Gunflint Mail Run kicks off dog sled racing season

The Gunflint Mail Run is this weekend, January 9-10. The 100-mile, 12-dog race started at Trail Center on 8 a.m. on Saturday and the 8-dog team starts at 9 a.m. It was a faster than expected race because trail conditions were fast for the dog teams. The winner will be determined by early morning.
For more information about the event or to bid on items in the Gunflint Mail Run online auction, visit
Before the race started, Gunflint Mail Run organizers were delighted to share the news of who won the ATV that was raffled to raise money for the prize purse for the Mail Run. Congratulations to Orvis Lunke of Colvill, who is the proud owner of a brand new Can-Am ATV!

Congratulations, Orvis Lunke, on winning the Gunflint Mail Run raffle grand prize -- a CanAm ATV !

Congratulations, Orvis Lunke, on winning the Gunflint Mail Run raffle grand prize — a CanAm ATV !

Another South Fowl clearing day — join us!

Some ACMU volunteers will be working on the trail again on Saturday, November 14. We plan to be there at about 10 a.m. WE ENCOURAGE ANYONE INTERESTED IN USING THIS TRAIL THIS WINTER TO SHOW UP AND HELP OUT WITH TRAIL CLEARING. We know it’s deer season, but if you’ve gotten your deer, please consider lending a hand!


Thanks so much to the people who have worked on the trail so far and those who walked the entire trail recently to report that the middle section of the trail still needs a lot of work! The first mile or so is looking good, but further in it is still rough cut and needs a lot more brush and log throwing from the treadway and stumps pulled and/or knocked down.


Please join us – wear sturdy boots, work gloves and bring shovels, grub hoes, or rakes. U.S. Forest Service chainsaw certified helpers would be especially welcome!


It was a major accomplishment to get this new trail authorized by the U.S. Forest Service and through the courts. Forest Service crews have spent hundreds of hours working on this new trail.


It is a major victory for multiple use to have this snowmobile adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Let’s continue our success and get the trail in good shape for this winter.


By the way, volunteers are welcome to go up and clear at anytime! The route is easy to follow. Many hands make light work, come on out and lend some time on this hard-fought trail.


Anyone with questions, please call Arrowhead Coalition for Multiple Use secretary Diane Greeley at 370-0304.

Comment period extended for two northern Minnesota forest plans

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has extended the comment period on alternative harvest scenarios for two northern Minnesota forest management plans.

The comment period for the Northern Superior Uplands plan, which covers the entire arrowhead portion of northeastern Minnesota, is extended until Nov. 9. The Northern Superior Uplands presentation is available at Questions about this plan should be directed to Lynn Mizner at 218-429-3022 or

The comment period for the Northern Minnesota and Ontario Peatlands plan, which covers north-central and northwestern Minnesota, is extended until Nov. 23. The Northern Minnesota and Ontario Peatlands presentation is available at People can direct questions about this plan to Jon Drimel at 218-308-2381 or

The online presentations outline different forest harvest and management scenarios. Input can be provided at the end of the presentation.

This is the public’s opportunity to rate the importance of forest management issues such as sustainable harvest levels, amounts of old growth lowland conifers, and young and old forests as these two forest management plans are prepared. The DNR will use survey responses and comments to help determine future management on DNR-administered lands.

For those unfamiliar with the new forest planning process, the DNR recommends first viewing a presentation that explains recent changes to the process at

The public will have the opportunity to comment again once the draft forest management plans are developed.


DNR seeks applications for advisory committee on natural heritage

Minnesotans with a strong interest in the state’s native prairies, forests, and wetlands and the plants and animals living in them are invited by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to apply by Nov. 16 for a seat on a key advisory board.

The DNR is seeking people to fill three vacancies on the Commissioner’s Advisory Committee on Natural Heritage. Appointees will be responsible for advising the DNR on issues related to sustaining the state’s natural heritage and biological diversity. DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr will appoint committee members for terms of five years starting Jan. 1.

Since 1966, the committee has made recommendations and given support to state scientific and natural areas. The committee also now advises other programs within the department’s Ecological and Water Resources Division, including nongame wildlife, Minnesota biological survey, prairie protection, rare resources, wetland monitoring, and terrestrial invasive species.

Any Minnesota resident with interest or expertise in sustaining the state’s natural heritage may apply online until Monday, Nov. 16 at Applicants should have knowledge, demonstrated dedication or experience related to natural area systems, conservation biology, ecology, geology, environmental education, natural resource management, or protection of Minnesota’s rare species.

