Author Archives: Editor

Paddling Into the Past on Rainy Lake

Paddling Into the Past on Rainy Lake

Editor’s Note: Whenever possible, Quetico Superior Wilderness News highlights partners committed to protecting or enhancing the wilderness character of the region. The following piece is reposted with permission by the Voyageurs National Park Association. by Eric Grunwald, National Park Service It was a calm and warm mid-September day when my friend Jeff and I put…

New Water Trail Benefits from Collaborative Cross-Border Partnership

New Water Trail Benefits from Collaborative Cross-Border Partnership

This summer, Ontario Provincial Park wardens, the Gunflint Ranger District of the Superior National Forest and members of the Northwoods Volunteer Connection came together to work on a water trail that runs from Kenora to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Called the Path of the Paddle, it’s part of a larger effort to connect three oceans…
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Plugged In

Plugged In

Dave and Amy Freeman spent a year in the Boundary Waters, using social media to inspire others to protect the wilderness.Continue Reading

Morning Light – A Canoe Built by Campers at Ogiche Daa Kwe

Morning Light – A Canoe Built by Campers at Ogiche Daa Kwe

There is something delicate about the look of a skin-on frame canoe. In the sunlight, the wooden frame shows through its skin, as do the shadows of paddlers. Looking down into the boat, the line where water meets air is visible. Yet it is a seaworthy craft, light enough for the youngest and oldest of paddlers to carry, and, at girls’ wilderness camp Ogiche Daa Kwe, a perfect metaphor for community. Last summer, campers and staff at the Rainy Lake camp built a 17.5-foot wilderness traveler skin-on frame canoe. Continue Reading

Status Report: Border Country Birds

The loon’s famous song, echoing across wilderness lakes, makes solitude audible. It simply sounds like wilderness. Many other bird species also find the habitat they need to breed amid the forests, lakes, rivers, and wetlands of the Boundary Waters, giving unique voice to the wild landscape. Here, a tongue of Canada’s boreal forest creates ideal conditions for an array of bird species—for a few months each year. Continue Reading

Three Decades of Superior Hiking

Three Decades of Superior Hiking

This summer, thirty years after a pair of trailbuilders first started flagging a hiking route along the ridges overlooking Lake Superior on Minnesota’s North Shore, the Superior Hiking Trail will be finished—mostly. The final section of the trail, connecting it to the Wisconsin border southeast of Duluth, should be completed by Labor Day. Hikers will then be able to travel from that point all the way to the Canadian border on the trail that has been called one of the best in America. But the work is never done. Hundreds of volunteers will continue to put in thousands of hours each year keeping the trail in good condition.Continue Reading

Voyageurs—A Must Visit National Park

Voyageurs—A Must Visit National Park

The National Park of Minnesota’s north woods celebrates the Park Service’s Centennial. One hundred years ago this August 25th, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the National Park Service. For the century since, the agency has managed an ever-growing roster of places deemed worthy of perpetual protection. There are mountains and deserts, coasts and ocean,…

Something in the Water Bent Paddle Brewing

Something in the Water

Bent Paddle Brewing of Duluth joins the call to protect the planet’s most precious resource. By Greg Seitz The water of Lake Superior is famous for its beauty, depth, cold, and power. It is also gaining a reputation for making great beer. It is pure and pristine, perfect for brewing. The owners of Bent Paddle…

What will it take to get you outdoors?

What will it take to get you outdoors?

In a recent article for the Star Tribune, writer Tori McCormick sums it up: “What will it take to get you outdoors and into nature? Can you be persuaded, either through a special event or an engaging social-media campaign, to visit a state or national park or hike a trail at a national wildlife refuge?…

Why Do We Return to Wilderness? Wilderness News Fall-Winter 2015

Why Do We Return to Wilderness? Wilderness News Fall-Winter 2015

At the Quetico Superior Foundation (QSF), our mission is to protect the wilderness character of Minnesota’s border lakes canoe country and Ontario’s Quetico region. We do that through the publication of Wilderness News and by giving grants to non-profit organizations that share our mission. We know that leaving a lasting legacy is better done through the actions of many. Here, we pay tribute to and thank some of the organizations that have put our grants to use over the last few years…Continue Reading

