Sunday, June 26, 2005

Meeting with Congressman Oberstar at Gunflint

Jim Oberstar, US House of Representatives, 8th District willbe on the Gunflint Trail in early July and has graciously offered to meet with members of the Gunflint Trail community. Please join him and your neighbors to discussissues important to the Gunflint Trail area. He will be at the Gunflint Lodge Conference Room on Thursday, July 7, 2005 at 8:00 PM. All Gunflint Trail area residents and businessowners are invited to attend.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Banadad Ski Trail receive Trail Improvement Grant

Banadad Ski Trail was awarded $8000 from the Cook County Parks and Recreation fund by the County Board at their June 21st meeting.

According to Ted Young, Banadad trail administrator, "this $8000 along with another $8000 of cash and in-kind contribution from Boundary Country Trekking and the USFS will enable us to remove years of accumulated brush from up to eight remote interior miles of the trail. Click on Grant Application to see full application.

The Banadad Ski is a nineteen mile long public ski trail. The Trail begins near the eastern end of Poplar and ending near the Loon Lake Public Landing. Since most of the Trail is within the BWCA all maintenance must be done with hand tools and travel by maintenance crews must be by foot. According to Young, "Because of this, the Banadad's remote interior is difficult if not impossible to reach much less clear with our volunteer trail crews." For trail click on Banadad Map

According to the Grant Application the money will be used to hire a crew of three to four people that would canoe and pack back into the remote interior of the trail, camping near the areas to cleared and work from there. The plan calls for widening the trail to a width of up to eight feet. It anticipates that the project will be spaced over two years with four miles cleared each year.

The Banadad Trail grant application was sponsored by the Gunflint Trail Association.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Received Question About Early Native Americans in The Area. Anyone have an Answer?

A reader and former resident asked the following, "have always wondered who lived in the County (shore and inland) and Trail previous to the Ojibway coming into the area. The general history books say the Dakota or Lakota but when they get into details they talk about north/central Mn. Then I have heard the Assiniboine (Nakota), but again the details place them more towards Lake of the Woods. Then I have heard the Cree, but then the details I have seen seem to place them to the North. So for Cook County, It is a gray area. I hope you would consider opening up the History Blog to see if anybody has some information particular to our area. Betty Powell Skoog mentioned somewhere once that her family had told her about the Sioux wars or something so there may be stories out there"

I sure would like to know also. Anyone have any comments?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Local Attacks Environmental Extremist's BWCA Expansionist Agenda

Received the following letter to the editor from Sarah Hamilton, Trail Center. Ms Hamilton was responding to an anonymous letter she received concerning a quote by her in an article by Sam Cook in the Duluth new Tribune.

To The Editor, In reference to an article written by Sam Cook on Sunday June 5, 05
I was quoted as saying, "Our concern is where does it stop? When do they stop taking more and more to be non-motorized? Today in the mail I received an anonymous (of course) letter saying, Do you advocate a black top road through the BWCA? Where does it stop? First of all we were not talking about the BWCA; we were talking about outside the BWCA. And no, as a matter of fact. I do not advocate any destruction of the preserved wilderness areas. My concern once again is that a very large powerful organization funded by huge money corporations is for some reason controlling our U.S Government Forest Service. My concern is that extreme environmentalists are dangerous to our society. My concern is that any extreme group is dangerous to our society. Especially when they are rich enough to get their way with our Government. My concern is our wilderness areas and area surrounding them being under managed and sometimes over managed. My concern is uneducated people giving these powerful groups more money.

By taking these areas away to add them to the wilderness is in complete conflict with this law.

