Boundary Waters Blog
Yesterday the kids had their first snow day of the year. With the forecast calling for 8-30″ of more white stuff they might see another snow day this week!
Published December 04, 2013, 01:23 PMNorthland to see heavy snow in afternoon, evening
UPDATE: North of Two Harbors reportedly is approaching 40 inches since Monday.
By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune
The storm that wouldn’t end is far from over.
The National Weather Service in Duluth this afternoon is forecasting snow to fall at an inch or more per hour in Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin into this evening, adding another 8 to 12 inches of additional snow by the time the storm moves out of the region early Thursday.
The highest snowfall will occur along the Interstate 35 corridor through the Twin Ports and up the North Shore.
Three-day storm snowfall totals generally ranged from 8 to 20 inches across the region by noon today, with 10 to nearly 20 inches common in Duluth.
The Weather Service says final storm totals will range from 12 to near 40 inches by Thursday. But one report north of Two Harbors was at 39 inches by 1 p.m. with no end to the snow in sight.
When the snow subsides sometime Thursday, bitter cold is expected to rapidly move into the region, sending temperatures below zero and wind-chill levels into the dangerous range. The low temperature Friday morning will drop into the teens below zero with wind-chill values to 30 below.
A winter-storm warning remains in effect until 6 a.m. Thursday for the entire region and travel conditions are rapidly deteriorating with heavy snow falling and gusty winds causing drifting and glazed roadways.
Nearly all schools, universities and many businesses have closed for the day in the Duluth area. Nearly all meetings and events have been canceled for this evening.
The city of Duluth has suggested no unnecessary travel, and it issued a warning about ice and clumps of snow falling off the Aerial Lift Bridge due to gusts of wind.
The Minnesota State Patrol reports 175 crashes since Monday, statewide, and nearly 20 vehicles that had run off the road.
“We don’t get three-day snowfalls very often — every few years. Even for the North Shore and Duluth, for a storm to hit 30 inches, that’s pretty unusual,” Carol Christenson, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Duluth, said. “For us to even forecast snow totals like this, it goes against the averages.”
Kelly Fleissner, who leads Duluth’s snowplowing efforts for more than 400 miles of city streets, said city crews worked 16-hour shifts during the height of the storm Monday night and Tuesday. He said they will hope for an eight-hour break overnight before they come back out in full force before dawn Thursday.
“We had so much snow that we had to stay on the main roads all night into Tuesday morning. So we were late getting into the residential streets. I know it’s been tough for people just to get out of their neighborhoods. But, please, be patient,” Fleissner said. “We’ll have them back out early Thursday. Unfortunately it may be several days before we get to everyone’s street, especially the alleys.”
Even with plows going full tilt, in some cases, the roads were too sodden for those Northlanders who dared venture out. It took Gunnar Johnson an hour to get out of his driveway Tuesday morning in rural Duluth. He lives in the area north of Duluth that reported one of the highest overnight snow totals, 18 inches and counting in Normanna Township.
“It was not what I expected,” Johnson said of the wet kiss of snow that packed down under the weight of his car and created tire lanes of ice.
My guess is mining would have a bigger affect on the Boundary Waters than a small portion of snowmobile trail, but then again, what do I know…Snowmobile trail plan at edge of BWCA causes legal rift
- Article by: RANDY FURST , Star Tribune
- Updated: November 30, 2013 – 11:08 PM
Critics say plan violates quiet of the wilderness; others predict light traffic, minimal disruption.hide
The trail would run about midway up along the Royal River bluff at right.
Photo: RICK BRANDENBURG • Special to the Star Tribune,
For some residents of Cook County, the 2-mile snowmobile route proposed by the U.S. Forest Service is a no-brainer — a safe, direct link for cabin owners on McFarland Lake to the fish-rich waters of South Fowl Lake on the Canadian border.
But for environmental groups, the plan is a boldfaced attack on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, with one part of the route only 400 feet away from the federal parkland’s border. They imagine the rumble of snowmobiles piercing the solitude that makes the 1.1 million acres in northern Minnesota so special.
