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Superior National Forest Update - September 14, 2018

National Forest Update – September 13, 2018.
Hi, I’m Steve Robertsen, forest interpreter, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update.  Every week, we bring you information on what’s going on in the Forest and how it might affect your visit.
This week saw a huge increase in the amount of fall color in the woods.  Connected with that, we have put out signs for fall color touring routes along the Caribou Trail, Honeymoon Trail, Sawbill Trail, the 600 Road, and Two Island River Road.  People using these roads should be aware that there will be people driving slowly and parked along those routes.  If you are a fall color enthusiast, be aware of other vehicles using the roads.  Pull over if you are driving slowly to let others pass.  Park only in spots where visibility is good and you can get off the roadway.  Some of the best fall color areas are good exactly because the road is narrow and winding, but that also means that you should park somewhere else and walk off the road back to the best spot. 
Drivers should also be aware of road work being done on the 600 Road between the Temperance River Road and County 7.  Construction equipment may be blocking the road for short amounts of time, but the work crews will move equipment to let vehicles pass.  Please follow all directions given by the workers at the site to ensure the safety of everyone.
Fall color route maps are available at the Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Stations, and, coming soon, digital versions will be available online for use with the Avenza mapping app on your phone.  If you are using a phone for navigation, make sure to keep your eyes on the road, not the phone, when you are driving. 
This past week saw the anniversary of the Pagami Creek Fire.  This large fire burned in September of 2011, eventually moving through 92,000 acres.  It started with a lightning strike that smoldered for several days in the duff layer.  While its cause was natural, the smoldering start is common to many human-caused fires.  People often build campfires on peat or heavy duff under trees and think they have put the fire out when it is actually still smoldering.  Remember, if there is an established fire ring or grate, use it.  If there is none, think twice about having a fire.  If you choose to go ahead, the best method is to use a fire pan you bring with you as a base.  Aluminum turkey roasting pans, old snow saucers – there are lots of things that can be used as a fire pan.  Otherwise, clear away all flammable material from your campfire area and NEVER build a fire on peat.  Peat fires can become very hard to put out.  After you are done, make sure the fire is completely out, and practice leave-no-trace by dismantling any rock rings and scuffing out any fire scars.
There is a little logging traffic this week.  On Gunflint, expect trucks on Cook County 7, the Caribou Trail, and Pike Lake Road.  On Tofte, trucks are using the Dumbbell River Road, the Wanless Road, the Trappers Lake Road, Lake County 7, the 4 Mile Grade, The Grade, and the Caribou Trail.  You may also run into graders and gravel trucks as they work to surface roads before fall is over. 
Safe travels on the Forest, and enjoy the fall.  It is a short season, so make the most of it! 
Until next time, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.