million years ago:
The granite bedrock of the Canadian Shield, which underlies northeastern North
America and whose dramatic outcroppings characterize the landscape of the
boundary waters region, is formed during the Precambrian period.
Earth's climate cools by several
degrees during the Pleistocene epoch, creating the most recent Ice Age. Sea
levels drop by as much as 330 feet, and snow in the Hudson Bay region no
longer melts, creating the fourth glacier to cover the area. Ice up to two
miles thick expands southward at the rate of one inch to ten feet per day,
scraping and gouging and reshaping the landscape of the boundary waters region
under its tremendous weight.
30,000 or more
According to the Pre-Clovis
Hypothesis of archaeology, the first humans to inhabit North America arrive.
They arrive earlier than the humans who migrated across Beringia, or the
Bering Land Bridge, from Siberia to Alaska.
According to the Clovis Hypothesis
(named after a site in Clovis, New Mexico, containing evidence of human
habitation), the first humans to inhabit North America cross the Bering Strait
on Beringia, the Bering Land Bridge, and migrate south along the west coast of
15,000 years ago:
The most recent of four glaciers
begins to retreat from northern Minnesota and the Hudson Bay area. Two and a
half million years earlier when this immense glacier moved across the boundary
waters landscape from the northeast, it gouged out easily fractured rock in
lowland areas. Now, as the glacier melts, it deposits sand, silt, and gravel
within the trough it had excavated. The deposits create barriers enclosing
a series of deep basins along drainageways. The result: chains of lakes
interconnected by small streams.
White pine begins to migrate north
and west from its glacial refuge in the Appalachian Mountains.
Around 11,000 years
Hunting pressure and a warming
climate lead to the extinction of many large Ice Age mammals.
6,500 years ago:
White pine, which for the past 7,000
years or so has been migrating northward from its glacial refuge in
Appalachia, reaches the boundary waters region.
Climatic cooling creates a moister
weather pattern known as the "Little Ice Age," which favors the growth of
boreal spruces and jack pine over white and red pine.
Felt hats made from beaver fur go
out of style in Europe and are replaced by silk hats, ending a fashion that
lasted 300 years. By this time, the beaver population in the boundary waters
region is decimated. It doesn't fully recover for 150 years.
A bounty system for wolves is
established in Minnesota, offering $3 per dead animal.
Extreme drought results in the
biggest forest fires in centuries, burning several hundred square miles, or
400,000 acres (an area comparable to the largest of the 1988 Yellowstone
fires). Nearly half of the present Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
burns, including 434 square miles of forest between the Isabella River and
Saganaga Lake, and 176 square miles of forest south of Lac La Croix. Earlier
major fires occurred in 1595, 1681, 1692, 1727, 1755-59, 1796, 1801, 1822, and
1824, creating conditions for natural forest regeneration. Before the
unnatural disturbances of logging and fire-suppression management in the late
nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this natural cycle of fire-mediated forest
renewal or "patch turnover" is estimated to have affected about three-quarters
of the landscape of the boundary waters region every 50 to 100 years,
resulting in a mosaic of even-age stands.
Major forest fires, second in size
in recent history only to the 1863-64 fires, burn more than 300 square miles
of forest in the boundary waters area, affecting an area from Sawbill, Alton,
and Kawishiwi lakes in the south to Alice, Ogishkemuncie, Tuscarora, and
Cherokee lakes in the north.
Major forest fires burn 203 square
miles of forest in the western boundary waters around La Croix Boulder Bay and
Crooked Lake, as well as other smaller areas, including the forest around
Alton, Sawbill, and Kelly lakes.
Red and white pine are logged in the
boundary waters area during "the big-pine logging era," with the first
significant logging occurring in the Trout Lake area north of Lake Vermilion.
Red pine is taken principally for timbers used in mining, and white pine
principally for lumber.
marten, and wolverine have all but vanished from the boundary waters area,
probably as a result of trapping. The beaver population begins to recover in
the 1920s and does not fully reestablish itself until the 1970s. The fisher
population begins to recover in the 1950s, the marten in the 1970s. The
wolverine is still absent.
population declines. It does not begin to recover significantly until the
results in major forest fires burning some 80 square miles of forest in a number of
areas south of Saganaga Lake and at the western end of the Gunflint Trail, the
last time major fires burn virgin forests in the boundary waters area before
"the fire-suppression period."