The legal dispute has gone on for eight years, gaining little statewide attention, but embroiling advocates on both sides in what has become a classic confrontation over the BWCA, which is managed by the Forest Service.
“It is a struggle between the longtime local residents to replace an historical trail they have used for years, and the outside groups,” says Rhonda Silence, editor of the Cook County News Herald, referring to the environmental organizations. Those groups, she says, “are just causing a lot of hard feelings for the people who live on the lake, and the ice fishermen who want to catch a walleye, to ride a trail to their favorite fishing spot.”
Snowmobiles are almost entirely banned in the Boundary Waters, and restrictions on motorized vehicles there have been a flashpoint for decades. The fight over the trail, which has been stalled in the legal system while the Forest Service conducted a complex noise analysis, returned to federal court in August. Both sides will meet in court in January to map out a pretrial schedule.
The proposed trail would “introduce new snowmobile sounds to the wilderness and from some angles it will introduce the sight of snowmobiles to the wilderness,” said Kevin Proescholdt, conservation director of Wilderness Watch, which wants the route rejected. “It will be incredibly loud, far noisier than it is now.” The group argues that the trail would be a violation of the Wilderness Act of 1964, which requires the Forest Service to protect the character of the BWCA.
‘It was a mess’
The fight over the snowmobile route dates to the winter of 2002-2003 when Forest Service rangers discovered people were using an illegal trail through the BWCA to get from McFarland Lake, where the ice fishing is not so good, to South Fowl Lake, where it is much better. “We went to investigate and we found snowmobile tracks and ATV tracks all over” Royal Lake, inside the BWCA, says Rick Brandenburg, a retired Forest Service ranger. “It was a mess.”
Brandenburg said he was ordered by his supervisor to ticket people, which upset the locals who had used the route for years. Some residents called the Forest Service to complain.
Even some Forest Service employees used the route, Brandenburg said he learned. He said he was told by the Forest Service to back off and stop issuing tickets.
The Forest Service, he says, eventually put up a fence to stop the snowmobilers. “The fence was completely ineffective. People went around it. … There was two more years of illegal use after that.”
In 2005, Brandenburg and another ranger decided to issue tickets. There was a confrontation when they tried to stop a line of about 10 snowmobilers using the illegal route.
Most got past them, but he says he was able to knock one man off his snowmobile and take his key. After that, armed Forest Service law enforcement officers were brought in and they ticketed eight snowmobilers. The illegal snowmobiling stopped, he says.
After examining alternatives, Dennis Neitzke, the Gunflint District ranger, proposed the route that runs just south of the BWCA that’s now the target of the lawsuit.
“He wanted to be in good standing with a section of the local population that likes to do motorized recreation and don’t necessarily like the rules that prohibit it,” says Brandenburg.
Neitzke, who now works for the Forest Service in North Dakota, argues in Forest Service documents that the proposed route is better than a much longer, more southerly route favored by environmentalists that requires snowmobilers to climb a steep, treacherous hill to South Fowl Lake.
Route defended again
A new environmental impact statement was prepared, this time with an elaborate sound analysis. In 2011, Neitzke issued another report recommending the route. “The sound impacts would only occur in the four winter months,” he wrote, and would not represent a dramatic increase in noise.
In August, the Izaak Walton League, Wilderness Watch, the Sierra Club Northstar Chapter and Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness filed an amended suit, saying their studies show the snowmobiles will still be loud and the trail “degrades the wilderness character” of the BWCA.
“We remain concerned about the noise impact but are also looking at the visual effect,” says Margaret Levin, Sierra Club Northstar state director. “The trail as planned cuts into a bluff and would be clearly visible from the BWCA.”
Nancy McReady of Ely, president of Conservationists with Common Sense, finds the environmental groups’ position puzzling. “According to the Forest Service, visitation in the wintertime is next to none,” she says. “It wouldn’t be a high-speed trail, you wouldn’t have a roar. It would be one or two snowmobiles at a time. … As for the noise, you have [Forest Service] planes flying over the Boundary Waters all the time. … I am hoping this trail gets built. This is getting beyond ridiculous.”
