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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