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Field Reports: Boy Scout Landing ramp to be ready by fishing opener

Construction work on the new boat ramp at Boy Scout Landing on the St. Louis River at in Gary-New Duluth is substantially complete, and the ramp will be open soon, said Joe Russell, parks and trails area supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at Two Harbors. The ramp will be open for use by the Minnesota fishing opener May 10, Russell said.

“We’re just waiting until the water levels drop. The current is strong now,” he said.

The dock will be put in place first. Sometime after that, when the current allows, workers will put the fishing pier in place.

The landing was reconstructed last summer at a cost of about $376,000.

Fishing closures listed for Ely/Tower area

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has announced temporary fishing and spearing closures on a number of designated spawning beds and fish preserves in northern St. Louis and western Lake counties.

Areas closed from now through May 9 are posted for the following St. Louis County water bodies: Bear Island River, both sides of Minnesota Highway 1; Beaver River, portion upstream of Bear Island Lake; Birch River, both sides of St. Louis County Road 21; Burntside River, both sides of St. Louis County Road 88 bridge; Everett Creek, between Everett Lake and Twin Lakes; Shagawa River, both sides of road crossings at Winton.

Area closed from May 1 through 9 for Lake County: Fall Lake, below the hydropower facility.

Additional area closures to protect spawning walleyes are for the following dates:

  • April 14 to May 31, Pike River (St. Louis Co.) from the mouth upstream to the dam;
  • May 10 to May 16, Basswood Lake (Lake Co.), portion of Pipestone Bay south of a direct line from Kosulainen Point to Gary Island to Caribou Point.

“Pike River is an annual closure due to the large walleye spawning run where our egg-take station is located. Basswood is being closed this year due to an anticipated late ice-out and the vulnerability of spawning walleye in that location,” said Edie Evarts, DNR Tower area fisheries supervisor.

Comments sought on fisheries plans

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is preparing fisheries management plans for nine lakes and one stream in the International Falls area. The public is invited to review and comment on those plans.

Copies of the draft plans are available at the International Falls Area Fisheries office located at 392 Highway 11 E., International Falls, MN 56649. You can also call the office at (218) 286-5220 to request a copy or email

Comments on the plans will be accepted through May 2. Contact the DNR Area Fisheries Office.

Chickadees suffering deformities

On April 18, Duluth birder Laura Erickson noticed that a chickadee coming to her home had a deformed bill, she reported on her blog, Laura’s Birding Blog, on Tuesday. Birders in Alaska have been reporting chickadees with deformed bills since 1999, Erickson said. Erickson’s observation is believed to be just the second in Minnesota of a chickadee with a deformed bill.

“The upper mandible is way too long, and bends weirdly to the bird’s left,” Erickson wrote on her blog. “The lower mandible appears normal to my eyes and in my photos, but a closer look would be necessary to be certain.

“Birders in Alaska started reporting chickadees with deformed bills — some with both mandibles horrifyingly elongated and crossed — in 1999, and since then, have found over 2,000 chickadees with the condition in south-central Alaska, along with rapidly increasing numbers of deformed bills in birds of other species, including northwestern crows, downy woodpeckers, Steller’s jays and black-billed magpies,” Erickson wrote. “The U.S. Geological Survey has been investigating possible causes, including environmental contaminants, nutritional deficiencies and disease, but so far has no solid evidence about what is going on at all.”

She urges the public to report any sightings of deformed chickadees to the U.S. Geological Survey.