Category Archives: Ecology/Nature

Protecting Our Wild Rice  Heritage

Protecting Our Wild Rice Heritage

Evaluating Minnesota’s water sulfate standard for wild rice. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is reviewing its standards for protecting wild rice in Minnesota. With funding from the Minnesota State Legislature, the agency conducted a two-year study to determine how sulfate—the presence of which in water has been linked to an absence of wild rice—and other chemicals affect the health of wild rice.

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Helping Northern Forests Survive the Heat

On the front page of October 20 Sunday Star Tribune, an article “Saving the Great North Woods” addresses many climate-related issues and their implications to the future of the Quetico Superior biomes. Star Tribune Online includes a few short videos that further clarify what is happening and what efforts are being made to measure changes…

Moose Calves Dying at an Alarming Rate

In one of the most innovative moose research studies ever, in May of 2013, 49 moose calves in northeast Minnesota were fitted with GPS transmitting collars. Just four months later at least 35 are dead. This is significantly outside of the norm. Worldwide studies indicate that on average, in areas where predators are present, a…

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…

Fond du Lac Band Suspends Moose Hunt

As has been reported in Wilderness News Online, the moose population in northeast Minnesota has dropped from 8,800 moose in 2006 to 2,760 in last winter’s survey. Even more alarming is a 35% decline in just the last year. As a result, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources suspended moose hunting for the 2013 season.…

Islands on Two Northern Minnesota Lakes Acquired by Public Agencies

Islands on Lake Vermilion and Burntside Lake will be protected from development after being purchased by the U.S. Forest Service and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, respectively. The Trust for Public Land (TPL) recently helped acquire and transfer to government ownership Wolf Island on Vermilion and Gaul Island on Burntside. Fifty-eight-acre Wolf Island has…

Forest Service Fighting Two Small Fires in Boundary Waters

Two small fires are burning in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and are being intensively managed by Superior National Forest crews. The fires have not yet resulted in the closure of any entry points, but some campsites are affected. The larger of the fires has burned about 100 acres near the South Arm of…

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.…

Wolf Numbers Decline, Range Increases in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says the first survey of the state’s wolf population since last fall’s inaugural hunting season shows the population remains strong. Estimates of wolf numbers have declined by 710 since the last survey, in 2008. Despite the smaller numbers, the DNR says the population remains strong and the area of…

Popular Ely Bear Researcher Denied Permit

Bear feeding at the North American Bear Center in Ely. Photo by Michael Lore via Flickr. Lynn Rogers, who has studied black bears in northern Minnesota for 46 years, was recently denied a new research permit by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. In a letter to Rogers, the DNR says Rogers’ research, which includes…

Peculiar Spring Ice-out Recapped

The final 2013 ice out dates have been recorded for the lakes in the Quetico Superior. For many, even those that have reliable records back over 50 years this was a record late break-up. For others, this was the latest break-up since 1950. Either way it was an extraordinary spring especially coming on the heels…

Ontario Endangered Species Act Weakened

The Ontario Provincial Cabinet announced May 31st its approval of several exemptions for industry under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA).  Many environmental organizations are incensed at the this government action. They fear it is an abdication of public government’s responsibility to protect Ontario’s endangered plants and animals. Specifically, the exemptions for the forest industry…

Researchers Call for Isle Royale Wolf Management

Three scientists have published an op-ed in the New York Times calling for the National Park Service to not let Isle Royale’s wolf population disappear. There are now so few wolves on the remote Lake Superior island that there are questions about whether or not there is enough genetic diversity, and even enough females, to naturally survive. Wild vs.…

Longtime Sawbill Resident and Wilderness Advocate Bill Hansen YouTubes Two Lynx

Bill Hansen, whose parents began Sawbill Canoe Outfitters in 1957 and who has built his outfitting business into one of the most respected in the BWCAW, had the pleasure of spotting two conversing lynx last week while driving down the Sawbill Trail. Lynx are seclusive but iconic predators of the boreal forest and rarely seen…

Moose Population Holding Steady in Voyageurs National Park

Photo by Steve Wall via Flickr The moose population in Voyageurs National Park remains steady, according to a Park Service study released Tuesday. Aerial surveys conducted in late February indicate a population of 46 animals, compared to 51 in 2009. Over the same time period, the population of northeastern Minnesota moose is believed to have declined…

Just How Late Will Ice-out Be?