Major fires are
suppressed in the boundary waters area during "the fire-suppression period,"
resulting in unintended consequences. Fire suppression interferes with the
natural cycle of fires that create new stands of forests, curtails periodic
elimination of the tree-killing spruce budworm, and causes a buildup of dead
trees in forest understories. These unnaturally high fuel loads increase the
likelihood of super hot fires that scorch the thin topsoil of the boundary
waters area, killing organic matter and the seeds of trees such as jack pine,
black spruce, and red pine, which normally reestablish themselves rapidly
an ailment causing moose to lose their normal fear of humans, to have a droopy
ear, and to walk in circles or show other signs of disorientation, is first
observed in Minnesota.
Woodland caribou no
longer inhabit the boundary waters area.
precipitation is below normal, producing "the great drought of the 1930s,"
decade-long hot, dry period.
May 16, Minnesota's record northern pike
– weighing 45 pounds, 12 ounces – is
caught in Basswood Lake by J. V. Schanken.
Major forest fires
fueled by slash left from logging burn in the boundary waters area. On July
22, a fire starts on Star Lake and moves north, nearly trapping a fire crew
camped on the south shore of Brule Lake near the Juno Lake railroad spur. On
July 31, another fire starts north of Brule Lake and east of the Cone lakes.
Together the Brule Lake fires burn 25,000 acres of forest, the largest fires
in the Sawbill area in the 20th century. (See Mary Alice Hansen's
"Forest Fire in the Woods,"
from her book,
Sawbill: History and Tales.)
Jack pine, black
and white spruce, balsam fir, northern white cedar, aspen, and paper birch are
logged during "the pulpwood logging era," the second major logging era to
affect the boundary waters area. The first era was the taking of red and white
pine during "the big-pine logging era" of 1895-1930.
July 6, a state record-tying high temperature of 114 degrees, first
established in 1917, is recorded in Moorhead, Minnesota. Prolonged
record-breaking hot summer weather combined with a seven-year drought results
in widespread forest fires, including 30 small fires in the eastern Superior
National Forest. A lightning-ignited fire starts on July 12 and burns 3,200
acres of forest around Cherokee Lake and 3,500 acres around Frost Lake. (See
Mary Alice Hansen's "Forest Fire
in the Woods,"
from her book,
Sawbill: History and Tales)
Smallmouth bass are
introduced to boundary waters lakes.
Crooked, Lac La
Croix, and Basswood lakes are stocked with smallmouth bass fingerlings shipped
in by train from Wisconsin by Bill Zupancich Sr. and several other Ely outfitters.
spruce budworm, native to the boundary waters area, increase to epidemic
proportions, perhaps as a result of fire suppression. In the latter half of
the twentieth century the budworm, a defoliator that eats the new needles
growing from buds each spring, kills vast areas of spruce, jack pine, and
balsam fir (which despite its name is the spruce budworm's prime host),
creating high fuel loads that can result in high-intensity, seed-killing
December 19, a vast
area of federal timber within the roadless area, north, east, and west of Lake
Isabella is sold to the Tomahawk Timber Company, which represents several
Wisconsin firms. The area includes about 130 square miles of land and water,
with a net land area of some 73,000 acres in federal ownership. Logging of
this area continues for two decades.
Railroad tracks are laid to Lake Isabella and construction begins on
Center, a logging town carved out of the southern edge of the roadless area,
in preparation for logging by the Tomahawk Kraft Timber Co. A large turnaround
and sawmill are built by the lake, and eventually more than 50 homes – as well
as a church, restaurant, school, store, and recreation hall – are built, along
with five smaller camps in the area. Logging by Tomahawk ends in 1964, when
loggers reach a buffer zone created by the Shipstead-Nolan Act. By 1965 the
town is gone, though the alteration in the southern boundary of the present
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness remains.
June, a forest fire
burns 1,200 acres at Plouff Creek, crossing the Sawbill Trail and stranding
guests at Sawbill Lodge for several days. Until the late 1980s a gap in
vegetation is noticeable to people driving along the Sawbill Trail. (See Mary
Alice Hansen's "Forest Fire in the
from her book,
Sawbill: History and Tales.)
deer population, dependent on new-growth forest, collapses from a loss of
prime deer habitat with maturing forests in the early logging areas and in the
extensive burn areas of 1863-64, 1875, 1894, and 1910. The moose population
begins to recover from a decline that began in the early 1900s.
population is significantly reduced by a dieoff caused by tularemia.
population increases to epidemic proportions throughout the boundary waters
area and Quetico. In localized areas the population remains continuously
epidemic from 1956 to the present.
from trapping, the fisher regains its former population levels. As a result,
the number of porcupines, which are preyed on by the fisher, declines
The wolf population
in the lower 48 states is at an all-time low. Minnesota's wolf population is
estimated to be around 400 animals. Other estimates place the population at
350-700 in northeastern Minnesota and about 20 on Isle Royale.
