Waking Up Hungry

You can probably tell by the red leaves in the background of this photo that this picture was not taken this spring. I haven’t seen any bear activity on the Gunflint Trail yet either but I’m sure we’ll see some soon.  The forecast is calling for warm temperatures this week and if the bears aren’t out and about yet then I’m sure they will be by the end of the week.  Here’s what the DNR says about black bears in the Spring.

Voyageur Canoe Outfitter's friend

Minnesota Black Bear


Be bear-aware this spring as bears begin emerging from dens

Wildlife managers remind homeowners who live near bear habitat to be bear-aware and check their property for food sources that could attract bears this spring.

Bears usually begin emerging from their dens in late March and early April. Allowing bears to forage for food in a yard can present dangers to bears and people, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“While one homeowner may not be bothered by the presence of a bear in their yard, it can cause conflicts between neighbors, as well as public safety concerns, when human-related food is easy to find and the bears stop seeking their natural foods,” said Jeff Lightfoot, DNR northeast region wildlife manager. “These bears eventually get into trouble because they return again and again.”

As bears emerge from hibernation they are not immediately hungry, but over the following weeks their metabolism ramps up and they will begin looking for food at a time when berries and green vegetation can be scarce. Bears may be tempted by dog food, livestock feed, birdseed, compost or garbage.

“Bears are normally shy and usually flee when encountered,” said John Williams, DNR northwest region wildlife manager. “However, they may defend an area if they are feeding or are with their young. Never approach or try to pet a bear. Injury to people is rare, but bears are potentially dangerous because of their size, strength and speed.”

The DNR does not relocate problem bears. Relocated bears seldom remain where they are released. They may return to where they were caught or become a problem somewhere else. “In metro areas, a person who is concerned about a problem bear presenting a threat to public safety is advised to first call local law enforcement,” said Jami Markle, DNR central region assistant wildlife manager. “Leaving anything around that might be attractive to a bear could present a danger to the bear and people. When living in an area with wildlife, even the occasional bear requires some extra precautions to avoid conflict.”

The DNR offers some tips for avoiding bear conflicts.

Around the yard

Do not leave food from barbeques and picnics outdoors, especially overnight. Coolers are not bear-proof.
Replace hummingbird feeders with hanging flower baskets, which are also attractive to hummingbirds.
Eliminate birdfeeders or hang them 10 feet up and 4 feet out from the nearest trees.
Use a rope and pulley system to refill birdfeeders, and clean up seeds that spill onto the ground. Where bears are a nuisance, birdfeeders should be taken down between April 1 and Dec. 1.
Store pet food inside and feed pets inside. If pets must be fed outdoors, feed them only as much as they will eat.
Clean and store barbeque grills after each use. Store them in a secure shed or garage away from windows and doors.
Pick fruit from trees as soon as it’s ripe, and collect fallen fruit immediately.
Limit compost piles to grass, leaves and garden clippings, and turn piles regularly. Adding lime can reduce smells and help decomposition. Do not add food scraps. Kitchen scraps can be composted indoors in a worm box with minimal odor.
Harvest garden produce as it matures. Locate gardens away from forests and shrubs that bears may use for cover.
Use native plants in landscaping whenever possible. Clover and dandelions will attract bears.
For bee hives, elevate them on bear-proof platforms or erect properly designed electric fences.
Do not put out feed for wildlife (like corn, oats, pellets or molasses blocks).

Store garbage in bear-resistant garbage cans or dumpsters. Rubber or plastic garbage cans are not bear-proof.
Keep garbage inside a secure building until the morning of pickup.
Store recyclable containers, such as pop cans, inside. The sweet smells attract bears.
Store especially smelly garbage, such as meat or fish scraps, in a freezer until it can be taken to a refuse site.
People should always be cautious around bears. If they have persistent bear problems after cleaning up the food sources, they should contact a DNR area wildlife office for assistance. For the name of the local wildlife manager, contact the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367, or visit www.mndnr.gov/contact/locator.html to find a local office. For more information, visit www.mndnr.gov/livingwith_wildlife/bears.

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Another Sign Summer is Near

You know summer is approaching when the call goes out to local property owners that it’s time to order your trees again.  Every year, for I don’t know how many years, Hedstrom’s Lumber Company in Grand Marais, Minnesota has given away tree seedlings.  Each property owner can get up to 200 free seedlings including White Pine and Red Pine, my favorites.

We pick the tree seedlings up at the beginning of May and then attempt to get them all planted.  Luckily we have the help of a great Voyageur Crew because in our neck of the woods planting trees isn’t easy work. Where there is soil to be found it isn’t very deep. It takes a long time just to find a good spot to place the seedling but it’s so rewarding when you do.

