for more than 24 hours.

Our roads are in mostly decent shape, but recent rain storms have caused some rutting.  If you are driving after a storm, watch out for fallen trees and washouts.  Both are not uncommon in the forest.  Watch for trucks hauling on the Dumbell River Road, Trappers Lake Road, Carlton Pit Road, Greenwood and Old Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, Firebox Road, Ward Lake Road, Cook County 39, Cook County 60, and the Springdale Road.

Enjoy midsummer, and we hope you get a chance to go out and camp!  Until next time, this has been Tom McCann with the National Forest Update.