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Superior National Forest Update: June 30

Hi. I’m Cathy Peterson, administrative support assistant in Tofte, with the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Superior National Forest. For the week of July 1, here’s what’s up out there.

July 4th is here already, and with it comes the annual message about fireworks on the Forest. That message is “No, None, Never.” Fireworks are prohibited everywhere on the National Forest, including gravel pits and over lakes. This includes all types of fireworks. Please don’t release any of the popular fire balloons either. These are plastic bags with a candle which work like hot air balloons. While pretty, they are both a source of litter and wildfire ignition, so just say no. You don’t have to be without fireworks though. There are great fireworks shows in Grand Marais, Tofte, and Silver Bay, so grab a lawn chair and head to town for the 4th. 

While we’re on the subject of safety, it is also the time of year to be reminded of water safety. Almost every year, there seems to be drownings or near drownings in our local rivers around the 4th of July. River swimming is always dangerous to some degree, and with the high water from rain, it is particularly dangerous this year. Moving water is powerful, and even a slow-moving river can push a strong swimmer off their feet and into faster water from which there is no escape. Many drownings involve at least two people - the original swimmer and the person who tried to rescue them. Even if you feel confident risking your life, realize that you are also risking the lives of the people who will try to save you. If you do get caught in an undertow going into Lake Superior, or you’re caught in a hydraulic which pulls you under below a waterfall, the correct thing to do is to head for the bottom. Swim along the bottom parallel to the shore for an undertow, or away from the falls for a hydraulic. But, it is best to avoid the problem in the first place and swim only in approved areas.

If you are heading into the Forest this July 4th, there is some logging activity. On Tofte, there will be hauling on the Trapper’s Lake Rd, Lake County 705, Cook County 33, the Sawbill Trail, and The Grade. On Gunflint District, hauling is taking place on Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, the Gunflint Trail, Forest Road 1385, and the Trestle Pine Road.

With the rain, there’s not much in fire news. Some of our fire people are headed out west to help with wildfires there, and we wish them success in controlling those fires. 

While our fire crews are helping in the west, our recreation shop has had a lot of help clearing trails from the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa. Take advantage of our renewed hiking opportunities and go for a walk this week. If you notice any blocked trails, make sure to report them to our offices so we can take care of them while we have our extra summer help.
If you are more in the mood to sit by a fire instead of hiking, our naturalist programs are in full swing with two presentations every night from Tuesday to Saturday. You can enjoy a campfire, check out a resort that you may never have visited, and learn a little about our natural history. These programs happen rain or shine with an indoor location during the rain, so it is a good rainy day activity for camping families looking to dry off for a while. The complete schedule can be found on our website.

Have a great 4th of July! There isn’t a better place to celebrate a national holiday than on a national forest. Public land is part of what makes America a wonderful country, so celebrate America’s birthday on the Superior – three million acres of forest owned by all Americans.

Until next week, this has been Cathy Peterson with the National Forest Update.