Slow Green Up, 5.26.18

The woods are reluctantly turning green this week as leaves begin to sprout from tree limbs and the grass, although spotty, begins to grow. Conditions are dry, and there is very little precipitation forecast for Cook County to help aid the green-up and hopefully curb the current fire danger.

When Smokey the Bandit says, “high or extreme fire danger” it is time to pay attention to the potential dangers involved with otherwise normal springtime activities, like running a chainsaw or burning brush piles. When you start seeing an abundance of green Forest Service firefighter rigs buzzing around town – it is really time to pay attention.

Firefighters have been staging around the Grand Marais area preparing for a “worst-case scenario” that we have all become too familiar with. Small fires can grow rapidly in the current conditions, and Forest Service wildland firefighters want to be ready to combat any outbreaks before they become catastrophic.

I spend a lot of time in the woods each spring, priming wildfire sprinkler systems and preparing Gunflint Trail cabins in time for Memorial weekend – and this spring is very dry. The roads are dusty, lakes are low, and the grass crunches below your feet as soon as you step into the woods.

Memorial weekend is the first busy weekend of the summer season and hundreds of campers will be entering the BWCA, hopefully prepared to camp with fire restrictions that are likely to be imposed any day. Currently there are no burning permits being issued throughout most of the state, but campfires are still allowed for the time being. Let’s all do a little rain dance and pray that our wilderness survives the busy weekend ahead.

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