Volunteer Opportunities in the Forest

The Northwoods Volunteer Connection held an open house at Voyageur Brewing Company last night. They partner with the USFS Superior National Forest and other local organizations to offer volunteer opportunities in the forest which includes the BWCA. Among the other organizations are the Superior Hiking Trail Association, Border Route Trail Association and many other hiking, skiing and other outdoor non-profits.

They help promote trail clearing events and other opportunities to volunteer in the forest.  Be sure to check out their website for opportunities to volunteer in the BWCA and on the Gunflint Trail.Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting

Spring 2017 Trail Clearing Schedule Border Route Trail

Trip Type Name Dates Cost
Wilderness Topper Lake April 28 – May 1 $0
Wilderness Sock Lake May 4 – 7 $60
Wilderness Duncan Lake 1 May 11 – 14 $60
Wilderness Duncan Lake 2 May 18 – 21 $60
Wilderness Duncan Lake 3 May 26 – 29 $60
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Posted in BWCA

Nice Catch!

Our previous Voyageur Canoe Outfitters crew member caught this beautiful sturgeon, nice job Dana!

Voyageur Canoe Outfitters crew


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Posted in fishing

Ice is Out on Saganaga

It’s official. The ice is out on Saganaga Lake. That was fast.  The thoughts begin…  How soon can I get out paddling and camping in the BWCA?

Posted in News

Eaglets Get Ankle Bracelets

Check out the update about the eaglets!

About the Banding 4-18-17

It was a rainy day, but as soon as the bucket truck showed up, the rain stopped!  Most of us still got pretty wet, but the chicks got new jewelry on their right legs.  The light-weight, silver identification tags are numbered and will be recorded with the Bird-banding Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.  The numbers on the band will help identify them if they ever nest where there is a camera, or if they end up injured or found dead in the future.  Reading the numbers and contacting the lab will trace their birth-place, sex and age, as well as determine cause of death.  Keeping track of this data is very important for the future of the species.  If many of the same bird species or in the same area die and we can find the cause of death, maybe an existing threat can be eliminated from their environment, such as DDT was many years ago.  For more information on the bird banding lab and the importance of banding birds, please see their website here.

In addition to banding, measurements of their halux (the hind toe), the culmen (upper ridge of the upper mandible), and of the blood feathers on the tail were recorded.  Each of these measurements helps determine the approximate sex and age of the chicks. So, #1 chick was hatched on March 9th, and is a female.  Chick #2 and #3 both hatched on March 11th and were a female and a male.  The bands chosen differ in size due to the sex. The females are 1/3 larger than the males, so the female bands are larger. They are banded at about the age of 6 weeks because at this age, they are still too young to jump from the nest, yet they are old enough to be handled and to fit them with the appropriate band.

After the banding, the chicks were quickly returned to the nest and the parents also returned within 10 minutes. All three eaglets were being fed within an hour.  The parents are not aggressive toward the crew.  They tend to soar above or perch in a near-by tree until the chicks are returned to the nest, which usually happens after the bucket-truck is gone from the area.  The parents might be getting used to this activity, because the bucket was barely moving away from the nest as the female returned to count bodies and toes.

The chicks will continue to be fed by the parents for the next few weeks – until fledging. Eventually, the eaglets will begin taking their own bites of food from the cache that is dropped off by the parents.  They will become much more physical – exercising their legs and especially their wings.  Later, they will begin to “branch”.  They will move to branches close-by, stretching their wings and testing their flying abilities.  By mid to late June, they should begin to fledge (leave the nest).  They will continue to visit the nest until they become experts at flying and hunting for their own food.  Some of the chicks from past years are still seen at the nest occasionally!

Our sincere appreciation goes out to the private bander Mark Martell, and to Xcel Energy for providing their staff and resources for this project.  Without them, we would not be learning about the private lives of these eagles and watching the camera every season.  Thanks to all of you who make this effort a success!

DNR Update- Wildlife experts band eagle chicks on tax day
The three eaglets featured on the DNR’s popular EagleCam had metal bands placed on their legs today as part on an ongoing research project. Today was chosen to band the eaglets because they are about six weeks old, which is the perfect age for banding.

In addition, today is tax day.  Why is this significant for banding eagle chicks?  Because the generous donations to the Nongame Wildlife Program on state income tax forms provided the funding for EagleCam. The live video feed will be available during the entire nesting season.