Wild Minds: Scientists Study the Boundary Waters Brain

Wild Minds: Scientists Study the Boundary Waters Brain

by Greg Seitz Does your brain work better in the Boundary Waters? Paddlers have been pondering the profound psychological shifts that take place in the wilderness for as long as humans have been seeking refuge there from the hectic modern world. Now, a researcher from Nebraska has shown that creativity and other cognitive abilities skyrocket…

Poem: Listening by Larry Christianson

LISTENING . . . Listening . . . to wilderness wind sweeping through forest and across water, speaking with wisdom for all who pause. In the distracting clamor of modern life, and the numbing noise of busyness. Listening . . . to inner voices struggling to break free of new anxieties and old burdens, whispering…

Why Do We Return to Wilderness? Thoughts From Our Readers

Why Do We Return to Wilderness? Thoughts From Our Readers

  “On my early trips it used to take several days for the wilderness to “sink in”; now I find myself immersed almost immediately. I think it is because it is now a comfortable place for me. In my memories I can’t capture this feeling, contentment, and peace of mind. I can’t even describe it.…

Creating a Legacy: The Quetico Superior Foundation Grant Program

At the Quetico Superior Foundation (QSF), our mission is to protect the wilderness character of Minnesota’s Border Lakes Canoe Country and Ontario’s Quetico region. We do that through the publication of Wilderness News and by giving grants to non-profit organizations that share our mission. We know that leaving a lasting legacy is better done through…

Securing Sig’s Legacy, Mining Updates, Wilderness News Summer 2015

Securing Sig’s Legacy, Mining Updates, Wilderness News Summer 2015

  Cover Story: Sigurd Olson’s Legacy Returns Home By Greg Seitz The soul of Sigurd and Elizabeth Olson lives on at their home in Ely. The soul smells of fresh-baked cookies in the kitchen. In the writing shack on the property, it smells of cedar. It sounds like a breeze rustling the tall red pines…

A Winter Wolf Story

A Winter Wolf Story

by Paul Schurke Ask most of us dogsledders and skiers about what we find so compelling about the Quetico Superior country in the snow season, and the answer is often the same: the wilderness is somehow wilder in winter. Visitors are certainly less evident. Of the quarter million trekkers who visit the region annually, less…

BOOK REVIEW North Shore: A Natural History of Minnesota’s Superior Coast

BOOK REVIEW North Shore: A Natural History of Minnesota’s Superior Coast

By Chel Anderson and Adelheid Fischer Published by University of Minnesota Press Reviewed by Stephanie Hemphill A book of more than 500 pages invites comparison to the Bible. North Shore: A Natural History of Minnesota’s Superior Coast is like a bible in some ways: it is vast in scope, thought-provoking, and poetic in places. It…

Cultivating Stewardship in Northern Minnesota

Cultivating Stewardship in Northern Minnesota

By Alissa Johnson A new program in northern Minnesota aims to connect people with a passion for the northwoods with opportunities to take care of the places they love, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. A volunteer board of directors has been working with input from Forest Service liaisons to create a nonprofit organization…

Sigurd Olson’s Legacy Returns Home

Sigurd Olson’s Legacy Returns Home

By Greg Seitz The soul of Sigurd and Elizabeth Olson lives on at their home in Ely. The soul smells of fresh-baked cookies in the kitchen. In the writing shack on the property, it smells of cedar. It sounds like a breeze rustling the tall red pines Sig planted as seedlings, of croaking ravens and…

Hiking Voyageurs National Park

Hiking Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park may be best known for paddling and boating, but for the hiker it offers spectacular vistas and a variety of forest scenery. The park has just launched a Hike to Health program and opened the new Rainy Lake Recreation Trail — two great reasons to plan a trip to Voyageurs…Continue Reading

Northern Lakes Canoe Base

Northern Lakes Canoe Base

By Alissa Johnson Picture the Girl Scouts, and it’s likely that young girls selling cookies come to mind. And while that can be part of the experience, Northern Lakes Canoe Base is offering up a very different image of what it can mean to be a Girl Scout: girls working together to meet the challenges…

Quetico Superior Foundation Board Member Profile: Emilie Hitch

Quetico Superior Foundation Board Member Profile: Emilie Hitch

Board member since 2010 Please tell us what your involvement with the Quetico Superior Foundation mean to you: Being involved with the QSF means a few things to me. First, it means that I am a part of a community of people who share my belief that protecting the wilderness is important. Secondly, it means…

