Boundary Waters Blog
Check out the beautiful scenery, amazing wildlife and real life Voyageurs in this video made by trip participant Kari Smerud. Oh how I long to paddle with the likes of them.
If you want to hear about their trip Kari and Tessa will be presenting at the Far North Symposium at Metro State University in St. Paul, MN on March 21, 2015. I wish I could go see them, someone should videotape it and upload it to Youtube so I can see it!
Take the time to view the video, it’s worth it.
Packages are only available for entry point 54 Seagull or 55 Saganaga. There is an additional shuttle fee for transportation to other entry points. You do not need to know your travel dates to purchase this special deal. You can purchase the voucher and then when you have decided on your trip dates call us so we can reserve your entry point into the wilderness. Approximately one week prior to your trip we’ll email you the coupon for Voyageur Brewing Company which must be presented at their location in Grand Marais. There is no cash value for the coupon and it is only good during regular business hours. Due to the Minnesota State Law growlers may not be filled on Sundays.If you must cancel your reservation then we’ll credit the amount paid for the voucher to a future trip with Voyageur for the 2015 paddling season which opens when the ice goes out and ends September 15th, 2015.
Last Chance to Get Your Hands On Our Gently Used Gear! Wenonah Ultra-Lite Seneca 3 Person Canoe (Used Two Seasons Only) Excellent Condition $1500
In a Nutshell:
A full price deposit holds your canoe. Your deposit is refundable if after your inspection you decide not to purchase the Kevlar canoe. We can help make delivery arrangements to areas around the Twins Cities and possibly Wisconsin, Ohio, Illonios and Indiana. We can also make arrangements to store your canoe until next season. Please call or email us with any questions you may have.
1-888-CANOEIT.Gently Used Granite Gear Packs $125 1. Quetico 2. Superior One The anatomically designed harness system and foam padded back panel hugs your body and puts the weight of the load close to your back and on your hips. Heavy-duty side lift handles and haul loop make lifting the pack out of the canoe and putting it on your back a breeze! Granite Gear Quetico Pack (#3 Pack) Capacity- 82 Liters Dimensions-41 x 64 x 23 cm Granite Gear Superior One Pack (#4 Pack) Capacity- 121 Liters Dimensions- 51 x 63 x 30 cm
I bet most of you didn’t realize we are in the middle of National Invasive Species Awareness Week. It seems kind of strange to me to have picked February 22-28th, 2015 for the dates but maybe there wasn’t anything else going on to celebrate?
I guess there are other parts of the United States that are not covered in 3 feet of snow so there is still potential to spread invasive species. On the Gunflint Trail we’re pretty safe right now because even where there isn’t good snow cover most plant life ceases to exist with the freezing cold temperatures we have.
In any case, three months from now when the thaw begins we can look back on this special week and remember how to help prevent the spread of invasive species.
Q: I heard that National Invasive Species Awareness Week is in February. What can I do to prevent the spread of invasive species when I’m out on the trails this spring?
A: Whether you are hiking, running, biking, or riding your horse or off-highway vehicle, it’s important to make sure you don’t accidently move invasive species from place to place. The “PlayCleanGo: Stop Invasive Species in Your Tracks” campaign offers these simple steps to help prevent the spread of invasive plants and animals:
Arrive with clean gear.
Burn local or certified firewood.
When horseback riding, us local or weed-free hay.
Stay on the trails.
Before leaving, remove mud and seeds from your gear.
By following these steps, you can help protect your favorite recreation spot from invasive species.
And the things we will do. Sunday we left Grand Marais at 5:00am so we could get Abby to Duluth by 7:30am for her volleyball tournament. We didn’t end up leaving the school until almost 7:00pm!
It’s amazing the things we will do for our kids. Or the places we will go for them. But soon they will be grown up and out of the house and then oh, the places we will go.
The things we will do. Like using an outhouse for the first 5 years of owning Voyageur Canoe Outfitters.
Oh the Places we will go. Like 10 sport and travel shows in the Midwest in one winter to market Voyageur.
Or the things we will do, like start a Half-Marathon on the Gunflint Trail.
Chapters of the book of our lives, being created at a break-neck pace only pausing long enough to replace the ink cartridge or add more paper to the printer.