Snowmobile use in
the Boundary Waters, Voyageurs, and Quetico grows, resulting in increased
stress on lake trout populations from winter fishing.
In 1962, Dr. Roy
Anderson and graduate student Murray Lankester demonstrate that a parasite, a
brainworm known as Parelaphostrongylus tenis, normally found in
white-tailed deer, causes "moose sickness," an ailment first observed in
Minnesota in 1912.
The estimated moose population of about 3,000 doubles to about 6,000 in northeastern Minnesota and
to about 2,000 in the Boundary Waters.
are extirpated from all of Minnesota and adjacent regions as a result of DDT
poisoning. The last nesting pair in the Boundary Waters is reported this year.
In the mid-1970s, only 35 nesting pairs are reported in the entire U.S.
The last bounty ($35) is paid on a wolf in Minnesota before Minnesota's bounty program on
wolves and the Minnesota Department of Conservation's control program are
ended. Together the two programs resulted in the killing of more than 300
White-tailed deer population further declines in the Boundary Waters and Superior National
Forest as a result of a series of severe winters, a loss of prime deer habitat
caused by maturing forests, and increased predation by wolves. By 1972-73,
deer no longer winter in the Boundary Waters.
The gray wolf in
the lower 48 states is listed as "endangered" under the 1966 Endangered
Species Preservation Act.
The whitetail deer population in the Boundary Waters further declines and wolves switch from
killing deer to moose, a more challenging prey.
As a result of DDT
poisoning, the American bald eagle population declines to its lowest level,
with only about 10 active eagle nests remaining in the Superior National
Forest. A ban on the use of DDT is implemented on January 1, 1973. By 1989,
the number of active nests increases to 74.
May 14-16, the
Little Sioux fire, the largest forest fire in northern Minnesota since 1910, a
crown fire, spreads from a slash fire and burns 14,000 acres or 24 square
miles in the western Boundary Waters, killing the world record jack pine.
A limited moose
hunt is authorized for the first time since 1922.
Interest Research Group, a student group at the University of Minnesota, files
a lawsuit to prohibit logging of old growth forest in the BWCAW until an
Environmental Impact Statement is completed by the U.S. Forest Service.
Species Act is passed by Congress, declaring timber wolves an endangered
species and affording federal protection. Since 1965, when the last bounty was
paid on a wolf in Minnesota, approximately 200 animals were killed annually.
A year of
exceptional drought results in 516 forest fires burning 1,079,000 acres of forest
in northwestern Ontario. On July 27, a camper-caused fire burns 1,006 acres
around Prayer Lake.
A severe drought,
with only .58 inches of rainfall recorded for the normally wet period of April
26 through June 6, makes this summer one of the driest on record, resulting in
a travel ban in the Boundary Waters and widespread forest fires, including an
August 21 fire that burns 3,380 acres of forest around Roy Lake, and an August
30 fire that burns 1,190 acres of forest around Rice Lake, and a September 7
fire that burns 1,025 acres of forest around Fraser Lake.
The Eastern timber
wolf is reclassified from "endangered" to "threatened" by the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, the agency that administers the Endangered Species Act of
1973. The law still prohibits the killing of wolves with the exception of
problem animals causing agricultural damage. The Fish and Wildlife Service
also adopts a recovery plan (revised in 1992) for the purpose of increasing
the number and range of timber wolves to ensure the animal's survival in the
eastern half of the U.S. The recovery plan sets a population goal for
Minnesota of 1,251 to 1,400 wolves by the year 2000, a goal that is achieved
in the early 1980s. In 1989 a wolf population survey estimates the statewide
population at between 1,550 and 1,750 animals.
All logging in the
wilderness ceases under the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness Act, U.S.
Public Law 95-495, ending some 85 years of logging in the Boundary Waters.
acidification of Boundary Waters lakes is detected, with 1,218 of 1,338 lakes
identified as "sensitive" and 308 identified as "extremely sensitive," after a
one-year investigation by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in
conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the
Minnesota Department of Health.
falcon is placed on the federal endangered species list. After a 20-year
absence, peregrine falcons are reintroduced into the wild in Minnesota,
including in Cook County. In 1999 the falcon is removed from the endangered
species list. By 2004 its population in Minnesota reaches 36 nesting pairs.