Laketrails Base Camp

Laketrails Base Camp

By Alissa Johnson When Laketrails campers arrive at base camp, costumed counselors greet them, singing and dancing, hooting and hollering, and banging on drums. “We’re famous for our welcomes of campers,” says executive director Sue Lemm. And it’s easy to imagine what a sight it must be, especially after the journey to get to Laketrails—simply…

State of the Boundary Waters and Paddling to DC – Wilderness News Fall Winter Issue

State of the Boundary Waters and Paddling to DC – Wilderness News Fall Winter Issue

Cover Story: How will proposed mining, climate change, invasive species, nutrient loading, and algal blooms change the border lakes? The Quetico-Superior region of Minnesota and Canada bring to mind lake country—a landscape characterized by glacier carved lakes filled with clear, cold and clean water. Yet the list of possible impacts on northern Minnesota water quality is long: proposed mining, climate change, invasive species, nutrient loading, and algal blooms to name just a few…Continue Reading

State of the Boundary Waters

State of the Boundary Waters

The Quetico-Superior region of Minnesota and Canada bring to mind lake country—a landscape characterized by glacier carved lakes filled with clear, cold and clean water. Yet the list of possible impacts on northern Minnesota water quality is long: proposed mining, climate change, invasive species, nutrient loading, and algal blooms to name just a few. In some places, like Lake of the Woods, evidence suggests that changes are already under way. Continue Reading

Paddle to D.C. Ely Adventurers’ Latest Expedition Carries Concerns About Mining

Paddle to D.C. Ely Adventurers’ Latest Expedition Carries Concerns About Mining

This epic expedition was inspired by what the Freemans see as an existential threat to a national treasure: mining. “The Boundary Waters is our nation’s most popular wilderness area, it receives a quarter million visitors per year. Every year I guide people in the Boundary Waters from Texas and California and all across the country. We need to make sure people all across the country understand how special the Boundary Waters is and understand the threats it faces.Continue Reading

Paddling on Route 66

Paddling on Route 66

by Larry Christianson Paddling season arrived for me with great personal meaning as this is the time where I planned to catch up to my age in the sense of arriving in autumn at boundary waters canoe trip number 66 at age 66. A long-term goal that has been lurking out there on my life…

Quetico Superior Foundation Board Member Profile: Dodd Cosgrove

Board member since… “It has been long enough that I have lost track. I would guess at least twenty years.”   Please tell us what your involvement with the Quetico Superior Foundation means to you: Beginning with a trip to Trout Lake a month before the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964, I have travelled…

Fostering Growth and Sparking Curiosity in Youth

Fostering Growth and Sparking Curiosity in Youth

By Adam Maxwell During the summer of 2013, I spent my time leading wilderness trips for Camp Lincoln in Brainerd, Minnesota. Camp Lincoln is one of the oldest traditional summer camps in Minnesota. It hosts over four hundred campers each season, with campers generally staying at camp for a four week session. Some of the…

Meet Board Member Nell Smith

Meet Board Member Nell Smith

Board member since 2007 Please tell us what your involvement with the Quetico Superior Foundation means to you: Taking care of our environment is critical to our and our children’s future. Preserving the Quetico-Superior region wilderness provides a unique opportunity for people to connect with the natural world and the not-too-distant past when our country…

Eye to the Skies – the Raptor Migration is On

The Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth held their annual Hawk Weekend Festival last weekend, and the results of their daily bird counts are coming in. The migration begins in mid-August with American kestrels, sharp-shinned hawks and broad-winged hawks, and continues into December with red-tailed and rough-legged hawks, northern goshawks and eagles. Peak migration at…

MN DNR Updates Endangered and Threatened Species Lists

For the first time since 1996, the Minnesota DNR has updated the list of endangered and threatened animals and plants in the state, adding over 180 species. Listed species are categorized as either endangered, threatened or of special concern. The list is based on scientific field studies and public hearings held over the past year.…

Camp Manito-wish—Where Kids Try it, Change it, and Try Again

Camp Manito-wish—Where Kids Try it, Change it, and Try Again

By Alissa Johnson When a group of campers from Camp Manito-wish YMCA approaches its first campsite in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or Quetico Provincial Park, the counselors ask the group to pause on the water. They’ll float in their canoes and talk through everything that’s going to happen on land: how they’ll unload…

