Boundary Waters Blog
Holiday hints from the Minnesota Department of Commerce!
‘tis the season… to brighten your holidays with LED lights that save energy & money
SAINT PAUL – Are you still stringing the same old incandescent decorative lights for the holidays?
The Minnesota Commerce Department advises that you can save money this year and for many holiday seasons to come by replacing outdated, energy-hogging lights with high-efficiency, long-lasting light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs.
When shopping for new holiday lights, look for the ENERGY STAR® label to ensure that the product meets strict federal energy efficiency guidelines. ENERGY STAR-qualified lighting, as well as appliances and electronics, use less energy than their older, inefficient counterparts.
ENERGY STAR-qualified LED decorative lights are an economical choice because they use 75 percent less power than conventional lights and they can last up to 10 times longer.
Other advantages of LEDs include:
Safety. LEDs are cool to the touch, reducing the risk of fire.
Durable. LEDs do not have moving parts, filaments or glass, so they are much more resilient and shock-resistant than other light strings.
Wide range of choices. LEDs are available in a variety of colors, shapes and lengths.
Up-to-date features. LEDs offer the latest features and functions such as dimming and color shifting.
The cost of buying and operating LED C-9 lights for 10 holiday seasons is about $18 compared with $122 for incandescent C-9 bulbs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy Energy Saver. Using timers or dimmers can save even more energy.
Watch for rebates to help defray the cost of LEDs and other energy-efficient lighting products. Many electric utilities offer rebates for LEDs. (Visit www.dsireusa.org to learn about utility rebates or contact your utility directly.) Learn more about decorative LEDs at the ENERGY STAR website.
Finally: Be sure to recycle your old holiday lights. The Recycling Association of Minnesota provides a guide to recycling locations in Minnesota.
I had to find a picture with blue skies because I have forgotten what they look like. Another 1/4 of an inch of rain today and no sunshine. Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, shine your light on me.
It’s been raining off and on since early this morning. The temperature was in the high 30’s and 40’s all day so it was too warm for snow. Up the trail we received over a half of an inch of rain while closer to town they received over an inch. The rivers are running like it’s springtime and the majority of the snow has been eaten away. It’s suppose to cool off this week which should result in snow flurries which would be a little more normal for this time of the year.
Ok, don’t spoil this by watching the video from the beginning, well you could, but I want to suggest you start at 3:36 into the video. This guy is so enthusiastic about skipping rocks on ice, I love it! This could easily be done on a number of lakes on the Gunflint Trail(or anywhere) before the snow piles up. Believe me, I have done it and it is super fun. And I’ve thrown the really big ones on top of the ice to try to break it. You can have a ton of fun with a frozen sheet of ice!
In the summertime we have fireworks in Grand Marais for the 4th of July and again in August for Fisherman’s Picnic. The days of summer are long and it doesn’t get dark enough for fireworks until around 10:00pm. Last night we had a parade, the lighting of the town Christmas tree and fireworks. What was the difference between last night’s fireworks and the fireworks in the summer? About 5 hours! Just as beautiful.
Sometimes I wish the entire Gunflint Trail had trees as majestic as these pines, but then these ones wouldn’t be as special.
It snowed again today and it was perfect snow for building a snowman, if you didn’t want the snowman to last too long. With the temperature in the 30’s it was heavy wet snow. Abby and a friend found out it wasn’t good snow for sledding down a hill. One very slow trip down and the snow was packed into a slush, not very slippery to say the least. It wasn’t fun snow to shovel either. It’s the back breaking kind of snow where you barely need any in your shovel and you can’t lift it off of the ground. But it’s snow and it’s pretty and there will be more of it.
It’s that time of the year when the days just keeping getting shorter and shorter. It’s amazing how quickly the sun starts going down in the afternoon. The sun sets around 4:27 pm and doesn’t rise until around 7:23 am for just over 9 hours of daylight. The daylight gets shorter by around 2 minutes each day this time of year and by the solstice we’ll have just 8 hours and 32 minutes of daylight.
