Category Archives: Parks & Regions

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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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,…

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?…

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

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

Reflecting on the Wilderness Act

Reflecting on the Wilderness Act

By Alissa Johnson When I was a kid, paddling the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness with my family, I didn’t realize that the final word in its name had only been added in 1978—the same year I was born. Nor did I realize that the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act of 1978 was preceded…

New Superior National Forest Deputy Director Has Long History with Public Land

Richard Periman, who has been named as Deputy Director of the Superior National Forest, has lengthy qualifications in understanding the relationship between humans and the environment. That includes a PhD in Environmental Science and Technology from the University of New Mexico, and a grandfather who worked as a seasonal Forest Service firefighter. Periman’s family ranch…

Summer 2014 BWCAW Permits Available Starting Today

You may now reserve BWCAW permits for the 2014 summer season on a first come first served basis. Permits are required for all day and overnight visitors to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Permits do not reserve a campsite, but rather grant access to a particular entry point. Booking ahead and paying a fee…

Reconstructing the Past

Reconstructing the Past

By Rob Kesselring Archaeologists are painting a picture of Quetico-Superior’s first people and what the land looked like 12,000 years ago. Crouched behind a granite boulder we wait. A damp northwest wind off Lake Agassiz raises goose bumps on our naked thighs where our caribou leggings end and what our summer tunics do not completely…

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…

20,000 Plan to Attend Canoecopia in Madison, Wisconsin

March 8-10 are the dates for one of the world’s biggest paddlesport shows, Rutabaga’s Canoecopia. Hundreds of vendors and dozens of presenters converge on the Alliant Energy Center and for three days to entertain, teach and sell, the virtues, skills, history and gear of canoeists and kayakers. From bear-proofing a campsite to the life and…

The 1999 Blowdown and Forest Management Practices Impacts the Pagami Creek Fire

The 1999 Blowdown and Forest Management Practices Impacts the Pagami Creek Fire

By Charlie Mahler Natural fires in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness – those started by lightning rather than, say, by careless campers – provide opportunities and risks for the managers of the BWCAW and the surrounding Superior National Forest. Since the Forest Service doesn’t set fires in the wilderness for ecological purposes, natural fires…

Proposed Legislation Could Undermine the Wilderness Act and the Protection of Wilderness

Proposed Legislation Could Undermine the Wilderness Act and the Protection of Wilderness

On the surface, two proposed pieces of legislation appear unrelated to wilderness protection. The Sportsmen’s Heritage Act seeks “to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing and shooting.” The National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act was designed to provide “operational control” for border security on federal public and tribal lands within 100 miles…

Volunteer at Voyageurs National Park

This September, get an inside look at Minnesota’s only National Park and help park rangers complete important conservation projects. Voyageur’s National Park is hosting its 2012 Volunteer Rendezvous on September 7 and 8, and nature lovers of all ages are invited to sign up for one or both days.Continue Reading

Duluth and the North Shore are Open for Business

Duluth Mayor Don Ness and north shore business owners are spreading the word that it is safe to visit Duluth. A story on Minnesota Public Radio reports that restaurants and shops at Canal Park are open for business, as is much of the north shore after last week’s storms and flash flooding. Still, it appears…

Discovering the Birds of the Boundary Waters

Discovering the Birds of the Boundary Waters

By Julie Neitzel Carr Trekking the Boundary Waters, my portages followed a predictable path; I would double-check the distance on my map, hoist up a heavy Duluth pack, or if it was my turn, the canoe, grab the remaining miscellaneous gear (fishing rods, life jackets, paddles), take a deep breath and with my head down,…

Pagami Creek Fire in the BWCAW

Pagami Creek Fire in the BWCAW

The Pagami Creek Fire blazes into the largest naturally occurring wildfire in a century. By Charlie Mahler In the heat of summer, with the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness peppered with campers, U.S. Forest Service officials charged with managing the million-acre wilderness and the surrounding Superior National Forest faced a decision. A lightning-caused fire was…