Interested applicants can learn more by visiting the committee’s website at

Forest Service seeks group to maintain PowWow Trail

The Superior National Forest is looking for an organized volunteer group to adopt or maintain a section of the Powwow Trail located in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

The Powwow Trail was heavily impacted by the 2011 Pagami Creek Wildfire. Vigorous regrowth of vegetation and falling dead trees have thwarted efforts to keep the trail cleared following the fire. The Forest Service, partners, and volunteers have dedicated more resources to the Powwow Trail than to any other long distance hiking trail on the Forest in recent years. This includes a concerted effort by Forest Service and Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa crews that totaled more than 2,445 work hours in 2012 and 1,280 work hours in 2015.

All of these combined efforts have yet to re-establish a recognizable tread in most locations around the trail.

Therefore, the Forest Service has decided not to invest further effort at this time in maintaining the entire trail but is inviting a volunteer group to adopt or maintain the six-mile section of trail from the trailhead near Isabella Lake to Pose Lake. The volunteer group would be expected to maintain the six-mile section of trail twice a year, clearing fallen trees and clearing brush with the use of primitive (non-mechanized) tools.

Efforts to clear the trail in this area are more likely to be successful over the next 10 years because vegetative regrowth is less vigorous than along most other sections of the trail. This effort would provide a hiking opportunity for visitors on a portion of the Powwow Trail in the short term. If a group does not volunteer to maintain the six-mile section, the entire 29-mile trail will remain unmaintained.

While the rest of the Powwow Trail route will officially remain open to the public, hikers are cautioned to anticipate many hazards. The trail is nearly impossible to follow without navigational aids and exceptional way-finding skills. There is little-to-no shade since all of the mature trees burned in the Pagami Fire and many remain as standing, dead snags that continue to fall across the trail.

Forest Service crews have re-established the campsite at Pose Lake with a fire grate and backcountry latrine and the Forest Service will consider maintaining other segments of the trail if volunteers are fully successful at maintaining the segment from the trailhead to Pose Lake.

Trail maintenance will continue to be difficult until more burned trees fall down and the tree canopy closes, shading out the undergrowth. This is expected to occur in another 10 to 20 years. The Forest Service will post a map at the trailhead and sign the junctions to notify hikers of the trail section that is maintained, if any, and the part that is not maintained. Current information, including a GPS track log, will also be available on-line, in the Recreation-Hiking section of the Superior National Forest web page, at

Historically, hiking trails on the Superior National Forest have been maintained primarily through the dedication of volunteer partner groups. Their contributions have helped to provide opportunities for the American public to access and enjoy their national forest and their efforts are greatly appreciated. Volunteer groups wishing to help maintain the Powwow Trail from the trailhead near Isabella Lake to Pose Lake can contact Anna Botner at 218-387-3200.


All hands on deck! Come help clear the South Fowl trail

If people want to use the South Fowl Snowmobile Trail this winter, HELP is needed!

The US Forest Service has been great to work with on the long-awaited South Fowl Snowmobile Trail which will provide winter access from McFarland Lake to South Fowl Lake.

US Forest Service crews, with help from the Minnesota Conservation Corps, have spent hundreds of hours on the trail. There were some steep and narrow areas that ACMU expressed concern about and the Forest Service modified the route in those areas, which is good, but that slowed things down.

However, the trail is now rough cut all the way from the Arrowhead to South Fowl Lake.

You can walk the whole way, but there is a lot more to be done. There are a lot of stumps and big logs and brush to be moved out of the way. The trail is not rideable yet and the Forest Service has other projects they need to work on, i.e., closing campgrounds, etc.

PLEASE join us to get the trail finished before snow falls!

Work Day: Saturday, October 17 – Meet at trail head at 10 a.m. (more…)

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.

Learn to camp, paddle and more at Minnesota state parks

Registration for I Can Camp! and other skill-building programs begins March 20, the first day of spring

People who lack the experience or equipment to go on a camping, canoeing or fishing trip should consider signing up for one of the many introductory programs offered at Minnesota state parks and trails in 2015.

Reservations are now being taken for the following beginner-level programs, which start in June and continue through the end of August:

I Can Camp! Develop (or brush up on) fire-starting and camp cooking skills, and stay overnight in tents, complete with air mattresses, that sleep up to six people ($50 for one-night programs or $75 for two-night programs).
I Can Paddle! Get out on the water for some guided canoeing, kayaking, sea kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding practice ($15 per boat and up).
I Can Climb! Experience the thrill of rock climbing with instruction provided by trained professionals from Vertical Endeavors Guided Adventures ($10 per person).
I Can Mountain Bike! Learn riding techniques and ride mountain bike trails with guides from the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Club ($25 per person).
The Minnesota state parks and trails I Can! series also includes I Can Fish! and Archery in the Parks programs, which are both free and require no reservation.

