Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Forest Issues Stir the Locals

According to many residents the USFS prescribed burns may be getting out of control. Case in point- many of the islands of Seagull Lake were burned even though it was hard to envision the storm downed trees on these island as much of a threat to the homes of any people living on the lake. In the case of the burning of the lake's Three Mile Island, many of the islands ancient pines were destroyed even though the Forest Service had pledged these tree would be spared. Cases in point two- much of the upper Gunflint Trail most historic and certainly favorite hiking trail was destroyed by another Forest Service Controlled burn.

This year the Forest Service is proposing a burn in the Mid Gunflint Trail area between Hungry Jack, Moss and Duncan lakes. Many in the area feel this burn could gravelly impact the areas most important and scenic hiking trail- the Caribou Trail.

Then there is the case of the inclusion of the so called "vegetable Lake" area as a non-motorized recreation area into the new Superior National Forest management Plan. Many resident from the Gunflint, Grand Marais and Grand Portage who for years have accessed the "vegetable Lakes" by atv or snowmobile for fishing will find it much more difficult and for many impossible to reach these lakes. Locals are calling this de-facto wilderness land grab by the USFS just another broken promise of the 1978 BWCA Act. They are laying much of the blame for the selection of the vegetable Lake area as non-motorized on the Gunflint District Forest service Ranger, Dennis Neitzke. "Dump Dennis - Save the vegetables" Bumper stickers are beginning to appear through out the county. See Duluth News Tribune for additional information

Then of course there is the closing for use by snowmobiles by the USFS of two favor winter access routes - the North to South Lake Portage and the trail into South Fowl Lake. While the Forest Service has stated they would find acceptable alternate routes, as usual locals have yet to see any action. Couple these issues with the new "Homeland Security" regulation, the so called "I-68" permits now required of anyone returning from Canada through a remote crossing area, and believe me the locals are "getting restless."

For additional information see Sam Cook's article in the Dululth News Tribune.

1 Comments:

At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Sue Long said...

It is sad to see controlled burns that destroy trees that have taken centuries to become the awesome things that they are, to change the habitat (maybe ending up bringing in more deer which will impact the moose population??)and destroy loved hiking areas for a long period of time if the good that comes of this is minimal.
I can see doing burns in areas where there was massive destruction which if they became part of a wildfire could threaten cabins and businesses but let's make sure the danger is there and the benefits outweigh the losses. It is also true that controlled burns sometimes get out of hand and so setting fire intentionally is always somewhat of a risk. So to make the decision to do so, the wildfire risk should be substantial. I also hear there will be less firefighter personel and equipment available this summer so that has to be taken into account. I don't know the status now , but I know there is a big peninsula on Loon that I remember as still looking healthy that was scheduled for burn with little benefit that I could see.
We have been sadly wondering when the Caribou Rock trail area would be scheduled for a burn. It is such a perfectly wonderful spot overlooking Bearskin Lake. There is much blowdown leading up to the lookout rock and wildfire there could threaten area residents although I would be a little worried about a fire set so close to a business and cabins could get out of control. I will be more than a little nervous watching it from my cabin across Hungry jack Lake from the burn area. I don't know how bad it is on the way to Duncan - but last year we walked a ways with our grandkids and were marveling at the beauty of the trees and rock etc. along Moss Lake. It will be truly a shame if that area gets burned and all that beauty is lost.

 

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