Outdoor Notes - May 28

Tours of Soudan Underground Mine resume Memorial Day weekend Guided public tours of Soudan Underground Mine, the state's first iron ore mine, will resume for the 2017 season on Memorial Day weekend, according to the Minnesota DNR. Tours will be o...

Tourists enjoy a guided public tour of Soudan Underground Mine.Photo courtesy Minnesota DNR
Tourists enjoy a guided public tour of Soudan Underground Mine. Photo courtesy Minnesota DNR

Tours of Soudan Underground Mine resume Memorial Day weekend

Guided public tours of Soudan Underground Mine, the state's first iron ore mine, will resume for the 2017 season on Memorial Day weekend, according to the Minnesota DNR. Tours will be offered from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, May 27 through Sept. 30, and on weekends only until Oct. 22 at Lake Vermillion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park near Tower.

Underground mine tours take visitors a half-mile down into the mine shaft in a hoisted "cage" and then for a three-quarter-mile train ride into the last and deepest area mined. Mine interpreters share information about the unique, high-quality iron formation and its contribution to the industrialization of the United States and the generations of people who worked in the mine from 1884 to 1962.

"About 32,000 people take the underground mine tour each year, and it's an experience you won't find anywhere else in Minnesota," said mine interpreter James Pointer.

Guided tours are $12 for adults and $7 for children age 5-12. There is no cost for children under age 5. Hard hats are required and provided for underground tours, and visitors are encouraged to check the park website for suggestions about recommended footwear and clothing (it can be chillier than expected in the mine, because the temperature is 51 degrees Fahrenheit year-round).


Visitors also can take a free, self-guided tour of the historic mining buildings that are above ground.

For information about tours and reservations, visit , email the DNR Information Center at or call 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday.

Forest Resources Council requests public comment on regional forest plan

The Minnesota Forest Resources Council (MFRC) is requesting public review and comment on the draft North Central Landscape Plan, a regional forest management plan developed through the Minnesota Sustainable Forest Resources Act. The plan provides cross-ownership recommendations for long-term sustainability of forest resources in the North Central Landscape which covers Aitkin, Becker, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Mahnomen, south half of Beltrami and east half of Polk counties. Comments are due on Monday, June 19.

The plan was developed by a North Central Regional Landscape Committee. The committee is comprised of private landowners; forest products industry, conservation, and environmental organization representatives; educators; researchers; federal, tribal, state and county resource agency staff; and other interested people.

Creation of this plan was coordinated by the MFRC Landscape Program which was established by the MFRC to support a broad perspective and a collaborative approach to sustainable forest management across the six large forested regions of the state.

"The Minnesota Sustainable Forest Resources Act established the statutory framework for creating our Landscape Program and six regional landscape committees. The regional committees involve a broad array of interests in recommending goals and strategies to promote forest sustainability in their specific regions," stated Kathleen Preece, Chair of the MFRC.

After receiving public comments, the North Central Regional Landscape Committee will address the comments and recommend approval of the plan to the MFRC. After the plan is approved by the MFRC, the committee will reconvene and coordinate the voluntary implementation of the plan.


To review the draft North Central Landscape Plan, please visit the Minnesota Forest Resources Council website Hardcopies are available by contacting Taylor Pitel, MFRC Student Worker at 651-603-6761 or . Please forward comments by Monday, June 19 to Lindberg Ekola, MFRC Landscape Program Manager, 434 Seventh Street NE, Melrose, Minnesota 56352 or

WHA Middle School participates in annual Envirothon

On May 3, over 150 students from fourteen schools in region eight arrived at Lake Bemidji State Park to learn about and compete in the annual Envirothon. Region 8 consists of eight counties from north central Minnesota including Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Hubbard, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, and Wadena.

Walker-Hackensack- Akeley Middle School (WHA) sent five teams totaling twenty-five students to the Envirothon for the junior team competition. Nancy Bruns is a middle school science teacher and coaches the team from WHA. Coach Bruns introduced her students to the Envirothon opportunity and covered the material in class.

What is the Envirothon?

The Envirothon is a nationwide environmental education program for high school and middle

school students. Students cover natural resource topics such as wildlife, aquatics, forestry, soils, and current environmental topics that change every year.

