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Superior National Forest Update - September 13

Superior National Forest Update
Superior National Forest Update

National Forest Update – September 12, 2019

Hi.  This is Steve Robertsen, interpretation and education specialist with the Superior National Forest with the National Forest Update – information for people visiting the Forest, or just wondering what’s going on out there.

What’s going on is fall.  It varies a lot over the Forest.  While driving the 600 Road on Wednesday, I passed through areas where it was very close to peak colors, and areas where it still looked like July.  Climbing to a scenic viewpoint, I’d say that the Forest overall is around 25% of fall color, but you can see how there are bands of color here and there throughout the woods.  It’s a good time to go out and look because of the contrasts between areas, but then, I’m partial to fall and think it’s a good time to go out the entire season. 

I was headed out the road because I was going to visit the site of the town of Forest Center near Isabella Lake.  On September 11th and 12th in 2011, the Pagami Creek Fire tore through that area on its way toward a spectacular run resulting in over 90,000 acres burned.  Every year on the anniversary of that event, I’ve been taking photos of the regeneration at Forest Center.  It is always amazing to see how quickly the forest grows after a fire.  That area was a jack pine forest, a species of tree that is built to live with fire.  Jack pine cones are sealed shut and only open with heat.  They can survive intense heat – in lab settings, seeds still germinate after being roasted at 900 degrees.  Seeds can also mature after a fire has killed the parent tree, and can remain viable for 5 to 10 years after.  As a result, the area at Forest Center which was burned to the ground 8 years ago now looks like a Christmas tree forest.  It is covered with 6 to 8 foot tall jack pines and looks great.

With all our recent rain, fire isn’t much of problem right now.  In fact, fire crews would like a little drier weather so they can burn some piles created during thinning and fuel reduction operations.  If they do get a chance, be aware that there may be some smoke in the air from the pile burning.

Forest roads are in good shape.  Many of them have been recently graded, and the culvert work which had blocked the 600 Road is now complete.  I encountered some log trucks on my drive, and you may too.  Hauling on the Gunflint District is happening on the Lima Grade, South Brule Road, Cascade River Road, Pike Lake Road, Cook County 7, Greenwood Road, and the Hall Road in Lutsen.  In Tofte, trucks are on the Dumbbell River Road, the Trappers Lake Road, and the Caribou Trail. 

Of course the main thing you will encounter on the roads in the fall are people looking at fall.  We have signs out now marking some of the best fall color routes, so we encourage you to get out and enjoy the leaves.  As always, drive, park, and walk on roads putting safety first.  This is also the opening weekend for the fall bow deer hunt as well as the grouse, squirrel, and hare season.  Plus, there is bear hunting going on.  With all that going on, it means that hunters and non-hunters alike need to be wearing their orange.  We even have an orange vest for our dog.  Respect hunters and stay away from bear bait stations and tree stands.  We do have several sets of hunter walking trails in the Forest, and this time of year it is best to leave them to people who are hunting and find other trails if you are just interested in hiking.

Whether hunting, hiking, or just driving, I hope you take the time to get out in the Forest this week.  I’m reminded every time I go out in the fall that whether it is raining or not, fall is my favorite season, and it is always worth it to get out there. 

Until next week, this is Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.