The chicks were measured and weighed and were fitted with light-weight silver U.S. Wildlife Service bands that will help identify them throughout their lives.
The sex of the chicks was determined to be one male and two females.
Chicks are banded at about six weeks because they are old enough for the band to fit their growing legs, but are too young to jump out of the nest when approached.
The chicks were not harmed and the parents will not abandon them; they have invested too much time at this stage to leave their chicks and are not bothered by human scent.
The adult female eagle has been wearing a band since 2010.
A private bander, Mark Martell, and staff from DNR Nongame Wildlife Program did the banding.
The chicks will leave the nest or “fledge” sometime in mid-to-late June.
Xcel Energy provided the bucket truck and crew to retrieve the chicks. Xcel provides this service to the DNR each year without a fee. The DNR and the Nongame Program extends sincere appreciation to Xcel Energy for providing their excellent staff and resources.
This research is paid for by donations to the Nongame Wildlife Program:  www.dnr.state.mn.us/nongame/donate/index.html.
Photos, stories and updates are available on Nongame’s Facebook page. www.facebook.com/MinnesotaNongameWildlifeProgram

Posted in wildlife

Disappearing Ice on Saganaga

The Boundary Waters are becoming liquid once again. The ice is slowly disappearing and Matt and Cassidy took advantage of the open water the other day to take a boat ride. Here’s a video and some photos they took.

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Posted in BWCA

Wildfire Prevention

It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since the Ham Lake Fire. I’m always happy with spring rainfall so fire danger remains low.  Happy Wildfire Prevention Week!

Wildfire Prevention Week April 16-22

To increase awareness of outdoor wildfire hazards, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has announced that April 16-22 is Wildfire Prevention Week. Minnesotans are asked to be thoughtful about how and when they use fire.

Most wildfires in Minnesota occur in the spring. Last year’s dry vegetation can quickly catch fire between the time snow has melted and plants or grasses green up. Fires escaping a debris burn is the number-one cause of wildfires. Campfires escaping the fire ring on dry, windy days is another important cause of wildfires.

“The DNR is already fighting wildfires thanks to the mild winter and early spring,” said Linda Gormanson, DNR burning permits coordinator. “Dead or dormant vegetation can easily catch fire since we’ve had little precipitation so far this spring.”

Because escaped debris burning fires are the biggest cause of wildfires in Minnesota, Gormanson recommends mulching or composting vegetative debris to avoid these fires in the first place. If plans include a campfire, Gormanson said clear the area around the campfire and keep the fire to less than 3 feet in diameter and height. Keep a shovel and water on hand, watch the campfire continuously and make sure it is completely out before leaving.

The DNR has initiated spring burning restrictions to reduce the number of unintended fires. A burning permit is required to burn vegetative material 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.

Visit the DNR’s statewide fire danger and current burning restriction webpage at mndnr.gov/burnrestrictions before starting a fire. Also check local weather conditions.

So far this year, 455 fires have burned 1,238 acres.  On average each year, Minnesota fire agencies respond to 1,500 wildfires that burn over 42,000 acres at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.

Visit the Wildfire Prevention webpage at mndnr.gov/wildfire/prevention to learn more about wildfire prevention.

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Posted in News, wildfire

This Year’s Lyrid Meteor Showers

The best thing about spring meteor showers is there are no bugs to contend with when out watching for them. Here’s the scoop from Earth Sky.

The annual Lyrid meteor shower has started! It’s active each year from about April 16 to 25. In 2017, the peak of this shower – which tends to come in a burst and usually lasts for less than a day – is expected to fall on the morning of April 22, with little or no interference from the slender waning crescent moon. The greatest number of meteors usually fall during the few hours before dawn. All in all the Lyrid meteor shower prospects look pretty good for 2017, though meteor showers are notorious for their fickle and not totally predictable nature! Follow the links below to learn more about April’s shooting stars!

You might spot a Lyrid meteor anytime during the shower (April 16-25), but the most meteors will probably fall in the dark hours before dawn on April 22. It’s always a good practice to watch on the mornings around the peak as well. In a moonless sky, you might see from about 10 to 20 Lyrid meteors an hour at the shower’s peak. This year, in 2017, the slender waning crescent moon shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.