If youd like to create some unforgettable outdoor experiences with your kids but dont know how to get started, the I Can! skill-building programs are designed for you, said Erika Rivers, director of Minnesota state parks and trails. Minnesota has amazing state parks, trails and water trails, and we want to spark interest in more families to get out and enjoy them.

No experience is necessary for any of these programs. Instruction and essential equipment is provided. Vehicle permits ($5 for a one-day permit or $25 for a year-round permit) are required to enter Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. Registration for the I Can Camp! programs includes a one-day permit.

Registration and more information
For more information about any of the programsincluding program dates, times, locations, and minimum age requirements, visit or contact the DNR Information Center at or call 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

To register, visit or call 866-857-2757 (8 a.m.8 p.m. daily, except holidays).

The series is made possible with funding from the Parks and Trails Fund, created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008. The Parks and Trails Fund receives 14.25 percent of the three-eighths percent sales tax revenue that may only be spent to support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance.

Cook County Historical Society hosts “Small Talk” with local musher Arleigh Jorgenson

The Cook County Historical Society is presenting a “Small Talk” on dog sled history by Arleigh Jorgenson of Grand Marais. Jorgenson was the 2015 keynote speaker at the John Beargrease Sled Dog Race gala.

The public is invited to the free presentation on Saturday, March 21 at 4:00 p.m. at the Johnson Heritage Post Gallery, 115 Wisconsin Street, Grand Marais.

Anyone with questions is asked to contact the Cook County Historical Society at (218) 387-2883 or

Minnesota DNR started to think about spring burning restrictions

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will soon determine when to start spring burning restrictions. This year, with little snowpack and an early start to spring, restrictions are likely to take effect earlier, maybe as soon as next week.

The DNR restricts burning shortly after snow melt when exposed dead grass and brush can ignite easily and burn quickly. The restrictions normally last from four to six weeks until sufficient green vegetative growth occurs.

The spring fire restrictions have resulted in a dramatic decrease in both the numbers and sizes of accidental fires, said Ron Stoffel, DNR wildfire suppression supervisor.

Fire danger can vary greatly from one part of the state to another. Locally determining when the restrictions take effect enables the DNR to restrict burning in areas where fire risk is elevated.

Restrictions mean the state will not issue burning permits for burning brush or yard waste. Debris burning is especially dangerous during April and May, when most wildfires occur in Minnesota.

Residents may need to find alternatives to burning or wait until after green-up when it is safer to burn. Prior to burning, the DNR urges people to check the statewide fire danger and burning permit restrictions at

Finally, the DNR notes that many local areas, counties or municipalities have specific burning regulations or restrictions. Residents should check with local authorities to obtain proper permits before burning.

Governor Dayton proposes “buffer” to protect Minnesota waters

Governor Mark Dayton has proposed an initiative aimed at protecting Minnesotas waters from erosion and runoff pollution.
Known as the Buffer Initiative, the legislation requires at least 50 feet of perennial vegetation around Minnesotas waters. Buffers help filter out phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment by slowing runoff, trapping sediment with these pollutants and allowing vegetation to absorb them.

To learn more, visit:

DNR seeks public input on forest management plan for northeastern Minnesota

A report that identifies major forest management issues for the Northern Superior Uplands in northeastern Minnesota is available for review, according to the Department of Natural Resources. The report is available at

The preliminary issues and assessment report identifies issues for the forest management plan and also provides information on trees in the forest, land ownership and administration, forest health, wildlife species and ecological resources in the area.

The Northern Superior Uplands extend across far northeastern Minnesota and include all or parts of Carlton, Cook, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis counties. The largest blocks of DNR land within the section are the Kabetagoma, Bear Island, Cloquet Valley and Finland state forests, along with Swamp River and Canosia wildlife management areas, totaling an area of about 710,000 acres.

The DNR will use public input to produce a better forest management plan and to meet stakeholder needs and expectations.

Outcomes of the plan may include adjustments to long-term desired tree species on DNR lands in this section. The plan will identify DNR forest stands to be visited for management over the upcoming 10-year plan implementation period.

In addition to making planning documents available online, the DNR will use webinars to increase early public input that influences forest management planning decisions.

The webinars explain the forest management planning process, provide information to aid public input, and solicit input through questions and surveys, said Lynn Mizner, DNR statewide forest resource planner.

The first webinar addresses changes to the planning process since the development of the first plans. Changes are in response to what planning staff has learned, and to new legislation or policy regulating forest management. The first webinar is available now at

The second webinar, scheduled for spring 2015, will present alternative harvest levels, age class distribution, climate change adaptation strategies, and explain models used to develop the list of forest stands to examine. The final webinar, scheduled for this summer, will present the draft plan developed using public input.