It’s not my favorite time of the year since I’m a light lover. I love the sunshine and a brightly lit room. The electric company loves me because I tend to have every light possible on inside of my house.
The good news is as quickly as the days got shorter they will get longer once again. It’s just one more month and things will turn around.
I’ve been seeing quite a few eagles while I’ve been driving lately. Here’s why.
From MN DNR-
It’s the time of year when an increase in deer activity leads to more road-killed deer that attract animals, such as eagles, to a free meal along roadways. This is also the time of year when Minnesota Department of Natural Resources nongame wildlife staff and area wildlife managers receive many calls about injured or dead eagles on Minnesota roads.
Why do eagles get hit by vehicles? After all, people rarely see a crow injured or dead along the roadway. Crows simply fly off.
Just as an overloaded plane can’t take off, eagles can “over eat” and become too heavy to fly until they digest their meal. Eagles can also suffer from neurological issues if they are exposed to lead in the carcass of the animal they are eating. When this happens, eagles become disoriented and do not know to fly off when a car is approaching.
“When deer are particularly active, we tend to get calls about eagles that are injured or killed by vehicles or sick and dying from lead poisoning,” said Christine Herwig, DNR northwest region nongame specialist. “If you see a dead deer on the road and can safely move the deer off the roadway, this improves the safety of other motorists and wildlife.”
People who encounter a dead eagle, can leave it alone or bring it to the nearest DNR office; it’s a good idea to call ahead to be sure they have a freezer. Eagles are sent to a national feather repository where the feathers and other eagle parts are cleaned and distributed to Native American reservations for use in ceremonies.
“You may not keep a dead eagle, but by law you are allowed to transport a dead eagle to a state or federal wildlife agency office.” Herwig said. “In 1940, Congress enacted the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which makes possession of an eagle or an eagle feather a federal crime punishable by a $10,000 fine and a year in prison.”
For people who encounter an injured eagle, Herwig recommends either contacting a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or letting nature take its course. Some eagles can survive their injuries and be transported to a rehabilitator like the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center, which rehabilitates more than 800 sick and injured hawks, eagles, falcons and owls a year. Again, there are exceptions to federal laws, including an allowance for those attempting to bring wounded birds to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator. Citizens may not rehabilitate wildlife without a permit.
Before transporting an eagle to the Raptor Center, DNR office or wildlife rehabilitator, Herwig recommends to first contact the local DNR office or rehabilitator. Transporting any injured animal, particularly a raptor, can be challenging and even dangerous. Thick leather gloves should be worn and a blanket (without loops) could be put over the head of the animal to calm it down. Be sure the animal is contained in a secure and appropriately sized pet carrier or box. Do not feed or water the animal, and bring the animal to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible. Being near humans and around unfamiliar, loud noises is stressful to wildlife, especially when they are injured. When transporting any wild animal in a vehicle, passengers should remain quiet, leave the radio off and leave the animal alone.
Information about wildlife rehabilitation including a list of permitted wildlife rehabilitators: www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/rehabilitation/injured-wildlife.html.
People can help support Minnesota’s Nongame Wildlife Program by making a tax-deductible donation using the Nongame Wildlife checkoff this tax season.
For more information on bald eagles and the Nongame Wildlife Program, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame.
Your favorite forest beckons on a cold winter day. Heed the call, yes, and go prepared not only with the proper clothing and gear but also with the proper knowledge.
This article was originally posted in the Winter-Spring 2009 issue Your National Forests magazine.Myth: You lose most of your body heat through your head.
If you haven’t heard this one, you probably haven’t dressed for the cold… ever. The amount of total body heat you can lose through your head, according to the myth, varies from half to as much as 85 percent. But your head accounts for only 10 percent of your total body surface! And, guess what, that’s exactly how much body heat you lose from your head—10 percent. You do not lose heat faster or more easily from your uncovered head. But 10 percent is more than enough to be concerned about, and ears and noses remain high on the list of favored sites for frostbite. Bundle up your noggin.Myth: Drinking hot liquids warms you faster than drinking cold liquids.