I blogged a few days ago with the DNR Press Release regarding the Minnesota Moose Study. The press release didn’t have too much information but an article by John Myers in the Duluth News and Tribune sure did. Thank you John for digging into the story and providing readers with some insight.
The DNR has learned something. It turns out wolves are killing moose. In 2008 a moose advisory group was put together by the DNR bu the DNR didn’t want to talk about wolf predation in any of the discussions. Is that because the answer was so obvious they wouldn’t be able to rationalize a full-blown moose study with collaring and killing calves if they admitted wolves were indeed killing moose?
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a biologist to determine moose were being killed and are being killed by wolves on the Gunflint Trail. The large number of calves they eat can and does affect the population.
The moose management and research plan was created by the 2008 moose advisory group and printed at the end of 2011. It is now 2015 and the plan is to capture and collar more moose calves even though they already know a large percentage of them die due to abandonment by the mother or because of guess what? Wolves.
According to Myer’s article, “Wolves have killed 69 percent of the collared calves, with bears a distant 17 percent. Most of the calves died within 30 days of being born. Other causes — such as disease, starvation, vehicles or natural abandonment — each accounted for just a few deaths each, Severud noted.
Correct me if I’m wrong but wouldn’t the adult human population decrease if 70% of the babies born were eaten by wolves?
The DNR doesn’t think wolves affect the adult population of moose but remember they didn’t even want to talk about wolves at all in 2008. What’s that saying? “You’ve come a long ways baby.”
The study was almost shut down last year, bummer it wasn’t.
“We were at a point last summer when we almost shut it down. We were just getting hammered by some of the public and some legislators” because of the high rate of abandonment, DelGiudice said.
But DelGiudice, who spoke last week at a wildlife research symposium specifically on the problem of “capture-related mortality” in calf moose, said he and other researchers began to “figure out what works” by the end of last summer’s collaring effort.
If they continue to learn as quickly as DelGiudice then the only Gunflint Trail moose you see will be at the Minnesota Zoo. Some abandoned calves were taken there when their mother would no longer mother them after being collared.
Sorry for the rant but it really bothers me that moose calves are collared even though we already know many mothers will abandon them and 69% of them will get eaten by wolves. Move on, no more collaring moose calves. And especially please stay the heck away from the end of the Gunflint Trail.
It’s been a chilly February so far with many nights down into the negative double digits. We’ve had -28, -30, -34 and that is without windchill. The days have warmed up into the low double digits some days but at least those are above zero degrees. We’ve had some nasty windchills too, here’s what we’re looking forward to today!Weather Alerts Northern Cook / Northern Lake, Southern Cook / North Shore, Cook County Wind Chill Advisory issued February 22 at 3:09AM CST until February 23 at 10:00AM CST by NWS Duluth
Issued: Sunday, Feb 22 at 03:09 am
Expires: Monday, Feb 23 at 10:00 am
…DANGEROUSLY COLD CONDITIONS THIS MORNING AND LINGERING INTO
.ARCTIC AIR MOVED INTO THE NORTHLAND THIS MORNING WITH
TEMPERATURES FALLING TO WELL BELOW ZERO DEGREES. THE COMBINATION
OF THE NORTHWEST WINDS AND VERY COLD TEMPERATURES WILL RESULT IN
WIDESPREAD DANGEROUS WIND CHILLS OF 30 TO 45 DEGREES BELOW ZERO.
THE WIND CHILLS WILL IMPROVE TO ABOUT 20 TO 30 DEGREES BELOW ZERO
THIS AFTERNOON…BUT DETERIORATE AGAIN TO 30 TO 40 DEGREES
BELOW ZERO TONIGHT AND EARLY MONDAY. THE COLDEST WIND CHILL
READINGS…BOTH THIS MORNING AND EARLY MONDAY…WILL BE OVER
NORTHERN MINNESOTA. SOME AREAS OF FAR NORTHERN MINNESOTA COULD GET
WIND CHILLS OF UP TO AROUND 45 DEGREES BELOW ZERO TONIGHT AND
EARLY MONDAY…SO ANOTHER WIND CHILL WARNING MIGHT BE NEEDED.
