Ruffed Grouse strutting their stuff

I’ve heard reports of Ruffed Grouse displaying this spring in the snow.


Ruffed Grouse, red-phase

Ruffed Grouse, red-phase




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Turkey Vultures are back

Finally, some spring migrants are returning to Crane Lake. Yesterday there were 2 Turkey Vultures soaring the evening sky, a sure sign that spring is coming.

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

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Houseboats not included in reservation system, yet

 Release Date:  March 24, 2014

Contact:           Tawnya Schoewe,, 218-283-6670


Voyageurs National Park Reservation and Amenity Fee Program – Houseboats Not Included In 2014


International Falls, MN – VoyageursNational Park will implement its new camping reservation and amenity fee program starting in the spring of 2014.  This program will cover 34 select Frontcountry campsites, all Backcountry campsites, and all Backcountry rental canoe and rowboats. The 2014 program will not include Houseboats.


In a previously written press release the park stated an implementation of a $10 fee for houseboats. The fee is for private houseboats and will start in the spring of 2015.  The park plans to continue discussions with the four houseboat companies that will bring about the final fees and operational plan for those visitors who rent from private houseboat companies who operate in the park.


Whether a visitor has a private houseboat or rents from a houseboat company, overnight permitting of any houseboat will not be tied to a specific campsite. Houseboats users will be required to make reservations for overnight stays but will be able to do so just prior to entering the park.


All fees collected from camping, boat rentals, and houseboat reservations will be used to maintain and rehab the sites as well as offer new and expanded amenities in the park.


About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at


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After the Vernal Equinox

After the Vernal Equinox our thoughts turn to Spring migration! The calendar says that spring has arrived, but you wouldn’t know it if you looked out the window right now. Crane Lake is locked in ice and snow and we are anxiously waiting for a spring melt.

I’ve been reading bird reports from southern MN and they sound so wonderful, like it really is spring somewhere! After a lackluster winter with hardly any finches showing up at area feeders, we are in the doldrums. The only birds that have come back so far are the Crows and a few Eagles. Ravens have been doing their aerial acrobatics and calling playfully, but that is the only sound that one hears on a calm day.

In the birding community, when you see a new bird for the season it is called a “first of year” or FOY. Keep checking back to see what FOY will be next.

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

Turkey Vultures come back pretty early, then the Herring Gull while there’s still ice on the lake. Canada Goose will seek out any open water. Robins and Red-winged Blackbirds show up pretty early too, and so does the Killdeer.

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Moose mortality in Minnesota


Check out this link for an interesting essay on the status of Moose in Minnesota.

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Campsite Reservations start in April

VoyageursNational Park

360 Highway 11 East

International Falls, MN56649


VoyageursNational Park News Release



National Park Service

U.S. Department of the Interior

Release Date: March 4, 2014

Contacts:         Tawnya Schoewe,, 218-283-6670

 Voyageurs National Park’s Campsite Reservation and Fee Program Begins April of 2014


International Falls, MN – In 2013, VoyageursNational Park completed a three year Civic Engagement process with the public to determine if campsite reservations and fees were warranted for the park. After holding multiple public meetings and gathering public comments park officials determined the majority of the public supported the program. Despite a moratorium on new or modified fees, the Director’s office of the National Park Service approved a reservation system and fee rates for VoyageursNational Park.


Over the past several months park officials have worked in conjunction with to come up with a 4 phase process for the implementation of the park’s campsites, houseboat sites, and boats on interior lakes program. A phase in process will allow park staff to ensure all aspects of the system provide the intended service to visitors. It also allows a season for visitors to get used to the changes. “During civic engagement a lot of people requested we phase this process over a couple years so that visitors would become accustomed to the process. We fully agree with their input.” Superintendent Mike Ward commented.


Doing so will give the park time to monitor how these 34 sites are used prior to continuing implementation. Ward stated that, “This is a large project and will take time and monitoring to achieve success.

 Park officials placed a great deal of time into determining the first 34 sites selected and based their decision on visitor use, location, and size of the sites. The 34 reservable sites will be marked with “reservation only” signs for the first year.

 The park is working on implementing temporary computer kiosks, at park visitor centers, to assist with walk-in reservations. Reservations at the kiosks will only be for that day. All other reservations will need to be made in advance on-line or by phone at or by calling the NationalCallCenter at 1-877-444-6777. Advance reservations are available until midnight the night before the visit. Reservations are by credit card only.  

