A Year in the Boundary Waters Ends

They’re Back! Dave and Amy Freeman completed their 365 days in the wilderness and have returned to the “real world.” Is it the real world?  They now question which is which. I can’t imagine coming back from 365 days in the Boundary Waters. I didn’t paddle out to greet them but I did give Amy a big welcome back hug.

Their festive return party took place at beautiful River Point on the Kawishiwi near Ely, Minnesota. People paddled out in canoes to greet them and welcomed them ashore as they completed their year long trip in the BWCA. What a year to remember for them.  Read More.
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Boundary Waters

Freeman’s Return from Year in the BWCA

 

From Dave Freeman-

This morning we packed up camp for the last time and loaded the canoe. In a few hours we will exit the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and re-enter as some call it “the real world.” I would like to set the record straight on this concept. It is the other way around. We are re-entering a civilized world, a fast-paced world filled with cars, cell phones, air planes and indoor plumbing. But don’t for one second think that is what’s real. We are leaving the real world for a little while– the world where Mother Nature rules, where wolf packs roam freely, where wild rice grows, where mosquitos hatch, where loon chicks ride on their parents’ backs, where the sun rises and sets over the forest and lakes that are untrammeled– where no sign of this civilized world exists (except for latrines and fire grates). Your actions, support and steady resolve to protect the Boundary Waters have made us laugh and cry; we are humbled by the thousands of actions you have taken to help protect this very special place. We leave the Wilderness, after 367 days, confident that if we all continue speaking loudly for this quiet place our goal of permanently protecting the Boundary Waters from sulfide-ore copper mining will be achieved.

There is still a lot of work to do. Please keep the wilderness in your hearts, minds and voices no matter where your path takes you.
Learn more, sign the petition and take action today at http://ift.tt/1x2erSX (link in bio)! #wilderness #savetheBWCA #BoundaryWaters #BWCA #canoe #ourwild

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Posted in BWCA

Fond du Lac Band Holds Moose Hunt

The Minnesota DNR can object but they can’t do anything about the Fond du Lac Band hunting moose this year. They have special Treaty rights that allow them to do a number of things in their ceded territory. Moose numbers have plummeted but their hunt will go on.

Read More Here

Posted in Gunflint Trail

Quetico Shoeless Man Strikes Again

Remember the man they found wandering the Quetico Park last year without shoes on? This year he was seen in the Boundary Waters with a fawn. Apparently he planned to eat it but he was too full.  Then he decided to keep it as a pet but after it became weak he decided to just leave it.

Aaron King, 27 is homeless and lives in and around Ely, MN.  I’m guessing a stay in jail might be a nice treat for him.

See the full article.

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Posted in BWCA

Saturday Drive to Chik-Wauk

If you’re looking for something to do this Saturday then head up to Chik-Wauk.  Geologist John Green is presenting about late summer flowers on ancient rocks from 2-3:30pm. If you haven’t seen the new Nature Center then this is a perfect opportunity to do so. Take advantage of John’s expertise and join him on a hike on the trails at Chik-Wauk. Sounds like a perfect Saturday drive to me.

And if you’re in the cities and heading North then take a look at this list that includes Chik-Wauk. Make it 11 and be sure to stop in at Voyageur Brewing Company too!

Going up north for fall color? 10 things to eat and do while there

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Posted in Gunflint Trail

Duncan Lake Prescribed Burn

Here’s the scoop on the prescribed burn scheduled for this fall in the Duncan Lake area.

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Description:

DUNCAN LAKE PRESCRIBED BURN

Anticipated Dates of Burn: September – October of 2016

Location and Sizes:  Duncan Lake Prescribed Fire includes three units totaling 4659 acres located inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) approximately 22 miles north of Grand Marais on the Gunflint Ranger District on the Superior National Forest in Cook County, MN. This prescribed fire is within two miles of the Canadian border.

LEGAL LOCATION: Unit 1 (451 Acres) in Township 65N, Range 2W, Sections 25, 26 and 36; and Township 65N, Range 1W, Sections 29, 30 and 31. Unit 2 (1,914 Acres) in Township 65N, Range 1W, Sections 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 32. Unit 3 (2,295 Acres) in Township 65N, Range 1W, Sections 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 34.