…WIND CHILL WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON CST TODAY…
…WIND CHILL ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT FROM NOON TODAY TO 10 AM CST
* LOCATIONS…NORTHEAST MINNESOTA.
* TIMING…THE COLDEST CONDITIONS WILL BE THIS MORNING. CONDITIONS
WILL IMPROVE THIS AFTERNOON… THEN DETERIORATE AGAIN TONIGHT
AND EARLY MONDAY.
* WIND CHILL VALUES…35 TO 45 DEGREES BELOW ZERO THIS
MORNING…IMPROVING TO 20 TO 30 DEGREES BELOW ZERO THIS
AFTERNOON BEFORE DETERIORATING TO 30 TO 40 DEGREES BELOW ZERO
TONIGHT AND EARLY MONDAY.
* WINDS…NORTHWEST 5 TO 15 MPH…BECOMING WEST AND THEN SOUTHWEST
TONIGHT AND EARLY MONDAY.
* IMPACTS…FROST BITE AND HYPOTHERMIA CAN OCCUR IN A VERY SHORT
PERIOD OF TIME UNDER THESE CONDITIONS.
A WIND CHILL WARNING MEANS THE COMBINATION OF VERY COLD AIR AND WINDS WILL CREATE DANGEROUSLY LOW WIND CHILL VALUES. THIS WILL RESULT IN FROST BITE AND LEAD TO HYPOTHERMIA OR DEATH IF PRECAUTIONS ARE NOT TAKEN.
Sometimes you have to think about summer just to get the chill out of your bones. We’ve had sunshine the past few days but it is nothing compared to the warmth of the summer sun. As the sun rises earlier and sets later it’s difficult to not think about summer when the days last forever and the nights are short. Even so the days past quickly especially ones when you’re camping in the Boundary Waters. Until I can lay on a granite ledge and soak up the warmth from the rock and the sun above I’ll have to settle for the fire in the woodstove and images of summer in my mind.
Remember the craze over last year’s ice caves near the Apostle Islands? I do because I really wanted to visit them. The day I planned to visit them was super cold and windy and I ended up not making the ice hike out to see them. However, hundreds of thousands of people did make the trek, so many in fact the National Park Service decided to charge visitors for the experience this year.
When the announcement to charge a fee to visit the ice caves was made it rubbed me the wrong way. I felt like it was a little bit greedy. I know staff had to manage the parking lot and maybe pick up some garbage or give people directions or guidance but what else did they have to do? The fact the lake doesn’t always freeze over good enough to visit the ice caves anyway just made charging a fee seem a little bit ridiculous.
I know that it was just my personal opinion but sometimes Mike thinks I can cast a curse on things I don’t approve of. So far this year no one has been able to see the ice caves because the ice to get there hasn’t been good enough. I feel badly for the local businesses because they were able to make money in a normally slower time of the year last year and I’m sure they were hoping for a repeat of last year.
There’s not too much time left for the ice to form solid enough so visitors can pay their $5 each to see the ice caves this year. Is Mother Nature taking my side and trying to teach someone a lesson about implementing a fee? Probably not, but I can think that anyway and if the ice does form, I’ll be in line with my $5 bill, reluctantly handing it over to make the voyage to the ice caves.
Grand Marais, Minnesota is a cool town. This morning it was especially cool with a temperature of negative 11 degrees but that isn’t the “cool” I am referring to. I’m talking about the Budget Travel contest where you can vote on America’s Coolest Small Town. Grand Marais is close to winning the contest that ends next week but ponies and beaches in the state of Virginia are threatening to beat us out. In order to prevent that from happening everyone needs to cast their vote for Grand Marais, Minnesota today, and tomorrow and the next day and the day after that, and the day after that and so on until we are declared winners on February 26th, 2015. PLEASE help us win the title, because after all, we really are cool, in so many ways.
I haven’t been following the moose population study as closely as I normally do. Hopefully I’ll have some time to read more about it but for now here’s the DNR press release with a link for more information.
Minnesota’s moose population remains at low levels
Data from the aerial moose survey just completed indicate that the downward trend in the statewide moose population continues, even though there has been no statistical change in the population during the past few years.
