Notice: I've taken a part-time job, and it's definitely affecting my blogging time. I'll continue to add content here as often as possible. Pertinent guest posts are always welcome.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Forest Service Will Consider Temporary Wilderness Marking on Kek

trail work on the Kekekabic
trail work in March 2008 on the Kek (photo by Martin Kubik)
a news release of Boundary Waters Advisory Committee

The Boundary Waters Advisory Committee (BWA Committee) and US Forest Service officials met recently to discuss trail management in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in the Superior National Forest.

Last year’s rescue of two Duluth hikers lost on the Kekekabic Trail in the BWCAW, along with the 1999 windstorm, two major fires, and a number of other Search and Rescue operations in the wilderness over the last several years, has moved the Forest Service to reconsider whether trail markers should be placed on indistinct trails in the wilderness. Five hiking organizations, the BWA Committee, the Kekekabic Trail Club (KTC), the Border Route Trail Association (BRTA), the North Country Trail Association (NCTA) and the 3M Club Outdoor Club support marking of a troublesome 13 mile long section of the Kekekabic Trail and segments of the Border Route Trail where the path has been obliterated by the past fire.

At the meeting, the BWA Committee offered, subject to the Forest Service approval, to send out a survey team to locate and reconnect missing links of tread on the Kekekabic Trail. The USFS is presently reviewing several options for wilderness appropriate marking once the trail tread is located. Marking would be temporary and most likely removed once a tread is re-established, through use and by surrounding vegetation, which may take several years.

Both parties agreed that a low number of hikers caused the trails to become obscure. The Kekekabic and other wilderness trails are less then 10 inches wide, overgrown with grass and crowded by brush, raspberries and balsam fir branches. In contrast, portages are worn down to bare gravel and are typically 3 to 6 feet wide.

BWA Committee and the USFS discussed ways to increase volunteer recruitment and train crew leaders. Safety of participants is of paramount importance, since the trail maintenance is done in the wilderness and crew leaders need to have people, safety and outdoor skills.

The BWA Committee, along with the Kekekabic Trail Club, are organizing several BWCA trail maintenance trips on the Eagle Mountain , Brule Lake Trail, Snowbank and Kekekabic trails in 2009. Trip dates will be posted on the BWA Committee site http://www.meetup.com/Friends-of-BWCA-Trails/ and www.kek.org.

The USFS expressed appreciation for “photo essays,” report from survey hikes and trail clearing trips, posted on www.bwac.smugmug.com. “Photo-essays help us see what the trail conditions are like in the wilderness and the work volunteers are doing,” said Jon Benson, USFS wilderness trail manager. “Your work does not go unnoticed,“ concluded Steve Schug, Assistant District Ranger, Gunflint Ranger District.

See Kubik to Speak About the Condition of the Kek
See Lost on Kekekabic Trail – Update

2 comments:

wanderingjustin said...

I know this isn't related to your post, but I wanted to ask a real "Yooper" (as you called yourself in The Everyday Adventurer's recent post) ... have you ever seen the movie Escanaba in da Moonlight? What did the people in the U.P. think about it. Just curious, because it made me want to visit!

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

Hi Justin- actually its "Retired One" who is a yooper. I'm a troll. I thought it was a stupid movie, but I love the UP. Escanaba is nice any time of day, but I know the north edge better because that's where the NCT goes.