County approves ordinance amendment expanding ATV use on Gunflint Trail


Brian Larsen, Cook County News-Herald – July 31, 2015

Following a packed public hearing held in the Cook County Commissioner’s room on July 28, commissioners voted 4-1 to allow Class 1 all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to be driven on approximately four miles of the Gunflint Trail.

Voting for the amended ATV ordinance were Commissioners Frank Moe, Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble and Ginny Storlie with Jan Sivertson voting against the change to the 2009 ATV ordinance.


Superior National Forest urges visitors to be fire safe

The forecast is for beautiful weather through the weekend and beyond so it is a great time to get out and enjoy your national forests. At the same time, fire danger is quite high in northeastern Minnesota, particularly across the Superior National Forest, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

Forest managers urge visitors to be extra careful with campfires at this time. Always use designated fire rings, when available, and clear flammables away for at least 15 feet from your campfire. Help Smokey Bear and make sure all fires are completely extinguished before leaving your campsite. Remember that wind can carry sparks for a long distance from a campfire. Consider using a camp stove to reduce the risk of a stray spark.

While we currently do not have any special orders restricting campfires on the Superior National Forest, it is important to check on status at the time you plan to visit. As weather, fuels, and fire risks change, restrictions may become necessary. As Smokey always says: “Please be careful with fire.”

For updates regarding conditions on the Superior National Forest, see the Forest website: and follow us on Facebook@U.S.Forest Service-Superior National Forest and Twitter@SuperiorNF.

June 13 is PlayCleanGo Day in Minnesota

PlayCleanGo: Stop Invasive Species in Your Tracks announces the third annual Minnesota PlayCleanGo Day on June 13, held in collaboration with the Department of Natural Resources. PlayCleanGo encourages individuals and families to take to the outdoors and enjoy parks, trails and campgrounds across Minnesota while supporting efforts to prevent the spread of terrestrial (land-based) invasive species.

On June 13, Minnesota state parks will also be celebrating the eighth annual National Get Outdoors Day, which encourages healthy and active outdoor fun by waiving all entrance fees. In Cook County, Cascade River State Park will participate in the event.

PlayCleanGo volunteers will be on hand at nine state parks, including Cascade, and four regional park locations to provide information and educational materials on terrestrial invasive species.

Visitors can learn about the many park offerings as well as simple steps they can take to help prevent the spread of terrestrial invasive species on our treasured lands.

PlayCleanGo is an education and outreach campaign for outdoor recreationalists. The goal is to encourage outdoor recreation like off-road vehicle use, hiking, biking, horseback riding and more, while protecting valuable natural resources. The objective is to stop the spread of terrestrial invasive species through personal accountability. The campaign is designed to engage recreationists to take quick and easy steps to help prevent the spread of invasive plants and animals while at the same time encouraging outdoor recreation.


North Shore Forest Collaborative to meet at Gunflint Ranger Station May 29

The North Shore Forest Collaborative spring meeting will be held May 29 at the Gunflint Ranger Station in Grand Marais.

Organizers note that much has been happening with forest restoration on the North Shore, and the future looks bright.

The meeting will include a field trip to see restoration projects in progress and opportunities to learn about upcoming projects. The field trip includes areas in and around Cascade State Park followed by two small group exercises after lunch at the ranger station.

One group will focus on involving landowners in restoration activities, and the other focusing on next steps for agencies and organizations.

Contact Duane Lula for more information at Information can also be found the collaboratives website at:

“Art along the Lake” planned for Memorial Day weekend

Early last winter local art galleries gathered to see where there might be synergies and opportunities to support each other.Out of those meetings came a few projects.

The Art Along the Lake event was planned for Memorial Day weekend, and the galleries have coordinated their events and schedules to create a full weekend of demonstrations, hands-on activities, music and refreshments.

A critical component is an art gallery guide. The guide, just published, lists 12 art galleries and includes a map and a link to information about other local arts activities.

In addition to supporting the Memorial Day weekend, the guide will be useable throughout the year.

For questions or more information, contact Marcia Hyatt at (218) 663-7008.

Grand Portage National Monument seeks input on “the meadow”

There was a good turnout for the publicmeeting at the Grand Portage Heritage Center on Monday evening, April 27. Community members came to hear current proposals and share thoughts about how to best preserve and interpret the historic meadow area east of Grand Portage Creek.

Historic photographs of the meadow area were shared by community members and park staff. Members of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa whose families have lived in Grand Portage for generations shared memories of when the meadow area was Downtown Grand Portage.

Comments were gathered at the meeting and will be accepted through June 1, 2015. Pam Neil with the Heritage Center said, Everyone is welcome to share thoughts and ideas as to how the historic meadow area should be utilized.

Anyone who was unable to attend the meeting, but would like to make comments may do so by sending to: Grand Portage National Monument, Attn: William Clayton 170 Mile Creek Rd., Grand Portage, MN 55605 or via email to

DNR announces fishing closures

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has announced several fishing closures in Cook County during the beginning of the 2015 fishing season to protect concentrations of spawning walleye. Closures on Minnesota-Ontario waters are made in cooperation with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and affect both sides of the border.

