In the Spotlight

News & Features
Mainstreet Radio Special: Boundary Waters Blowdown
Midday live broadcast from the Whiteside Park in Ely - Hosted by Rachel Reabe
Friday, July 28, 2000: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT

Go to forum

TAKE OUR POLL Should controlled burns be used in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area to try to reduce the risk of a major forest fire?
Go to survey
About Mainstreet
Mainstreet Radio started in 1987 with the mission of reporting from rural Minnesota to all of Minnesota. Each month, Mainstreet Radio presents a two-hour special focusing on rural issues.
Go to Mainstreet Radio
Blowdown area. A year ago a massive storm roared through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, damaging 350,000 acres of trees. This month's Mainstreet broadcast will look at the impact the blowdown is having on the land and the people who love it. The show will be broadcast live from the covered pavilion in Whiteside Park during Ely's summer celebration, the Blueberry Festival.

Forest Impact Listen to Part One
SEVERAL HUNDRED THOUSAND trees blew down in last year's storm, creating near perfect conditions for a major forest fire. Experts say the only question is when the fire or fires will occur and how destructive they will be. The blowdown quadrupled the amount of fuel per acre that can readily burn and the fire risk is expected to increase in the next several years as the timber dries out.

A controlled burn. The U.S. Forest Service and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have spent millions of dollars to beef up firefighting equipment and crews in the area and develop strategies to fight fires. To reduce the risk of a large fire, the Forest Service wants to set small, controlled fires in the wilderness beginning next year. Over the next five or six years, officials would burn as many as 8l,000 acres in the BWCA

Mark Van Every, U.S. Forest Service
Paul Tine, fire-fuels specialist with the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center
Lee Frelich, forest resources researcher at the University of Minnesota
Human Impact Listen to Part Two
CANOEISTS CONTINUE TO PADDLE the BWCA despite last year's storm which affected about a third of the area. The Forest Service reports that permits are only slightly below last year's figures. Officials are making sure BWCA visitors understand the increased fire danger and what to do in case of fire. Educational pamphlets, videos and briefings are available at forest service offices.

Outfitters report that about a fourth of their canoeists want to be sure and see the blowdown area and about the same number want to avoid it. Traveling through the Boundary Waters still provides a wilderness experience, they say, even if the landscape has changed.

Lyle Williams, owner of Tom and Woods Wilderness Canoe Trips
Doug Hirdler, manager of Sommers Boy Scout Canoe Base on Moose Lake
Jim Brandenburg, nature photographer (see slideshow)
Made possible by a grant from the Blandin Foundation
Made possible by a grant from the Blandin Foundation
Background from MPR News
Minnesota's Changed Wilderness
July 5, 2000 Read - Listen

A Matter of Time
May 18, 2000 Read - Listen

The BWCA's Comeback
September 7, 1999 Read - Listen

The Need for Speed in BWCA Tree Removal
August 28, 1999 Read - Listen

Back to the BWCA
July 20, 1999 Read - Listen

No Shelter from the Storm
July 6, 1999 Read - Listen

A Contentious History
August 7, 1998 Read - Listen

Related Links
Boundary Waters Blowdown Pages
Photos and damage maps from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Superior National Forest Blowdown Information
Information from the U.S. Forest Service.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
U.S. Forest Service/University of Minnesota.