The state is broken into eight regions, while schools from each region battle to try and advance to the state competition, held this year on May 15 in Stewartville.


WHA Middle School teams placed fourth, fifth, seventh, 11th and 13th among 16 teams. Advancing to the state event are two teams from Trek North Senior High School and Nevis High School.

New vault toilets installed at Norway Beach campgrounds

CASS LAKE-Four camp areas at the Norway Beach Recreation Area received upgrades in May with the installation of four new vault toilets.

The installation of the vault toilets, completed May 16, was the second phase of the project to replace the aging facilities in the forest's largest and most popular campground.

The project called for demolishing four existing vault toilets in the Norway Beach campground and replacing them. The pre-cast concrete construction of the new toilets is an upgrade to the 30-year-old vault facilities that were previously at the Chippewa, Cass Lake, Norway Beach, and Wanaki Loops.

The vault toilets, one in each of the campground loops, are in place for convenience and backup to the main facilities.

There are flush toilets and shower houses at each one of the loops as well, whereas the vault toilets supply additional toilet capacity or use in the event of a power or water outage. Campers will still have restroom facilities to use. In the event of a windstorm or other emergency event, these concrete structures will also provide a high level of safety as a shelter.

Each building cost about $30,000, the install contract was $9,900, which includes the trail work leading to each. Recreation enhancement dollars from campground receipts funded the project.

Wild and Free annual dinner fundraiser June 24

Wild and Free will host their biggest fundraiser of the year, the annual Gala Dinner Saturday, June 24 at Ruttger's Bay Lake Lodge. The dinner is open to the public and tickets are $50.

Every year, Wild and Free hosts the dinner and silent auction to raise public awareness and donations. All proceeds are used for animal care, lab tests, and medicine. Since they're a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, donations are tax deductible.

Last year alone, Wild and Free treated a record 562 wild animals, including more than 300 mammals in 25 different species, more than 50 water birds, and more than 100 land birds like eagles, hawks, and owls. And they did it all with volunteers and generous donations and the cooperation of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Get tickets at Garrison Animal Hospital or call 612-801-7872. For more information, visit their Facebook page: or their website:

class='subhead'>Water monitoring volunteer opportunity Sign up to monitor a lake or stream in your area for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Volunteer water monitors "adopt" one or more Minnesota lakes or streams and track how clear their water is. Knowing the clarity of water helps the MPCA understand the health of water, according to a MPCA news release. Become a volunteer or learn more about the program on the MPCA website, or call 651-296-6300 (Twin Cities) or 800-657-3864 (Greater Minnesota). See the list below of waters that need monitoring, or use the MPCA's interactive map to find a site near you. Become a volunteer or learn more about the program on the program's website, or call 651-296-6300 (Twin Cities) or 800-657-3864 (Greater Minnesota). Some of the bodies of water that need volunteer monitors in the area: Lakes: • Rice Lake - nearest town: Vawter, Morrison County • Turtle Lake - nearest town: Staples, Todd County • Spirit Lake - nearest town: Menahga, Wadena County • Woman Lake - nearest town: Longville, Cass County • Blackhoof Lake - nearest town: Ironton, Crow Wing County • Knife Lake - nearest town: Mora, Kanabec County Hay Creek Flowage Stream/River locations: • Long Prairie River on bridge at CSAH-14 .5 miles east of Browerville, Todd County • Boy River at Sioux Camp Road NW 2 miles southeast of Longville, Cass County • Little Pine River at Orlander Road, 10 miles southwest of Crosslake, Crow Wing County • Hillman Creek at 280th Ave. 1 mile east of Pierz, Morrison County Mille Lacs advisory committee meets June 5 The Mille Lacs Fisheries Advisory Committee will meet from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Monday, June 5, at the Garrison Town Hall, 27069 Central St. in Garrison. DNR staff will provide updates on the fishery, including upcoming research projects and preliminary findings from last year's experimental stocking. The committee will also be discussing its future activities. Members of the public are welcome to attend and observe these meetings, and 15 minutes at the end of each meeting is reserved for public comments and questions. The advisory committee of citizens has been active since October 2015. For more information about the committee and DNR's management of Mille Lacs Lake, visit the Mille Lacs Lake management page.
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