Purpose:  Superior National Forest managers plan to conduct the Duncan Lake Prescribed Fire within the BWCAW to reduce the risk of wildfires that could threaten people, homes, cabins, camps, businesses and other resources outside of the Wilderness and across the international boundary into Canada. This extreme wildfire risk resulted from the 1999 massive windstorm that affected nearly 500,000 acres on the Superior National Forest, including approximately 367,000 acres in the BWCAW. The storm caused thousands of acres of trees to be blown-down, creating the potential for large, difficult-to-control wildfires.

The Forest Service has been working to break up continuous areas of blowdown in the Wilderness with a series of strategically-located prescribed fires that include the Duncan Lake Prescribed Fire. The Forest Service has demonstrated over the past fifteen years, the use of prescribed fire under favorable conditions reduces the concentrations of hazardous fuels created by the storm. This improves public safety by creating conditions that will decrease fire intensities and the rate of fire spread in the event of a wildfire, providing firefighters time to implement suppression and containment activities as well as evacuations if needed.

Description: The Duncan Lake Prescribed Fire plan delineates three ignition units which were identified as wildland fuels hazards by the BWCAW Fuel Treatments Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Record of Decision completed in May 2001. All three units were impacted by the 1999 blowdown storm and now contain high concentrations of balsam fir regeneration along with dead, blown-down trees. Many residences, camps, and businesses immediately outside the Wilderness boundary are within close proximity of the blowdown fuels in the three planned prescribe fire units.

Based on monitoring and observed fire behavior, Forest managers have determined that fire behavior predictions outlined in the original FEIS are still valid for areas of untreated blowdown fuel. A recent example of this behavior was documented during the 2011 Pagami Creek Wildfire and again during an August 2013 wildfire near Knife Lake within the BWCAW.  Post-wildfire monitoring and evaluation indicates that treatment of units containing blowdown has successfully reduced intensity and spread rate of wildfires.

The Father’s Day blowdown storm in June of 2016 created an additional 5,000 acres of large-diameter down woody debris within and outside of the planned Duncan Lake prescribed fire units. Recently felled vegetation of this size takes time to cure and will resist consumption at this time.   Therefore, the Duncan Lake burn unit perimeters were adjusted to exclude most of the new blowdown. Resource managers are concerned about the risk these new blowdown areas pose to resources outside of the BWCAW and plan to begin the process to analyze these areas for fuel hazard impacts.

Managers will conduct the Duncan Lake Prescribed Fire, under conditions specified (prescribed) in the burn plan and guided by the FEIS, the Supplemental Information Report completed in April 2016, Wilderness Management direction and management objectives stated in the Superior National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan.  To minimized impacts to wilderness character, implementation of the prescribed fire will follow recommendations in the Minimum Requirement and Minimum Tool Determination completed as part of the FEIS analysis and included in the Record of Decision.

Fall is the time of year expected to provide the most favorable weather conditions to meet defined management objectives and hold the fire within the planned project area boundaries.  The burn plan identifies potential natural and human-created breaks in fuel that will help to hold the prescribed fire within the planned area. Lakes including Daniels, Duncan, Rose, Partridge and East Otter will be the primary holding boundaries used to keep fire within the project area.

During ignition operations,    people in the vicinity of Mid-Gunflint Trail can expect to see helicopters, airplanes and smoke.  Many firefighters will also be visible in the area during ignition, as well as several days after burning is completed while they continue to monitor the prescribed fire area. Depending on wind direction, residents and visitors in Cook and Lake Counties may see and smell smoke from the prescribed fire.
Closure Information:

  • For public safety, certain canoe travel ways, entry points, hiking trails and campsites will be closed one to two days prior to burning and will remain closed until it is safe for the public to be in the prescribed fire area. Areas closed to public use during prescribed fire operations include Duncan, Daniels,Partridge, East Otter, Dunn and Hoat lakes. Additional closure areas include all hikingtrails entering the prescribed fire area and the campsites located along the south shore of RoseLake.
  • If the burn occurs before the end of the wilderness quota permit season on October 1st, the Forest Service will notify BWCAW quota permit holders approximately one week prior to the anticipated project start date.
  • If conditions are favorable to allow safe public travel, the internationalboundary paddle route from South to Rove Lake will be kept open to travelers. Tocoordinate safe public travel, Forest Service personnel will be posted at the Rose to Rove and Rat toSouth Lake portages. Fire behavior and smoke may present hazards for short durations,and travelers should be aware that short delays in traveling through the project area may occur when prescribed fire is burning near the international boundary.
  • The Border Route Trail and all associated spur trails between Topper Lake and Rove Lake may be closed depending on weather and smoke conditions.

