Snow removal companies in our neck of the woods are in good spirits thanks to all of the snow we have received. On the North Shore and Gunflint Trail our snowiest months are February and March but we’re already at 50% more snowfall than normal(average winter snowfall is around 91.5″).
Snow totals to date as compared to last year at this time (Oct. – Jan. 10):
2017/18 2018/19 % increase
Lutsen Mountains: 39” 59.5” +52%
Central Gunflint Trail: 25.25” 68.53” +85%
Upper Gunflint Trail: 33.5” 42” +25%
Hopefully that doesn’t equate to that much more salt people are putting on the ground and into our water. Salt contains Chloride which is harmful to fish and other aquatic wildlife. Here’s some information from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency about how to use salt sparingly to protect our waters.
Though no environmentally safe, effective, and inexpensive alternatives to salt are yet available, smart salting strategies can help reduce chloride pollution in state waters. You might think more salt means more melting and safer conditions, but it’s not true! Salt will effectively remove snow and ice if it’s scattered so that the salt grains are about three inches apart (see this illustration for a visual reference. If you publish the graphic, credit the Regional Stormwater Protection Team). A coffee mug full of salt (about 12 ounces) is all you need for a 20-foot driveway or 10 sidewalk squares (roughly 1,000 square feet). Consider using a hand-held spreader to apply salt consistently, and use salt only in critical areas.
And sweep up any extra that is visible on dry pavement. It is no longer doing any work and will be washed away into local waters.
Additional tips for limiting salt use:
Shovel. The more snow and ice you remove manually, the less salt you’ll have to use and the more effective it can be.
15oF and below is too cold for salt. Most salts stop working at this temperature. Use sand instead for traction, but remember that sand does not melt ice.
Slow down. Drive for the conditions and make sure to give plow drivers plenty of space to do their work. Consider purchasing winter (snow) tires.
Hire a certified Smart Salting contractor. Visit the MPCA’s Smart Salting webpage for a list of winter maintenance professionals specifically trained in limiting salt use.
Watch a video. Produced by the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, it offers tools for environmentally friendly snow and ice removal.
Promote smart salting. Work together with local government, businesses, schools, churches, and nonprofits to advocate for reducing salt use in your community.
Learn more on the MPCA’s Chloride webpage.
The one thing I love about otters is their playfulness. It’s so neat to be walking in the snow and come across tracks of otters sliding in the snow. They like to slide on their bellies and push forward with their feet to get wherever they are going. There’s no other track I’ve seen that looks like an otter slide as it’s usually 6-10 inches in width with webbed foot prints in it. They can slide up to 22 feet on the ice and also like to slide down riverbanks in the summer.
Possibly inspired by otters, our dog Rugby decided to try sliding himself. The track was much different but it looked like he thoroughly enjoyed himself.
It’s amazing the number of articles one can find about the benefits of spending time in the wilderness. It’s equally surprising to hear about situations where people aren’t respecting the wilderness. One would think everyone would treat the wilderness gently since it offers us so much but it isn’t the case. Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park have been cut down to make illegal campsites and garbage is piling up in other National Parks. It’s sad to hear about these instances and we’re thankful for folks respecting our Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and surrounding Superior National Forest. Why are we thankful? Edward Abbey said it best, “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.” Why do kids and adults need wilderness? Here’s just a few reasons listed in a recent article I read and I know we can all come up with hundreds more.
We don’t have a scheduled hike near where we live but we’ll surely be able to get out into the woods and snowshoe.
Join walkers from coast to coast during a First Day Hike at a state park
First Day Hikes will take place at numerous Minnesota state parks on Tuesday, Jan. 1, as part of a nationwide effort to connect people with the outdoors.
Spearheaded by the America’s State Parks (ASP) organization, First Day Hikes offer opportunities for individuals, families and groups in all 50 states to take guided walks that vary in distance and vigor. ASP reported that last year, more than 33,000 people welcomed the new year by taking one of the 1,180 guided hikes that covered 70,500 miles.
The naturalists leading the First Day Hikes at Wild River and Jay Cooke state parks are planning First Day Snowshoe Hikes, provided there is enough snow by Jan. 1. Afton State Park in Hastings is combining its First Day Hike with its annual Christmas Bird Count, which challenges participants to walk, bird watch and count all at the same time. Note that registration is required for some First Day Hikes, particularly those with a limited number of snowshoes available.
The hikes are free, but a vehicle permit ($7 for a one-day permit or $35 for a year-round permit) is required to enter Minnesota state parks.
Hikers are advised to wear boots and layers, such as a non-cotton shirt under a sweater plus a jacket, hat and mittens. As hikers get moving and warm up, they may want to shed some of those layers, so the hike leaders advise bringing a light backpack where they can stash those items, along with a water bottle, a snack, binoculars and a camera.
Park naturalists encourage anyone unable to attend a guided hike to get out with their friends and families on New Year’s Day for their own self-guided hike. Recommended routes can be found online using the Parks and Trails Division’s HikeFinder.
For a complete schedule of the First Day Hikes at Minnesota state parks, including directions to the parks and whether advance registration is needed, visit mndnr.gov/firstdayhike or contact the DNR Information Center at email@example.com or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).
