Spring in the Superior National Forest

It didn’t feel like spring yesterday at Abby’s ballgame as the wind howled and I shivered bundled in blankets and wearing my winter coat, hat and gloves. But the Superior National Forest says it’s so!


April 30, 2016, Duluth, MN – Signs of spring can be seen across the Superior National Forest. Snow is gone from most of the west and central parts of the Forest and disappearing quickly in the east. Lakes and streams are breaking free of winter’s icy clutch. Tree buds are swelling and fringes of green are rapidly expanding in grassy openings. Other sure signs of spring include the re-opening of campgrounds and the beginning of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) quota permit season.

Campground Openings – Superior National Forest (SNF) staff and concessionaires are busy opening campgrounds that were closed for winter. The plan is to have all campgrounds open by May 15. Boat docks will be installed as the ice clears and crews are able to access lakes. If you are wondering about conditions at a specific site, you may call the District Office that manages the area. You can view a listing of the many camping options available, maps, detailed descriptions, and a slide show on our website at:  http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/superior/recreation/camping-cabins

BWCAW Bound – A permit is required for entry into the BWCAW all year. Between May 1 and September 30, overnight entry permits are issued under a quota system for a fee. All overnight visitors and day-use motor visitors must obtain a quota permit. Self-issued permits continue to be required for day use. The best place to begin planning a visit to the BWCAW is with a review of the Trip Planning Guide, available in hard copy at any of our SNF Forest offices and on the Wilderness section of the Forest website: See: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd3799760.pdf

Off-highway Vehicle Use – Please be aware that, to prevent severe rutting and other damage, some trails may be closed during spring break-up. Vehicle operators have the responsibility to ensure they operate only on open routes. Motorized vehicle use maps are available at all SNF offices. The maps identify Forest roads and trails open for motorized vehicles and seasonal restrictions. Maps are also available on the Forest web site: http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/superior/recreation/ohv

Calling All Fourth-graders –  It’s not too late for fourth grade students to participate in the Every Kid In a Park program and earn a free pass to visit participating federal lands. This national program kicked-off in 2015 with the purpose of encouraging youth engagement in the outdoors.  Learn more at: https://www.everykidinapark.gov/

Visitor Surveys – Through the end of this year, you may see Forest Service employees wearing uniforms and bright orange vests in developed and dispersed recreation sites and along Forest Service Roads within the Superior National Forest. They will be near a sign that says “Traffic Survey Ahead”. These folks are well-trained interviewers who want to know about your visit to the Superior National Forest. The information they are collecting through the National Visitor Use Monitoring program helps the Forest Service understand visitor use on national forests. Past reports and details are available at:  http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/nvum/

Keep it Safe – With everyone eagerly anticipating all of the summer recreation opportunities on the Superior National Forest, this is a perfect time for some reminders to help ensure a fun and safe time outdoors.

Lakes and streams that recently thawed out still have water temperatures that are barely above freezing. Any remaining ice should not be trusted for driving or walking. There is a higher than usual potential for hypothermia if you fall in.

You are not the only creature coming out of winter hibernation. Our local bears are waking-up. They are especially hungry and looking for easy meals so be especially careful to keep food and garbage secured where bear cannot access them. Check the SNF Forest web site for bear safety tips.

At this time of year, the Forest is transitioning from winter to spring conditions. This means that until trees leaf out, fine fuels like dead grass and leaves will dry quickly on warm, windy days, creating potential for fires to start and spread easily. Be especially careful with outdoor fires and follow fire restrictions. Cautions and campfire restrictions affecting the Superior National Forest will be posted on the Forest website. Fire restrictions outside of the Superior National Forest are posted on the MN Department of Natural Resources website.

For more information about outdoor recreation opportunities on the Forest, visit:  www.fs.usda.gov/superior or stop at any of our SNF offices.  You may also follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.   On-line campsite and wilderness reservations can be obtained through www.recreation.gov.

The National Forests and Grasslands provide the greatest diversity of outdoor recreation opportunities in the world, connecting you with nature in an unmatched variety of settings and activities. You can hike, bike, ride horses and drive off-highway vehicles. You can picnic, camp, hunt, fish, and navigate waterways. You can view wildlife and scenery, and explore historic places. You can glide though powder at world class alpine resorts and challenge yourselves on primitive cross-country ski or snowmobile routes. It’s all yours! http://itsallyours.us/

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Minnesota Water Facts

Here’s some interesting information from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Did you know? Minnesota fishing facts
There are about 1.4 million licensed anglers in Minnesota.
About 500,000 people are expected to fish on Minnesota’s opening day of the walleye and northern pike season, Saturday, May 14.
Minnesota has 11,842 lakes, 5,400 of which are considered fishing lakes. There are over 18,000 miles of fishable rivers and streams, including 3,800 miles of trout streams.

