It seems that spring comes at least once per year so you would think we should be prepared for it. The trouble is we’re not that good at predicting just when it arrives. For most of us that’s not a big deal, but when we’re managing natural resources including gravel roads, the arrival of spring is important. Or should I say the arrival of breakup or mud season.
Because our roads are frozen and they do tend to thaw out during this time period, there is a need to put load limits on our roads. Not a big deal I guess since we work with both the State and the County on the timing of road weight limits and it only takes a couple days to implement those. But there are the people who make their living in our forests and who use our roads. As well as having a concern for the roads, we have probably a larger concern for the stability of our forest soils. Heavy equipment like loggers use works very well on frozen soils but can do some not very nice things during this time of year.
So, with the somewhat sudden coming of breakup there was a flurry of activity where the loggers who work on National Forest lands were rushing to get their equipment out of the woods, plus they kind of wanted to get their harvested wood out as well. They did so, and our forests are pretty quiet this time of year, waiting for the soils to dry out so woods workers can return.
Similarly we suspended operations on our hazard tree removal project that was going on near the upper end of the Gunflint Trail. We needed to get the heavy equipment off from the roads for a while. I’ll have to add that this operation did leave a bit of unsightly slash along the Gunflint. It seems those fire killed trees were pretty brittle and the branches easily broke off during the clearing process. This tells me the trees needed to come down, but it also tells me we’ll need to get some hand crews out to help reduce the slash. Unfortunately our hand crews don’t come on until the first of May, so I’ll need your patience until then. By the first of June we should have the shoulders of the Gunflint cleaned up. That is two and a half months, but I’m hoping that’s not too bad a price if our actions prevent a serious injury.