The stubborn winter of 2013 seems to be baffling scientists and old-timers alike, but just how late will this year’s Quetico-Superior’s ice-out be? Following an extremely early ice-out in 2012 might make this year just seem late, but no. With paddling forum entries reporting ice still as much as three feet thick on Boundary Waters’…

Northern Forests Threatened by Global “Worming”

In the March 25 Minneapolis Star Tribune, Lee Frelich, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Forest Ecology notes that the lowly earthworm, often thought of as a friend to the backyard gardener, is actually a dangerous invasive. Earthworms threaten northern forests by eating the duff and litter of the forest floor. This causes…

Warming Water and Invasive Species Changing the Character of Quetico-Superior Lakes

The Lake Superior summer water temperatures are increasing more rapidly than regional air temperatures.  According to an article in the Ely Timberjay, the surface water temperatures of Lake Superior increased approximately 6 degrees F between 1979 and 2006. This is significantly greater than regional atmospheric warming. How this change will impact biodiversity and the proliferation…

Minnesota Moose Population Drops by a Third in One Year

According to Saint Cloud Times reporter Glenn Schmitt, MN DNR aerial survey results last month indicate a 35 percent drop in the northeast Minnesota moose population from the previous year and a 52 percent decline from 2010. The current estimate of the moose population is 2,760 animals down from 4,320 animals in 2012. Although DNR…

EPA Issued Rule to Cut Haze over BWCAW

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park will both get added protection from haze under a new ruling from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to the EPA, the regulations should reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides by about 22,000 tons per year and sulfur dioxide emissions by about 2,000 tons. An article…

Boreal Owls Invade After All

Earlier blog post to the contrary, it appears as if the winter of 2012-13 is the year of the Boreal Owl in the Quetico-Superior region. In the last week, there have been several sightings of the owls all along the Minnesota North Shore of Lake Superior. Several Boreal Owls have been seen in Two Harbors,…

Get the Lead Out

Despite a howling northwest wind and sub-zero temperatures across the Quetico Superior wilderness, many people are dreaming of warmer days and are making their summertime recreational plans. Fishing in the clear lakes of northeast Minnesota and adjacent Ontario, is for many, near the top of their dream list. Sorting through tackle boxes is one way…

Boreal Owl Invasion Fails to Meet Expectations

Boreal owls are extremely rare resident birds in Minnesota. The first nesting pair was not recorded until 1978.  But every once in awhile, due to the boom and crash cycles of sub-arctic rodents, Boreal Owls invade northern Minnesota. Last fall, citizen naturalist Susan Plankis reported that Minnesota birders believed the winter of 2012-13 was going…

Wolf Hunt Starts Saturday

Minnesota’s first wolf hunting season begins this Saturday, November 3. More than 23,000 people applied for wolf hunting licenses, and according to the DNR, 6,000 hunters received licenses. They’ll be allowed to take up to 400 of the state’s 3,000 wolves over two general hunting seasons and one trapping season. According to a Kare11 article,…

Pollution Control Agency Ramping up Water Monitoring

State and local organizations, and even citizens, will begin monitoring lakes, rivers and streams in Minnesota’s Lake Superior North Watershed. It’s part of a new monitoring approach by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The initiative is known as “Intensive Watershed Monitoring,” in which water experts from local soil and water conservation districts, the Minnesota Department…

“Savannification” Still Expected in North Woods

University of Minnesota forest ecologist Lee Frelich continues to foresee a transition from forest to savanna taking place at the margins of Minnesota’s north woods. Newly published research suggests that within the century, the climate and ancillary factors will make significant changes to the state’s prairie/forest border.

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Moose Symposium Set for Thursday

A symposium aimed a getting a better understanding of moose population dynamics in a world affected by climate change is set to take place this Thursday in International Falls. The “Moose in a Warming World” symposium, co-sponsored by Voyageurs National Park Association and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, is open to the public.

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Ely-Area Bears Apart, But Doing Well

Lily and Hope the celebrity bears being observed by researchers at the North American Bear Center continue to live separate lives, although both appear to be doing well. Lily, the mother bear, and Hope, her cub who’s birth was web-cast earlier this year, have been apart since May 31.

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Well-Known Bear Cub Lost

An Ely area bear cub whose birth last winter was shown world-wide by a remote web-camera focused on its mother’s den is missing. The North American Bear Center, which has been following the cub and its mother since the birth, reported that mother and cub had separated on Saturday.

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Rains Should Lessen Fire Danger

Rain predicted for later today should lessen the extreme fire danger that has accompanied the earliest and driest spring on record in Northeastern Minnesota. Yesterday, despite high winds and dry air, firefighters were able to control new fires and keep others contained.

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Remembering the Blowdown of 1999

Tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of the famed Boundary Waters Blowdown. On July 4, 1999 a huge storm packing 90-mile-per-hour winds ripped through the BWCA, uprooting trees, blocking portages, and stranding campers. In all 370,000 acres in the BWCA were affected by the storm.

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Gunflint Green Up Sprouts New Life In Forest – And Community

Hundreds of people descended upon the Gunflint Trail outside of Grand Marais last weekend to plant thousands of pine seedlings and green up the fire impacted forest. Wilderness News Online caught up with Quetico Superior Foundation board member and Gunflint Trail property owner Dyke Williams, who had the opportunity to join the annual event. Read our Q&A.

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