But Brandenburg argues that millions visit the BWCA annually for peace and quiet, not snowmobile noise. “We call it the trail to nowhere,” he says. “It’s for a few cabin owners who want a shortcut to their fishing lake.”
The alternate trail favored by environmentalists runs beside a road where snowmobiles could get hit by vehicles, the Forest Service says.
That route would require building a zigzagging trail up a steep hill for snowmobiles to climb.
“They would blast rock and cut brush and destroy — what kind of environmentalists are you?” says Diane Greeley, secretary of the Arrowhead Coalition for Multiple Use. She has one of about 40 cabins on McFarland Lake.
Proescholdt, the Wilderness Watch activist, concedes that bulldozing would be needed for the hillside route but thinks the Forest Service trail also will require heavy construction equipment, though advocates of that route disagree.
More to the point, he worries, the Forest Service route will set a precedent. “There is an old saying of death by a thousand cuts,” said Proescholdt. “There are threats to the BWCA all the time. All of these are cumulative harms to the Boundary Waters.”
Randy Furst • 612-673-4224
It’s just another Monday as far as I’m concerned. Yes, it’s tempting to look at things online and get some Christmas shopping done but not tempting enough. If you must shop then check out the Voyageur Trading Post online, we aren’t offering any “deals” at this time, but no one is preventing you from looking:)
Check out our winter weather advisory!
Northern Cook / Northern Lake, Southern Cook / North Shore, Cook County Winter Weather Advisory issued December 02 at 4:51AM CST until December 04 at 6:00PM CST by NWS Duluth
Issued: Monday, Dec 02 at 04:51 am
Expires: Wednesday, Dec 04 at 06:00 pm
…SEVERAL ROUNDS OF SNOW THROUGH WEDNESDAY…
.AN APPROACHING LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM WILL BRING INCREASING
MOISTURE…AND SEVERAL ROUNDS OF ACCUMULATING SNOW TO THE
NORTHLAND THROUGH WEDNESDAY. THE FIRST OF THESE ROUNDS OF SNOW
HAS ALREADY SPREAD INTO NORTHERN MINNESOTA EARLY THIS
MORNING…WITH MORE TO FOLLOW LATER THIS MORNING AS ANOTHER BAND
OF SNOW SPREADS INTO THE AREA. THERE IS MUCH UNCERTAINTY IN THE
AMOUNT OF SNOW EACH ROUND OF SNOW MAY BRING TO THE AREA.
HOWEVER…IF THE LATEST MODEL TRENDS CONTINUE…THERE MAY BE MORE
SNOW THAN CURRENTLY FORECAST FOR SOME AREAS. IN THIS CASE…AN
UPGRADE TO A WARNING FOR ALL OR A PORTION OF THE AREA MAY BE NEEDED.
…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT FROM 9 AM THIS MORNING
TO 6 PM CST WEDNESDAY…
* LOCATION…NORTH CENTRAL AND NORTHEAST MINNESOTA…EAST
CENTRAL MINNESOTA INTO THE ST. CROIX RIVER VALLEY.
* TIMING…AN INITIAL WAVE OF LIGHT SNOW THIS MORNING WILL
DIMINISH FOR A FEW HOURS THIS MORNING. THEN…THE SNOW WILL
INCREASE IN COVERAGE AGAIN LATER IN THE MORNING…BECOMING
WIDESPREAD BY THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING. ADDITIONAL BANDS OF
SNOW ARE EXPECTED TO MOVE ACROSS THE AREA TUESDAY AND TUESDAY
NIGHT…AND AGAIN WEDNESDAY AND WEDNESDAY NIGHT.
* SNOW ACCUMULATIONS…WIDESPREAD SNOWFALL AMOUNTS OF 3 TO 6
INCHES ARE EXPECTED THROUGH MONDAY EVENING. LOCALLY HIGHER
AMOUNTS ARE POSSIBLE ALONG THE NORTH SHORE OF LAKE SUPERIOR.
ADDITIONAL ACCUMULATING SNOW WILL BE FOUND THROUGH WEDNESDAY.
TOTAL SNOWFALL AMOUNTS…FROM MONDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY…IN
EXCESS OF 12 INCHES CAN BE EXPECTED.
