Forest Service to reopen campgrounds and other recreation sites starting June 1

On June 1, the Superior National Forest will open overnight camping in a limited number of developed campgrounds.
This is in alignment with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s announcement on May 20, that allow campgrounds to re-open starting June 1 under the Stay Safe Phase for reopening society Plan.
For a full list of open areas and up-to-date information on re-openings, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/superior/home.
Following is a list of recreation sites and facilities on the Superior National Forest that will be opening June 1:
• Birch Lake Campground
• Birch Lake Boat Launch - Restroom open and maintained
• Fall Lake Campground
• Fall Lake Boat Launch - Restroom open and maintained
• Fenske Lake Campground
• Fenske Lake Boat Launch - Restroom open and maintained
• South Kawishiwi River Campground


National Forest to reopen dispersed camping sites

On May 18, the Superior and Chippewa National Forests will open overnight camping in dispersed sites. Forest Service campgrounds will remain closed until further notice. This is in alignment with Minnesota Governor’s new order 20-56. For a full list of open areas and up-to-date information on re-openings, visit the Forests’ websites at www.fs.usda.gov/superior and www.fs.usda.gov/chippewa.
“We understand the excitement for the public to enjoy their public land. Allowing dispersed overnight camping on the Minnesota National Forests now makes that possible,” says Darla Lenz, Chippewa Forest Supervisor.
“We ask that visitors please continue to follow local, state and federal guidelines on staying safe and social distancing wherever they choose to visit.”


ATV trails open, but youth safety training classes postponed

In a typical year, Minnesota’s ATV clubs hold over 75 ATV Safety Training Classes for riders age 10 to 15, certifying over 2,500 youth to be legal to ride ATVs.
Unfortunately, this is not a typical year.
All classes are postponed until further notice, as part of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) response to COVID-19.
The Governor’s “Stay at Home” order has also forced cancellation of annual meetings and rides by the ATV Association of Minnesota (ATVAM), attended by hundreds of members from around the state.
Like older students missing prom and graduation, many young riders are missing the opportunity to legally ride ATVs this summer with their parents on Minnesota’s vast public trail system.
Anyone born after July 1, 1987, who is age 12 or older, must have a valid ATV Safety Certificate to operate on public lands, trails, and frozen waters, and when crossing road rights-of-way.


North Country Angler returns for 2020

BOATS can now be launched at LaTourell’s on Moose Lake and all other Ely area lakes with ice out coming the weekend before the 2020 Minnesota fishing opener. However, the U.S. Forest Service is only allowing day use in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area due to the coronavirus pandemic and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s stay at home order through May 17. Overnight use in the BWCA is expected to resume after May 17. On the Canadian side, the Quetico Park is closed to visitors through May 31.


DNR Conservation Officer weekly report ending April 27

District 6 - Two Harbors area
CO Sean Williams (Ely #1CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) reports many calls of out-of-control campfires all over the Iron Range. Extremely dry and windy conditions meant these fires spread quickly and both DNR and U.S. Forest Service crews had to act quickly to keep them from spreading. Please remember that there is a burning ban in place, which includes campfires on public lands.
CO John Velsvaag (Ely) checked ATV operators this past week, as well as spring fish-run activity. He also assisted with closures and took multiple calls on burning restrictions. Velsvaag also had multiple nuisance-animal complaints and beaver-trapping questions.
CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) spent time checking anglers along the North Shore tributaries. State parks and campgrounds were patrolled. The officer assisted the county with several calls. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile and angling violations.


National Forests in Minnesota temporarily close campgrounds and recreation sites

In alignment with current federal, state and local guidance for social distancing and to ensure health safety of its employees, visitors and volunteers, the Chippewa and Superior National Forests are shutting down developed recreation facilities, including campgrounds and restrooms, as well as suspending trash pick-up until further notice. In addition, on both Forests, all overnight camping is shut down and campfires are not allowed, in order to minimize the risk to first responders in the event of wildfire.
At this time, the General Forest remains open to the public, including Forest roads identified on the motor vehicle use map are open for scenic drives, trails and trailheads for hiking, and boat ramps (unless within campgrounds) are open to provide fishing access. With the potential for crowded conditions in the coming days and weeks, both Forests are implementing a group-size limitation of 10 people or less per group across the entire forest.


DNR won’t harvest fish eggs due to COVID-19 social distancing protocols

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will cancel its 2020 egg take operations for walleye, northern pike, muskellunge and steelhead because the work cannot be done safely under COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.
This includes walleye eggs harvested at Pike River near Tower and Lake Vermilion.
Collecting eggs and sperm from spawning fish in the wild is a labor intensive effort that requires teams of 6-8 people working in close proximity. After a careful examination of whether the egg take process could be re-engineered, the DNR determined that is was not possible to safely handle fish during the egg take and practice appropriate social distancing to protect staff from COVID-19.


Bear hunt applications available; deadline is Friday, May 1

Prospective bear hunters have until Friday, May 1, to apply for a bear hunting license. Applications for the 2020 season should be submitted online or via telephone at 888-665-4236.
A total of 3,575 licenses are available in 13 permit areas. Bear licenses cost $44 for residents and $230 for nonresidents, and there is a $5 application fee. The season is open from Sunday, Sept. 1, through Sunday, Oct. 18.
Lottery winners will be notified by June 1. The deadline to purchase licenses awarded by lottery will be Thursday, Aug. 1. Any remaining unpurchased licenses will be available over the counter starting at noon on Aug. 5.


DNR: Keep drones grounded during the upcoming spring wildfire season

Flying a drone can be a lot of fun—but it can be downright dangerous during a wildfire, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
A drone has invaded the airspace above a Minnesota wildfire in each of the last four years. Such interference with fire operations is dangerous for firefighting aircraft, firefighters on the ground and the public. It is also illegal: Federal law prohibits interfering with firefighting operations, and that includes flying a drone over a wildfire.
With this spring’s wildfire season occurring in the midst of Minnesota’s COVID-19 response, a drone flight near fire is simply additional stress for the statewide emergency management system. Darren Neuman, the DNR’s wildfire aviation manager, likens a drone above a wildfire to a car blocking a fire engine on the highway. “When a drone is spotted, our pilots have to land. When aircraft land, our ability to fight the fire slows. Drones create a reckless ripple effect,” he said.


Entries floating in for Ice Out Contest

Entries are floating in for the Ely Echo and Grand Ely Lodge Shagawa Lake Ice Out Contest.
May 1, 2020
It was a May Day pick at 5:07 p.m. from Mike Murray, living in Sartell, MN.
April 10, 2020
A pick of 2 p.m. came in from Alexandra Murray Bender, living in Rochester, NY and desiring to be in Ely.
Joe Shikonya of Lacrosse, WI sent in 11:48 a.m.
April 13, 2020
This is the right day and 1:16 p.m. is the right time according to Katie Heitzig.
April 14, 2020
Susan Kasbeer said her guess is 9:32 p.m. of Ormond Beach, FL: “Go away, Covid19, so we can come back to Moose Lake.”
April 19, 2020
Elyite Tony Bartovich submitted 10:00 a.m.
April 20, 2020
Terry Cooper of Ely guessed 10:20 a.m.
Chuck Kasbeer of Ormond Beach, FL chose 1:11 p.m.
Bill Durst of Quincy IL sent in a guess of 1:25 pm.


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