Sunny Skies

We’ve been blessed with beautiful blue skies and warm temperatures this past week. People are out and about without jackets and are wearing short sleeves and shorts. When the temperature reaches the 50′s up here we think it’s summer.

It doesn’t feel like April and everyone is wondering when Mother Nature will dump a foot of wet snow on us. Although it would make things muddy again and disappoint many we do need some precipitation. It looks like we might get some rain next week and that’s a good thing as I’m having a difficult time staying indoors.  When it’s nice outside I’m drawn outside to savor the sunshine on my face.

Temperature in degrees from the Seagull Guard Station on the Gunflint Trail.

  • April 11     65
  • April 12     71
  • April 13     55
  • April 14     63
  • April 15     68
  • April 16     60
  • April 17     69
  • April 18     57
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Boating Season Coming Soon

The lakes are still frozen on the Gunflint Trail but the streams and rivers are starting to flow. South of us other lakes are opening up in Minnesota and many people are anxious to get out onto the water. We’re looking forward to getting out on the water too and the nice weather has us thinking we might be doing it sooner rather than later. As soon as the river opens up we’ll get a boat in and check out the conditions on Saganaga to report to all of you.

Here’s some safe boating tips from the Minnesota DNR.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                       April 17, 2015

Prepare now for a safe boating season

Before launching into open water, boaters are reminded to inspect their boats and boating equipment and review regulations, which can be found in the 2015 Minnesota Boating Guide at www.mndnr.gov/regulations/boatwater.

“With lakes and streams opening up across the state, boaters are anxious to get on the water and start enjoying the boating season. The best time to make sure boats, equipment, and safety items are in legal and proper working order is before your first launch of the season,” said Debbie Munson Badini, boat and water safety education coordinator with the Department of Natural Resources. “No one wants to break down, get a ticket or have a safety emergency after waiting all winter to get back on the water.”

In addition to making sure boats are equipped with all required safety items, it’s important to take extra precautions during the cold water season when more than 30 percent of Minnesota’s boating fatalities take place.

While children younger than 10 years old must wear life jackets while aboard watercraft when underway (i.e., not tied to a dock or anchored for swimming), boat and water safety officials strongly recommend that all boaters wear life jackets anytime they are on cold water, no matter their age.

“Wearing a life jacket is an imperative part of staying safe on the water during the spring months when the water is extremely cold,” Munson Badini said. “In the event of an unexpected fall or capsizing, having a life jacket on can make all the difference. Adult boaters resistant to wearing a typical life jacket are encouraged to try inflatable styles, designed to make preventive use more convenient and comfortable.”

Before the first launch, boaters should verify their motorboats are equipped with the following:

U.S. Coast Guard-approved wearable life jackets for each person on board.
A Type IV throwable flotation device on boats 16 feet or longer.
A horn or a whistle.
Type B, U.S. Coast Guard-approved fire extinguisher.
Navigation lights in working order.
Valid boat registration, with numbers visible.
Watercraft can be registered in person at any deputy registrar of motor vehicles or at the DNR License Center in St. Paul. Registrations are good for three calendar years. Renewals can be done in person, or online at www.mndnr.gov/licenses.

Further details, including boating safety tips and information on watercraft operator permit requirements, can be found in the boating guide at www.mndnr.gov/regulations/boatwater.

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Posted in News, Seasonal activities

For the Birds

Birds, birds everywhere you look there are birds. They are singing their songs as they flitter about and the snow buntings are scattering as one drives along the Gunflint Trail.  I’ve spotted robins, red winged black birds,  juncos and lots of ducks. The eagles are in their nests and soon the loons will return. The activity above is like the activity on the ground as we flitter about preparing for the upcoming season at Voyageur.

 

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Chik-Wauk Museum Expansion

Chik-Wauk Museum has plans to improve the already wonderful facility.  They will be breaking ground this year for a Nature Center.  The center will provide space for presentations, workstations and displays for hands-on learning.

Plans also include a boathouse to display old boats, a cabin like what once stood on the property and a vaulted toilet.  In order to make all of these improvements funding is needed and donations can be made online.

We anxiously await the seasonal opening of the museum Memorial Weekend.

Chik-Wauk Museum

Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center on the Gunflint Trail

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Beautiful Weather on the Gunflint Trail

The sun has been shining brightly and the clouds have been scarce. It’s been absolutely gorgeous outside and on Sunday the temperature reached 71 degrees on the Gunflint Trail. With temperatures predicted to be in the 60′s the next few days the ice will surely take a beating. The Seagull River is just beginning to open up to the south of our docks.  If the weather keeps up like this we’ll have open water on area lakes in a couple of weeks and Saganaga won’t be too far behind.

Seagull River

Voyageur Canoe Outfitters

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Fishing Opener Coming Soon

Here’s some fishing information from the Minnesota DNR.

The DNR compiled these Minnesota fishing facts in preparation for the 2015 fishing opener, which is Saturday, May 9.