 The fee structure for sites was based on the amenities at the sites. The fees collected will go one-hundred percent back into the park. The fee structure is as follows: 

Small campsite with no tent pads – $16

Small campsite with 1 tent pad – $18

Small campsite with 2 tent pads – $20

Large campsites – $24

Boats on interior lakes rentals – $12

Houseboats – $10

Backcountry campsites (regardless of tent pads) $16


The dates and sites selected to go live with are as follows in 4 phases.


Phase 1:

Visitors to the park will be able to make reservations for these sites starting 10:00 am, April 1, 2014.


Reservations required with for:

April 15, 2014 through October 15, 2014

  • All rentals canoes and rowboats on interior lakes


May 15, 2014  through September 15, 2014

  • All Backcountry (interior) campsites
  • 34 Frontcountry (main lake) campsites; see list below



Lake Site Name Site Number
Rainy Lake Big Island R5
  Virgin Island South R27
  Blueberry Island West R92
  Diamond Island South R10
  KawawiaIsland R16
  Three SistersIsland R77
  HarrisonBay R61
  Krantz Point R62
  LoonBay R63
  ShellandIsland R106
  LyleMineIsland R93
  DryweedIsland R11
  SaginawBay R22
  Sunrise Point R26
  Rainy Lake Group Campsite R74
  FishCampIsland R13
  Kempton Entrance East R91



Lake Site Name Site Number
Kabetogama Lake Bald Rock K1
  C Vic Linsten K5
  EksBay K8
  Kabetogama Lake Group Site K54
  Happy Landing K11
  MoxieIsland K22
  Peterson Point K25





Lake Site Name Site Number
Namakan Lake Day Marker 23 N5
  Torry Fish Camp N43
  Namakan Island North East N55
  PikeBay N 31
  My Island South N24
  VoyageursNarrows N41



Lake Site Name Site Number
Sand Point Lake BrownsBay View S3
  King Pin S10
  NorwayIsland S14
  Burnt Island S4



Also included are all canoes, rowboats, and Backcountry camping sites in the interior of the KabetogamaPeninsula.


All other sites will remain first-come, first-served in 2014. However, a free overnight permit is still required for all first-come, first-served sites within the park and are available at the following boat launches: Rainy LakeVisitorCenter, KabetogamaLakeVisitorCenter, AshRiverVisitorCenter, Crane Lake Ranger Station, and the Crane Lake MN DNR launch.


Phase 2:

September 16, 2014 through May 14, 2015

  • All campsites
  • All rental canoes and rowboats on interior lakes
  • Free
  • Reservation required with
  • The park will no longer have self-registration permit stations


Phase 3:

April 15, 2015 through October 15 each year

  • All rental canoes and rowboats on the interior


May 15, 2015 through September 15 each year

  • All campsites
  • Reservations will be available 6 months in advance and will open November of each year


Phase 4:

May 15, 2015 through September 15 each year

  • No camping, houseboating, boat rentals without a reservation
  • Reservations will be available on April 1, 2015 for houseboating           

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at

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Here kitty, kitty


kitty kitty cat


There have been a lot of Wild Cat sightings in the area this winter. Do you think this is a Lynx or a Bobcat?

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Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Thanks to Jeff Fairburn for sending me this series of photos.

Great Blue Heron eating a sunfish

Great Blue Heron eating a sunfish

That’s a mouthful!

GBH and Sunfish

GBH and Sunfish

Jeff took these photos on Pelican Lake, just south of us by the town of Orr, MN

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Now that he’s had lunch, it’s time to go digest his catch. Look how big his throat is! I wonder how it feels to have a fish wiggling around in your throat – I bet he loves it!


Lift off

Thanks Jeff for the incredible series of photos, what a unique experience!

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Starting to look like alot like…

After the big snowstorm that we received late last week, the snowbanks on area roads are getting huge!

elephant lake road

On the way to Elephant Lake, the plows have pushed up the snowbanks as high as they can go. It’s beautiful out there!

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I brake for Snow Birds

The cold weather has brought many birds down from up north. I had to go to town the other day and on the way down there I couldn’t help but notice the big flocks of Snow Buntings on the roadside. As they fly up, big white wing patches make these birds look white.

Snow BuntingSnow Bunting

An estimate would put the numbers close to 600 Snow Buntings just between Orr and Crane Lake, which is a distance of 30 miles. You can tell these birds just came down from the north country, they aren’t very familiar with all the modern conveniences of civilization. They will fly up from the side of the road and continue to fly down the middle of the road right in front of the car. I was hitting the brakes quite often.

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