Boundary waters Canoe Area wilderness Act of 1978
Public Law 95-495
92 Stat. 1649

Sec 18. A secretary is authorized and directed to expedite and intensify the program of dispersed out recreation development on the superior National Forest outside the Boundary waters Canoe area wilderness, as designated by this act. The secretary shall consider in such new program development the need for the following: additional snowmobile trails, particularly those now planned or under construction: remote campsites on lightly developed lakes: and access sites and parking facilities to provide motorized recreation experiences similar to those previously available in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

I love this area I am glad so much has been preserved, but, I believe that all U.S citizens should be able to recreate in the manner they choose. Not controlled by a bunch of extremist with lots of money. So next time you want to come enjoy this great wilderness, do the right thing for the environment and WALK HERE. Driving all the way up here in your car/truck/suv is using a motorized vehicle to recreate. It is not fair to try and take away from people when you are doing the same thing in a different way. Driving your car to a non motorized recreation destination pollutes the environment. We are not trying to stop you We are trying to share. Recycle, carpool, pick up your neighbors garbage along the freeways. We do. Everyday. We are environmentalists, just not extremist.

Not anonymous
Sarah Hamilton
Gunflint Trail, MN

Thursday, June 16, 2005

County Sells Land on Gunflint- More Being Considered

County commissioner, Jim Johnson, announced today the results of the county sale of land for the Whispering Pines sub-division located near Trail Center on the Hungry Jack Road. According to Johnson, "the Auction for Whispering Pines was held Monday. Three of the lots sold for more than the minimum bid, and the remaining four sold for the minimum bid price. The total dollar figure received by the county for these lots was $359,800. After all expenses are paid the county will net about $110,000 which will go into the general fund."

Johnson also when on to state that the land survey on the county owned Top of the Trail "property has been completed." But according to Johnson the County Board has "not acted upon a recommendation to put the property up for sale, but that should be coming soon. Because this property was acquired in a land trade with the Federal Government the proceeds will go in part to the school, part to park and recreation funds, and part to the general fund."

Monday, June 13, 2005

Gunflint Trail Scenic Byways Committee Organizes

Officers for the new Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway committee were chosen at the interim committee’s last meeting on Tuesday, June 7, 2005. Selected were Nancy Seaton, Hungry Jack Outfitters, Chairperson; Fred Smith, Gunflint Lake, Vice Chairperson; Linda Hendrickson, Hungry Jack Lake, Project subcommittee Chairperson and Barbara Young, Poplar Creek Guesthouse Bed &Breakfast, Marketing subcommittee Chairperson. Other active committee members meeting since March, 2005, are Sue Prom, President, Gunflint Trail Association; Carol Miller, Gunflint Lake; Eleanor Lease, Road Lake; Bob Maki, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Bruce Kerfoot, Gunflint Lake; Chris Hegg, Hedstrom Lumber company; Chuck Schmit, Cook County Highway Department; Jim Johnson, Cook County Commissioner; Judie Johnson, Gunflint Trail Association; Terry Eggum, U.S. Forest Service and Tim Campbell, Minnesota Office of Tourism. The Interim Committee was assisted by Bryan Anderson of the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission.

The Project Subcommittee has identified a number of Gunflint Trail projects. Some of these projects may include enhancing pullout areas with picnic table, latrine and signage. A five year plan will be available to the public within one month. In addition the Cook County Historical Society is researching ideas concerning the Old Gunflint Trail entrance sign in Grand Marais. And painting the water tower has been discussed by the city council.

Working on getting the word out about the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway, the Marketing Subcommittee’s future plans may include an interpretive CD and brochure that will point out scenic and historic points of interest along the Trail plus a mile on each side of the Trail. Scenic Byway signs have already been placed by the Cook County Highway Department at Highway 61 and the new Gunflint Trail entrance and also at 5th Avenue and the Gunflint Trail.In addition a history subcommittee is being formed that will gather information about historic sites, cabins and resorts. Ted Young, who has agreed to work on this subcommittee is currently seeking representatives from various areas and lakes along the Trail.The mission of the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Committee is to use the scenic byway to enhance the experience of travelers along the Gunflint Trail.

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.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Five Sunny Beautiful Days

After a rainy spring the sun has finally taken over. The temperatures have been a pleasing 50's to mid 60's. A few bugs but not bad. Summer on the Gunflint Trail is on its way!

The trees and shrubs have greened-up and of course the spring wild flowers are blooming. With the green-up the Minnesota DNR has lifted the fire restriction for the area- open burning with a permit and camp fires in fire grates are now allowed.