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Superior National Forest Update - June 29, 2018

National Forest Update – June 28, 2018.
Hi.  I’m Bradley Mills, seasonal naturalist, 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.  This is the start of one of our busiest weeks in the Forest, the Fourth of July.  In addition to fireworks, there are a lot of people who celebrate the Fourth with a family camping trip, a picnic, or a fishing trip…or all three!  However you celebrate, the Forest and the Fourth just sort of go together.

As you travel, you’ll find that our roads are in pretty good shape.  There are a few places where gravel from recent grading has not packed down yet.  These areas can have less traction than expected when you go around corners or when you brake.  The roads are nice and smooth now, so on the straight areas, you might be tempted to gain more speed than is wise for braking or cornering.  It’s a good idea to test your braking once in a while, just to get an idea of what the road surface is really like, and to expect that even on straight roads, an animal could jump out at any time.  You could also be braking for logging traffic along a few roads.  On the Gunflint District, you could find haul trucks on Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, Old Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, Cook County 39, and Ward Lake Road.  On the Tofte side, expect trucks on the Trapper’s Lake and Dumbell Roads.

There’s been several small incidents this past week with falls and broken bones.  Forest trails are not maintained to the same sort of standards as trails in city parks, and you will find rough footing in places along almost any of our trails.  Watch your step:  a twisted ankle can wreck a vacation just as much as a more major event, and we hate seeing people having to cut short their visit to go to the doctor.  Be particularly careful along waterways.  As little as six inches of fast moving water can sweep a person off their feet.

Since it is the Fourth, a lot of people will be looking for fireworks.  Grand Marais, Tofte, and Silver Bay all have great municipal fireworks displays.  There are parades in Grand Marais and Tofte and celebrations during the day in all three communities.  But, there are no fireworks allowed anywhere on the National Forest.  This includes fireworks that are legal elsewhere in Minnesota.  Despite recent rains, we are always concerned about the potential of fires and the Fourth is no reason to start a wildfire.  Fire balloons, where a small candle is used to inflate a plastic garbage bag like hot air balloon, are of particular concern as they not only are carrying a source of ignition, they are also littering.

I’ve had a lot of fun as a forest interpreter with the first two weeks of naturalist programs this summer.  Please come join us at one of the many campfire or other programs going on at area resorts and at the Grand Marais Municipal Campground, Sawbill Campground, and Hedstrom’s Lumber Mill.  A full schedule can be found on the Superior’s website, Visit Cook County’s website, or in a brochure at many brochure racks around the area.  We’d love to see you.

Whether you are hiking, fishing, camping, or eating s’mores with us at a campfire, have a great Fourth of July and a great time out in the Forest. 

Until next time, this has been Bradley Mills with the National Forest Update.