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.


Walz signals support for Ecklund’s measure to strengthen deer farm oversight

In a letter to House and Senate Environment and Agriculture committee chairs, Governor Tim Walz announced his support of a proposal to transfer state oversight of cervid farms from the Board of Animal Health (BAH) to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The move is one of many steps lawmakers are considering to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Minnesota’s wild white-tailed deer population.
State Rep. Rob Ecklund (DFL – International Falls), chief author of a comprehensive package of legislation to address CWD spread in Minnesota, is still advocating to incorporate the solution into a final Environment and Natural Resources budget package.


Don’t be deceived by appearance of green

Persistent dry conditions throughout northern Minnesota will mix with unseasonably warm temperatures, low relative humidity, and gusty winds resulting in near-critical fire weather through the weekend.
Wildfires under these conditions can easily start and spread quickly, especially in the already dry northern forested areas.
The Minnesota Interagency Fire Center urges everyone to be careful with any potential heat source that can cause a spark.
“Minimal precipitation throughout northern Minnesota brought little relief over the spring, and we are entering summer under higher fire danger conditions in northern Minnesota,” said Travis Verdegan, fire behavior specialist Minnesota Interagency Fire Center.
“The appearance of green-up is deceiving as many areas in the north are now two to three inches below average for rainfall.”


SHORE LUNCH “A Bad Day Fishing…”

We all know the adage that “A bad day fishing is better than a good day working!” Well, for a fishing guide, “A bad day fishing is, a bad day fishing!” I know many pieces to the puzzle of where to find your target species of fish and how to make them latch on to your hook, but I don’t know all of them. Sometimes there’s a piece missing and I’m looking all over the table for that last bit of straight edge!
At times, the weather can be a factor. A cold front could come through and the fish shut off. A windy day might keep you from being able to hold to a particular spot. A thunderstorm might keep you from even being on the water. A heavy rain or cold temperatures might just make it too miserable to be out on the water.


Anglers should prepare for cold water during fishing opener

Mother Nature gave Minnesotans extra ice-free days this spring on many of the state’s water bodies, but relatively cool weather since then—including overnight lows in the 30s—means the water temperature may be lower than people expect. As anglers prepare to hit the water for Saturday’s fishing opener, it’s vital they keep this in mind and put their safety first.
“The date on the calendar isn’t helpful in determining the temperature of the water,” said Col. Rodmen Smith, DNR Enforcement Division director. “This year’s opener is later in May than usual, but in many places the water temperature remains dangerously cold. Anglers need to be aware of that fact, and plan accordingly.”


Forest Service closes Birch Lake campground and boat access for prescribed burn activities

The U.S. Forest Service has extended the closure of the Birch Lake campground and boat access while the agency conducts prescribed burns on the Kawishiwi Ranger District. The campground and boat access will be closed through Monday, May 10..
This treatment includes burning multiple units on the forest to reduce hazardous fuels in the greater Ely-area. Prescribed burns create fire-resistant forested areas that can reduce future wildfire intensity on the landscape. Prescribed fire helps reduce harvest slash and competing vegetation, while supporting natural regeneration of conifer species.
Forest visitors are encouraged to use other Superior National Forest and public campgrounds, and boat access for their recreational needs. Alternatives to the Birch Lake Campground and boat launch include:


Bear hunt applications available; deadline is May 7

Prospective bear hunters have through Friday, May 7, to apply for a bear hunting license. Applications for the 2021 season should be submitted online or via telephone at 888-665-4236.
A total of 3,575 licenses are available in 13 permit areas. The fee to apply is $5. Bear licenses cost $44 for residents and $230 for nonresidents. The season is open from Wednesday, Sept. 1, through Sunday, Oct. 17.
Lottery winners will be notified by June 1. The deadline to purchase licenses awarded by lottery will be Sunday, Aug. 1. Any remaining unpurchased licenses will be available starting at noon on Wednesday, Aug. 4.
The no-quota area that includes east-central and far northwestern Minnesota is not part of the lottery drawing and will have an unlimited number of licenses available.
Overall, bear permit numbers for quota areas have remained unchanged since last year to allow bear population numbers to gradually increase and support a robust bear population.


BWCA permit education changed for 2021

The U.S. Forest Service will be offering both virtual and in-person Leave No Trace/Tread Lightly education and permit issuance for Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) 2021 permit holders beginning on April 30. Permit holders must attend one education session to receive their permit.
Virtual education sessions will be offered via Adobe Connect every day of the week from April 30 to Sept. 30. Sessions are scheduled for 9 a.m. Permits will be issued the day before or the day of BWCA entry.
Permit holders who have selected an issuing station that is operating virtually must attend one virtual Leave No Trace/Tread Lightly education session to receive their permit via email from the Forest Service.
Permit holders will receive an email approximately seven days in advance of their entry date with a URL link to click to join an online session.
Permit holders will forward this email to alternates and group members to maximize group education opportunities.


Important reminder to drop the drones as the spring wildfire activity increases

Minnesota’s wildland fire management agencies have reported more than 500 wildland fires throughout the state that have burned nearly 20,000 acres since the beginning of March.
The increase in spring wildfire activity is occurring in the dryest parts of the state.
As snowpack has receded, wildfire activity has been most notable in grasses and marshland, with forested areas also a concern in northwest Minnesota.
Wildland firefighters and aircraft capable of dropping water and fire retardant are responding to these wildland fires and will continue efforts throughout the spring as vegetation greens up.
Wildland firefighter and public safety are always a top priority during any wildfire season.


Minnesota’s fishing opener is May 15 this year

Fishing seasons open for walleye, bass, trout in lakes, and northern pike on Saturday, May 15, with this year’s date taking the prize for the latest possible opener under Minnesota statute.
“We know there is some confusion about this year’s opener date,” said Jon Hansen, fisheries program consultant for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Minnesota statute sets the fishing opener as the Saturday two weeks prior to the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. This year, with Memorial Day the latest it can be, on May 31, that puts the fishing opener on Saturday, May 15.
Also related to May fishing, there is an error in the printed version of the Minnesota Fishing Regulations book regarding the dates for the 2021 Take a Mom Fishing Weekend.


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