The peregrine falcon is the world's fastest bird. When it goes into a dive
(called a "stoop"), it can reach 175 miles per hour.
May 29-June 24, a
small island on Lake Two is set on fire by a careless camper, resulting in a
major forest fire. For the first time in 76 years, a significant fire in the
Boundary Waters is allowed to burn without intervention by the U.S. Forest
no longer permanent residents in Minnesota but only occasional wanderers from
Ontario searching for food, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural
September 14 and
15, an emaciated female black bear mauls two campers in a rare attack
human by a black bear. On September 14, Tyson Crowder, 19, from Maryville,
Tennessee, and enrolled as a student at the University of Tennessee, is mauled at Wabang
Lake, south of Lac La Croix. He is hospitalized in stable condition with
multiple lacerations, including a large head laceration and a fractured bone
in his shoulder. The next day Jeremy Cleaveland, a 52-year-old real estate
agent from Minnetonka, is attacked at Lady Boot Bay, an arm of Lac La Croix, a
mile northwest from Wabang Lake. Cleaveland's injuries include bites and claw
marks on his thigh, forearm, shoulder, head, and neck, and a badly twisted
knee. In both cases the bear is driven off by other campers hitting it with a
canoe paddle. On September 16, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources game
wardens shoot the bear as it is ransacking a campsite near the scene of the
attacks. The bear, an eight-year-old female weighing only 117 pounds, may have
been suffering from digestive problems. Normal weight for a bear of this age
and gender is 150 to 200 pounds. These attacks are two of only four
recorded incidents of bears attacking humans in Minnesota. The other two,
also non-fatal, occur in September 2002, while 24-year-old researcher Miles
Becker is studying woodcock in the Four Brooks Wildlife Management Area 10
miles north of Milaca (Becker suffers broken facial bones, puncture wounds to
his head and left leg, and a broken fibula; after the attack he radios his
partner, who locates him partly by following his directions and partly by
homing in on the radio transmitters Becker has with him to attach to
woodcocks), and in September 2003, when 37-year-old Kim Heil-Smith surprises a
sow with her cub in her garage in rural Grand Marais (Heil-Smith suffers
scratches and bites on her head, shoulder and thighs, some of which require
stitches; she escapes when she grabs the bear's nose and yells, "Get out of my
July 1, peregrine
falcons produce young in the Superior National Forest for the first time in 28
July 15, a great
regional downburst storm causes vast blowdowns in the Boundary Waters and
Nearly half of
Minnesota's 6,700 moose die over a two-year period as a result of a "winter
tick" infestation, leaving a population of about 3,700 moose.
September 18, a
windstorm causes major damage in the Superior National Forest, especially in
the Gunflint Trail area.
The population of
the Eastern timber wolf is estimated at 1,500-1,750 in Minnesota, 45 in
Wisconsin, and 20 in Michigan.
The moose and
white-tailed deer populations in the Boundary Waters decline, with severe
winter losses in 1995 and 1996.
Major forest fire starts near Romance Lake, burns around Saganaga Lake, and spreads across 9
miles or 12,600 acres in the U.S. and Canada, threatening 40 structures on the
Gunflint Trail. Fire 141, the largest fire, burns the areas around Kawnipi,
Falls Chain, and Saganagons lakes. About 8% of Quetico is affected, an area
larger than the combined area burned in the previous 60 years.
Heinselman's The Boundary Waters Wilderness Ecosystem is published
June 14, a forest
fire burns 4,450 acres around South Temperance Lake. The fire is fought by
more than 260 personnel at a cost of $1.5 million.
a severe windstorm described as a "storm of a century" blows down and damages
trees in a 30-mile swath across the Boundary Waters, severely affecting
approximately 367,000 acres or 32% of the Boundary Waters, 477,000 acres in
northeastern Minnesota, and 108,000 acres in Canada. The storm also damages
1,500 of the 2,000 campsites in the Boundary Waters and completely or
partially blocks 550 portages. With trees stacked up as high as 20 feet, the
fuel load for fire is 5 to 10 times higher than it was before the blowdown,
and the U.S. Forest Service begins planning a series of prescribed, controlled
burns to reduce the risk of large, intense, uncontrollable fires in the years
March, the Canada
lynx is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act,
giving it federal protection.
The moose population in the Arrowhead Region of Northeastern Minnesota declines from
5,000 to 4,000 from the previous year.