May 24, 1934 ~ October 28, 2018
John Bouchard spent many years on Saganaga Lake and even wrote a book about his experiences there called, “Life on the Invisible Line.” I wasn’t able to access his obituary but here’s what his biography for his book had to say.
John Bouchard was born in1934, in Falcon Bridge, Ontario. From an early age, John displayed artistic ability. As a young child, he drew detailed pictures, displaying talent far beyond his age. As an older child he began to paint pictures which caught the attention of many. In 1957, he attended The Southern Alberta College of Fine Arts, in Calgary, Alberta, where he studied graphic art and design. Upon completion, he worked as a sign designer, creating signs for various businesses. John had always had a penchant for the outdoors. He left his sign design job, pursuing his love for the wilderness. He bought a trap line near Petrie, Ontario. He enjoyed trapping, being his own boss, and working in the wilderness. That summer, he worked for the Department of Lands and Forests as a “tower man” at the Loch Erne fire tower near Shebandowan Lake. In 1967, his work with Lands and Forests led him to a summer job as Ranger at the Cache Bay Quetico Park Ranger Station. During the winter of 1968, John accepted a position with a toy manufacturer in Chanhassen, Minnesota, where he designed stuffed toys. Once again, John was not content with an indoor job. In the spring of 1968, John acquired a seasonal job as Deputy Conservation Officer at Saganaga Lake. During the winters, he trapped in the same area. In 1985, John was promoted to Conservation Officer and was posted in Nakina, Ontario. A few years later, he was transferred to Upsala, Ontario. John retired in 1994.
I love to spend time outside but during “shoulder” seasons, as we call them, it becomes a little less attractive. Not enough snow on the trails to ski, water too solid to paddle but not safe enough to ice skate on. You get the picture. Here’s some added persuasion in case you are spending too much time indoors these days.
From this article.
Tom Tidwell, chief of the U.S. Forest Service from 2009 to 2017 doesn’t think mining should be done close to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Here’s his view.
Local View: Industrial mining must be kept away from the Boundary Waters
I first saw the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in July 2014 from a seat in a U.S. Forest Service floatplane. Below me, stretching as far as I could see, was some of the most beautiful country I had ever encountered in my 40-year career with the U.S. Forest Service.
The Boundary Waters — part of the Superior National Forest, which is public land owned by all Americans — contains almost 1.1 million acres of forests, lakes, streams, and wetlands. It is the most-visited wilderness area in America and has been every year since its designation under the Wilderness Act of 1964.
When exposed to air and water, sulfide ore in which copper and other minerals occur creates sulfuric acid and generates heavy metals and other pollutants. This is sometimes called “acid mine drainage.” This type of mining is more common in drier landscapes in western states. Even there, water pollution is significant and persistent. The vast network of waterways in the Boundary Waters region makes it particularly vulnerable to acid mine drainage. The increased acidity and heavy metal pollution could be catastrophic. It would be impossible to contain pollution given the interconnectedness of the waters. Compounding the problem is the absence of natural calcium carbonates, which means the water has virtually no capacity to buffer acid mine drainage.
The waterways along the Minnesota-Ontario border would carry pollution from a Twin Metals mine downstream to Voyageurs National Park in the U.S. and to Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario.
Because of the obvious risk to a national treasure, in my position as chief of the U.S. Forest Service, I initiated a review of copper mining in the area in 2014. The process included a public-comment period, two public hearings, and careful scientific assessment of the impact sulfide-ore mining could have on the Boundary Waters watershed. The review process proved conclusively that the watershed of the Boundary Waters is absolutely the wrong place for this type of mining.
In 2016, after thorough consideration of the information gained in the review process, on behalf of the Forest Service, I denied consent for the renewal of mineral leases to Twin Metals and asked the secretary of the Interior to withdraw from the leasing program for 20 years the federal mineral rights in the Boundary Waters watershed. Such a mining ban is preceded by an even deeper consideration of the scientific, economic, and cultural impact of copper mining in the area to ensure the withdrawal is warranted.
The administration of President Donald Trump reversed all this. In May, it brushed aside the science-based review and analysis that began in 2014 and reinstated the Twin Metals leases.
On Sept. 6, the Trump administration canceled the deeper study on the need for a 20-year ban on mining activity in the watershed, further paving the way for Antofagasta’s Twin Metals to build an industrial mining complex on the edge of the Boundary Waters.
These were bad, anti-science decisions that went against the core mission of the Forest Service, which is to protect our national forest lands. Sidestepping careful scientific review and enabling sulfide-ore mining imperils the entire Boundary Water region, which has a vigorous and sustainable economy centered on clean water and a healthy natural landscape.
For many decades, people from across the country have traveled to the Boundary Waters to enjoy camping, canoeing, fishing, snowshoeing, skiing, and dogsledding. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church groups, school groups, and countless other organizations enjoy the high adventure and opportunities for personal growth and leadership fostered by Boundary Waters expeditions.
We must keep industrial mining away from the Boundary Waters to preserve the rich experiences and priceless wilderness Americans have treasured for generations.