Of course, meteor showers are notorious for defying the most careful predictions. The Lyrids stand as no exception. An outburst of Lyrid meteors is always a possibility (though no Lyrid outburst is predicted for 2017).

For instance, American observers saw an outburst of nearly 100 Lyrid meteors per hour in 1982. Around 100 meteors per hour were seen in Greece in 1922 and from Japan in 1945.

By the way, if you do see a meteor … notice whether it leaves a persistent train – that is, an ionized gas trail that glows for a few seconds after the meteor has passed. About a quarter of Lyrid meteors do leave persistent trains.

Where is the radiant point for the Lyrid meteor shower? If you trace the paths of all the Lyrid meteors backward, they seem to radiate from the constellation Lyra the Harp, near the brilliant star Vega. This is only a chance alignment, for these meteors burn up in the atmosphere about 100 kilometers – or 60 miles – up. Meanwhile, Vega lies trillions of times farther away at 25 light-years. Yet it’s from Vega’s constellation Lyra that the Lyrid meteor shower takes its name.

You don’t need to identify Vega or its constellation Lyra in order to watch the Lyrid meteor shower. The idea that you must recognize a meteor shower’s radiant point in order to see any meteors is completely false. Any meteors visible the sky often appear unexpectedly, in any and all parts of the sky.

However, knowing the rising time of the radiant point helps you know when the shower is best in your sky. The higher Vega climbs into the sky, the more meteors you’re likely to see. Be aware that the star Vega resides quite far north of the celestial equator, so for that reason the Lyrid meteor shower favors the Northern Hemisphere.

Around the Lyrids’ peak, the star Vega rises above your local horizon – in the northeast – around 9 to 10 p.m. local time (that’s the time on your clock, from Northern Hemisphere locations). It climbs upward through the night. By midnight, Vega is high enough in the sky that meteors radiating from her direction streak across your sky.

Just before dawn, Vega and the radiant point shine high overhead. That’s one reason the meteors are always more numerous before dawn.

Portrait of Confucius.

Lyrid meteors in history. The Lyrid meteor shower has the distinction of being among the oldest of known meteor showers. Records of this shower go back for some 2,700 years.

The ancient Chinese are said to have observed the Lyrid meteors “falling like rain” in the year 687 BC.

That time period in ancient China, by the way, corresponds with what is called the Spring and Autumn Period (about 771 to 476 BC), which tradition associates with the Chinese teacher and philosopher Confucius, one of the first to espouse the principle: “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.” I wonder if Confucius saw any Lyrid meteors …

Comet Thatcher on January 1, 1861, the year of its last (and only) observed return. Image via JPL Small-Body Database.

Comet Thatcher is the source of the Lyrid meteors. Every year, in the later part of April, our planet Earth crosses the orbital path of Comet Thatcher (C/1861 G1), of which there are no photographs due to its roughly a 415-year orbit around the sun. Comet Thatcher last visited the inner solar system in 1861, before the photographic process became widespread. This comet isn’t expected to return until the year 2276.

Bits and pieces shed by this comet litter its orbit and bombard the Earth’s upper atmosphere at 177,000 kilometers (110,000 miles) per hour. The vaporizing debris streaks the nighttime with medium-fast Lyrid meteors.

It’s when Earth passes through an unusually thick clump of comet rubble that an elevated number of meteors can be seen.

Bottom line: The Lyrid meteor shower offers 10 to 20 meteors per hour at its peak on a moonless night. The peak numbers are expected to fall on the morning of April 22. Try watching on April 21 and 23, too. In 2017, the light of the waning crescent moon won’t too greatly interfere with the Lyrid shower. In rare instances, Lyrid meteors can bombard the sky with up to nearly 100 meteors per hour. No Lyrid meteor storm is expected this year … but you never know.

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Cold Water Paddling

With ice going off of some lakes earlier than normal people are excited to get out paddling on the open water.  While the water may look inviting it’s very cold so extra care should be taken if you’re heading out. It’s a good idea to make sure it’s a calm day, paddle with two watercraft, let someone know where you’re going, wear a life preserver and be careful!

