Pink Ribbon ATV Ride raises funds

Last Saturday was the Pink Ribbon ATV Ride from Ely to Babbitt and back on the Prospector Loop Trail System. It was a fundraiser to benefit Pink Ribbon Riders and the group raised $2,049. “We had a great group of people along for the ride and we had a fun time,” said organizer Penny Reedy. “Thank you to Prospector Loop ATV Trail System for your help planning and guiding, Babbitt ATV and Snowmobile Club for the use of your building, setting up and a donation, Zup’s of Ely for the cookies, Lindsey Keen for prizes, Nyman Excavating for the donation and everyone who participated!”


Pastor Burgdorf assigned to Lutheran churches in Ely and Babbitt

by Nancy McReady
Like in so many churches, the members go through long periods in putting out a call for a new pastor. Such has been the case for First Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Ely and its sister-church, The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Babbitt. The churches have had vacancy pastors filling in for nearly two years.
In May, the two churches received the news that Concordia Theological Seminary filled three of the nine vacancies in their Minnesota North District, and we were blessed to be one of them.
Pastor-elect Zachariah Burgdorf was assigned to both churches. His love of the northwoods, with hunting and camping as his interests, was a good fit to the area.
Burgdorf’s education background included a B.S. degree in physics from Missouri University of Science and Technology before entering the Master of Divinity program at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana.


Minnesota DNR: Wild rice season opens soon, but harvesters must ensure wild rice is ripe

Wild rice conditions are looking good this year in many areas of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is offering tips and a reminder of important regulations restricting harvest to rice stands that are ripe.
“While I’m hearing reports of good wild rice in some places this year, the hot and dry conditions that much of the state is experiencing means that rice stands are going to vary,” said Ricky Lien, DNR wetland habitat team supervisor.
“People interested in harvesting wild rice should do some scouting, both to look for good stands of rice and to determine if they are accessible by boat. We know there are some waters that have good rice stands, but access to them might be a challenge due to low water levels.”


Deer hunting season details released by DNR

With the release of the online version of the 2021 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations handbook, hunters can read up on what’s new to prepare for this year’s deer hunting season. The handbook is now available on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ deer hunting webpage. Printed copies of the handbook will be delivered to hunting license vendors the first week of August.
Hunting licenses go on sale Sunday, Aug. 1, and are available at any DNR license agent, by telephone at 888-665-4236, or online. Archery deer season opens Saturday, Sept. 18, and firearms deer season opens Saturday, Nov. 6.
“For the 2021 season, hunters may harvest more than one deer in almost half of the permit areas,” said Barbara Keller, DNR big game program leader. “Overall, bag-limit designations for this year are similar to last year, with a few changes in certain areas to move populations toward goal.”


MN DNR reports ruffed grouse counts down from last year

Minnesota’s ruffed grouse spring population counts are down from last year as expected during the declining phase of the species’ 10-year cycle — a predictable pattern recorded for 72 years. Although peaks vary from 8 to 11 years apart, the most recent peak in the cycle occurred in 2017.
Ruffed grouse populations are surveyed by counting the number of male ruffed grouse heard drumming on established routes throughout the state’s forested regions. Drumming is a low sound produced by males as they beat their wings rapidly and in increasing frequency to signal the location of their territory. Drumming displays also attract females that are ready to begin nesting.
The spring drumming counts are an important indicator of the ruffed grouse breeding population. The number of birds present during the fall hunting season also depends upon nesting success and chick survival during the spring and summer.


Additional BWCA closures near US-Canada border

The U.S. Forest Service announced additional closures in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area effective July 18, due to wildfires in Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park that have the potential to spread to the US side of the border.
Recent reconnaissance flights conducted by fire managers have indicated an increase in fire behavior, despite the lighter winds; and fuels in this area are pre-heating and becoming more volatile.
Similar to the closures announced on July 15, this latest BWCAW closure order will remain in effect for at least seven days or until it is safe to open the area again.
This BWCAW Closure Order includes the following entry points:
• Little Indian Sioux River North #14
• Moose / Portage River #16
• Stuart River #19
• Angleworm Lake #20
• South Hegman Lake #77
• Little Vermilion Lake #12
• Lac La Croix Only #12A
• Blandin Trail #11
• Herriman Lake Trail #13
• Sioux-Hustler Trail #15


Prospector picks up $150,000 federal trail grant

The Prospector ATV project picked up another grant, this time through a federal program.
The Recreational Trail Program provides grants using federal monies through state agencies such as the Minnesota DNR.
This is the second time the Prospector project will benefit from an RTP grant.
“We knock on a lot of doors to get funding and this is the second time federal RTP dollars will be used for construction work,” said Prospector trail administrator Ron Potter.
The first phase of the Prospector Loop is nearing completion with around 250 miles of trail connecting the communities of Ely, Babbitt, Embarrass and Tower to the North Shore Trail System.
“After eight years it would be nice to kick back and enjoy what we’ve done so far but we’re full steam ahead on phase two with four trail connections and a bridge over the Beaver River,” said Prospector president Nick Wognum.


BWCA permit holders should plan to pick up permits in-person again starting on Monday

Starting on Monday, July 12, most Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness visitors will need to pick up their wilderness permits in-person.
The Forest Service is phasing out the virtual permit issuance option, with the exception of Sunday sessions for the remainder of the permit season. The virtual option was developed as a temporary modification in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
After this week, permit issuance and Leave No Trace & Tread Lightly education sessions will only be offered on Sundays at 9 a.m. for permit holders who selected the LaCroix District Office or Tofte District Office as their issue stations, due to these offices being closed on Sundays this year. The first Sunday this change will be in effect for is Sunday, July 18.
If you have an upcoming reservation and have already received an email to a virtual session this week, this change does not affect you.


Rock Island Lake fire

PAGAMI COUNTRY - A wildfire was detected Wednesday afternoon one mile southwest of Lake Two in the BWCA. The fire is located west of Rock Island Lake and approximately 16 miles east of Ely. The fire is believed to be caused by a lightning strike. An air tanker and helicopter made 30,000 gallons in water drops on the fire to slow fire spread. All sides of the fire were active, but the water drops were successfully reducing fire activity. The fire is estimated to be 1.5 acres in size. A crew of 10 firefighters was flown into Lake Two to camp and assess access routes and safety zones. Aircraft will continue to make water drops to reduce fire activity. There were no closures as of Thursday afternoon.


Ely’s Hidden Valley mountain bike trails take shape, with fundraising efforts underway to ensure completion

Ely’s Hidden Valley Recreation Area is seeing expanding outdoor recreation opportunities this summer, with the addition of nearly 10 miles of singletrack mountain bike trails slated for completion by October.
The new trail system, designed by Minnesota based Dirt Candy Designs, consists of six loops ranging from beginner to advanced level.
The first loop, a progressive skills loop for riders to practice and hone bike handling techniques, was completed in 2019, just south of the Hidden Valley Chalet.
Since then, the City of Ely has contracted with Kay-Linn Enterprises of Boulder, CO to oversee the project, and signed a lease with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to include the existing Nordic ski trails as well as the new mountain bike loops.


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