Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Gunflint Green Up

It’s been so long since I wrote that I am almost embarrassed. In my defense, I have spent the last two weeks fighting a rather nasty infection. I’m finally over it and back to normal.

All around me spring has been bursting out. Well, that was after we had two snowstorms that Mother Nature surprised us with. One dropped twelve inches of snow and the other was only four inches but it blew all over. After several warm days with sunshine and wind plus a little rain last night, much of the snow in the open places is gone. We are on the winning end right now.

While Bruce and I have been out exploring with spring fever, we have seen lots of pairs of bald eagles. Mostly they have been feeding on the road kill that comes out as the snow melts. He is one of them I managed to get a picture of.

Of course, the pair of red fox is hanging around for any food that they can beg off of us. Yesterday, both Gimpy and the Mrs. were in the yard. Gimpy had a few words to say when he thought the Mrs. was taking too much food. This morning they were both back at different times to see what we had.

You can also see in this picture how much snow has melted around the house.

One day Bruce and I stopped just past the road the Moosehorn. This area had been severely effected by the Blowdown. In April of 2000 (the first spring after the Blowdown) it was just depressing to look at the bare, gray area.

The Forest Service did a great job cleaning up the downfall and replanting with red pine. A year or so after the planting they did a “release.” Young pine trees have to fight with the broad-leafed plants for their share of sunlight. Often the pines get killed because the broad-leafed plants block the sun. In this case, the Forest Service sent in crews to cut away the leafed plants and “release” the young pine to sunlight.

Now it is about 7 years since the original planting. You can see what a beautiful grove of trees is coming up behind me. There are trees 4-5 feet tall and looking very healthy. My grandchildren will see tall pines in this area.

Which brings me to the Gunflint Green Up. As we all know the Ham Lake Fire burned not only some of these replanted areas but also mature stands of trees. In 2007 there was a small spontaneous gathering of people to start the replanting of our forest. If you have been reading the Minneapolis or Duluth newspapers or listening to the radio, you know that this year there is going to be a huge tree planting party on the anniversary of the Ham Lake Fire.

Spear-headed by Nancy Seaton at Hungry Jack Outfitters, a group of people has been planning this event all winter. Their goal is to have 500 people plant 75,000 trees on Saturday, May 2nd. When they settled on these goals, everyone took a big gulp. Well, it looks like the people are coming and the trees will be waiting for them.

Right now there are almost 400 people signed up to plant. Local residents are organized to lead planting teams, distribute trees, hand out lunches, park cars, and serve dinners. Everyone expects have a very successful tree planting event. Even with this many people, we can only plant a small portion of the burned over area so next year we will do it again. And then the next year too.

If you would like more information or to sign up, go to http://www.gunflintgreenup.com/. All the necessary information is on that website. It is going to be a great event where the community of those who love the Gunflint Trail will come together to give the forest a helping hand. I hope to see you there. You will know me because I can’t plant anything without getting filthy dirty. I can’t wait!