Prescribed burns planned for the blowdown area near the Gunflint Trail were canceled this September due to Superior National Forest funding shortfalls.
According to Patty Johnson, East Zone Fuels Planner, the burns may still be completed in October if weather cooperates. And approximately 5,000 acres were burned this fall on the Kawishiwi Distrtict out of Ely, MN, in the vicinity of Wood, Wind and Four Mile Lakes.
Prescribed burns continue to be part of the management plan for fuels left behind by the 1999 July 4th blowdown.
According to Johnson, “The blowdown will continue to post fire danger problems for several more years. It will lessen as time goes on as other vegetation grows in and shades it, and as it decomposes… The blowdown is now mainly on the ground, not suspended anymore and it is beginning to decompose (bark on the larger boles is falling off, the fibers in the larger boles is breaking down and retaining water more, and the smaller diameter fuels, i.e. twigs and branches, are decomposing entirely.”
“For the next fire season, it is always hard to tell,” Johnson went on to say.” It depends on snow pack this year, spring and summer rainfalls, and other weather components. If it is a drought year, [the blowdown] still poses some hazard.”
If the Gunflint burns cannot be completed in October, Superior National Forest will continue to manage fire risk by moving them to next summer and fall. For updated information on prescribed burns, visit the Superior National Forest web site.