It’s equally rewarding to look at a section of our property that had burned in 2007 during the Ham Lake Fire and see thriving pine trees courtesy of Hedstrom’s Lumber Company.

Thank you Hedstroms!

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Spring Rituals

I’m not sure if it should be considered a ritual, tradition or task but this past week I met with two of my retail clothing providers to place orders for the upcoming season. It shouldn’t be too big of a job for a store our size but it’s something that just takes time.

In the beginning years of owning Voyageur Canoe Outfitters it took me forever to decide on what to order. I would agonize over the color of the garment, the feel of the garment and I would have to try on every garment to determine how the sizes ran.  Then I would try to guess what sizes would sell the best during the season. Would people be wearing things big and baggy or small and tight fitting? Would women like this design or just men? Would a man wear this or is it too feminine?

These days I worry more about a good color selection, design choices and having a good variety of garments.  A bunch of t-shirts, a handful of sweatshirts and a couple of specialty garments pretty much rounds out my ordering.  I tend to let the clothing rep fill in the size selection and tell me what the best selling colors are.

I tend not to second guess every decision I make and I think what has sped up the process the most is Mike no longer accompanies me. That seems to make the process much easier because Mike and I would rarely like the same thing and when I wanted an opinion he wouldn’t give me one and when I didn’t want one he would have one for me.

Whatever I call it, ritual, tradition or task, I’m glad it’s done for another season.

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Spring Break Time

It’s Spring Break time and the kids couldn’t be happier. No school for a week! After substitute teaching two days in a row I’m willing to bet the teachers are very happy too.

Hannah and Tony are back from their spring vacations and are ready to prepare for the fast approaching summer season.  They have been busy sending out our new brochure that has a map and valuable trip planning information on it. It turned out very nice and if you’d like to receive one then just fill out the online form.

Once you receive it you can spend time planning this summer’s canoe camping trip into the BWCA or Quetico Park.

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Make-A-Wish for Mining to Disappear?

I don’t know many 13-year-olds in my neck of the woods who would give up a wildlife safari in Africa or a trip to Disney World to go to Washington, DC to oppose mining near the Boundary Waters but a boy from Illinois did just that.

You may have already heard about it because it is kind of a big deal. Joseph Goldstein is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia and he really wanted to be a part of the opposition to mining near the Boundary Waters. The Make a Wish Foundation hasn’t actually paid for his trip to DC because plans had to be made quickly and around his chemotherapy sessions but they are working with his parents to make it official.

Remember Dave and Amy Freeman who paddled to DC and got signatures on their canoe and on a petition to oppose mining?  It’s the same effort Joseph wanted to be a part of.  Here’s what he had to say,  “These petitions represent thousands of people like me who love exploring and playing in the beautiful woods and clear waters of the Boundary Waters. My experiences in the Boundary Waters have taught and given me so much, and I want to ensure this beautiful, wild place remains, unspoiled, for my siblings, friends and the next generation. Wilderness is important, and there isn’t much of it left. Mining has no place on the edge of a national treasure, and I’m proud to join my voice with thousands of others in urging our leaders to permanently protect the Boundary Waters.”

Quite remarkable indeed.


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Still Skiing on the Gunflint Trail

Tony’s parents visited Voyageur Canoe Outfitters this week and went cross-country skiing.  Look at the lovely trails!

Cross-country skiing on the Gunflint Trail

Cross-country skiing on the Gunflint Trail

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Bald Eagle Back Home

Tony spotted a resident bald eagle in our tree on the Seagull River. Where there’s one there is more,  welcome back!

Gunflint Trail Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle end of Gunflint Trail

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Before and After

Two weeks doesn’t seem like that long but the scenery can change quite a bit in that amount of time.  The best part about living in Minnesota is experiencing the changing of the seasons. From bare trees to green leaves to no leaves again it’s all a part of the fun.  Check out the photos Tony took up at Voyageur, just two weeks apart. The sun is getting hotter, you gotta love it.

Seasons at Voyageur

Gunflint Trail Seasons

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When the Snow Melts

Spring is an exciting time filled with surprises. Surprises like, “OH, that’s where that went!” when snowbanks melt to reveal items lost since first snowfall.  Hopefully we won’t have too many of those this year.

One year, a melted snowbank revealed a mangled kevlar canoe courtesy of a blade on a snowplow. That was a not so welcome surprise. Usually it isn’t that drastic, some garbage here, a tool there but nothing very shocking.

There is always a bunch of work to do once the snow melts. Last night I had a dream I was trying to rake and my arms were so sore I couldn’t even pull it towards me. I haven’t even started raking yet but I obviously have thought about it.

