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Superior National Forest Update - September 7, 2018

National Forest Update – September 6, 2018.

Hi, this is Renee Frahm, administrative assistant on the Superior National Forest, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update.  Every week, we try to bring you information about events that might affect your visit to the national forest, along with updates on what’s happening out there in the natural world.

What’s happening right now in the natural world is the shift into fall.  What was visible in a few places last week is now visible all over.  Understory plants like sarsaparilla, dogbane, and ferns are all turning yellow, along with some of the trees and shrubs.  We had our first frost warning on Wednesday night which sent a lot of people scurrying out to cover their tomatoes, hoping to coax the plants into letting those last few green ones become red.  September is the start of our fall color reports and blog, so look on our website for links to fall photos and musings on the season, as well as links to fall color around the country at other national forests. 

September is also the start of hunting season in Minnesota, which means that people should start wearing blaze orange when out in the woods, and start keeping their dogs close.  Bear season began at the start of the month, but the season on many small game birds also started.  Whether you are a hunter or not, keep an eye out for each other and stay safe out there.

Unfortunately, a few drownings in the area have been in the news.  The water is beginning to get colder now, and the fall sun is less powerful, so it is easy to get hypothermic once you get wet.  It is easy to get fooled in the fall into thinking that it warmer than it really is and overestimate your swimming ability and endurance.  It’s a good season to take an extra moment and really do a safety check before swimming or boating.

Speaking of endurance, this is the weekend of the Superior Fall Trail Run.  It is really three races on the Superior Hiking Trail, with the ‘shortest’ being a marathon of 26 miles, and the longest being 100 miles from Gooseberry to Lutsen.  Be aware that for the next three days there may be runners crossing roads at intersections with the Superior Hiking Trail, and if you are walking on the Trail, you may encounter and need to yield to runners.  Be sure to give them some encouragement if you see them – they have a long way to go.

With low bug numbers and the start of fall colors, it is a great time for camping and fishing.  The road system is in good shape, and log hauling is only present in a few areas.  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. 

Even though fall has started, you still need an issued permit for overnight trips in the Boundary Waters, and our fee campgrounds are still operating on a fee basis.  While it is tempting to leave your camper at a campground as a weekend get-away, remember that you have to be present at your campsite every day.  People leaving material, including campers, for 24 hours with no one in attendance could be cited.  You are also not allowed to camp anywhere, including outside of campgrounds, for more than 14 days in one location, and, you may not have more than nine people at any site. Designated group campsites and long term sites vary from these rules, so if you are using one of those sites, see the campground host for specific information.

Fall has also always been associated with fire, both in a good and bad way.  A nice warm campfire, marshmallows, and a cup of hot chocolate is one of the best ways to take advantage of an earlier sunset, but leaves and dry conditions can also set the stage for wildfires.  Many people on our fire crews, as well as other fire certified staff, have been out west helping to contain the fires in Montana, Colorado, and California.  They need a break, and we don’t need a fire back here at home in Minnesota.  Make sure your campfires are dead out and report any smokes you may discover as you travel through the woods.

Enjoy the next week of early fall, and some of the best that Minnesota has to offer outside. 

Until next time, this has been Renee Frahm with the National Forest Update.