Northern Tier High Adventure Program

Steeped in 90 years of canoeing tradition By Alissa Johnson During the summer of 2012, the Northern Tier High Adventure Program helped 755 crews, most of them Boy Scouts, explore the wilderness of northern Minnesota and Canada. That’s 6,012 people starting and ending canoe trips at one of three base camps, and connecting with the…

Trust for Public Land: Protecting Gaul Island

Trust for Public Land: Protecting Gaul Island

How a collaborative effort is transferring private land to public stewardship. By Alissa Johnson In the summer of 2010, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) received an inquiry from the Listening Point Foundation. The owners of a 15-acre island across from Listening Point had notified the Foundation that they intended to sell their property. Gaul…

YMCA Camp Warren Turns 85

YMCA Camp Warren Turns 85

About two hours north of the Twin Cities, YMCA Camp Warren sits on Half Moon Lake near Eveleth, Minnesota. Once a summer home for the Warren Family, the land is now a second home to 85 years worth of summer campers. The Warren Family’s 1880s New England style lodge—affectionately called Homaji—is now the cornerstone of…

Working Together to Protect Wilderness

Working Together to Protect Wilderness

The Summer Issue of Wilderness News is in the mail and now online. The theme is Working Together to Protect Wilderness — check out a few highlights below.   Download a PDF here > Sign Up to Subscribe to print edition or email > What’s Inside: Voices for the North Country Readers respond to Wilderness News Read…

The Wilderness Canvas: YMCA Camp Menogyn

The Wilderness Canvas: YMCA Camp Menogyn

By Fred Sproat Wilderness is many different things to many different people; it can be a grocery store or a sanctuary, a playground or a classroom. It can be all of the above or something completely different. I have made the canoe country wilderness my office by turning passion into profession and working as a…

Special Issue: Fire in the BWCAW

In September 2011, a naturally-occurring wildfire burned over 100,000 acres in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness this year. We follow its progression through interviews, revealing photos, and maps, how the fire started, grew, and the response and containment efforts.Continue Reading

Inside the Pagami Creek Fire

A couple of boundary waters paddlers found themselves on Lake Insula on Sept 12 when the Pagami Creek Fire took off – this video shows them caught off guard by the flames. If the video above does not play, click HERE for the YouTube Video.

Wilderness News Summer Edition is Online

The Summer 2011 Issue of Wilderness News Print Edition is now online! Click here to download the PDF > Featured in this issue: Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center By Rob Kesselring Take a drive to the end of the Gunflint Trail and spend a few hours at Chik-Wauk Museum, the word serendipity will come to…

MN State Parks Suffer during Shutdown

MN State Parks are losing $1 million a week in camping permits, trail fees, fishing licenses and concessions as the government shutdown drags on during the height of tourist season. How will the economies of northern Minnesota towns be affected?Continue Reading

Wilderness News Print Edition – Spring 2011

The Spring 2011 Issue of Wilderness News Print Edition is now online! Experience Lake Superior from a kayak, travel back in time with an early voice for the Boundary Waters, and follow urban teens-at-risk into the wilderness in canoes they built by hand.
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Last Chance to Take our Survey

There’s still time to share your opinion! In the recent Summer 2010 issue of Wilderness News, we published the results of our reader survey sent by mail – but if you missed it, you can take our Online Survey and have your voice heard. Help Us Stay Up to Date: As a free subscriber to Wilderness…

Wilderness News Print Edition Summer 2010

The Summer 2010 Issue of Wilderness News Print Edition is now online! Download the full pdf, read the feature stories – from wilderness research on Fall Lake to the impact of climate change on the BWCAW, updates on mining controversy and a new hiking trail through the Arrowhead, find out what’s going on in the Quetico Superior region.Continue Reading

Invasive Spiny Waterfleas Discovered Near Boundary Waters

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirmed that spiny waterfleas were discovered by anglers in Burntside Lake near Ely last week. Burntside Lake is a popular entry point into motorless area of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Water fleas are tiny, but pose threats to lake life. The animals can collect in masses…

Forest Service May Demolish Historic Buildings

A Depression-era complex of log and stone cabins near Ely may be razed by the U.S. Forest Service, contending that while they may have historical significance, the buildings are too expensive to maintain. The Kawishiwi Laboratory and Forest Research Center is known to some for pioneering research on wolves and bears. Several of the property’s…

