What Can Cold Do

I recently read an article about the effects of cold temperatures on wildlife.  While some of the article talked about iguanas in Florida falling from trees there were some facts that pertain to our forests.

We know what most wildlife does during our cold winters on the Gunflint Trail.  “Wild animals have ingenious ways of conserving energy, including hibernation, torpor and other physiological changes. Some simply migrate to warmer climes. Others have thick layers of fat or lush fur that helps them stay warm and dry.”

Some species are not able to adapt to the cold temperatures and when they find themselves in a situation where it’s too cold for them they may perish. This is a good thing when it comes to forest pests such as the emerald ash borer because it might slow their spread down.

I’m glad I’m able to adapt to cold weather, even though it might slow me down a little bit in my outdoor endeavors.

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Dollar General in Grand Marais

There’s something other than Voyageur Beer brewing in Grand Marais and that is the debate about a Dollar General Store coming to Grand Marais. There’s a petition to prevent the store from coming with over 1000 signatures and a petition to support the store with over 100(one signature is Donald Trump of Grand Marais and at least two people have signed it twice).

At a recent town meeting many voices of opposition were heard. You can see the video and read the article online.  People are against it because it might “cheapen” the look of the town especially since it would be located before coming down the hill into town.  It would definitely make Grand Marais look like many other small towns in America but is that a bad thing?

Some of the neatest places I have visited have unique looking towns. Have you been to Helen, Georgia?  It looks just like an Alpine Village and all of the buildings have to have the same look.

Or how about Sedona, AZ where strict building codes require all buildings to blend in with the topography surrounding them and can only be of a certain height?

Sedona

Does Grand Marais, Minnesota have such an ordinance? I don’t know. Should there be one for the very quaint and beautiful downtown area? Probably. We live in a picturesque area and tourists love to visit the shops in Grand Marais.

Do the residents of Grand Marais and Cook County need a more affordable place to shop? Of course. If you’ve ever had to buy a notebook or something like a kitchen utensil in town you might find yourself grimacing.

I’m not saying I’m in favor of a Dollar General or a string of other chains coming to Grand Marais. But if you build it, they will shop, for better or worse.

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Ready to Paddle?

Someone came to the end of the Gunflint Trail the other day with paddle in hand and ready to go into the BWCA. Unfortunately it will be a few months before there is open water so hopefully he’ll stick around.

Do you want to build a snowman? Cassidy did!

 

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Moose Report

I wish I could say there was something good to report about moose in Minnesota but I can’t. The population continues to decline and although biologists know what is killing the majority of them there isn’t much that can be done for them that isn’t controversial.

Moose in Northern Minnesota have a few strikes against them. The change in climate can be blamed for some of their challenges. Warmer weather during the winter seasons has contributed to the deer herd moving north. When we first moved to the end of the Gunflint Trail in 1993 it was a rare occurence to see a deer. They didn’t do well in the woods due to the extremely cold temperatures, deep snow and lack of food for them.  As winters got warmer the deer moved north and brought with them brain worm.

Deer can survive with brain worm but moose don’t fair as well. In their weakened state they are more likely to get attacked by other prey or die of starvation.

The moose population isn’t well nourished. Researchers have concluded on the warmer days of winter moose don’t eat as much as they need to. That combined with the shorter winters that don’t kill of the tick population also contributes to their not as strong as they should be state.

Combine that with the very healthy population of wolves and we have a clear picture of why the moose herd is declining in Minnesota.

What can be done? The deer herd on the Gunflint Trail has dropped dramatically over the past few years. For the moose that is great news but there are a few folks who want to hunt deer up here. In my opinion there are plenty of other places to hunt for deer in Minnesota and elsewhere.  Is there a state where there a state there isn’t a deer hunt?

The wolf population in Northern Minnesota needs special management. Why have Fish and Wildlife Divisions in each state or a Department of Natural Resources if they aren’t allowed to manage separate from the bigger picture? We shouldn’t have to suffer because other places in the lower 48 don’t have wolves, we don’t want all of them here.

This article explains the situation better and I encourage you to read it.

Dwindling herd, survey taken every January.

CAUSES OF MOOSE MORTALITY, 2013-2016

Of 47 documented moose deaths from February 2013 to January 2016, most were from illness.

