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Superior National Forest Update: October 14

Hi.  This is Renee Frahm, visitor information specialist, with this week’s National Forest Update -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior National Forest. For the week of October 14th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
Wet, windy, and somewhat warm temperatures for fall have all played into a slightly below average fall color season.  Right now though is the peak of the yellow aspen and birch along the shore.  It’s almost worth getting up at dawn just to drive Highway 61 along the lake at sunrise.  You’ll notice too that there is a lot of animal activity along the road.  Migrating juncos, sparrows, and flocks of snow buntings are flying at low altitudes across the roads right now, so keep your speed down and give them a chance.  It’s a good idea anyway as there are also plenty of larger animals like deer moving around in the fall, and while a collision with a sparrow is mostly bad for the sparrow, a collision with a deer is bad for everyone.
Those same weather conditions have made it impossible for us to conduct planned fall burns in the Boundary Waters.  For safety, and so we get the results we want from a burn, weather conditions have to be within a certain narrow window, and nature just hasn’t cooperated this fall.  Fire crews instead have been working on pile burning.  Slash piles from other activities are being burned in many places around the Forest.  They are watched carefully while active, and then monitored when no longer burning actively.  They may continue to smolder for several days, so there may be lingering smoke in the air where this is taking place.
For most of our fee campgrounds, this will be the last weekend with water
and garbage service.  To prepare for winter, water systems are being drained and shut off, and dumpsters are being emptied for the last time.  Campgrounds will go into a non-fee status during the off season.  They remain open for use, but snow will not be cleared and water and garbage service will not be available.  You will have to pack in water, and pack out your garbage.  Please do not leave garbage bags beside closed dumpsters, it will only attract the last bears of the fall, and bring in the first bears of the spring.
Speaking of bears, the end of October and the first part of November is the usual time for them to enter hibernation.  They are flexible though depending on weather.  It’s a good idea to keep bringing your bird feeders at night through the month of November.  Bats will also be settling down for the winter as the bug supply is running short.  Many of our bats locally will winter in the Soudan Mine.  White nose syndrome, the fungal disease which has been wiping out large numbers of bats, strikes during hibernation, so we are all hoping our bat population does well this winter and will return to the skies in time for the spring mosquito hatch.
If you’re out to see the last of the fall leaves, or in search of a grouse or two, the logging activity is the same as it has been for the last few weeks.  On the Tofte District, hauling is taking place on the Sawbill Landing Road near Silver Island and Sawbill Landing and on the Dumbell River Road.  On Gunflint, harvest is taking place off of Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, Powers Lake Road, and Trestle Pine Road. 
Enjoy your Forest, and until next week, this has been Renee Frahm with the Superior National Forest Update.