Wilderness News Spring 2010 is Online

Featured in this issue:
Big Bill Wenstrom — Last Man Standing by Barbara Wenstrom Shank and William P. Wenstrom. Special Report: New Trends in Visits to Quetico-Superior Wilderness by Charlie Mahler. Book Review: A Modern-Day Voyageur Family; Paddling the 3,000 Mile Fur Trade Canoe Route Across the U.S. and Canada, by Timothy J. Kent. Wilderness Essay: Moments of Clarity by Andy Wright. The Heart of the Continent Partnership Comes of Age, by Rob Kesselring.Continue Reading

Big Bill Wenstrom – Last Man Standing

Sig Olson’s readers were introduced to Big Bill Wenstrom in Open Horizons (p. 97). Sig wrote: “It was Big Bill Wenstrom who taught me how to throw on a canoe. He didn’t tell me, but I noticed the ease with which he did it, the balancing on his thighs, the short kick of the hips, the twist of the arms as the canoe went overhead…”Continue Reading

Take the WN Survey

As a free subscriber to Wilderness News, you appreciate the feature stories, book reviews, and reports on critical issues in the Quetico-Superior region we deliver to your door. Please answer a few quick questions and help us make Wilderness News even betterContinue Reading

Book Review: Our Neck of the Woods

As essay collections go, Our Neck of the Woods is more of a confessional than a nature tale. Up and down the state, and via every outdoor pastime (fishing, hunting, skiing, canoeing, camping), writers confess to a love of Minnesota …Continue Reading

The Future of Moose in a Warming World

A combination of challenges threaten Minnesota’s sensitive moose populations – warming temperatures, changes in precipitation, increased varieties of diseases and parasites, and changes in predator populations. Are we watching the end of moose in Minnesota?Continue Reading

Voyageurs Park Seeking Public Input on New Fees, Reservation System

The public is invited to attend one of two forums to learn about and comment on the Park’s proposed fee and reservation system for interior lake campsites and boat rentals on the Kabetogama Peninsula as well as fees for tour boat programs. Voyageurs National Park Superintendent Mike Ward will host a presentation about the proposed changes, and will open the floor to public comments and questions…Continue Reading

Painting History

In 2006, Quetico Provincial Park’s French River proved impassable by kayak—so Ken Lister crawled upriver through the slippery, overgrown underbrush. His destination? French River Rapids. Lister suspected that an oil painting by Canadian artist Paul Kane portrayed the rapids. If correct, he would disprove widely held notions about the painting’s origins, and possibly discover a new understanding of the fur trade. Continue Reading

Fall Issue of Wilderness News

The Fall 2009 issue of Wilderness News (the print edition) is here! If you’re a subscriber, watch for your mailed copy soon. Or download a PDF of the full issue, and read all of the stories, with full-color photographs, and help us save on mailing costs.Continue Reading

Protecting a Scenic Entrance to the BWCAW

Protecting a Scenic Entrance to the BWCAW

Fall Lake Property on the Edge of the Boundary Waters to be Protected An 11-acre parcel of land on Fall Lake outside of Ely, Minnesota, will be protected thanks to the joint efforts of the landowners, the Forest Service and the Trust for Public Land (TPL). Located just across the lake from a Forest Service…

Update: Namakan River Dam Project

The Spring 2008 issue of Wilderness News covered a proposed dam at High Falls on the Namakan River west of Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario. A project with environmental impacts on both sides of the border, the Ojibway Power and Energy Group (OPEG) is preparing to release its Environmental Assessment as part of a proponent-led approval process.Continue Reading

Book Review: Last Child in the Woods

Today’s kids do not connect with the outdoors or nature because societal changes have taken away the opportunity to do so. National park and wilderness lovers take heed; the implications are significant for child development, but they are also crucial for the long-term protection of natural places.Continue Reading

Project Venture North

Ice fishing, snow shoeing, canoeing and camping – cornerstones of the northwoods experience, yes, but cornerstones of drug and alcohol prevention? Project Venture North, a replica of Project Venture in New Mexico, is betting yes, serving American Indian communities in the Quetico Superior region by connecting kids with nature.Continue Reading

Wolf Island Protected

Wolf Island Protected

Wolf Island is a place of legend and lore, holding the footprints of both Native Americans and Voyageurs. The Trust for Public Land (TPL) has taken advantage of a one-time opportunity to protect this prominent archeological site in the middle of Lake Vermilion, one of the premier lakes located in the Minnesota northwoods. Wolf Island,…

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