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The Superior National Forest invites public to an Open House & to review the Fernberg Project to improve forest health and reduce wildfire risk near Ely, Minnesota

The Fernberg Project near Ely proposes prescribed burning for Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) risk reduction - the area is surrounded by the BWCAW on three sides. The Kawishiwi Ranger District will host an Open House, December 7, 4-6 p.m.

Duluth, Minn. – December 1, 2023 – The Superior National Forest’s (SNF) scoping documents for the Fernberg Project are available for public review and comment. This wildland-urban interface risk reduction project proposes prescribed burning and related activities inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

The Fernberg Project road corridor stretches 15 miles east of Ely, MN and is bound on three sides by the BWCAW. The corridor varies in widths ranging from two- and one-half miles to four miles wide. Current vegetation conditions are not well suited to thrive, given future insect and disease outbreaks, wildfires, and changing climate conditions. Proposed actions along the BWCAW boundary would be focused and thoughtfully planned and implemented to achieve the objectives and desired conditions, such as protecting lives and private property, firefighter safety, allowing lightning fires in the BWCAW to play their natural role, promoting forest conditions that are resilient to future wildfires, and creating a mosaic of fuel treatments that decrease future wildfire risk. Proposed actions would also retain the high recreation value and wildlife habitat, both inside and outside of the BWCAW.

"The Fernberg Project includes mixed ownership encompassing approximately 174,873 acres including approximately 84,000 acres inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW),” says Aaron Kania, Kawishiwi District Ranger, Superior National Forest. “Inside the BWCAW, initial proposed actions are for prescribed burning and related activities on approximately 26,000 acres with the remaining 58,000 acres being contingency areas for the prescribed burn units. We have been working with the Tribes, MN DNR, DoveTail Partners and other partners on this project.”

Tribal Chairs for the Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa signatory to the 1854 Treaty Area (Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage) were invited to collaborate on this project in August 2022. They continue to be supportive and consulted, and will collaborate with the SNF, MN DNR, Dovetail Partners, and local partners in this mixed-ownership project area. Overall, Tribal staff and resource specialists are supportive of the project concept.

Public outreach and scoping documents are now available on the SNF Project website: Superior National Forest - Projects (usda.gov), or Superior National Forest - Home (usda.gov)

We are emphasizing electronic correspondence for this project to reduce paper use and increase efficiency. To submit comments, please use the online comment form located on the project webpage previously mentioned. Once on the Fernberg Project page click on “Comment/object on Project” located on the right-hand side in the “Get Connected” box. Letters can be hand delivered or mailed to: Aaron Kania, Kawishiwi District Ranger-Attn: Fernberg Corridor Project, 1393 Highway 169, Ely, MN 55731. The office is open Monday through Friday, excluding holidays (8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.).

 

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