Saturday, March 31, 2007

Gunflint Scenic Byway Committee Comments to USFS on Latest Forest Plans

The USFS's proposed Devils Trout Project would effect 2708 acres of forest timber, much of which is along the Gunflint Trail, from the Gunflint Pines to just northwest of the Trout Lake Road. Over half of the timber in the area is scheduled to be clear-cut, some timber would be thinned and a small portion crushed or burnt.

While the Gunflint Scenic Byway's Forestry Committee felt that the USFS's proposed project gave at least some recognized toward preserving the scenic quality of the Gunflint Trail, the Committee felt that the Project, as proposed, did not go far enough in protecting the Gunflint Trail. The committee was also concerned that the Project’s reforestation plans were inadequate.

These concerns were presented to the USFS. For the complete text of what the Committee submitted to the USFS on the Devil Trout Forestry Project click on

Monday, March 26, 2007

Mush for a Cure - A Success Despite the Weather

Even with the temperature hovering in the fifties, dog musher participating in the 1st Annual Mush for a Cure had what they called a "good run." The musher starting at the Round Lake Road then followed the snowmobile trail down to the west end of the Banadad, down the Banadad and on to the Moose Trail to the Poplar Lake Public Landing a distance of thirty miles. The Mushers stated that there was stilling plenty of snow remaining on the Banadad. The trip was to end at Poplar Creek Guesthouse B&B, but the slippery icy conditions on Poplar Lake made running across the Lake to dangerous for the dogs so the mushers and dogs were trucked around the lake to the B&B.

The mushers and handlers then spent the night at the B&B.

The event was organized by Voyageur Canoe Outfitters partnering with Black Magic Kennel. According to race organizers, the dog sled run was not a race but "a journey that we hope will become a tradition; a tradition of mushing for a cure for breast cancer on the Gunflint Trail."

Mushers who participate in the two-day event raised donations and pledges for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Mush for a Cure is an extension of Voyageur Outfitter's Pink Paddles' program. While all the funds collected by the mushers have not been totaled yet, according to Mike Prom, Voyageur Outfitter it appeared to him that this event, despite the warm weather, was successful in raising $2500 for the Cancer Foundation.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Skiing the Banadad on the First Day of Spring

Two Wisconsin men spend their first day of spring skiing the 30-kilometer Banadad Trail. With the morning temperature hovering at thirty degrees, David Gorski and Mark Balhhorn started at the west end of the trail. They said that the first part of the trail was very fasts and they made good time but as the temperature began to rise and the snow softened the skiing was a bit slower. Their time for skiing the entire trail was four hours forty five minutes. Both agreed the trail was still in good shape.

The pair were staying at the Boundary Country's Little Ollie Cabin.
While there is still at least another week of good skiing along the Banadad's eastern end near the Poplar Creek Guesthouse B&B and Cabins, these two skiers maybe the last to ski the entire trail for this season.

Friday, March 16, 2007

USFS Rescinds then Re-Issues Timber Management Project Along the Gunflint

In a letter issued on February 9, 2007, Dennis Neitzke, Gunflint Ranger, Forest Service (USFS) announced that the Devils Trout timber management project along the Gunflint Trail, he approved last summer, has been rescinded. According to Forest Service officials, the Project was withdrawn because of a minor technical problem.

The Project after it was withdrawn was then re-issued. Which means that now interested parties can once again comment on the proposed Devils Trout Project. The USFS will accept comments on the re-issued Project up to about March 23. For more information or to get a copy of the proposed Project's Environmental Assessment call 387-1750 or stop in at the Gunflint Ranger District in Grand Marais.

Under the Devils Trout Project some 2708 acres of forest timber, much of which would be along the Gunflint Trail, from the Gunflint Pines to just northwest of the Trout Lake Road would be effected. Over half of the timber in the area is scheduled to be clear-cut, some timber would be thinned and a small portion crushed or burnt.

The Gunflint Scenic Byway's Forestry Committee felt that while the proposed project gave at least some recognized toward preserving the scenic quality of the Gunflint Trail, the Project did not go far enough in protecting the Trail. The committee was also concerned that the Project’s reforestation plans were inadequate. The Committee concerns were submitted to Neitzke as comments. In issuing the Project's initial decision to proceed, last summer, Neitzke summarily dismissed all the Byway Committee's concerns.

At the last Gunflint Scenic Byway meeting the Byway's Forestry Committee was directed to again present their concerns to the USFS on the Devils Trout Project. The forestry Committee is hopefully Neitzke this time will give a little more thought to the Committee’s concerns.