Voyageurs to Conduct Deer Tick Survey

Voyageurs National Park officials are partnering with the Minnesota Department of Health this summer to collect data on deer ticks. Deer ticks are known to carry pathogens for Lyme Disease and other maladies.Continue Reading

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

Cell Tower Near Voyageurs Rejected

While a court ruling on an AT&T cellphone tower near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness awaits a judge’s decision, the Koochiching County Board rejected a request by the company to build a 350-foot tower near Voyageurs National Park.Continue Reading

Mining Update

Mining Update

By Charlie Mahler While industry leaders, environmental activists, and northeastern Minnesota stakeholders await publication of the revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement for PolyMet Mining’s proposed copper-nickel and precious metals mine, mining proponents and environmental activists continue to maneuver and skirmish ahead of what could be a new era in mining for the Quetico-Superior region. PolyMet…

Building Wooden Canoes for a Rite of Passage

Building Wooden Canoes for a Rite of Passage

Picture yourself venturing out for the first time into the wilderness of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Imagine the combination of serenity and wonderment you experience as you ply these pristine lakes and rivers, knowing that you are carrying all you need to survive in a sleek, seventeen-foot, skin-on-frame canoe. Now imagine that you just built that canoe with your own hands over the course of eight days. For six teenage apprentices with Urban Boatbuilders, this was the culminating event in the summer of 2010.Continue Reading

Devils Cove: The Most Beautiful Place on Earth

Devils Cove: The Most Beautiful Place on Earth

By Greg Breining Imagine the Coldwell Peninsula—a dark fist jutting from the Ontario shore of Lake Superior, five miles across, with rocky knuckles. Poised on one knuckle, like the stone of an outsized ring, was Foster Island. I sat between the fist and the stone, as the wind whipped the lake into a frenzy of…

Old Photos Provide a Peek into History

Old Photos Provide a Peek into History

By Alissa Johnson In our last issue, Wilderness News published photos from an album uncovered in an attic trunk. They once belonged to Big Bill Wenstrom, who was the last private landowner to leave the Boundary Waters Canoe Area when it became a wilderness in 1964. His family guessed that the photos of canoeists dated…

Officials Call Voyageurs Day a Success

Community officials from the International Falls area called this month’s Voyageurs National Park Day in Washinton, D.C. a success for raising awareness of the park and region among Minnesota’s federal lawmakers.Continue Reading

Coalition to Sue Over Park Air Quality

A coalition of environmental organizations intends to sue the Environmental Protection Agency and two other federal agencies over haze pollution in national parks and wilderness areas, including Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.Continue Reading

Photo Gallery: Superior National Forest Boundary Waters Historical Photos

Photo Gallery: Superior National Forest Boundary Waters Historical Photos

  These photographs were found in a U.S. Forest Service photo album, circa 1920. At the time the region was known as the roadless area of the Superior National Forest. Each photo in the album was accompanied by a type-written note, which we have reprinted with each image. Our thanks to Barbara Wenstrom Shank and…

Andy and Sue Ahrendt

Andy and Sue Ahrendt

What it truly means to be a ‘Boundary Waters Family’ The Ahrendt’s personal histories are steeped in the Boundary Waters experience. Having spent summers as staff at a local camp, they were bitten by “the bug,” and eventually moved to the Gunflint Trail as a couple. Now, as owners of Tuscarora Lodge and Outfitters and…

Women in the Wilderness

Women in the Wilderness

“We can do it. We can do it without a guide.” By Rob Kesselring Wilderness News Contributor It started with a dare in 1986. Seven female volunteers at a nature center thirty miles northwest of Milwaukee were contemplating signing up for a guided BWCAW trip. And then one said, “We don’t need to sign up…

Quetico Plan Comments Due Friday

The initial public comment period for proposed changes to the Quetico Provincial Park management plan will close on Friday. Park managers are considering designated campsites and defined travel routes in the park as well as commercial dog-sledding operations and the development of a long-distance hiking trail.Continue Reading

New Quetico Plan in Review Stage

Proposals for changes to Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park’s management plan — possibly including designated campsites and defined travel routes — are in the public comment stage until mid-October. Park managers are also considering development of a long-distance hiking trail in the park as well as authorizing commercial dog-sledding operations.Continue Reading