Anglers and waters

There are about 1.5 million licensed anglers in Minnesota.
About 500,000 people are expected to fish on opening day of the walleye and northern pike season, Saturday, May 9.
Minnesota has 11,842 lakes, 5,400 of which are managed by DNR Fisheries. There are 18,000 miles of fishable rivers and streams, including 3,800 miles of trout streams.
Average annual expenditure per angler is about $1,500.*
Although not every kind of fish lives everywhere, 162 species of fish can be found in Minnesota waters.
Participation and the economy

Fishing contributes $2.4 billion to the state’s economy in direct retail sales, ranking Minnesota fourth in the nation for angler expenditures.*
Fishing supports 35,400 Minnesota jobs.*
Minnesota ranks second in resident fishing participation at 32 percent, second only to Alaska.*
Minnesota is the third most-popular inland fishing destination in the country.*
Minnesota ranks sixth among states with the highest number of anglers. The top three states are Florida, Texas and Michigan.*
Who goes fishing

Most resident anglers – 855,000 of them in fact – are from urban areas. The remaining 474,000 resident anglers live in greater Minnesota.*
Men account for 66 percent of resident anglers. Women account for 34 percent.*
Fishing habits

Significantly more time is spent fishing on lakes than in rivers and streams.*
The average Minnesota angler spends 15 days fishing each year, with 84 percent of resident anglers never fishing anywhere else but in Minnesota.*
The most sought-after fish species, in order of preference, are crappie, panfish, walleye and northern pike.*
*2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (www.census.gov/prod/www/fishing.html)

Want to go fishing? DNR has a license to fit

A lone angler casts a lure into a glassy lake on a warm spring day, surrounded by the sounds of nature. What’s missing? A friend or family member could be sharing the scene.

“If you know someone who might be interested, ask them to go fishing. Many people won’t fish unless someone asks them to go,” said Jenifer Wical, of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources outreach section. “Before heading out, make sure to buy your fishing licenses.”

Buy licenses at any DNR license agent, online with a mobile or desktop device at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense, or by phone at 888-665-4236. Mobile buyers receive a text or email that serves as proof of a valid fish or game license to state conservation officers. An adult individual angling license is $22.

“There are types of fishing licenses to fit most anyone’s needs. There are licenses for married couples, for individual adults, and for 24-hour, 72-hour, and three-year time periods,” Wical said. “Lifetime licenses can make it easier for people to keep fishing long into the future, and licenses also come at reduced cost for children and those ages 51 and older.”

Youth ages 16 and 17 can buy an annual license for $5. Kids 15 and under are not required to buy a license to fish, but must comply with fishing regulations.

For those who hunt and fish, a Sports license includes angling and small game, and a Super Sports license includes a trout/salmon stamp, small game with pheasant and waterfowl, and a deer tag (archery, firearms or muzzleloader).

To read more about fishing licenses and regulations, see the 2015 Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet or www.mndnr.gov/fishmn.

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Coolest Outdoor Town

Grand Marais, Minnesota was recently named to the list of America’s 20 Coolest Outdoor Towns. The access to the Boundary Waters via the Gunflint Trail is one of the main reasons why Matador Network chose Grand Marais.  Check out the information below and the other places that made the list.

THIS LIST COULD EASILY HAVE 100 PLACES. The US simply has so many canyons and rivers and slopes, so much coastline, all of it with rad little towns along the way.

So putting together this list, we narrowed it down with a few criteria:

  1. The place should be an actual town, not just a spot or destination. In other words, you can live/work there year round, and even in the “off-season” it’s still cool.
  2. The outdoor objectives that make the place so rad must be part of the immediate surroundings. If you can’t climb / ski / paddle / surf right in town, the access should be just beyond, not an hour away.
  3. The place should have a notable culture, tradition, or local economy around the activities (and natural resources) themselves. Of special mention are places such as Salida, where actual infrastructure has been developed (manmade whitewater features) that brings cool events and awareness to the town.
  4. For obvious reasons, we came back with a high concentration of places out West (and in Hawaii/Alaska). May not be fair, but if you visit you’ll understand.

    All this said, finding big lines can happen anywhere. Where I grew up in the southern Piedmont (forested, gentle rolling hills kind of terrain), a trickling neighborhood ditch became a gnarly class V kayak run if you caught it right after a thunderstorm.

    The ultimate limitation is never the place but your imagination. Let us know the what kinds of lines you’re finding right in your town.

    –David Miller, Senior Editor
    Asheville, North Carolina

  5. 13. Grand Marais, MN

    All photos courtesy of Visit Cook County

    Perfect day

    Summer outdoor recreation revolves around freshwater lakes — from massive Lake Superior to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness — so bring your paddle. Over 100 miles of cross-country ski trails are enough to fill many winter days, but downhill skiers can also hit up nearby Lutsen Mountain, one of the midwest’s most-legit ski hills.