There should be little misunderstanding about hydration: you must be drinking to maximize internal heat production and to perform at your best. You need at least as much fluid in winter as in summer. It is, however, almost impossible to drink enough hot liquid to raise the temperature of your body’s core. And you can drink cool water much faster than you can sip down a hot drink. Yes, there is a psychological lift gained from a warm mug, but don’t count on it to warm you up inside. Most of the time, drink cool or cold liquid, preferably water, to stay warm in winter.Myth: A little nip of alcohol helps prevent cold injury.
Sipping your favored alcoholic beverage on a winter trail might make you feel good, but it is dangerous outside in cold weather. Alcohol opens up blood vessels in your skin (the warm blush of drinking), but that encourages loss of heat from your skin. And alcohol lowers your core temp a bit. “Ah,” you say, “what if I’m dressed appropriately?” You might not lose a dangerous amount of heat if your skin is adequately protected, but you will lose the keen edge of mental sharpness. Save the toddy for chats by the fireplace at home, or at least until camp is well set and you only have to crawl to your sleeping bag. Even then, moderation in all things.Myth: Hypothermia kills you within minutes of falling into icy water.
Those who die within minutes of plunging into deeply cold water drown: they panic, inhale, go down, and never come up. Hypothermia, the dangerous lowering of your body’s core temperature, takes at least a half hour to become a problem, even in ice water. Gordon Giesbrecht, Ph.D., the guru of cold-weather medical research, suggests using the first minute after an unintentional coldwater dunking to calm down and control your breathing. Then, he says, use the next 10 minutes trying to get out of the water. After 10 minutes, the cold will have sapped your ability to move usefully. If you can’t get out, try to relax and float. You have about an hour more of consciousness. Those wearing a personal flotation device might survive long enough to be rescued.Myth: In a hard, cold wind, your skin freezes faster.
Actually, this is partially true. High-speed wind dramatically lowers the temperature of your unprotected skin. And the faster the wind, the more quickly your skin cools. However, there is no incremental difference in the effect of wind on your skin at wind speeds over 40 miles per hour. But winds that high drive most people into shelter anyway. The myth is this: a cold wind can cause frostbite in temps above freezing. Wind increases the rate of heat lost, but it will not lower your skin temp below the ambient temperature. If the thermometer reads above freezing, a high wind can cause you great discomfort, but it will not freeze your skin.
The high temperature for the day was 20 degrees on the Gunflint Trail. The wind was blowing, there’s snow on the ground and the only way you wouldn’t have known it wasn’t the middle of the winter was because there’s still open water. If the temperatures stay this way it won’t take long to make ice but normally it’s a slow process. We shall see what Mother Nature brings us. Here’s a still shot from the Rockwood Lodge web camera. Enjoy!
Here’s a suggestion for gift giving this holiday season from Living Green 365-
Make memories, not trash
Although our homes may be overflowing with material goods, those things don’t bring us lasting happiness.
What does, research has shown, are experiences.
Our enthusiasm for new possessions is short-lived. Experiences, on the other hand, live on in our memories and stories.
Some additional benefits: experiences don’t have to be dusted, organized, stored, tossed, or donated. They don’t end up in landfills or other waste disposal facilities. They’re the ideal eco-friendly gift option!
This holiday season and beyond, consider experience-based gifts for those on your shopping list. Below are some suggestions to get you started.
Gift cards for unique winter activities—which can be done on your own or with a guide:
Registration for social winter events, like:
Book Across the Bay (Ashland, WI)
Luminary Loppet (Minneapolis, MN)
Loppet Kuub tournament (Minneapolis, MN)
Fitness classes – Yoga, Zumba, Jazzercise, Kickboxing, Jiu-Jitsu, to name a few
Minnesota State Parks gift card–This gift card can be used for a Minnesota State Parks Permit, camping and overnight getaways; or canoe, kayak, stand-up paddleboard, cross-country ski, snowshoe, and snowtube rentals.
For more experience-based gift ideas, see Make Memories, Not Trash.
And of course- consider a gift card to Voyageur Canoe Outfitters!