 

Fire Management Resources:

  • Since heavy blowdown and conifer/brush regeneration makes foot travel unsafe for ignition on the ground by firefighters, helicopters equipped with ignition devices will be used to conduct ignition from the air.
  • Holding crews of firefighters using hand tools, fire hose, portable pumps, boats and canoes will be working around the perimeter of the prescribed fire units.
  • Water delivery aircraft will also be on standby during the burn to support holding operations if required.

Management Objectives: 

The objectives of the prescribed fire is to improve public safety by reducing the potential for high-intensity wildland fires to spread from the BWCAW into areas of intermingled ownership, which include areas containing homes, cabins, resorts, other improvements and areas across the international border into Canada.  This will be done by using low to high intensity fire to reduce the pre-burn fuel loading in the 0-3 inch size class dead fuels by 60-100%.  Low intensity fire is targeted for areas where there is an overstory canopy with and understory of blowdown fuels.

For more information on these burns, contact the USDA, Forest Service, Gunflint Ranger District at 218-387-1750.

Additional SNF info at: www.usda.gov/superior

Posted in News

Shorter Days and Longer Nights

The days are getting noticeably shorter with the sun setting earlier and earlier. You may have noticed that but have you noticed the sun setting faster as well?

Year’s fastest sunsets around equinoxes

Tonight – at sunset – here’s a natural phenomenon you might never have imagined. That is, the sun actually sets faster around the time of an equinox. The fastest sunsets (and sunrises) occur at or near the equinoxes. And the slowest sunsets (and sunrises) occur at or near the solstices. This is true whether you live in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere.

And, by the way, when we say sunset here, we’re talking about the actual number of minutes it takes for the body of the sun to sink below the western horizon. Follow the links below to learn more:

Why does the sun set so quickly around the equinoxes? At every equinox, the sun rises due east and sets due west. That means – on the day of an equinox – the setting sun hits the horizon at its steepest possible angle. In other words, the sun is dropping almost straight down from above.

Meanwhile, at a solstice, the sun is setting farthest north or farthest south of due west. The farther the sun sets from due west along the horizon, the shallower the angle of the setting sun. That means a longer duration for sunset at the solstices.

The sunset duration varies by latitude, but let’s just consider one latitude, 40o North, the latitude Denver or Philadelphia in the United States, or Beijing in China. At that latitude, on the day of equinox, the sun sets in about 2 and 3/4 minutes.

Meanwhile, at 40o latitude, the solstice sun sets in roughly 3 and 1/4 minutes.

 

equinox_solstice_610

When is the next equinox? The September equinox will arrive on September 22, 2016 at 1421 UTC. Although the equinox happens at the same moment worldwide, your clock times will depend on your time zone. For time zones in the continental U.S., this equinox comes at 10:21 a.m. EDT, 9:21 a.m. CDT, 8:21 a.m. MDT or 7:21 a.m. PDT. Translate to your time zone.

Bottom line: The fastest sunsets of the year are happening now, around the time of the September equinox.

Posted in News

Invasive Earth Worms

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about earthworms but I haven’t forgotten about the destruction they can cause in a forest. Most people don’t realize the impact they can have but it’s super important, especially on the Gunflint Trail and in the Boundary Waters, that earthworms are disposed of properly. I’ve seen dead crawlers on a BWCA campsite and cringed hoping no live ones were dumped with it.  All crawlers are invasive to Minnesota Forests so be sure to dispose of them in the garbage and help protect the forests.

Contain those Crawlers! Invasive Earthworms in Our Forests

Earthworm invaders alter northern forests

Native plant diversity in forests of northern North America is declining due to an invasion by earthworms introduced hundreds of years ago from Europe.

Earthworms are welcomed in gardens around the world; they aerate the soil and consume dead vegetation to form worm castings that enrich the soil and help plants grow. But it’s a different story in the forests of northern North America where a non-native species of earthworm from Europe, brought by early settlers, are creating conditions that decrease the diversity of native plants, according to a new study published September 3, 2016 in the journal Global Change Biology.

The impact of non-native earthworms has been previously documented on a site-by-site basis. The study led by Dylan Craven of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research takes a broader view. He said, in a statement:

The earthworm invasion has altered the biodiversity and possibly functioning of the forest ecosystems, because it affects the entire food web as well as water and nutrient cycles.