Lakes, rivers, and wetlands facts


Minnesota’s waters flow outward in three directions:
North to Hudson Bay in Canada
East to the Atlantic Ocean
South to the Gulf of Mexico

Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota is the largest water-based park in the National Park System.

By the numbers

Counties with no natural lakes:
Mower, Olmsted, Pipestone, Rock

Number of lakes:
11,842 (10+ acres)

Number of natural rivers and streams:
6,564 (69,200 miles)

Wetlands acreage present in 1850:
18.6 million acres

Wetlands acreage present in 2008:
10.6 million acres


Ten most common lake names:
Mud, Long, Rice, Bass, Round, Horseshoe, Twin, Island, Johnson, Spring


Deepest inland lake:
Portsmouth Mine Pit near Crosby (450 feet and rising)

Deepest natural lake:
Lake Saganaga, Cook County (240 feet deep)

Depths of other lakes:

Name County Maximum Depth
Lake Superior 1,290 feet
Ten Mile Cass 209 feet
Lower LaSalle Hubbard 204 feet
Loon Lake Cook 202 feet
Rainy St. Louis 161 feet
Leech Cass 150 feet
Cass Beltrami / Cass 120 feet
Otter Tail Otter Tail 120 feet
Minnetonka Hennepin 113 feet
Vermillion St. Louis 76 feet
Winnibigoshish Cass 70 feet
Mille Lacs Mille Lacs 42 feet
Upper Red Beltrami 18 feet


Size and Length

Ten largest lakes (entire lake within borders of Minnesota):

  1. Red Lake (both “Upper” and “Lower”) – 288,800 acres
  2. Mille Lacs Lake – 132,516 acres
  3. Leech Lake – 111,527 acres
  4. Lake Winnibigoshish – 58,544 acres
  5. Lake Vermilion – 40,557 acres
  6. Lake Kabetogama – 25,760 acres
  7. Mud Lake (Marshall County) – 23,700 acres
  8. Cass Lake – 15,596
  9. Lake Minnetonka – 14,004 acres
  10. Otter Tail Lake – 13,725 acres

Largest border lakes:
Lake Superior (20,364,800 acres total with 962,700 acres in Minnesota)
Lake of the Woods (950,400 acres total with 307,010 acres in Minnesota)

Longest shoreline:
Lake Vermilion, St. Louis County (290 miles of shoreline)

Minnesota River length:
370 miles

Mississippi River length in Minnesota:
680 miles

State and national Wild and Scenic Rivers:
589 miles

Total Area Covered by Lakes and Rivers (deep water):
2,560,299 acres

Total surface water area including wetlands:
13,136,357 acres

(Reviewed 2013)

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Volunteer to Monitor Minnesota Lakes

Looking for something to do? You can monitor lakes for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency!

Contact: Pamela McCurdy, 651-757-2559

Get hooked on volunteering and help Minnesota’s waters
St. Paul, Minn. – The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is seeking volunteers for its Citizen Stream and Citizen Lake Monitoring Programs. Program volunteers track water clarity, which helps the MPCA learn more about a lake or stream’s water quality.

“Thirty years ago, when I started monitoring Long Lost Lake, I thought it would be an interesting thing to do for a summer. Little did I know that I would still be at it three decades later. I guess you could say I’m hooked,” says Jim Svobodny, volunteer. The MPCA uses data collected by Jim and other volunteers to determine whether water quality is improving or declining in specific water bodies or watersheds. Identifying these trends is one of the first steps in protecting or improving water quality throughout the state.

More than 1,300 Minnesotans participate in the Citizen Monitoring Programs, but in order to reach all water bodies across Minnesota, more volunteers are needed. “69,000 miles of rivers and over 12,000 lakes is a lot of water to cover,” says Laurie Sovell, coordinator of the MPCA’s Citizen Stream Monitoring Program. “We are looking for people curious about local water bodies and passionate about protecting our state’s water resources.”