Results of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ annual aerial moose survey place the 2015 statewide moose population estimate at 3,450. This compares with estimates of 4,350 in 2014 and 2,760 in 2013.
“All wildlife population surveys have inherent degrees of uncertainty,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager. “Long-term trend and population estimates are more informative and significant than annual point estimates.”
Overall, the number of moose is down approximately 60 percent from the 2006 estimate of 8,840.
The DNR has conducted aerial moose population surveys in northeastern Minnesota since 1960. A spotter counts moose as a pilot flies a helicopter across 52 randomly selected plots of 13 square miles.
“Survey conditions this year were generally good across moose range, although there was much less snow compared to last year,” said Cornicelli.
The DNR’s ongoing moose mortality research project also is providing important information on population status.
“This year, 11 percent of collared adult moose died, as compared to 21 percent last year. Although adult mortality was slightly lower, which is good, the number of calves that survive to their first year has also been low,” Cornicelli said. “This indicates the population will likely continue to decline in the foreseeable future.”
The adult and calf moose mortality studies are in their third year. As part of several studies, researchers will radio collar an additional 36 adult moose in the next couple of weeks. Another 50 newborn calves will be collared this spring. Researchers hope information and insights gathered during the studies will help identify potential population and habitat management options that may stop or slow the long-term population decline.
Final decisions about moose hunting are made after the DNR consults with the affected Chippewa bands in the 1854 Treaty ceded territory of northeastern Minnesota. The DNR discontinued moose hunting in 2013 until the population could support a hunt.
The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the 1854 Treaty Authority contribute funding and provide personnel for the annual aerial survey. Most of the funding for the ongoing moose research project is provided by the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).
A copy of the 2015 aerial survey is available online at www.mndnr.gov/moose. The Web page also provides information on the DNR’s ongoing moose mortality research project.
If you’re looking for a place to cross-country ski or snowmobile this winter then come to the Gunflint Trail. It’s a winter wonderland and there is plenty of snow to enjoy your favorite winter activities. Folks have been out on the cross-country ski trails and are raving about the awesome condition of the trails. I have yet to get out and enjoy them my self but I’m thinking this is the week. The forecast looks favorable, I have my ski pass and I’m ready to go. Now I just need to carve out a little bit of time so I can experience the wonderful trails myself.
No school for the kids tomorrow so that means I don’t have to get up early. Yippeeeee! The older I get the more I value sleep. I can’t wait to sleep in.
Not sure what else is on the agenda tomorrow but with temperatures below zero I can’t think of any pressing reason to get up early! Hope you enjoy your day off if you have it off.
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it then does it make a sound? Some argue the answer is “Yes” while others say, “No.” If a snowmobile drives alongside the BWCA wilderness and there is no one there to hear it then does it make a sound? According to a Judge, not a loud enough sound to matter to the people who aren’t there. I tend to agree with the Judge.
There’s no one there to hear the noise so it really isn’t noise.Judge rules in favor of proposed snowmobile route bordering BWCA
- Article by: RANDY FURST , Star Tribune
- Updated: February 14, 2015 – 1:07 AM
Judge rules that noise will have a minimal effect on wilderness area
Royal River cliffs rise above where a snowmobile trail bordering the BWCA.
Photo: Rick Brandenburg,
In a decision that will reverberate through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, U.S. District Judge John Tunheim ruled Friday that a proposed snowmobile route near the Canadian border will not violate the federal Wilderness Act.
The ruling climaxes an intense legal battle that has been waged for nearly a decade, pitting snowmobile enthusiasts and local community organizations against environmental groups who claim the route would spoil the pristine quiet of one of the state’s and nation’s most cherished and undeveloped areas.
The proposed route to be built by the U.S. Forest Service would come within about 400 feet of the edge of the BWCA.
While acknowledging his decision was “a close one,” Tunheim determined that the increase in sound from snowmobiles is “not significant enough to constitute a Wilderness Act violation.” He said the snowmobile noise from the route that would connect McFarland Lake to the popular ice-fishing attraction of South Fowl Lake was no louder than a “moderate rainfall” and would affect only a small portion of the wilderness.