Direct questions and comments to Mizner at 218-429-3022 or

Sugarloaf hosts presentation on mercury testing on birds of prey

Sugarloaf, the North Shore Stewardship Association is hosting “Testing for mercury in birds of prey” this Saturday, March 14.

Mercury levels vary across species and within species. While mercury levels are widely studied in birds, there is relatively little known about mercury levels in wild birds of prey.

Join UMD graduate student, Ted Keyel at 10 am on March 14 at Sugarloaf Cove as he describes his work collecting and analyzing breast feathers for mercury content from raptors banded at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth, MN. The goal of this study is to create a baseline data set of mercury levels in raptors.

Sugarloaf Cove is located at milepost 73 on Minnesota Highway 61, about 70 miles north of Duluth and 6 miles south of Schroeder. For directions or more information, contact Executive Director Molly Thompson at 218-525-0001.

Free but donations are appreciated.

Bald eagles on spring migration back to Minnesota

Bald eagles are migrating back to Minnesota and may be seen in large numbers across parts of the state over the next few weeks, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“Ice is breaking up along the rivers, so it’s definitely time for folks to keep their eyes out,” said Lisa Gelvin-Innvaer, DNR regional nongame wildlife specialist. “It all depends on the weather. Its typical to see eagles coming through our area in mid-to-late March, as waters begin to open up and snow melts.

Only two states, Florida and Alaska, have greater nesting populations of bald eagles than Minnesota. In 2005, researchers estimated there were more than 1,300 active nests in Minnesota and that number likely has increased since.

Fall migration typically occurs as lakes and rivers freeze over, since most eagles prefer a diet of fish. Bald eagle wintering grounds ideally contain open water, ample food, limited human disturbance and protective roosting sites. Not all bald eagles migrate southward in the fall, Gelvin-Innvaer said. In southern Minnesota, it’s common for some eagle pairs to stay the winter, especially during milder winters.

Bald eagles that stay local may begin courting and nesting as early as December or January. Other bald eagles return to their breeding territories as soon as a food source is available.

“Eagle migration hotspots are a bit of a moving target, so it’s hard to say where the eagles are right now,” Gelvin-Innvaer said. “In Minnesota, the biggest migrations tend to be along the Minnesota River corridor, the north shore of Lake Superior, and around Lake Pepin in southeastern Minnesota.”

Adult bald eagles are easily identified by a white head and tail contrasting with a dark brown body. They attain full adult plumage in their fourth or fifth year. In flight, bald eagles are sometimes confused with turkey vultures. However, bald eagles tend to soar on flat, board-like wings, while turkey vultures fly with their wings in a v-shape.

Bald eagles are an example of how they and many other wildlife species benefit directly from donations made to the nongame wildlife checkoff on Minnesota tax forms or online at This funds research, surveys and education for more than 700 nongame wildlife species. Each dollar donated is matched by funds from the Reinvest In Minnesota account.

The DNRs Nongame Wildlife Program is now streaming live video of a nesting pair of bald eagles on its website at

For more information on bald eagles or where to view them, go to or

Proposed rule change would protect fish from viral disease

The public has until 4:30 p.m. Friday, March 27, to send written comments on simplifying rules designed to control a contagious fish disease. The rule change would also better protect fish spawning beds and fish preserves.

Part of the rule change proposed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is about control and prevention of viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS). Currently, only Lake Superior is designated as being positive for VHS. Much of the rule content deals with commercial bait use, harvest, possession and transportation. Proposed changes would simplify the regulations.

The other part of the rule change would add other water bodies to the list of designated spawning beds and fish preserves and make technical changes in the legal descriptions of water bodies already listed. Spawning fish can be vulnerable to harvest and human disturbance when in these areas.

Details about the rule change are online at A free copy of the rules can be made available by calling the DNR at 651-259-5589.

Play-Clean-Go Awareness Week is Feb. 22-28

A coalition of partners, volunteers and supporters through the guidance of PlayCleanGo will be participating in National Invasive Species Awareness Week. PlayCleanGo invites individuals and families to enjoy the beautiful Minnesota trails, parks and recreation sites while doing your part to stop the spread of terrestrial invasive species. Your involvement can help protect some of our great states environment and most precious resources, while enjoying the beauty and legacy Minnesota has to offer.

Simple Steps You Can Take

Follow these simple steps to help prevent the spread of invasive plants and animals:

Arrive with clean gear.

Burn local or certified firewood.

Use local or weed-free hay.

Stay on the trails.

Before leaving, remove mud and seeds.

Visit for more information on what you can do to prevent the spread of invasive plants and animals.

PlayCleanGo: Stop Invasive Species In Your Tracks is sponsored by the state of Minnesota and U.S. Forest Service.