As part of the program, volunteers are asked to perform a short and simple water clarity test at their favorite lake or stream, once per week throughout the summer. Equipment and training are provided by the MPCA and no prior experience is necessary. For some lakes and streams, volunteer-collected data is the only data available, making citizen involvement critical to ensuring the lasting health of Minnesota’s waters.

Find out if your favorite lake or stream needs monitoring by using the MPCA’s interactive map at http://www.pca.state.mn.us/d4awwwd.

To become a volunteer or learn more about the program, visit the program’s website at www.pca.state.mn.us/cmp, or call 651-296-6300 (Twin Cities) or 800-657-3864 (Greater Minnesota).

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Ice Out, Already?

CRAZY! That’s what I say. The report of ice out on Gunflint Lake yesterday is true. And the ice is out on Seagull Lake and pretty much all of Saganaga Lake.  Mid-trail is a different story with ice still hanging in there.

It’s very strange the ice at the end of the Trail has gone out before the other lakes. I can’t remember any time that has happened in the past.  It’s very odd. But it’s good news. The paddling season in the BWCA can begin! Call us to book your trip, we can’t wait to see you!





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Snowing and Blowing

It’s been cold and windy the past few days and today it snowed. Thankfully it didn’t stick to the ground but it was depressing just the same. The rain we received along with the wind made some of the ice shift on the lakes and rumor has it a big chunk left Gunflint Lake today. This is not confirmed and it would be quite surprising but it certainly could be. When there is a little bit of open water like there is where the Cross River flows into Gunflint Lake all it takes is some big wave action and the ice can crumble.

We’ll have to take a look out on Saganaga but the last time Matt checked he wasn’t able to get past the mouth of the narrows. It was socked in and it didn’t look like it was going anywhere real soon.  Time will tell.

Most of the lakes to the south of us and some to the west of us have opened up. Fall Lake and White Iron Lake near Ely, Minnesota are ice free.  You can check the status of ice of lakes in Minnesota on the DNR website.

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Singing and Drumming on the Gunflint Trail

Spring is such a special time on the Gunflint Trail, especially when the mud has dried up. I look forward to listening to the frogs and loons sing and the grouse as they drum in the woods.  We invite you to come visit us at Voyageur soon so you too can hear the music of the Gunflint Trail.

From the Minnesota DNR-

Wood Frogs – Always some of the earliest frogs to start calling in the spring, this frog species congregates in shallow ponds and pools near woods, even while there is still ice on the pond. Their call is similar to a duck quack, and a large chorus sounds rather like a bunch of feeding mallards. This frog is special because it freezes solid in the winter. Tucked under bark or leaves, the frog stops breathing, its heart stops and it remains frozen solid until spring.

Boreal Chorus Frogs – These are some of the most commonly heard frogs in Minnesota in the spring. They are a tiny (thumbnail sized) frog with several dark stripes. Their tiny size is often surprising to those who have only heard them because their call is LOUD. The call is best described as a finger running down the length of a comb. This frog can even be heard calling in large groups in city storm water ponds.

Spring Peepers – Another tiny frog with a very loud voice. As their name suggests, they make loud, high pitched “peeping” noises as their call. These are slightly less common than Boreal chorus frogs, but people on the outskirts of towns, where there are woods, have a good chance of hearing this species.

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Did You Know?

Why Earth Day is celebrated on the 22nd of April?

You can read all about it here but the short of it is,  “The date stems from an earlier observance, Arbor Day. And the date of Arbor Day was set due to the birthday of J. Sterling Morton, a Nebraska pioneer and journalist, who launched the first Arbor Day in 1872.”

Why last night’s full moon was the smallest of the year?

According to Earth Sky- This full moon comes less than one day after reaching lunar apogee, the moon’s farthest point in its monthly orbit. It lies some 30 thousand miles (50 thousand km) farther from Earth than 2016’s closest full moon – a supermoon – due on November 14.

Every year has a closest full moon, and a farthest full moon. The mini-moon often returns about one month and 18 days later with each passing year, meaning that, in 2017, the year’s smallest full moon will come on June 9.

In 2018, the year’s smallest full moon will fall on July 27; and in 2019, the smallest full moon will occur on September 14. The micro-moon or mini-moon frequently recurs in periods of 14 lunar months (14 returns to full moon).

Every month for the next seven months, the full moon will come closer and closer to Earth until the November 14 supermoon, closest full moon of the year.