I remember one year we had to shovel out our RV sites because there was so much snow in them and groups were arriving. We don’t have RV sites anymore but even if we did I don’t think we would have to shovel this year, but you never know, when the snow melts.

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Heart of the Continent

What is the Heart of the Continent you say?  Read on to find out!




National Geographic and Heart of the Continent Partnership

Introduce Heart of the Continent Geotourism MapGuide and Website


Geotourism: Tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place — its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and well-being of its residents


DULUTH, MN; THUNDER BAY, ON (March 18, 2015)—Travelers seeking unspoiled places and culturally authentic experiences now have a valuable new resource in a comprehensive “Geotourism MapGuide” and website for the Heart of the Continent region. The landmark project has taken two years to plan and execute and is a historically significant asset for everyone who visits or lives in the region.

The Geotourism MapGuide, with its Heart of the Continent Mobile App, highlights the enchanted landscapes and enduring people of northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Ontario.  It is designed to showcase to local, national and international audiences the natural, cultural and historic attractions that define the region.

All sites and attractions that have been nominated and now reside on the website are invited to attend and receive their certificate of participation from National Geographic Society.  The keynote speaker is James Dion, Director of Tourism Programs, Maps Division for National Geographic Society.

National Geographic’s acclaimed mapmaking and sustainable tourism expertise helped produce the Geotourism website along with the U.S. Forest Service, Ontario Parks, Voyageurs National Park, Fort William Historical Park, Tourism Northern Ontario, Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board, Thunder Bay Tourism, St. Louis County, City of Duluth, Arrowhead Regional Development Corporation, Atikokan Economic Development Corporation and many others.

The Heart of the Continent area designated for the map stretches from the outer boundaries of Duluth, Minnesota northeast along the North Shore of Lake Superior to Thunder Bay and Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, then west to International Falls/Fort Frances and south along St. Louis County’s western border, including communities and private and public lands. Since the project was launched in February 2014, locals have nominated for inclusion more than 400 of their favorite points of interest; historic, cultural and natural landmarks; events; artisans; and attractions that capture the region’s unique character and beauty. The website may be viewed at www.traveltheheart.org.  Residents and visitors may continue to nominate new sites, events and special places for the website, which will be dynamic and constantly changing.

“The Heart of the Continent Geotourism MapGuide and website showcase what makes the region so culturally and geographically significant,” said James Dion, Director of Tourism Programs, Maps Division for National Geographic Society. “More than ever, this project underscores the importance of connecting the local trans-border communities, smartly sharing the region’s tremendous scenic, historic and cultural assets, and helping them thrive together for future generations.”

The Heart of the Continent Geotourism MapGuide:

  • Is one of only 22 Geotourism programs worldwide
  • Showcases many of the 400-plus sites nominated by local residents
  • Is a resource designed to improve local, rural economic development
  • Provides access to a niche national market of “geo-tourists”
  • Will grow with the addition of hundreds of more sites and events
  • Highlights the resources of the region encompassing a major portion of northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Ontario, including communities and over five million acres of public land
  • Provides a long-term resource for promoting the Heart of the Continent to the nation and the world.

“Heart of the Continent Geotourism partners see this project as a great opportunity to work closely with other groups to promote the region and its assets,” said Paul Pepe, Tourism Manager for the City of Thunder Bay.

“The Geotourism strategy for the Heart of the Continent will strengthen the case for responsible, meaningful tourism by embracing all tourism assets uniquely distinctive to the locale. Effective stewardship of these economic assets will produce benefits in a way that encourages the type of investment needed to preserve our unique heritage. We’re thrilled to see the partnership that has developed with National Geographic and local organizations in this regard,” said Frank Jewell, St. Louis County Commissioner.

The National Geographic Society has worked with community-based alliances to develop similar Geotourism MapGuides and websites in other regions around the world. Geotourism MapGuide projects have been completed or are ongoing including in the Central Cascades (Oregon, Washington), Four Corners (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah), Greater Yellowstone (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming), Lakes to Locks Passage (New York, Quebec), Newfoundland, Portugal’s Douro Valley, Redwood Coast (California), Sierra Nevada (California, Nevada), and the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia-Herzagovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia.)

Founded in 1915 as the Map Department of the National Geographic Society, National Geographic Maps is responsible for illustrating the world around us through the art and science of mapmaking. Today, National Geographic Maps continues this mission by creating the world’s best wall maps, outdoor recreation maps, travel maps, atlases and globes that inspire people to care about and explore their world. For more information, visit natgeomaps.com.



Chris Stromberg

HOCP Coordinator

807 598-1074









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