PREDATION

16 Confirmed and suspected wolf kills
HEALTH RELATED
15 Parasites (brainworm, winter ticks, liver flukes, other parasites)
10 Bacterial infection/ predator related
5 Undetermined health problems
1 Accident
Sources: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, University of Minnesota, NCompass Technologies
Margaret Dexter, DNR wildlife specialist, examined a large bull moose that died of infection.
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Heavy, Wet Snow

It snowed off and on all day long today. It was a very wet and heavy snow and it’s the time of the year when the novelty of shoveling has worn off.  My shoulders are still sore!

More snow is predicted for tomorrow and then the temperatures are expected to cool down into the single digits during the week. By next weekend the temperature forecast calls for nice winter temperatures for the long Presidents Day Weekend.

Hopefully we’ll be able to get out and enjoy the beautiful winter weather.

 

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Scenes from the Beargrease

Nace Hagemann took some amazing photos of this year’s Beargrease, these are just a few. Find more on his website.

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Where’s the Ice?

It doesn’t look like I’ll be making a trek out to the ice caves near the Apostle Islands this year. It doesn’t look like many people will be walking on the Great Lakes at all this year. The mild temperatures have kept the big lakes relatively ice free. That’s a bummer for some but for others it’s a blessing.

The shipping industry is happy for the lack of ice on the Great Lakes. Not only have they been able to extend their season but also they will most likely not have a delay to start in the spring. Ice  breakers will not need to forge the way for the ships unless we receive some drastically cold weather soon.

Find our more about the ice on the Great Lakes or lack there of it by reading this article.

Ice coverage

Ice coverage

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Freezing My Pants Off

It hasn’t been that cold out this winter but someone knows how to have a good time when it does get cold.  Tom Grotting from Minneapolis freezes pants and places them around his neighborhood for fun. I might just have to try this sometime!

Freezing Pants

Freezing Pants

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Winter on the Superior Hiking Trail

We all know how enjoyable a hike on the Superior Hiking Trail is but did you know it is just as fun, if not more in the winter? Why don’t you find out for yourself by taking a guided hike with the SHT crew this winter?

The next one is coming up on February 13th, a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

February 13 Snowshoe Hike 10:00 Sucker River Trailhead to Fox Farm Pond Campsite and Back

2.4 miles total. Snowshoe through spruce-balsam forest and over the Sucker River Bridge on a gradual climb to maple forest and the Fox Farm Pond Campsite. Meet at Sucker River Trailhead. At Hwy 61 milepost 14.9, turn north (inland) on Homestead Rd (Co. Rd. 42) and go 5.75 mi. Turn left on W. Knife River Rd. and go 0.5 mi. Turn right on App Rd and go 1.5 mi to intersection with Two Harbors Rd. App Rd. changes to Fox Farm Rd (Co. Rd. 266) here. Continue straight on Fox Farm Rd. 5.3 mi to parking lot on left.

And if you love the Superior Hiking Trail then why not consider joining their board? They are looking for members so fill out an application if you’re interested and hope to see you on the Trail!

SHTA Seeking Four New Board Members
 
SHTA Board elections will be held in May at the Hike Fest. We are currently seeking applications of people interested in serving on the board.
 
We are looking for a variety of candidates with a variety of backgrounds. Some of our identified needs include:
finance background;
someone with experience with integrated accounting/database/fulfillment systems to help SHTA transition to a new system;
civil engineering or bridge design background;
someone from Cook County and someone from the Duluth area.
But all applications are welcome.
 
How does the board do its work?
The 15 member board meets on the North Shore six times a year, each board member serves on a committee that meets prior to the regular board meeting, and board members serve three-year terms.
Please contact the SHTA office for questions and for the position description and application or download the information from our website. The application deadline is Friday, February 26th.

Fun on the Trail

Fun on the Trail

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6 More Weeks of Winter

The Groundhog predicted 6 more weeks of winter this Groundhog’s Day and that is fine by me. There are lots of ski trails I want to ski, I need to get my snowshoes on the snow and I would really love to wet a fishing line through the ice. Besides, with the warm and mild temperatures we’ve had it doesn’t seem like we’ve had winter at all.

Groundhog? Nope Pine Marten

Groundhog? Nope Pine Marten

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