During the last ice age, northern United States and Canada were blanketed in an ice sheet. Glaciers severely eroded the land, destroying almost all native earthworms. When the glaciers began their retreat, about 12,000 years ago, the land was gradually recolonized by a forest ecosystem that did not include earthworms.

Settlers from Europe introduced earthworms back into to these northern areas. The earthworms have since been disrupting forest ecosystems.

Craven and his team looked for a generalized pattern of how forest plant species diversity changed with the presence of European earthworms. They used previously-published data from 14 sites in the Upper Midwest, the Mid-Atlantic, and an area between Indiana and Alberta.

They found that the diversity of understory forest plants decreased significantly, not just with increasing density of the introduced earthworms, but also with a larger variety of earthworm species occupying different soil layers.

A forest understory with a high diversity of native plants, the result when there are no earthworms in the soil. Image courtesy of Paul Ojanen.

A forest understory with a high diversity of native plants, the result when there are no earthworms in the soil. Image courtesy of Paul Ojanen.

Forest soil with an abundance of earthworms can result in a bare understory. Image courtesy of Scott L Loss.

Forest soil with an abundance of non-native earthworms can result in a bare understory. Image courtesy of Scott L Loss.

How are earthworms affecting forest ecosystems that evolved without them?

At the top soil layer, earthworms convert fallen leaves to humus. That’s a good thing if you’re growing a garden, but, in a natural forest, it causes a fast-tracking of the release of nutrients instead of allowing the leaf litter to break down more slowly, as it would without the earthworms.

Also, as they burrow through the ground, earthworms disrupt the mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship between fungi and plants. Some deep-burrowing worm species change the pH of upper soil layers by mixing in alkaline soil from deeper in the ground.

Burrows carved out by earthworms also speed up the drainage of rainwater, drying the soil faster.

Earthworms munching on forest leaf litter. Image courtesy of Olga Ferlian.

Earthworms munching on forest leaf litter. Image courtesy of Olga Ferlian.

All of these changes adversely affect native plants that did not evolve in such conditions. For instance, the goblin fern is rarely found in areas with high earthworm density. Other native plants facing threats include largeflower bellwort, trillium and Solomon’s seal.

Earthworms also consume the seeds and seedlings of some plant species, influencing what grows in the forest understory.

In some locations, grasses, with their fine root systems that quickly absorb nutrients, dominate the forest floor. Non-native invasive plants that evolved in soils containing earthworms gain an even stronger foothold in these forests.

Grasses carpet the understory of a forest with large populations of European earthworms. Image courtesy of Scott L Loss.

Nutrient absorbing grasses carpet the understory of a forest with large populations of European earthworms. Image courtesy of Scott L Loss.

Bottom line: European earthworms, introduced by early settlers, are changing the physical and chemical characteristics of soil in northern North American forests, creating a decreased diversity in native plants.

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Posted in environment

Did You See the Harvest Moon?

Last night I made an announcement the harvest moon was rising. Then someone else said, “That’s not the harvest moon.”  I thought I remembered reading something about it so today I had to look into it.  Here’s what I found.

On September 16, the Harvest Moon

Tonight – September 16, 2016 – that full moon you’ll see ascending in the east after sunset is the Northern Hemisphere’s Harvest Moon.

Over the years, we’ve seen lots of informal uses of the term Harvest Moon. Some people (in the Northern Hemisphere) call the full moons of September and October by that name. And that’s fine. For the few months around the autumn equinox, the time of moonrise is close to the time of sunset for several evenings in a row, around the time of full moon. It’s as if there are several full moons during each autumn month.

So for example the moon you might have seen last night, September 15, looked very full and round in the sky. Did you call it a full moon? Did someone say it was the Harvest Moon? It probably looked like one!

Astronomers are scientists, though, and it’s no surprise that, to them, the term full moon or the name Harvest Moon means something very specific. To astronomers, the Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the September equinox, and full moon comes at the instant when the moon is 180o from the sun in ecliptic – or celestial – longitude.

In 2016, this equinox takes place on September 22.