Guidelines for commenting on the proposed Timber Management Project are as follows:
• Written comments mailed to: Dennis Neitzke – District Ranger, Subject: Devil Trout
EA, Gunflint Ranger District-Superior National Forest, 2020 West Hwy 61, Grand
Marais, MN 55604.
• Oral comments must be provided during normal business hours via telephone at (218)
387-1750 or in person. The project leader is Amy Wilfahrt at (218) 387-3211.
• Faxed comments must be sent to: Dennis Neitzke - District Ranger, Subject: Devil Trout
EA, at (218) 387-3246.
• Email comments must be sent to
Acceptable formats for electronic comments are: text (.txt), MSWord 6.0 or higher
(.doc), portable document format (.pdf), or rich text format (.rtf). All email submissions
must contain "Devil Trout EA" as the first words on the subject line.
Business hours for hand-delivered comments are Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 4:30pm local time.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Opposition to Allowing ATVs on the Gunflint Trail Continues

When the question of allowing ATVs on the Gunflint Trail came up last spring the Gunflint Trail Association sent the following letter to the Country Board,

Dear County Commissioners:

The Gunflint Trail Association would like to express our opposition to
opening Cook busy County roads, and in particular the Gunflint Trail and County
side roads, to unrestricted use by ATVs. We feel that the additional traffic
caused by allowing ATVs on these roads would pose a major safety hazard and add
a most unwelcome element to the traffic on the Trail.

Furthermore, allowing ATVs on the Trail would certainly be a detriment
to the quiet nature vacation that businesses on the Trail are attempting to
promote. We are concerned that, if the Gunflint Trail were opened to ATVs, it
would soon be promoted as an ATV travel corridor and destination, much to the
detriment of our businesses and the quality of life on the Gunflint.

However, we believe that some provision should be made in any
County legislation enacted concerning ATVs to allow for limited ATV use by area
residents to travel short distances on County roads. Residents and businesses on
the Gunflint currently use their ATVs to go from their driveways to an ATV
trailhead or to their mailboxes. Some businesses also travel by ATV on Country
roads to service USFS campgrounds they maintain. To our knowledge, this type of
very limited use has not been a problem and we do not consider it necessary for
the County to restrict this type of use.
Thank you for considering our

Regards, Shari Baker, President
Gunflint Trail

A similar letter in opposition to allowing ATV's on the Gunflint was sent by the Gunflint Scenic Byways Committee. Joining this oppositions were many Gunflint Trail residents.

After a year of fighting over ATV use the County Board has prepared a draft Country Ordinance which among other provisions would open the 40 Mile Per Hour zone in the mid Gunflint Trail and all the County side roads along the Gunflint Trail to ATV use.

Both the Gunflint Trail Association (GTA) and the Byways Committees have re-affirmed their opposition to ATV's.

Sometime in early March Shari Baker, GTA President was asked by the a representative of the ATV club, to meet with the GTA. The meeting request was brought to the GTA Board of Directors on March 9th. At the Board meeting it was unanimously decided since GTA had no interest in changing its position on ATV us on the Gunflint nothing would be gained by meeting with the ATV club. The Board re-affirmed its position and asked Baker to re-send the organization's letter of opposition from last March to the County Board with a copy to be sent to the ATV club.

According to Country Commissioner Jim Johnson, "At the Feb 13th meeting (Country Board) we decided to schedule the public hearing for the proposed ordinance for Mar. 20 at 7:00 PM in the commissioner’s room in the court house." Johnson went on to state, "The amount of correspondence I have received on this is almost overwhelming, and there are strong feelings involved. I don’t think the draft of this ordinance adequately addresses the issues. Three things could happen at the hearing; (1) We could support the ordinance and put it into effect, (2) We could refer it back to committee for review and establish another hearing date, or (3) We could vote it down. If you feel strongly one way or the other it would be good to attend the meeting."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

New luxurious Creek Side Cabin Available for Rent

New two-bedroom cabin overlooking year-around-flowing Poplar Creek now available. The cabin, Poplar Creek Retreat, accommodates up to six people and includes a fully equipped kitchen with dishwasher, freestanding LP fireplace, electric heat, clothes washer/dry, four-season front porch and side deck. Each of the bedrooms has their own private bath with showers. The second floor bath has a whirlpool tub. From both bedrooms front windows there is a great view of the creek. Other features include; firepit, charcoal grill, private picnic area and phone.

The creek begins at the Little Ollie Lake and the Lake is just a short walk from the cabin. A canoe comes with the cabin.

The road to the cabin connects to some of the finest mountain biking trails in the area. Hiking trails are just out the door and miles of canoeing in the BWCA are just a paddle from the nearby dock

In the winter the road is plowed, so you can drive to the cabin. Groomed ski trails with connections to the BWCA longest tracked trail the Banadad and the Gunflint Nordic Trail System along with six miles of snowshoe begin at the cabin's front door.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

March Roars in Like a Lion

The first weekend in march the mid-Gunflint area where Poplar Creek Guesthouse B&B is located, along with most of the rest of the state, received this winter's biggest snow fall to date- ten to twelve inches. Then yesterday another four inches of snow was received. The measured total snow on the ground is currently twenty four inches. It is finally beginning to look like winter. With this new snow the ski trails are all in great shape.
March compared to last month's lack luster performance is off to a good start. During the whole month of February only 4.7 inches of snow fall was recorded in the mid-Gunflint area- the lowest amount for that month since 1998.