Closures apply to fishing only; travel is permitted through these areas.

All closed areas will be posted, but they are primarily near the end of the Gunflint Trailon Sea Gull River and Lake through Gull Lake, Saganaga, Little Gunflint, Little North, Cross River and so on.

The closures are intended to protect concentrations of walleye that may be vulnerable to over-harvest in what may be a year with relatively late ice-out and delayed spawning due to a persistently cool spring. Closures apply to fishing only; travel is permitted through these areas.

Questions may be directed to the DNR fisheries office in Grand Marais at 218-387-3056


The following closures took effect April 1:

* Sea Gull River from Sea Gull Lake through Gull Lake to Saganaga Lake approximately one-third mile north of the narrows; closed through May 22.

* Saganaga Falls on the Minnesota-Ontario border where the Granite River enters Saganaga Lake; closed through May 31.

* Maligne River (also known as Northern Light Rapids) on the Ontario side of Saganaga Lake; closed through May 31 by the Ontario Ministry of

Natural Resources.

* Unnamed channel between Little Gunflint and Little North Lakes on the

Minnesota-Ontario border; closed through May 31.

* Cross River (inlet to Gunflint Lake) from the Gunflint Trail to

Gunflint Lake; closed through May 22.

DNR to offer lake service training — April 30 on the Gunflint Trail

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will offer lake service provider training at the Schaap Community Center on the Gunflint Trail on April 30.

The training is being given in an effort to help stop the spread of invasive species. Minnesota laws require lake service providers to attend a training session and obtain a permit prior to working in state waters. Lake service providers are persons or entities that install, repair, decontaminate, lease, rent or remove water-related equipment in or from public waters for compensation.

This training is for commercial lake service providers such as dock and lift companies, marinas, resorts, boat hauling and storage companies, outfitters and irrigators not the public.

A separate online education program is also being worked on for the public and may or may not include a new AIS trailer decal requirement.

“Preventing the spread of invasive species is everyone’s responsibility,” said Richard Rezanka, DNR invasive species specialist. “Lake service providers can play a critical role in the prevention effort because they frequently move from one lake to another. They can also be some of the first to alert us to a potential problem.”

Before a permit is issued, a lake service provider must apply, pay the application fee, attend a training session and pass a written exam. The permit is valid for three years and service providers must have the permit in their possession while providing services. Employees working under the supervision of a permitted lake service provider only need to complete a free, online lake service provider employee training course.

Thirty additional trainings will be offered statewide through May.

For more information on lake service provider training, permits and scheduled training sessions throughout the state, visit the DNR lake service provider website at

DNR urges state forest and off-highway vehicle trail users to check for temporary closures

With warm weather on the way, many off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders may be eager to hit the trails, but state forest roads and trails are typically wet during the spring, so the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will need to close some areas temporarily.

The spring thaw leads to soft soils, which may be susceptible to damage, said Scott Kelling, northeast regional manager for the DNRs Parks and Trails Division. Temporary closures are being put in place across the state.

We will work to let users know when and where they can ride, added Dave Thomas, northwest regional manager for the DNRs Forestry Division. In turn, we ask users to check before riding to avoid areas that are temporarily closed, and to ride responsibly wherever they are.

The DNR will post signs indicating temporary road and trail closures at entry points and at parking lots in state forests. The restrictions will be lifted as soon as possible.

For information about the condition of specific state forest roads and public off-highway vehicle trails, visit Updates are also available from the DNR Information Center; send email to or call 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

DNR seeks volunteers for frog and toad calling survey

The Department of Natural Resources Nongame Wildlife Program is seeking volunteers to participate in the Minnesota Frog and Toad Calling Survey to help track population changes in the states 14 frog and toad species. Frogs and toads are one of the best indicators of wetland health.

New volunteers receive a kit that includes a CD containing calls of Minnesotas frog and toad species, a poster of the states frogs and toads, a map of a pre-defined route in an area of their choice, and directions on how to run the route. A vehicle is required to travel between stops.

Participants will then conduct nighttime listening surveys on three nights between April and July to capture seasonal variations in frog and toad species (early spring, late spring, and summer). These 10-stop routes are run after dark and in good weather. Participants will record their information on datasheets provided in their volunteer kit.

“Without the dedication of generous volunteers, this project would not be possible, said Heidi Cyr, volunteer coordinator for the Nongame Wildlife Program. Many frog and toad species are indicators of habitat quality and provide valuable information on the condition of Minnesotas wetlands. The volunteers reports also help us track the health of the states frog and toad populations.

Help is needed statewide, but especially outside of the metro area. Anyone interested in learning frog and toad calls and participating in this survey should check the route availability map at, choose a route, and then email Cyr at

To learn more visit

The survey is part of the nationwide North American Amphibian Monitoring Program.

With the continued help of Minnesotans who volunteer their time and donate to the Nongame Wildlife Checkoff on their state income tax returns, the program is able to conduct surveys and research studies to help keep Minnesota a state rich in wildlife resources.