“Indeed,” he wrote, “in any area that has been surrounded by snowmobile and other motorized traffic since the time it was designated as wilderness … there are few winter visitors and the expectation of solitude is slim.”
Tunheim’s decision drew dismay from environmentalists who first filed their suit to block the route in 2006.
“We are deeply disappointed in the judge’s ruling and we believe this new snowmobile trail will definitely impact the wilderness,” said Kevin Proescholdt of Minneapolis, conservation director for Wilderness Watch, a national organization. “Our fear is this will be another cut in the death of a thousand cuts to the Boundary Waters.”
Supporters of the Forest Service proposal said it was about time that the trail be built.
“I am very pleased with the judge’s decision,” said Nancy McReady of Ely, Minn., and president of Conservationists with Common Sense. “It just shows the common sense of the judge’s decision that there are motor noises already there that you hear in the Boundary Waters. … It would be nice to have this trail started as soon as they can.”
A divided community
Nancy Larson, district ranger for the Gunflint Ranger District of the Superior National Forest, acknowledged that the community has been split.
She said there were “lots of local interests” who wanted to see the trail constructed, “and we have had a cadre of people who have concerns about it.”
Larson said she was “glad to have a decision of the court” and her staff would begin to review the project and develop an action plan to implement it.
“In light of the time that has passed, I recognize there is going to be a lot of interest in constructing it as soon as possible,” she said. “I am guessing the action plan will identify opportunities for volunteers to contribute to trail construction.”
However, how quickly that occurs could depend on whether the environmental groups appeal the case to the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Those groups include the Sierra Club Northstar Chapter, Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, Wilderness Watch and the Izaak Walton League.
Kristen Marttila, the groups’ attorney, said the organizations will have to discuss what to do next.
They have 30 days to file a notice of appeal, and if they do, she said that would include a motion to delay construction of the trail pending a decision by the Eighth Circuit.
Marttila was involved in the original suit filed in 2006.
“This case predates my marriage and my child,” she said. “I’ve been working on this case for a long time.”
Snowmobiles are almost entirely banned in the Boundary Waters, although there are several exceptions written into the original act.
But restrictions on motorized vehicles have been a source of fierce dispute for decades.
The fight over the snowmobile route dates to the winter of 2002-03 when forest rangers discovered people were using an illegal trail through the BWCA to get from McFarland Lake to South Fowl Lake, where ice fishing is better.
That led to confrontations between rangers and snowmobilers, even after a fence was built to block use of the illegal trail.
Eventually, the previous Gunflint district ranger proposed the route that became the target of the lawsuit.
‘Minimal at most’
The fight over the trail was stalled in court while the Forest Service, under pressure from the environmental groups, was forced to conduct a complex noise analysis.
Tunheim wrote that the Royal Lake and the Royal River area where the impact of the proposed route would be “the greatest” is virtually unvisited during the winter. “Indeed, the record shows that Royal Lake is difficult to reach at the time of year when snowmobiles will be in use. … Therefore, the practical effect on wilderness visitors during the entire winter is minimal at most.”
He said that regardless of whether visitors are present, “the increase [in snowmobile use] by as much as three hours per day for three days out of the week is not sufficient to establish that the Forest Service’s decision was arbitrary and capricious.”
In their suit, the environmentalists argued that the Forest Service picked a route combining two alternatives without the required analysis.
But Tunheim ruled it was harmless error. “The amount of analysis that was done and breadth of information on which the public had the opportunity to comment make it likely that the error had no practical effect,” he wrote.
This weekend is a special weekend with Valentine’s Day on Saturday and President’s Day on Monday. It’s a long weekend and it’s going to be chilly on the Gunflint Trail, perfect for snuggling up with a sweetheart.
Unfortunately I won’t be on the Gunflint Trail nor will I be with my sweetheart. Abby has a 2-day volleyball tournament in the Twin Cities and Josh has a hockey game in Moose Lake on Saturday. I’m with Abby and Mike is with Josh, at least it’s going to be warmer in the cities so I won’t need to snuggle for warmth:)
Tony and Hannah get to be together and at the end of the Gunflint Trail. I’m sure they’ll spend some time outside before snuggling inside.
Wherever you are, we wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day!