That November full moon will be the year’s biggest and brightest moon, only 221,524 miles (356,509 km) away. That’s in contrast to the moon’s mean distance from Earth of about 384,400 kilometers (238,855 miles).

In fact, the November 14, 2016, supermoon will be closer to Earth than the moon has been thus far in the 21st century (2001-2100). The moon won’t come so close again until the full moon of November 25, 2034.

But it’s the December, 2052, full moon that’ll outdo them all. It’ll stage the closest and largest supermoon of the 21st century (2001 to 2100).


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Earth Day Weekend

What are you doing to celebrate the earth this weekend? Earth Day is April 22nd but festivities happen throughout the weekend depending upon where you live. If you can’t attend an event you can always do your part where you live to clean up garbage, plant trees and/or implement ways to conserve energy. Here’s wishing you a Happy Earth Day 2016!

Earth Day 2016 - Trees for the Earth poster

From the website…  We are now entering the 46th year of a movement that continues to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion, and motivate people to action.

In 1970, the year of our first Earth Day, the movement gave voice to an emerging consciousness, channeling human energy toward environmental issues. Forty-six years later, we continue to lead with groundbreaking ideas and by the power of our example.

And so it begins. Today. Right here and right now. Earth Day is more than just a single day — April 22, 2016. It’s bigger than attending a rally and taking a stand.

This Earth Day and beyond, let’s make big stuff happen. Let’s plant 7.8 billion trees for the Earth. Let’s divest from fossil fuels and make cities 100% renewable. Let’s take the momentum from the Paris Climate Summit and build on it.

Let’s start now. And let’s not stop.

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Lyrid Meteor Shower

The full and nearly full moon during this year’s Lyrid Meteor Shower will make viewing meteors more difficult than during a black night sky. Normally the Gunflint Trail and BWCA are great places to view meteors because of the lack of artificial light but no one can escape the light of the moon.

From Earth Sky

The annual Lyrid meteor shower is active each year from about April 16 to 25…

On a dark, moonless night, this modest shower often offers no more than 10 to 20 meteors per hour at its peak, but it’s been known to have bursts of activity that could dazzle you. This year, in an extraordinary bit of bad timing, the Lyrid shower is forecast to peak in the same hour as the full moon. Your best best this year is to watch after the moon sets but before the onset of dawn on the mornings of April 20 and 21. On the peak night of (night of April 21, morning of April 22), the full moon will shine from dusk until dawn!

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Wildfire Prevention Week on the Gunflint Trail

I think this should be longer than a week personally, but I guess having it at the beginning of the season helps us to keep it in the front of our mind throughout the summer.  The trees have not budded out yet on the Gunflint Trail so it’s more vulnerable to fire until it greens up. It shouldn’t be long though until things do green up and I’m looking forward to it!

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                       April 18, 2016

Wildfire Prevention Week is April 17-23

Every year in Minnesota, wildfires cause property losses, injuries and threaten the lives of fire fighters. To raise awareness of this danger, April 17-23 is Wildfire Prevention Week in Minnesota.

Most Minnesota wildfires happen in the spring between the time snow has melted and plants and grasses have greened up. This is because last year’s dry vegetation can quickly catch fire.

“Most wildfires in Minnesota are caused by humans, and the number-one reason is fire escaping from debris-burning piles,” said Linda Gormanson, DNR wildfire prevention supervisor. “To prevent wildfires in the first place, use alternatives to burning grass, plant and tree debris such as mulching or composting.”

So far this year, 555 fires have burned 4,347 acres. On average, fire agencies in Minnesota respond to 1,200 wildfires each year that burn over 38,000 acres at a cost of tens of millions of dollars for suppression efforts.

To help reduce the number of wildfires, the state restricts burning during times when vegetation can easily catch fire. Additionally, burning permits are required to burn vegetation unless there is at least 3 inches of snow on the ground. The DNR or local governments may also restrict burning if weather conditions warrant.

Learn more about wildfire prevention at www.mndnr.gov/wildfire/prevention.

Current information on statewide fire danger and burning restrictions is available at www.mndnr.gov/forestry/fire. Burning permits are available online, from local fire wardens or DNR forestry offices.

Campfires, defined as no larger than 3 feet in diameter and height and surrounded by a cleared area, do not need a permit. Be safe with fire. Keep a shovel and water at hand, never leave the fire unattended and make sure fires are completely out before leaving.

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