Summer Boat Tour Reservations Available

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Get an early start to your summer plans. Reserve your seat today on a boat tour of Voyageurs National Park!

Tours begin on June 15, and depart from the Rainy Lake and Kabetogama Lake Visitor Centers. For a complete schedule, visit www.nps.gov/voya.

You may purchase tickets today by visiting www.recreation.gov or by calling (877) 444-6777.

Voyageurs National Park’s Campsite Reservation Program Is Underway

Voyageurs National Park’s new reservation/fee amenity program is up and running on www.recreation.gov. The 51 campsites on the reservation system are filling fast. Don’t miss your opportunity to reserve yours!

Here’s how to find and reserve a campsite using the new system:

  • Where it says “Search for places and activities” choose Voyageurs National Park.
  • Select “Permits and Wilderness.”
  • Then, select the area you are interested in.

You may also make a reservation using the National Call Center at 877-444-6777. Just ask for “permits.”

Voyageurs National Park Winter Ice and Trail Condition Report April 2, 2014

All snowmobile trails, ski trails, and snowshoe trails in the park are still open at this time. Grooming on all trails has finished for the season. The Kab – Ash and Rainy Lake Ice Roads are no longer open and are not being maintained. Expect trail conditions to deteriorate as temperatures rise. Weekly updates will continue until all trails are closed for the season.

Staked snowmobile trails are in fair condition. Be careful while traveling off trail on the frozen lake surface. Hardened snow drifts from the recent freeze / thaw can often be hidden beneath a blanket of fresh snow, creating an unwelcome surprise. While ice thickness is still good, many slush pockets and areas of slush have been found off of the staked trails.

Cross-country skis and snowshoes can still be rented and borrowed from the Rainy Lake Visitor Center during business hours, Tue – Sat, 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The visitor center will be closed Sunday and Monday until summer hours begin in late May.

Below is this week’s winter trail conditions report. All reports are available on the park’s website atwww.nps.gov/voya.

Snowmobile Trails

Snowmobile trails are in fair condition. Speed limits in the park are 45 mph on lake surfaces and 25 mph on land portages.

International Falls to Kettle Falls (Purple Trail) – Open and staked

Rainy Lake/Black Bay to Kabetogama Lake to Ash River (Green Trail) – Open and staked

Ash River to Crane Lake (Green Trail) – Open and staked

Chain of Lakes (Dashed Black Trail) – Open and staked

Ash River to Kettle Falls (Yellow Trail) – Open and staked

East Namakan Lake to Sand Point Lake (Blue Trail) – Open and staked

Rainy Lake Ice Road– Closed

Kab – Ash Ice Road– Closed

Ski Trails

Echo Bay Ski Trail – Open

Black Bay Ski Trail – Open

Tilson Connector Trail – Open

Kab-Ash Trail – Open

Snowshoe Trails

Black Bay Beaver Pond Trail – Open

Blind Ash Bay Trail – Open

Oberholtzer Trail – Open

Sullivan Bay Trail – Open

“STAKED TRAILS MAKE SAFETY SENSE”

ORANGE IDENTIFIES HAZARDS

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Reflecting on a Park Service Career

_DSC0079By Geoffrey M. Smith, Aquatic Ecologist, Voyageurs National Park

I began my National Park Service career volunteering for Joshua Tree National Monument in the fall of 1978. I was involved in putting together an innovative environmental education program which the Park was developing. I also had a chance to give my first interpretive star program under the Monument’s spectacular night skies. The next summer I was hired for my first paid NPS position as a seasonal for Fort Clatsop National Memorial. Here I got to dress up in buckskins, expound on the Lewis and Clark expedition, and give black powder rifle demonstrations.

The volunteering paid off because Joshua Tree NM hired me the next two winter seasons. As one of a team of three, I presented environmental education programs to local elementary school students during the fall and winter. We also developed overnight spring programs for junior high and senior high students, the latter involving rock climbing instruction.

The next two summers I headed back to my home state of Michigan to work in Isle Royale as a backcountry ranger. The first summer I was stationed in a fire tower that also served as a visitor contact station and the following summer I managed Daisy Farm Campground where I gave interpretive programs, patrolled other campgrounds, and did minor law enforcement. I had a dream of wandering the Alaska backcountry after visiting the state in 1969, so instead of returning to Joshua Tree NM a third year, I enrolled in a seasonal law enforcement academy in Santa Rosa California.

After a brief stint in Boston National Historical Park, I was ecstatic to be hired by Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, an area of over eight million acres of designated wilderness in Alaska’s Central Brooks Range. My law enforcement training qualified me to be a backcountry ranger there, but to my disappointment, I didn’t get into the backcountry very much that summer. Instead I worked mostly in Fairbanks, Alaska on land issues and developing a water quality monitoring program for the Park.