* IMPACTS…EXPECT TRAVEL CONDITIONS TO DETERIORATE TODAY AND
TONIGHT. UNTREATED ROADS MAY BECOME SLICK AND HAZARDOUS.
THIS WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW MEANS THAT ACCUMULATING SNOW WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SNOW COVERED ROADS AND REDUCED VISIBILITY…AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING. ALLOW EXTRA TIME TO REACH YOUR DESTINATION.
Soon you will have the opportunity to go ice fishing in the Boundary Waters. Do you have your trip planned?
Soon there will be the opportunity to snowshoe throughout the Boundary Waters. Will you take advantage of it?
Just thinking about shopping on this day makes me cringe. I have a hard time in the Duluth mall on a Saturday with all of the people so I can’t imagine how I would be on Black Friday. I guess it would depend upon my patience level on that particular day but I can imagine if my patience was running low it could end up being a black and blue Friday.
Let’s just say after living at the end of the Gunflint Trail for 20 years I have less tolerance for crowds, traffic and unkind people. We can drive 56 miles with just 2 stop signs and one traffic light. A bad parking spot for us is one that isn’t right in front of the door, maybe 20 feet from the door and at most during a busy time of the year still within a couple of blocks and it’s free. If you go to a big event and have to leave the parking lot and wait for the whole lot to clear out before you can go then the most you would wait would be 6 minutes. I guess you could say we are very spoiled.
Traffic jams in our neck of the woods are quite tolerable. Most of the time it’s moose in the road that causes a traffic jam. If it isn’t moose then it could be a couple of vehicles where the owners are busy visiting with each other. Chances are when you pull up you know who they are and join in the conversation. Horns aren’t used to say “Get out of my Way” they are used to say “HELLO!”. If I get honked at in a city then my first instinct is to wave because I must know them if they are honking at me.
Our bodies are set to a slower pace and mixed with the Minnesota Nice personalities I doubt I would end up getting any of the “deals” offered on Black Friday. Either that or like the title suggests, it would end up being a Black and Blue Friday.
Hope you have many things to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving and Always.
There may not be snow on the ground where you’re at but the Christmas displays in stores have been out since Halloween. Whether we like it or not Thanksgiving is this Thursday and that means Christmas is just around the corner. Do you have an artificial tree or do you get a real tree? Wouldn’t it be fun to bring your family up to Voyageur before Christmas and head out to pick out your Christmas tree from the Superior National Forest?
You would have the opportunity to relax and unwind before the busy holiday season and to take a break from cell phones. We’d love to have you as our guest and you can experience what Christmas is supposed to be like. Fun times with family away from the hustle and bustle. Doesn’t it sound wonderful?
Gathering Holiday Greens on the Superior National Forest
Gathering your own Christmas tree or balsam boughs on the national forest is a great way to get outdoors with your family and celebrate the holidays. For many people this is an annual tradition. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to make this part of your holiday tradition:
Where can I get a Christmas tree permit? Stop by any of our Forest Service offices to obtain a permit for a Christmas tree. A permit to cut one Christmas tree on the Superior National Forest costs $5.00. Two permits are allowed per household per year.
What about balsam bough permits? To obtain a permit for bough gathering, contact the Forest Service office closest to the area where you plan to collect. A “personal use” permit for gathering balsam boughs on the Superior National Forest allows for enough boughs to make approximately 5 door-size wreaths and costs $20.00. If you plan to harvest a large amount of boughs, a commercial permit must be purchased.
How can I be sure I am on national forest lands and in the right place? Parcels of state, county, tribal and private lands are intermixed with national forest lands within the Superior National Forest boundary. Cutting of Christmas trees and boughs is not allowed inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, plantations, recreation areas, or administrative sites. Visitor maps of the Superior National Forest which show land ownership are available for $10.00 at all Forest offices and also via internet. Permits and maps may be obtained by mail but you must allow time for a check to travel through the mail and materials to be returned.
I wish I had time to go ice skating. Unfortunately my time is limited these days. So I must live vicariously through those who have time to do such wonderful things.