The closest full moon to the autumn equinox reaches the crest of its full phase on September 16 at 19:05 UTC. For us in the continental U.S., the moon turns precisely full during the daytime hours on Friday, September 16. By U.S. clocks, that full moon instant comes at 3:05 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 2:05 p.m. Central Daylight Time, 1:05 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time or 12:05 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

But don’t worry too much about the instant of full moon, or the time on your clock, or even where you are on the globe. No matter where you live worldwide, you’ll see a full-looking moon shining from dusk until dawn on September 16.

The September 16 full moon will rise in the east around sunset, climb highest up around midnight and will set in the west around sunrise. At the vicinity of full moon, the moon – as always – stays out all night long.

Is tonight’s moon the Harvest Moon? It sure is!

Day and night sides of Earth at the instant of full moon (2016 September 19 at 19:05 Universal Time) via Earth and Moon  Viewer.

Day and night sides of Earth at the instant of full moon (2016 September 19 at 19:05 Universal Time) via Earth and Moon Viewer.

What’s the big deal about the Harvest Moon? Why are the full moons special in autumn? Around the time of the autumn equinox, the ecliptic – or the path of the sun, moon, and planets – makes a narrow angle with the horizon at sunset.

Every full moon rises around the time of sunset, and on average each successive moonrise comes about 50 minutes later daily. But, on September and October evenings – because of the narrow angle of the ecliptic to the horizon – the moon rises much sooner than the average.

So, instead of rising 50 minutes later in the days after full moon, the waning moon might rise only 35 minutes later, or thereabouts, for several days in a row (at mid-northern latitudes). At far northern latitudes – like at Fairbanks, Alaska – the moon rises about 15 minutes later for days on end.

That fact was important to people in earlier times. For farmers bringing in the harvest, before the days of tractor lights, it meant there was no long period of darkness between sunset and moonrise for several days after full moon. And that meant farmers could work on in the fields, bringing in the crops by moonlight. Hence the name Harvest Moon.

At our mid-northern latitudes, watch for the Harvest Moon to shine from dusk until dawn for the next few to several days, starting on September 16.

Bottom line: Enjoy the 2016 Harvest Moon!

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Posted in environment

DNR Hunting Dates and Information

If you’re going for a walk in the woods then it’s a good idea to know if there are hunters out in those woods too.  Find out what type of hunting is open when and learn about our Minnesota wolf population.

Minnesota’s wolf population remains stable
Results from the latest wolf population survey show no significant change in Minnesota’s wolf population during the past four winters.
The latest survey results estimate that within Minnesota’s wolf range there were 439 wolf packs and 2,278 wolves last winter, compared to 374 packs and 2,221 wolves the year before. There has been no biologically or statistically significant change in the size of the statewide mid-winter wolf population over the past four years. Find more about the survey, with a copy of the report and more about wolf management on the DNR website.

 
Saturday, Sept. 17: Archery deer season opens; small game season opens including for ruffed grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, spruce grouse, Hungarian partridge, rabbits and squirrels
Saturday, Sept. 24: Waterfowl season opens; hunting seasons open for woodcock and prairie chicken
Saturday, Sept. 24-Sunday, Sept. 25: Take a Kid Hunting Weekend
Saturday, Oct. 1: Fall turkey season opens
Saturday, Oct. 15: Pheasant season opens; hunting and trapping in north zone opens for raccoon, red fox, gray fox, badger and opossum
Thursday, Oct. 20-Friday, Oct. 21: First Camp Ripley archery deer hunt
Saturday, Oct. 22: Hunting and trapping in south zone opens for raccoon, red fox, gray fox, badger and opossum
Thursday, Oct. 20-Sunday, Oct. 23: Youth deer season
Saturday, Oct. 29-Sunday, Oct. 30: Second Camp Ripley archery hunt
Saturday, Oct. 29: Trapping seasons open for beaver, otter, mink and muskrat
Saturday, Nov. 5: Firearms deer opener

Posted in News

Calming Waters

Take time out of your busy schedule to spend time on a lake or near a body of water. According to an article on Take Me Fishing just being near the water helps lower anxiety. I know I always feel more relaxed by a river or a lake. We’ve got plenty of them for you to choose from on the Gunflint Trail so come on up and relax.

https://www.takemefishing.org/getmedia/e9916bdb-ba4d-4cb2-a0d9-b3708d10d5c6/RBFF_Infographic.jpg.aspx

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Posted in News
  • USED GEAR SALE!!!! If you or anyone you know are interested in used canoes or gear feel free to directly message... t.co/4uS8x8t3CO

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