Urgent: Protect the North Arm Trails!

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*We are asking the DNR to transfer management of all state lands between the North Arm of Burntside Lake and the BWCAW to the DNR Parks and Trails division.*

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources holds in trust the cherished mature pine forest surrounding the North Arm Trails near Burntside Lake.   Since the late 1970’s, the 42 km North Arm Trails have provided easy hiking and skiing access to this landscape which inspires thousands of visitors of all ages each year. These ancient, hushed, mossy pine forests were once more common in northern Minnesota.  Now visitors travel hundreds of miles to stay nearby and immerse themselves in the quietude of this special place.

Under towering pines among twin flowers, orchids and trailing arbutus the pine martens, lynx and wolves make their home. The silence is broken only by birdsong and wind in the pines. Grey jays are cheerful ambassadors where caribou moss covers glacial ridges and families pick blueberries under open canopies of mature red and white pine.  In the lower areas, labrador tea and cranberries send their roots into the deep sphagnum moss and black-backed woodpeckers forage in the spruce above. In this environment, it is impossible to not to not be inspired.

The summer trails and forests are enjoyed by all ages staying nearby in the Ely community, at resorts or the neighboring YMCA family and youth camps.  In the winter, people travel hundreds of miles to experience the large network of volunteer-maintained ski trails for an original backwoods experience, which serve as a gateway into the Boundary Waters Wilderness.

We feel it is essential that the DNR manage this area for the purpose it already serves: connecting people with the outdoors.  The state lands surrounding this trail system are best managed under the Parks and Trails division of the DNR, where it’s greatest attributes can be aptly supported.

Please transfer management of all state lands between the North Arm of Burntside Lake and the BWCAW to the DNR Parks and Trails division.  

This will:

  • Connect Minnesota families and citizens of all ages with the outdoors via hiking, skiing, nature study, berry picking, and birding.
  • Manage for the highest public value, supporting thousands of citizen visits to the region, sustainably supporting the local economy.