It was very different the next summer when I took a position for Northwest Areas which included Noatak NP, Kobuk Valley NP, and Cape Krusenstern NM. I spent the entire summer in the Kobuk Valley NP backcountry. The best part of the job was exploring the northern tributaries of the Kobuk River by ascending them as far as they were navigable and evaluating them for recreational potential. In 1984 I finally returned to a place I had profound life experiences in 1969. This was Katmai NPP. It is an expansive wilderness ecosystem fueled by the great Bristol Bay Salmon runs that concentrate large numbers of brown bears, bald eagles, and gulls to feed. Also abundant were wolves, moose, and caribou. My main job was to keep people separated from bears but I also led tours to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes and gave interpretive evening programs on stream ecology.

I spent the entire next summer exploring the Brooks Range by canoe starting at the oil pipeline haul road just east of Gates of the Arctic and ending at Kotzebue on the Chukchi Sea (650 miles). This was a fateful trip. I had applied for a winter environmental education position in Everglades NP before beginning the expedition. In the middle of the Brooks Range wilderness, I ran into the man in charge of that program. He hired me that fall and that is where I met my future wife Kristi Link who was also hired for the EE team. I headed back to Alaska in the 1986 summer to work as a Law Enforcement ranger in Denali NP and returned in the winter to Everglades after marrying Kristi that fall. I traveled to Glacier Bay NPP the next summer where I worked as an interpretation ranger. I gave interpretive narrations on cruise ships, led ranger walks, and presented evening programs. During the winter of 1987-88 Kristi and I worked again in environmental education for Indiana Dunes NL.

I took another break in 1988 to pursue another canoe expedition in Canada’s arctic barrenlands, while Kristi worked for Isle Royale NP. We traveled to West Virginia the next winter where I was a law enforcement ranger for New River Gorge NR. The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred that spring and Kenai Fjords NP hired us both to be backcountry rangers in the summer of 1989 to monitor oil spill damage and cleanup activities.

After working a summer for Alaska State Parks I returned to the Northwest Areas as a seasonal biological technician in 1991. I did a variety of biological monitoring activities, including grizzly bear telemetry tracking, breeding bird surveys, and a Noatak River raptor survey. While floating the Noatak, our superintendent flew over me and radioed that I had been offered a permanent job in San Antonio Missions NHP. Kristi also had been offered a permanent position. We did not want to leave Alaska but reluctantly accepted the jobs.

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I was not there long when I got into the Natural Resource Management Trainee program. This sent me to Capulin Volcano NM in Northeast New Mexico. I was now a career employee in Resource Management. Kristi followed me to the park about six months later and we stayed there for three years. Our next move was back to Lake Superior at Apostle Islands NL in northern Wisconsin. I was in charge of running the natural resource field monitoring program for the Lakeshore which I did for seven years. Then we got the chance to return to Alaska when I took the Biologist position at Sitka NHP. Most of my work there was supporting our Alaska Inventory and Monitoring Network that was just getting established and protecting the water quality and quantity of the Indian River that ran through the park, our intertidal zone, air quality, and monitoring migratory and birding birds.

After nine years there, Kristi and I returned to the “lower 48″ and Minnesota’s northwoods when I accepted a job as an aquatic ecologist at Voyageurs National Park.  Here I have been involved with implementing and managing 19 studies to evaluate rule changes by the International Joint Commission that govern water levels on reservoirs created by the dams at International Falls (Rainy Lake) and Kettle and Squirrel Falls, effecting Namakan, Kabetogama, Sand Point, Crane, and Little Vermilion Lakes. Final evaluation of the rule changes based on these studies is scheduled to be completed in 2015. We plan to live in Michigan’s UP after I retire where I hope to pursue writing and photography interests.

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Tourism to Voyageurs National Park creates Over $16 Million in Economic Benefit

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 214,841 visitors to Voyageurs National Park in 2012 spent over $16 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 225 jobs in the local area. “This growth over the last few years means that for every $1 spent by tax payers to run Voyageurs National Park $4 is returned to the gateway communities” said Superintendent Mike Ward.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and Lynne Koontz for the National Park Service. The report shows $14.7 billion of direct spending by 283 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 243,000 jobs nationally, with 201,000 jobs found in these gateway communities, and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.75 billion.

According to the report most visitor spending supports jobs in restaurants, grocery and convenience stores (39 percent), hotels, motels and B&Bs (27 percent), and other amusement and recreation (20 percent).

To download the report visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.

To learn more about national parks in Minnesota and how the National Park Service works with Voyageurs National Park communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/voya.

 

 

 

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Minneapolis, MN 55401
Email: vnpa@voyageurs.org
Phone: (612) 333-5424
Fax: (612) 339-4731

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VNPA is proud to be a leading partner with Voyageurs National Park. Click here to visit their National Park Service website.
Minnesota Environmental Fund VNPA is a member organization of the Minnesota Environmental Fund.