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Superior National Forest Update - October 25

Superior National Forest Update
Superior National Forest Update

National Forest Update – October 23, 2019
 
Hi.  I’m Steve Robertsen, the education and interpretation specialist with the Superior National Forest with the National Forest Update for the week.  If you are planning on going out into the Forest, we try to keep you updated on everything that is going on out there – and this Halloween week, that includes possibly ghosts, zombies, and goblins.
 
Now, if you were to hit a ghost with your car, you’d probably get a chill up your spine and perhaps a bit of ectoplasm in the radiator.  Hitting a deer is another story.  Fall and spring are really prime time for vehicle/deer accidents.  Deer are moving around a lot and blend in well with the brown fall grasses by the roadsides.  Plus, the shortening days have pushed sunrise and sunset into prime commute time, so there are deer on the roads right when traffic is heaviest.  Take a moment to really be aware when driving right now – we don’t need to create any more ghost deer to haunt our highways.
 
Due to the heavy rain and high winds, roads are not in the best shape.  Mainline roads in the Forest are fine, but lower maintenance level roads may still have fallen branches on them, and may be too soft to travel.  Traveling on soft roads could get you stuck, but even if you get away, you will leave ruts behind.  This time of year, those ruts will freeze before being filled, and we will contend with frozen ruts all winter long, so please stay off soft roads. 
 
There are still some roadwork taking place on the Grade, Forest Road 170.  That work is mostly gravel placement east of the Sawbill Trail, but there is also some gravel and culvert work being done west of the Sawbill.  Large side dump gravel trucks are frequently using the Sawbill Trail as part of this operation.  Elsewhere in the Forest, logging operations have slowed a bit with log trucks using the Caribou Trail, Evergreen, and Bigsby Road on the Tofte District, and the Lima Grade, South Brule Road, Pike Lake Road, Cook County 7, Cascade Bluffs Road, Greenwood Road, and the Blueberry Road on the Gunflint District.
 
All the Forest fee campgrounds have gone into winter mode.  During winter, you do not have to pay a fee to stay at our campgrounds, but there is no water.  In winter mode, there’s no garbage service at campgrounds, so be sure to pack lightly going in and pack it all out when you leave.  By the way, take it all the way home – local gas stations and other businesses with dumpsters do not appreciate receiving everyone’s camping trash.  We are also winterizing the Forest by removing docks from the water.  There are an awful lot of docks out there, so we don’t post a list of which lakes have had their docks removed and which may still have a dock.  All the docks should be removed in the next two weeks, so at this point, you should just assume that there will be no dock for your boat.
 
Non-migratory bats are going into hibernation this time of year.  As many of us know, hibernating bats have been struck by an invasive fungal disease called white nose syndrome.  Last spring, Soudan Mine, where many of our local bats hibernate, reported a population decrease of 90% from 2015 before the disease struck.  To put that in human terms, if a disease like that struck Cook County’s 5400 people, only 540 of us would be left.  It has moved little brown bats from one of the state’s most common animals to one that is under threat of being wiped out.  This is national Bat Week, and while there is little that we as individuals can do about the disease, we can help the surviving bats.  Reducing your use of pesticides will help bats as well as insect eating birds and of course pollinating insects themselves.  Putting up bat houses provides roosting opportunities during the summer months.  And, if you need to evict a bat which has strayed into your house, do it in a way that won’t hurt the bat.  Bats, like people, are long lived and slow to reproduce, so every individual counts when rebuilding the decimated population.  Take some time this Bat Week to think about these marvelous night flyers and do what you can to help them.
 
About those ghouls and goblins – be on the lookout for them next Thursday night, and drive safely.  Until next week, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update, and have a scary Halloween!
 

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