Browsing Tag

Minnesota recreation

The Lowdown

Invasive Species in the News

March 7, 2012
Asian Carp leaping in the Mississippi

The Asian invasion has come to Winona, and it is making news.

Seems that commercial fisherman netted a silver carp and a big-head carp last week in the Mississippi River just outside of the city. Both the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the federal government have taken notice of the northern advance of this invasive species. A bill recently introduced by a Minnesota contingent seeks to limit the spread of the Asian carp.

Should these species spread further north they could do great harm to the ecological balance of the river. Silver and big-head carp are nearly insatiable in their consumption of algae and other organisms, which form the base of the food chain. At risk is Minnesota’s multi-billion recreational fishing industry as the carp and sport fish compete for their meals.

Also, in the invasive species news is the discovery and proliferation of zebra mussels in Lake Minnetonka, Medicine Lake, and 28 other Minnesota Lakes. Waterfront owners have been pressing Minnesota legislators to use a portion of the Clean Water Legacy Fund to fight the spread of the small mussel. The fingernail-sized mussel attaches itself to boats, docks, and water intake systems creating a nuisance and damaging the fish population.

The news of the spread of zebra mussels makes it time to remind boaters to help prevent the spread. When leaving a lake and trailering to another body of water, captains must insure that their boat has been cleaned and dried thoroughly. Boaters must be sure to empty and flush their live-well systems before entering another lake. Fisherman should empty and clean their minnow buckets after a day on the water.

It is up to every boater in Minnesota to help prevent the spread of all invasive species.

Gear Talk, Techniques & Advice, The Lowdown, Trip Planning

Avoid Cabin Fever during the Leap Day Blizzard

February 29, 2012
Sunset over Ice

Snow has finally come to Duluth, and many of us in the north woods are enjoying a snow day as we hunker down during this leap day blizzard. What are you going to do as the storm rages and you fight off the feeling of cabin fever? Let me throw out some ideas to keep you from going stir crazy and at the same time continuing to dream of open water.

Make it a movie day – Pop in a Cliff Jacobsen or Bill Mason video in the DVD player and escape to the lakes and rivers of the north. It is a great way to pick up some new skills or just revel in the scenic beauty captured on each disc.

Condition the leather on your canoe packs – Grab the Lexol conditioner and rub it into all the leather on your packs, really soak those straps. Yeah, I know this doesn’t sound like a great way to spend a free day, but it will pay dividends when the ice melts.

Get the snowshoes ready – rest assured at some point this wind is going to lie down, and you can get out and play in the fresh powder. Tighten those bindings and plan on shoeing away in Jay Cooke State Park or up the Superior Hiking Trail.  Both have great trails to test out the snowshoes, and don’t forget to take your camera along to capture what might be the only storm of 2012.

Dive into good book – My favorites are from Sigurd Olson or John Krakauer. With Olson you can relax and enjoy the soothing picture he paints of the wilderness complete with sights and sounds. Reading Krakauer gives you the vicarious experience of high drama adventure.

Spread the maps out and route a trip – Now this sounds more like it! Stretch all your maps out on the floor and plan a trip for the summer of 2012. Choose an entry point, book it at, and if you have any questions give an expert at the Duluth Pack store a call.

There you go, now you have a few ideas to help you spend your snow day. My plan is to grab the camera and get some shots of the gently falling snow. OK, maybe not so gently.

The Lowdown

Minnesota Gray Wolf Removed from the Threatened Species List

December 28, 2011
Gray Wolf photo by MacNeils Lyons; National Park Service

Today, December 28th marks the official removal of the gray wolf in Minnesota from the threatened species list. After a 30-day period the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will return management of the species to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. (DNR) Now, the DNR will follow their own wolf management plan, which was created in 2001, and is designed to manage the wolf population at a healthy, sustained level.

At the present time Minnesota’s wolf population stands at approximately 3,000, which is almost twice the number biologists have stated as a viable, long-term population. When the gray wolf was added to the threatened species list in the 1970’s their numbers in Minnesota had dwindled to as few as 700 individuals. Going forward the DNR will use scientific method and their management plan to monitor and maintain the Minnesota population at or above the stated goal of 1600 animals.

And while the management plan allows for owners of livestock and domesticated animals to have more authority to control wolves, the state will offer predator services. The level of authority and control must still be discussed and settled upon by livestock producers, the DNR, state lawmakers, and agriculture officials. The DNR in conjunction with the state legislature, are in the beginning stages of a plan that could allow for a hunting and trapping season of the gray wolf.

While the gray wolf population in Minnesota represents the largest in the lower 48 states, they have made a strong comeback in other areas as well. Gray wolf numbers continue to grow and stabilize in other Great Lake’s states, and the western mountain states. Biologists across the U.S. are committed to the long-term survival of the species.

To learn more about the gray wolf please go to the Minnesota DNR or visit the website of the International Wolf Center in Ely, MN.

Gear Talk, The Lowdown

How to Choose the Right Snowshoe

November 29, 2011
Iverson Snowshoe

Winter in the north woods is on the way. Don’t let this mild weather fool you, before you know it we will be up to our knees in the white stuff. And like true Minnesotans once winter arrives we will be ready to go play in the snow.

Last February I posted an article on the differences between wood and aluminum snowshoes. As you are looking to buy snowshoes this season it might be a good idea to go back and review a few of the pros and cons of each type. In this article I would like to examine the wooden shoes from Iverson Snowshoes a little more, and talk about how to choose the right pair for you.

As with anything, examining how you will use your snowshoes is the primary factor in determining the best style for you. Is this a recreational snowshoe that might be used in tight spaces or wooded trails? Or, are you a pretty serious snowshoe traveler that will be going great distances on primarily open terrain?

Let’s start with the former; you are a recreational snowshoer who will be traveling wooded trails on a regular basis. A smaller rounded shoe like the Green Mountain will give you great maneuverability in the tight spaces. It is also an excellent shoe if you plan on carrying it as a back up on your snowmobile, or dogsled.

If you are going to be breaking trail and headed into deep snow there are two good choices. The Modified Bearpaw and the Michigan are both good straight-tracking shoes for the deep stuff. The Bearpaw will be a little bit more maneuverable at 35 inches long with the Michigan at 46 inches creating a nice blend for use in moderate wooded areas as well as wide-open spaces.

And for the adventurer who is going to travel long distances with deep snow the Alaskan or the traditional Ojibwa will be the shoes for you. The Alaskan was built for Artic Adventurers going out to trek across the tundra in deep powder and drifted snow. The Ojibwa is similar to other cross-country shoes, but the long pointed nose will cut through deep snow and any underbrush that might get in your way.

Of course if you want to talk to somebody about the difference between a Bearpaw and an Ojibwa, the snowshoe experts at the Duluth Pack store in Canal Park can answer all your questions. They have been all over the north woods on many types of snowshoes and will find the pair that’s right for you.

Next time: which binding is right for your new snowshoes?