Superior Hero Tales: US Forest Service

November 25, 2019

By Tamer Ibrahim, Trail Operations Director

Cooperation is a good thing. And for a small organization like SHTA that manages a very large resource like the SHT, it is absolutely essential.

There would be no Superior Hiking Trail without the cooperation of federal, state, and local government agency partners and the dozens of private landowners that allow the SHT to pass through their lands. And after decades of partnership, one agency — the U.S. Forest Service team for the Superior National Forest — continues to show extraordinary commitment to the Trail. We’re pleased to recognize them for this month’s Superior Hero Tale.

In my role at SHTA, I’ve managed several major trail improvement projects on Superior National Forest lands. I’ve seen first-hand the dedication of the USFS: they’ve provided guidance in our planning and permitting processes, logistics support, contributions of building materials, and even tough physical labor on the Trail by their staff. Can you imagine chainsaw clearing hundreds of trees from the Trail in the Devil Track River gorge? They did it after the big windstorms last fall. Wonder how we’ve gotten materials out to remote locations to build bridges? They’ve used their snowmobiles and ATVs to make it happen.

Here are a few more examples of their considerable efforts:

A Tale of Two Bridges

Among the crowd on the new bridge at Crow Creek is USFS Recreation Specialist Jon Benson, who helped make the project possible.

About four years ago, USFS exercised their authority and nudged us to replace two bridges, one each over Crow Creek and West Fork Kadunce River, just north of Grand Marais. Not only did they motivate us to comply, they provided professional bridge designs and hauled in six 1,000 lbs. stringers and all the other lumber to the remote project site to facilitate our building the structures. Once the bridges were in place, they helped move more heavy lumber into place for the finishing work. Now completed, these heavy-duty bridges are sure to withstand many, many years of enjoyment by trail users.

Patience Pays off at Pincushion

Decades of the SHT on nordic ski trails at Pincushion Mountain will soon be a piece of SHT lore, thanks to another big contribution from the USFS crew.

For several years, we’ve aimed to build a new route at Pincushion Mountain to move the SHT off ski trails. While we hired Dirt Candy, a trail building contractor, to begin building the new footpath earlier this year, the project has benefited from USFS support from the beginning. Their team helped us flag and sign a scenic, sustainable route, sent over a fire crew to clear the corridor, and purchased and hauled in massive piles of lumber for new boardwalks. More work will continue next spring, and we are pleased to have USFS support to see it through to completion. (Note: the new route will be open for winter travel as soon as grooming begins on those XC trails. Grab your snowshoes and check it out — and thank USFS for their help!)

We’re excited to continue our cooperation with the USFS in 2020 and beyond. But before we get there, please join us in thanking their team for all they’ve done to help keep the SHT safe, accessible, and enjoyable for thousands of visitors every year.

Have a hero for the Trail you’d like to nominate? Let us know using this form.