    Honor roll

    Beers: Voyageur Brewing Company
    Eats: Crooked Spoon, My Sister’s Place, Gun Flint Tavern
    Coffee: Java Moose
    Gear: Stone Harbor
    Music venue: Gun Flint Tavern

    Special thanks: Eric Frost

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Moose Collaring News

The petition to stop the collaring of moose calves in Minnesota has over 1500 signatures but the DNR still plans to collar more calves this spring.  This will lead to the unnecessary death of the majority of the calves in the study and it is senseless because we know wolves are killing calves. There is no need to collar and kill any more moose calves.

Please read a couple of articles about the collaring project that can be found online.  One article is about a vet on the project who was forced out of the project because she spoke out about the senseless killing of moose calves.   The other article is about the mystery of the disappearing moose calves and how it really isn’t a mystery that wolves are killing the calves.

I encourage you to sign the petition if you haven’t already. If you have signed it then please go back to the petition and share it with your friends and family.  We don’t need any more moose calves collared, enough is enough.

 

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Fire Hazard

Are drones capable of starting a wildfire? Not that I’m aware of but they obviously can get in the way of people who are fighting wildfires. It would seem like common sense to not fly one over a wildfire when aircraft are monitoring or trying to put out a fire but I guess common isn’t as common as I thought.

According to a Minnesota DNR Press Release someone was operating a drone during a wildfire near Ostego, MN last week.

DNR firefighters need cooperation from drone operators

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources requests that operators of unmanned aircraft (drones) stay at least 5 miles away from wildfires to create a safe environment for firefighting aircraft and crew.

The DNR uses helicopters and airplanes to detect wildfires and to deliver water, retardant, firefighters and cargo. These aircraft face a demanding environment with hazards such as power lines, trees, towers, smoke and wind.

“Conditions for our pilots are tough enough,” said Bill Schuster, DNR wildfire aviation supervisor. “We don’t want to worry about when and where a drone could pop up into their flight path.”

Aircraft and crew are strategically located around Minnesota to quickly respond to wildfires. One or more aircraft may be dispatched to any wildfire in the state within minutes of its start, depending on what is threatened by the fire.

Over 99 percent of wildfires that occur in Minnesota are small, quick-moving and wind-driven, and these do most of their damage within the first few hours after igniting. With the increasing overlap between wild lands and urban areas in Minnesota, firefighters need to be aggressive and safe when putting out wildfires.

“While crews were fighting a wildfire near Ostego last week, a drone was flying nearby at the same time firefighting aircraft were conducting operations,” said Shuster. “Voluntary cooperation to not operate drones within 5 miles of wildfires would allow firefighters to do their job safely, efficiently and effectively.”

Visit www.mndnr.gov/forestry/fire/wildfire_update.html for wildfire updates in Minnesota.

The Federal Aviation Administration has partnered with several industry associations to promote “Know Before You Fly,” a campaign to educate the public about using unmanned aircraft safely and responsibly. Visit www.knowbeforeyoufly.org to learn more about this program.

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Loon Song

It won’t be long and we’ll be listening to the loons sing their songs. The Seagull River in front of Voyageur Canoe Outfitters is one of the first places we see open water in the spring. While it’s still frozen solid now it will soon be liquid once again. As soon as there’s water the loons will land and sing their welcome song.

Here’s some information about loons courtesy of Jim Gilbert and the Star Tribune outdoors online.

Nature Notes: Loon is true symbol of Minnesota’s lake wilderness

  • Updated: April 2, 2015 – 3:14 PM

Common loons appear in spring at the same time ice leaves lakes, often returning to a lake when it’s still half-covered.

This year, migrating loons were observed on southern Minnesota lakes in mid-March. They are beautiful black and white birds of about 2-feet long and 8 to 9 pounds.

Now is when people in central and northern Minnesota will begin hearing the wild laughing call, “ha-ha-ha-ha.” It’s the only call that loons give in flight, no doubt heading for a favorite lake after wintering along the Gulf Coast.

Designated as the state bird in 1961, the loon is a true symbol of our lake wilderness. I think that their echoing calls do more to create the indescribable feeling of being apart from civilization and close to nature than any other phenomenon in the north country.

Loons prefer clear lakes because they hunt for fish, leeches and other aquatic creatures by eyesight. They ride low in the water, and when they dive they can reach depths of 100 feet or more.

Swift flights of up to 100 mph take these birds through the air with ease. Not many birds fly faster than loons. But it’s the takeoffs that are arduous. Loons sometimes need up to a quarter-mile of runway. They can often break water contact after a run of about 80 yards, so on small lakes they must fly in a curve around part of the lake before ascending high enough to clear the trees.

Jim Gilbert’s Nature Notes are heard on WCCO Radio at 7:15 a.m. Sundays. His observations have been part of the Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendars since 1977, and he is the author of five books on nature in Minnesota. He taught and worked as a naturalist for 50 years.

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