Look to the Skies

A friend of mine saw a shooting star the other night. Could it be part of the Aquariid meteor shower? Of course it can, there are shooting stars out there and if you spend some time in the dark you might see them. The best place to view them are where the sky is dark. The Gunflint Trail is very dark and you can see some meteors! Up to 30 or more per hour according to spaceweather.com. Come spend some time at the end of the Gunflint Trail at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters, we’d love to see you!

METEORS FROM HALLEY’S COMET: Earth is entering a stream of debris from Halley’s Comet, source of the annual eta Aquariid meteor shower.  Although the shower does not peak until later this week, a radar in Canada is already detecting strong echoes from the debris zone.  This bodes well for sky watchers who could see 30 or more meteors per hour in the nights ahead.  Visit http://spaceweather.com for updates and observing tips.

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Ham Run Fun on the Gunflint Trail

The forecast for this Saturday looks like a great one for going on a run. If you’re looking for something to do or want to train for a race later in the year then join us on the Gunflint Trail for the Ham Run Half-Marathon and 5k Fun Run.

It’s sure to be a great time and it’s always a wonderful place to run. The scenery is fantastic with rivers, ponds, creeks and lakes and there’s a great chance to spot wildlife such as wolves and/or moose.

There’s still time to sign up so don’t delay and sign up for the Ham Run today!



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Vote for Grand Marais Again

It’s time to vote for Grand Marais, Minnesota again! We’re in the competition to win the best “beach” town. It seems strange to be in the running as a beach town but the other options are river, culture, and mountain. There are different rounds for voting so be sure to check back often and vote whenever you can, for Grand Marais of course.

Best Towns Outside

Posted in News

Plant a Tree

When’s the last time you planted a tree? It’s been a full year for me but I’m ready to plan some more this spring. If you’re planning to plant then here’s some helpful information from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Seedlings should be planted as soon as possible. If you need to store them, keep them in a cool and dark location to protect them from damage. And, be sure to keep the roots moist—but not wet. This will prevent seedlings from drying out.

Plan and prep your planting site so you can move quickly on planting day to minimize touching and exposing seedlings. First, figure out how many seedlings you want per acre and the space you need between seedlings to meet your goal. For example, if you spaced seedlings 8 feet apart you would end up planting 538 seedlings per acre. Remember to prep your site to expose soil and remove competing vegetation before you start planting. No need to take the seedlings out of the bag and have the roots drying out while you take time to prep the soil.

Follow these steps when planting your seedlings:

Keep seedlings covered, in the shade, and out of direct sunlight.
Handle seedlings carefully and as little as possible.
Use a planting bar when planting several acres.
Clear away debris from planting site.
Create a hole big enough for the roots to be fully extended.
Place seedling in hole so first/top root is slightly below soil surface.
Distribute roots evenly and prevent the roots from forming a “j” in the hole.
Pack or heel-in soil firmly around roots to remove any air pockets.
Water seedling after planting.
Follow this illustrated planting guide or check out this pocket-sized planting card.

To improve survival of your seedlings after they have been planted, provide seedlings with a good soak of water at least once a week. Also keep surrounding vegetation from competing with seedlings. Finally, consider fencing, cages, or using planting tubes to keep your seedlings safe from animal damage.

For more information, check out our tree planting and care page.

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Celebrate Trees

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Yesterday was Arbor Day and May is Arbor Month. I hope you will celebrate by getting outside to enjoy trees and maybe even plant a few.

2016 Arbor Month celebrates the health benefits of trees

Trees help reduce skin cancer. They reduce stressful noises and keep the air clean. These are just a few of the many ways trees help people stay healthy. During Arbor Month, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources urges everyone to get their daily dose of trees.

“Trees are amazingly important to our health,” explains Jennifer Teegarden, DNR forestry outreach specialist. “Did you know childhood asthma rates are lower in urban neighborhoods that have more trees?”

This year’s Arbor Month theme, “Get your daily dose of trees for a healthy you and me,” focuses on the mental and physical health benefits of trees. An infographic poster produced by the DNR and endorsed by the Minnesota Department of Health showcases the many ways trees contribute to a healthy environment:

Reducing exposure to UV rays, the primary cause of skin cancer.
Reducing stressful noises by 50 percent.
Decreasing mental fatigue by relaxing and restoring the mind.
Reducing heat stroke and heat exhaustion by decreasing summer temperatures by up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Promoting healing by helping patients refocus their attention and increase their pain threshold.
A new two-minute video will help viewers young and old, understand the connections between trees and their health. Watch the video at the DNR Arbor Month website at www.mndnr.gov/arbormonth.

In May, the DNR is partnering with University of Minnesota Rochester (UMR) to present a series of talks on the health benefits of trees and nature during the UMR Connects lecture series. A different topic is scheduled every Tuesday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in room 417 of University Square in Rochester. The lectures will also be broadcast live at http://tinyurl.com/je6zjkt. UMR Connects is free and open to the public.

Visit the DNR Arbor Month website www.mndnr.gov/arbormonth for more information on the health benefits of trees, to download a copy of the poster and watch the video.

Every year the DNR celebrates Arbor Day, the last Friday in April (April 29 this year) and Arbor Month, the entire month of May.

Arbor Day celebrations began in Nebraska in 1872. Nebraska, along with other Great Plains states, had almost no trees. Still, the region grew flourishing agricultural crops and the climate was suitable for growing trees. J. Sterling Morton believed Nebraska needed more trees. He sponsored a campaign for tree planting in Nebraska, setting aside April 10 for just that purpose. In 1876, Minnesota became the fourth state to adopt the tradition of celebrating Arbor Day. Today all 50 states observe Arbor Day on various dates. Minnesota celebrates Arbor Day on the last Friday in April.

Since 1978, May has been Arbor Month in Minnesota. The warmer weather in May allows newly planted trees to get off to a good start. Plus celebrating the importance of trees is extended for an entire month.


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Posted in environment

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)

Posted in News

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).

Posted in News

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!





Posted in News

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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