International Falls, MN. Monday Oct. 21
Sunday was the last day of our stint staffing the Rainy Lake Visitor Center of Voyageurs National Park. We were sad to leave it; our presence allowed the visitor center to be open for the long MEA weekend in Minnesota when schools are closed for two days and families can enjoy a long weekend. The visitors had great weather and enjoyed their time here.
Last Thursday night, the non-profit arm of Voyageurs National Park sponsored a talk in Ranier, a small town next to International Falls. The topic was cattails. May sound simple and basic but the talk symbolized the behind the scenes work done by national parks around the country. Let me give a very brief summary as I understood it.
https://www.voyageurs.org/news/2017/06/21/restoring-native-plants-voyageurs. Link to more detailed report on the cattail study.
Native cattails have been here for millennia. Invasive cattails probably came over on the ballasts of European based ships. The two have interacted and created a hybrid that is choking out native habitat, negatively impacting the plants (like wild rice), fish, animals and birds that call this marvelous place home. Mats of hybrid cattails can break from their roots and float around the lakes, affecting local residents and park visitors by clogging channels and docking areas. Voyageurs is breaking new ground in trying to determine how to eliminate the hybrid cattail, encourage the native cattail, and restore as much as possible the original interaction between lake, plants, fish, animals and birds. No one else has done this yet, so original research and methods are being used and studied to reach their goal.
The talk was well-presented and informative. We met some previous acquaintances from our brief time up here and met new people. Voyageurs is to be commended for this work. If you were not aware, Voyageurs also is conducting a long term wolf study. They have produced some fascinating videos of wolves in the wild, including one of wolves fishing! See http://www.voyageurswolfproject.org or follow them on Facebook. Somehow I doubt the cattail project will stimulate as much video interest but cattail control is still important for long term impacts on the park.
Scenes along the trail at Franz Jevne State Park
Today was our sole day off this week, tomorrow we will begin work on administrative projects for the park. We took advantage of the weather forecast and made a hiking trip to Franz Jevne State Park before the rains arrived. Franz Jevne is only 118 acres but it occupies a beautiful site along the Rainy River, 40 miles west of International Falls. We hiked along the river, which is the border between Ontario and Minnesota. The woods were quiet but the river was running high. We saw several bald eagle nests high in the trees.
To return to International Falls, we continued driving west to Baudette MN where we crossed the border into Canada. Our trip back east to International Falls was uneventful but it gave us the opportunity to at least say we visited Canada once again. We contemplated shopping in Fort Frances, across the border from International Falls, but did not see any stores that piqued our curiosity.
We wrapped up the night doing laundry once again. The small town vibe continues as the only other person in the laundromat asked us if we were from International Falls since we did not look familiar. A 30 minute discussion followed.
Ed and Chris. Monday October 21. 9:15 PM