Forest Service updates storm damage as of Saturday evening

The July 21, 2016 storm impacted an area north and east of Ely Minnesota, on the Superior National Forest, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The impacted area is approximately 3 miles wide by 10 miles long. The western boundary runs as a curved line from Hook Lake, west through Cummings and Crab Lake, and south to include the Van Vac Road south of Burntside Lake. The eastern boundary runs from Ima Lake south to Hudson Lake. Lakes, portages, and campsites outside this area are also affected by fallen trees. Affected lakes include: Fall, Wood, Wind, Snowbank, Disappointment, Thomas, Moose, Pipestone and Back Bay of Basswood, Crab, Burntside, and Mudro Lakes. Roads heavily impacted include the North Grassy Road, Cloquet Line, Snowbank Lake Road, and the Fernberg Trail. The Cloquet Line has only been partially cleared and may require several more days weeks to clear to the end.

Description: Crews are working on Snowbank Lake and North Grassy Roads. Some powerlines are down or hanging low over some roads. BWCAW crews are working on portages and campsites on affected lakes. Some campsites may be posted closed if crews are unable to remove existing hazards. Other crews are working outside the wilderness to open other trails and recreation sites.

Message: Crews have made great progress in getting roads and main portages passable. Caution is advised when driving through the area. Many roads and trails are narrow, down to one lane in some places, and may be littered with debris. Trees may continue to come down. Crews continue working on them. Please drive slowly and defensively.

Resources: Approximately 50 Forest Service staff are working on the incident with most staff out clearing blowdown from roads, portages, trails, and parking lots.

Closures: There are no closures at this time. Forest staff are continuing to clear portages and campsites further into the wilderness, and some more remote portages may not be cleared of blowdown for several days. Campsites will be evaluated after portages are opened and some may be closed if crews are not able to remove existing hazards. Evaluating sites and removing hazard trees will take a very long time.

Visitors are reminded that there are many leaning trees, broken tops, and hanging branches that can easily fall. Saturated soils make otherwise stable trees prone to falling over. Consider these hazards and prevailing winds when choosing a parking, picnic, or camping site.