After 30 years of
only occasional sightings, more than two dozen Canada lynxes inhabit the
Boundary Waters, according to estimates based on DNA analysis of animal hair
For the first time
ever reported outside captivity, three wildcat hybrids – mixes between male
bobcats and female Canada lynxes – are confirmed by federal researchers, who
analyzed DNA from hair and tissue samples from 19 cats in Superior National
Forest. There is concern that, if the hybrids can reproduce, they might dilute
the genetic purity of Canada lynx populations.
bears inhabit Minnesota, up from 10,000 in the 1980s.
12,000 loons spend
the summer in Minnesota, the most of any state except Alaska.
The estimated gray wolf population in
northern Minnesota is just more than 3,000 animals, compared with an estimated
2,450 wolves in 1998. Because the DNR survey has a margin of error of plus or
minus 700 wolves, the population appears to be holding steady. Completed in
the winter of 2003-04, the survey used field observations, habitat models, and
data from radio telemetry studies. In comparison, 400 wolves inhabit
Wisconsin, and about 360 inhabit Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Also this year a lone
wolf is found in Michigan's Lower Peninsula, the first sighting since 1910.
The estimated gray wolf
population in the state of Minnesota is approximately 3,020 animals (or
somewhere between 2,301 and 3,708 animals), a 23% increase since the last
major survey in the winter of 1997-98, according to John Erb, wolf biologist
for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Most of these wolves
live in about 485 packs averaging between 5 and 6 wolves each. The wolf
population in Wisconsin is approximately 425 animals living in about
109 packs. In Michigan's Upper Peninsula the population is about
408 animals in about 86 packs. The
main reason for the increased populations seems to be the abundance of
white-tailed deer, the wolf’s principal prey.
June 4, Lloyd
Skelton, an experienced 58-year-old outdoor adventurer, buys a day permit
to hike the 14-mile Angleworm Trail, deciding to delay his solo kayak trip
until the weather improves. On June 17 his daughter reports him missing. When
searchers find only his clothing and wallet, they assume he has succumbed to
hypothermia and "paradoxical undressing," an irrational behavior that
sometimes occurs when a person's core body temperature drops into the low 80s.
As reported by Larry Oakes in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, despite "a
thorough search of the surrounding area with the help of dogs," no sign of
Skelton's remains are found. "It's tough to talk about,"
says Lake County Sheriff Steve
Peterson, a veteran of many searches, "but
it's a reality that things don't last long out there. There is decomposition.
There are wolves, bears, ravens. The longer it's been, the less the chance
you'll find something."
August 6, after more than a month of drought,
lightning ignites a fire that sweeps across nearly 1,400 acres near the
Canadian border between Alpine and Seagull Lakes, an area with dead trees
downed by the 1999 blowdown. The fire is the largest in 10 years and threatens
70 homes, cabins, and businesses on the Gunflint Trail, a few miles to the
east. Firefighters set up containment lines with 35 miles of hose, 44 water
pumps, and more than 100 sprinklers. With the assistance of three Bombardier
CL-215 aircraft capable of scooping 1,400 gallons of water in 11 seconds, they
contain the fire on August 19.
July 14, a lightning strike starts a fire
near Cavity Lake and expands north to Sea Gull Lake near the end of the
Gunflint Trail, a 60-mile road that leads northward from Grand Marais
on Lake Superior into the wilderness area. The fire is one of at least eight burning in the
Boundary Waters and Quetico Park that week, all started by lightning. Fueled
by dry winds and timber blown down in the 1999 storm, the Cavity Lake fire
burns about 50
square miles (about 39 square miles excluding lake surfaces), an area that makes it the largest fire in the Boundary Waters
since 1894. About 60 campsites in the fire area are damaged or destroyed, but
no one is injured and there is no damage to private property. Smoke blowing
east from fire is so thick that motorists on the North Shore turn on their
headlights to drive during the day. A series of prescribed burns since the
1999 storm that reduced the amount of downed timber on more than 37,000 acres
prevents the fire from consuming an even larger area. "It's a good thing this
fire happened when it did," says Jim Sanders, supervisor of the Superior
National Forest, "instead of two years after the blowdown." Although no
evacuation of the Gunflint Trail is ordered, the fire's eastern flank comes
within a mile of the trail, close to the "trigger-point" for an evacuation. As
the fire continues to expand, an elite team of firefighters known as the
Pacific Northwest National Incident Team No. 2, one of 17 such teams in the
country, arrives to fight the blaze. By August 4, the fire is reduced to hot
spots and is declared 85 percent contained. By August 12, the fire is declared
95 percent contained, and according to Warren Wolfe writing for the
Minneapolis Star Tribune there are signs the forest is rejuvenating:
"Small sprigs of grass, ferns, and geraniums already are pushing through
blackened soil, and tiny shoots of aspen and birch are emerging from charred
stumps and roots." The cost of fighting the fire to that point is estimated to
be more than $10.6 million.