Bear Head Lake State Park Ranks #1

Minnesota’s Bear Head Lake State near Ely has won a $100,000 contest naming it “America’s Favorite Park.” The park garnered 28% of the 5.7 million votes cast by the public in the America is Your Park campaign sponsored by Coca-Cola.Continue Reading

Minnesota DNR Seeks Vermilion Park Input

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking public input as part of its Lake Vermilion State Park planning process. The DNR is asking citizens to respond to a short questionnaire on its web-site this month.Continue Reading

North Country National Scenic Trail to Cross the BWCAW

North Country National Scenic Trail to Cross the BWCAW

By Matthew Davis The National Park Service and North Country Trail Association (NCTA) are trying to obtain passage of legislation in Congress that would enact the “Arrowhead Re-route”– a proposal to route the nation’s longest hiking trail through the BWCA Wilderness. This legislation, when passed, would bring the 4,600-mile long North Country National Scenic Trail…

The Changing Forest of the Quetico-Superior Region

The Changing Forest of the Quetico-Superior Region

Last year we celebrated the 100th anniversary of Quetico Park and Superior National Forest. In reality, this anniversary commemorated the 100-year fight to protect this patch of earth. Throughout the twentieth century the assault of logging, mining, dams, roads, mechanized tourism and resort development all threatened, and, in some cases, wounded the area. With the…

Parks Movie Nominated for Regional Emmy

Minnesota’s National Park Legacy, a film made in collaboration with Voyageurs National Park Association and the state’s seven National Park units and produced in partnership with Twin Cities Public Television has been nominated for an Midwest Regional Emmy Award.Continue Reading

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…

Moments of Clarity

Moments of Clarity

By Andy Wright   All I’m saying is, you would just never expect to find jellyfish in the Boundary Waters. Sure, you always hope to spot wildlife on a trip; wolves, bears, pine martens. With luck, a rare glimpse of a moose. At the least, you’re able to actually anticipate these moments. But meeting a…

Big Bill Wenstrom – Last Man Standing

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,…

Voyageurs Program Will Discuss Ojibwe Traditions

A program sponsored by the Friends of Voyageurs National Park will discusses Ojibwe traditions and life growing up in the north country. Presenter Ida Mainville will explain how the voyageurs and the Ojibwe people interacted and influenced each other. Continue Reading

Lake Vermilion Park Deal Finalized

The dream of a Lake Vermilion State Park is now a reality after the State of Minnesota and U.S. Steel Corporation signed a deal yesterday that put 3,000 acres of company land along the picturesque lake under state ownership.Continue Reading

Eagle Nests Prompt Voyageurs Restrictions

Voyageurs National Park announced the closure of three developed campsites and three undeveloped areas due to the presence of active bald eagle nests. The restrictions come under the auspices of the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Management Act.Continue Reading

Do Voyageurs and a Garbage Vaporizer Mix?

Plans by Koochiching County to build a gasification facility which would use a plasma arc torch to vaporize garbage and other waste in order to produce energy is being scrutinized by environmental advocates since the facility would be a neighbor to Voyageurs National Park.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

Voyageurs National Park Turns 35

Voyageurs National Park will celebrate its 35th birthday on Thursday, commemorating the April 8, 1975 date of its authorization by Congress as the country’s 36th national park. The northern Minnesota park will remember the anniversary on its birthday and throughout 2010.Continue Reading

Voyageurs Invites Comments on Fees

Voyageurs National Park is inviting public comments on a reservation system and fee structure it is considering for the park’s interior campsites on the Kabetogama Peninsula. Park officials say a reservation system would guarantee campsite availability. Continue Reading

Vermilion Park Legislation Advances

A bill in the Minnesota State Senate which would raise the limitation on what the state can spend for the purchase of 3,000 acres of land for a new State Park on Lake Vermilion cleared a hurdle yesterday.Continue Reading

Voyageurs to Study Declining Moose

Voyageurs National Park officials plan to radio-collar 14 moose this month to investigate the potential effects of climate change and other factors on the long-term viability of moose in the park.Continue Reading

Locals Largely Favor Vermilion Park

A recent story in the Timberjay found that local officials are largely positive about plans by the State of Minnesota to purchase 3000 acres of land on Lake Vermilion from U.S. Steel Corporation for a new State Park.Continue Reading

Voyageurs Park to Get its Day in D.C.