Thanksgiving is this week and as usual I have many things to be thankful for. The truth is most of us have lots of things to be thankful for. Food, shelter, water and medical services are things most of us take for granted. These are things that have recently been taken away from our friends in the Phillippines.
Elsa’s family appreciates all of the support and prayers. I appreciate the over $900 that has been donated so far but I know we can do better. I know there are many of you out there that want to help and you still can.
Please take the time to help Elsa and the people in her village who have been affected by the typhoon. Give them something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, and I’ll be super thankful too.
I remember using a rotary telephone, typewriter and a time when people didn’t have computers. I started with a bag phone as a cell phone and now my cell phone is a computer too. My kid’s have iPhones and I wish I would have never given them to them.
You think you are doing your kids a favor by giving them a cell phone. That it will make life easier and that they can self-regulate how much they use it and for what purposes. How can someone send thousands of texts in a month yet only place 3 or 4 calls in an entire month? Kids only know how to communicate via texting or snap chatting or through facebook. And whose fault is it?
It’s my fault for allowing my kids to use and abuse technology. I’ve listened to their excuses, “I need music to fall asleep.” “I use it for the alarm.” “I have to have the calculator.” “I won’t use it during school.” Well, guess what? Being a parent isn’t a popularity contest and middle school kids aren’t that nice to their parents anyway. I think it’s time to bring back the, “It’s for your own good.” saying and regulate how much technology they use.
The temperature didn’t hit double digits on the Gunflint Trail today. The low was 0 degrees and the high 9 degrees. Needless to say the hunters didn’t spend too much time sitting in the woods hunting. The forecast calls for a low of -11 degrees tonight. It’s going to take a quite a bit of firewood to keep the house warm tonight.
It is supposed to warm back up this coming week and there’s a chance for snow. Like I always say, if it is going to be cold then we may as well have some snow to play in.
Most of the time we don’t hear happy endings to stories of people falling through the ice. I’m not sure why this individual was on the ice so early this season but obviously he just couldn’t wait to get out there. I hope he shows his gratitude to the men who saved his life and I hope he has a full recovery.
DNR News release DNR conservation officers’ actions save man’s life
Training, determination, and the right equipment helped a conservation officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources save the life of a man who fell through the ice on a central Minnesota lake.
Acting Lt. Tony Musatov of Sauk Rapids responded to Little Rock Lake near Rice, Minn., on Friday, Nov. 15, after a report of an ice angler breaking through the ice.
On arrival, Musatov asked two volunteer firefighters to assist him in pushing a small boat out across the ice. The ice was too thick near shore to break through so the group pushed the boat across the ice until they were able to break through.
Musatov broke through the ice as well but was able to make his way into the boat and continue to the victim.
Progress was very slow due to ice. When the rescuers were about 35 yards away, the angler, Joshua Johnson, 30, of Sartell, went under water and never resurfaced.
Musatov and the others continued to break ice until they reached the area where Johnson was last seen. Musatov threw a grappling hook and eventually hooked the leg of the victim. CPR was started and Johnson was rushed to the hospital.
Even though Johnson was under water for about 45 minutes, doctors were able to warm his body and get a heartbeat. Johnson was in a coma until early Monday morning, but is now able to communicate with doctors.
Also assisting were DNR conservation officers Mike Martin and Dave Schottenbauer.
Gone are the days of the lottery for Boundary Waters paddling permits for entry points on the Gunflint Trail. For the last couple of years the only entry points you can obtain permits for through a lottery are Moose Lake and Fall Lake. You can submit a reservation into the lottery for overnight paddling, overnight motor or day use motor permits for those two lakes beginning on December 17th at 9am. The lottery will run until January 14, 2014, reservations will be made for those who “win” and then beginning on January 29th all permits will be available on a first come first served basis.
If you’re planning to visit the BWCA and know your dates already you can make a reservation with us and we’ll take care of your permit when the time comes. If you don’t know your plans then don’t worry, there’s plenty of time to plan. The good thing about being located at the end of the Gunflint Trail is we almost always have permits to pick from. Just give us a call whenever you are ready and we can help you with your planning and reservation process for your next Boundary Waters canoe trip.