Kayaker pulled from chilly Lake Michigan off Kenosha shore


  • The Coast Guard from Station Kenosha rescues a kayaker from Lake Michigan around 6 p.m. Saturday after he has capsized and struggled to get back in his craft. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BRIAN PASSINO )A kayaker was pulled from chilly Lake Michigan Saturday afternoon after capsizing about 200 yards offshore from the Southport Park, 7501 Second Ave.

    Kenosha Fire Department Battalion Chief Wes Bernhardt said firefighters were called at 5:43 p.m. by someone in the park who had noticed the kayaker struggling to get back in his craft.

    Upon arrival, firefighters spied the kayaker. “He was too far from shore for us to do anything,” Bernhardt said.

    The U.S. Coast Guard was alerted at 5:50 p.m., according to Petty Officer Andrew Armas, and launched its small rescue boat with four crew members from Station Kenosha.

    The boat arrived on scene at 6:04 p.m., Armas said. “He was hanging on to his kayak, still floating, still moving,” Armas said.

    The Coast Guard crew had the man out of the 50-degree water within a minute, Armas said.

    “He was breathing, just a little cold,” he said. “In 50-degree water, hypothermia sets in pretty quickly. He was shivering when we brought him on board.”

    Southwest winds at 21 knots were whipping up 4-foot waves, according to Armas and Bernhardt, but Armas described the rescue as routine.

    The kayaker was taken back to the Kenosha station, where Kenosha paramedics were waiting to take him to a hospital.

    “He was conscious and alert, cold, and visibly hypothermic,” Bernhardt said.

    Bernhardt estimated the man, said to be in his 30s, was probably in the water for about 15 minutes.

    But he did a lot of things right that Armas said helped him immensely.

    “He was wearing a life jacket and a wetsuit, which is awesome — we love that. If he didn’t have a life jacket, he probably wouldn’t have been able to stay with the kayak.

    “Even though he was tethered to the kayak, he was struggling to hang on. Without those safety measure, it would have been a different outcome.”

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Posted in skills

Happy Easter

Hoping you enjoy a wonderful Easter with family and friends!

Posted in News

Root Beer Lady Revisited

Here’s a piece the Minnesota Public Radio published about the Root Beer Lady. If you have never visited the Island of Pines on Knife Lake then you should consider paddling that way this summer. It’s a relatively easy trip from Saganaga Lake with only three portages!

Throughout 2017, Minnesota Public Radio will celebrate 50 years on the air by sharing highlights from our archives, connecting Minnesota’s past to its present. | This story originally aired in Oct. 15, 1986.

She’ll live in memories as “The Root Beer Lady,” but how Dorothy Molter got started making her homemade pop seems to involve much happenstance.

Molter was the last person to live in the Boundary Waters as tightening regulations made the area more of a protected wilderness than a developed tourist destination.

Her island homestead on Knife Lake was a regular stop for campers who’d buy candy bars and soda while taking Molter’s campsite advice and directions.

• From 2013: Remembering the ‘Root Beer Lady’ of Knife Lake

She’d buy all kinds of pop, flown in by the case.

But the planes eventually stopped coming. In 1949, President Harry Truman issued an executive order that restricted planes from getting to Molter’s home. Three years later, the plane of a defiant pilot who had continued to fly around the Boundary Waters was impounded. It was an example set for the others, and that’s when the flight ban really took effect.

So, Molter was left with an abundance of pop bottles and a good idea.

“When the planes quit flyin’, I got stuck with all the pop bottles I had. I wasn’t about to take ’em back over the portage and return ’em to town so I just kept ’em. Thought I might as well keep ’em up here and do something with ’em. So somebody suggested makin’ root beer. I’d never made it before, but they seem to like it.”

That’s part of what Molter told former MPR reporter Mark Heistad for his documentary, “The Land Between: An Aural Portrait of the B.W.C.A.,” which aired in 1986.

Heistad asked Molter how long she’d keep living in her summer tent and winter cabin in the woods.

“If I feel myself gettin’ sick, I’ll get out,” Molter said.

She never left the woods — and died in 1986 on Knife Lake.

Molter’s home was removed from the Boundary Waters and has been re-assembled as a museum in Ely.

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Posted in BWCA
  • Attention all paddlers and Boundary Waters lovers, the ice is officially OUT on Lake Saganaga! Tell your family... t.co/JFGZ72Qa50

Follow @bwcabloglady on twitter.

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