In March, Voyageurs National Park will have a day to itself with Minnesota’s U.S. Senators and Representatives in Washington D.C., when a delegation heads to the nation’s capitol to lobby for Minnesota’s only National ParkContinue Reading

Deal Struck for Lake Vermilion Park

A deal to purchase 3000 acres of land abutting Lake Vermilion has been struck between the State of Minnesota and U.S. Steel Corporation, paving the way for what would be the state’s first new State Park in 30 years.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

Hopes for Vermilion State Park Dimming

Time and money seem to be working against efforts to establish a new state park along the shores of Lake Vermilion. The State of Minnesota isn’t expected to renew efforts to buy land for the park from U.S. Steel until the spring of 2010.Continue Reading

Quetico, Atikokan Mull Downtown Park HQ

Officials from Quetico Provincial Park and the town of Atikokan are considering a plan to move the Ontario park’s headquarters to Atikokan’s Main Street. Currently, the park headquarters are located in the Ontario government offices on the edge of town.Continue Reading

Analyzing the Odds for a Vermilion State Park

Negotiations between landowner U.S. Steel and the State of Minnesota for the purchase of what would be the first new State Park in 30 years stalled when the parties disagreed on the value of the property. Is there still hope for a new park on the shore of Lake Vermilion?Continue Reading

City to Build Voyageur’s Park Headquarters

In a city-park partnership that would have been unthinkable a decade ago, plans are set for the city of International Falls to construct a headquarters building for Voyageurs National Park. The city intends the building to be the starting point for a multifaceted recreational development.Continue Reading

Voyageurs Plans Burn for Thursday

Voyageurs National Park officials plan to burn an area on Tar Point near Blind Indian Narrows in Namakan Lake Thursday. The burn is intended to help determine what effect fire has on archeological artifacts and help determine the effects of fire on vegetation.Continue Reading

Grand Portage State Park Closed Weekdays

Grand Portage State Park will only be open on weekends until mid-August, due to site preparation work for a new 5800 square foot visitor center. The park will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, but parking will be limited.Continue Reading

Guns in Voyageurs: Not Yet

A law passed in May that will allow loaded firearms in Voyageurs and other national parks is not in effect yet. That’s the message Voyaguers officials are spreading, noting that the law doesn’t take effect until February 22, 2010.Continue Reading

Paddlers Celebrate 100th for Quetico, Superior

A paddling expedition that pushed off yesterday is celebrating the 100th birthdays of the Superior National Forest and Quetico Provincial Park. Representatives of the Heart of the Continent Partnership will paddle a 24-foot voyageur canoe across the region.Continue Reading

Island Life Author to Speak at Voyageurs

Ted Gostomski, the co-author of Island Life: An Isle Royale Nature Guide and a Biologist/Science Writer at the Great Lakes Inventory and Monitoring Program of the National Park Service, will speak on Friday at Voyaguers National Park in International Falls.Continue Reading

Report: State Sweetened Vermilion Park Deal

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting that the State of Minnesota looked for ways to sweeten the deal for U.S. Steel to sell land to the state for a state park on Lake Vermilion. The paper questions whether laws were skirted to procure land for the park strongly supported by Governor Tim Pawlenty.Continue Reading

Namakan Sturgeon Study Enters Third Year

A study examining the health of the Namakan Reservoir’s sturgeon population has entered its third year. The study, which could have an impact on proposed hydroelectric projects on Ontario’s Namakan River, seeks to establish baseline information on health of the species of “special concern” in both Minnesota and Ontario.Continue Reading

The 100th Anniversary of the Quetico Superior Region

2009 marks the 100th Anniversary of the initial formation of what would become Quetico Provincial Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. What started as a long and jagged process of preservation and restoration resulted in a huge, roadless and protected forest being celebrated today.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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