September 15, about 200 people evacuate
a 10-mile stretch of the
Gunflint Trail at the "strong suggestion" of Cook County Sheriff Mark
Falk because a long, narrow finger of a
fire is moving northward toward the trail. About 14 people decide to remain on
their properties. The fire was started
by a lightning strike
near Famine Lake, north of Brule Lake,
on September 7 or 8. A smaller fire at Redeye Lake started at the same
time. It is the fire's location rather than its 3.9-square-mile
size that prompts the voluntary evacuation. The Famine Lake fire eventually
grows to more that 6.5 square miles before the evacuation is called off.
January 29, Deputy Secretary of
the Interior Lynn Scarlett announces that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is
"de-listing" or removing the western Great Lakes population of gray
wolves from the federal list of threatened and endangered species. The
Service is also proposing removal of the northern Rocky Mountain population of
gray wolves from the list. Both actions are taken in recognition of the success
of gray wolf recovery efforts under the Endangered Species Act. Gray wolves were
previously listed as endangered in the lower 48 states, except in Minnesota,
where they were listed as threatened.
May 5, following a prolonged drought, a fire
near Ham Lake,
apparently from an unattended campfire.
Before it is extinguished, it becomes
Minnesota's largest and
costliest forest fire since the 1918 Cloquet fire.
a mandatory evacuation order is issued
to about 100 people on the last seven miles of the Gunflint Trail as
the rapidly spreading fire is fueled by strong winds. As with the Alpine Lake
fire in 2005 and the Cavity Lake fire in 2006, the fire's intensity is at
first limited because the fuel load
of downed trees on its eastern
flank had been reduced
from prescribed burns,
structures near Sea Gull Lake are destroyed. Many buildings in the fire's path,
spared, probably because of propane-powered outdoor sprinkler systems installed since the 1999 blowdown.
On May 9, firefighters conduct an intentional "burnout" in the fire's path to
rob it of fuel.
On May 10, Twin Cities residents can smell smoke carried by northeastern
winds. By May 11, the fire has grown to 55,000 acres, or nearly 86 square
miles, and it has moved 13 miles into Canada and 12 miles down the Gunflint
Trail, destroying 138 structures worth $3.7 million, including the
Seagull Outpost Lodge,
Superior North Canoe Outfitters, 44
structures in the 51-year-old Wilderness Canoe Base on Sea Gull Lake, and 62
cabins and homes. According to Matt McKinney, writing for the Minneapolis
Star Tribune, residents who saw the blaze described it as "a roiling black
monster throwing off green clouds, white thunderheads, and a noise like a a
freight train." By May 15, the fire has consumed 93 square miles or 59,611
acres of forest and is only 15 percent contained. On the U.S. side of the
border, 700 firefighters battle the blaze, some climbing atop buildings and
dousing them with fire
hoses as their own cabins burn. Finally,
on May 22, after consuming
nearly 119 square miles in
Minnesota and Canada, the fire is
contained, and the last seven miles of the Gunflint Trail are
October, near-record rainfall ends a nearly two-year drought in the
boundary waters area, but fire danger remains. As reported by the
Associated Press, "The Forest Service is more than halfway toward its goal of
purposely burning 109 square miles to create a strategic series of firebrakes
across the  blowdown area." But the danger may remain elevated through
2017 or longer, according
to Jim Sanders, supervisor of the Superior National Forest,
of all the dead timber that remains,
especially in western parts of the forest closer to Ely, an area that has been
mostly spared by fires. According to Cook County Sheriff Mark Falk, "The Ham
Lake fire wasn't the big blowdown fire we've been talking about for so many
years. That's still out there, still a possibility."
An aerial survey conducted by the Department of Natural Resources found that
the number of moose in northern Minnesota, which is at the southern range of
this heat-sensitive animal, fell from 8,000 in 2005 to fewer than 5,000. Their
numbers also are declining on Isle Royale and in southern Manitoba and
Ontario. They have vanished from northwestern Minnesota.