A BWCA Glossary
- Fairy Barf
- A colorful name sometimes applied to the crustose
lichens, very thin and often colorful lichens which look as
if they were poured or painted onto their log or rock substrate.
- Any of the swift, elegant hawks of the genus Falco.
Well represented in the BWCA by the Kestrel
(Falco sparverius), Merlin (Falco
columbarius), and the legendary Peregrine
(Falco peregrinus), the latter listed as Threatened.
Most winters, one or more Gyrfalcon, our largest falcon and a resident
of the Arctic, are spotted in northeastern Minnesota, usually around
- False Bottom
- The muddy suspension of partially decayed plant material, plankton,
and the like that accumulates on the bottom of minerotrophic
bog lakes. Where exposed at the surface it supports the growth
of mat forming sedges. Often fails to support the weight of the
- A perennial, relatively large, and robust moss with a feather-like
form. It often forms a continuous carpet in stands dominanted
by White Spruce (Picea
glauca) or Black Spruce (Picea
mariana). Best represented in the North Country by the
ubiquitous Shreber's Feathermoss (Pleurozium
- A sedge or reed dominated peatland, often with some shrubs or small
trees, characterized by mineral-rich, aerated waters at or near the
surface. Fens with lower calcium content often evolve into Sphagnum
lawns and, eventually, acid bogs. An Old English word.
- Fernberg Road
- Lake County Road 18, running east from Winton and Ely
to the Lake One landing, providing
access to spur roads connecting with other BWCAW entry points.
- Fibric Peat
- Scarcely decomposed peat, made up largely of Sphagnum
- A type of lichen characterized by
a very fine, hair-like structure.
- Any of the many seed-eating songbirds of the family Fringillidæ.
Represented in the North Country by 8 Sparrows,
3 Grosbeaks, 2 Crossbills,
and 5 small finches, the Common Redpoll ( Carduelis flammea),
Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus), American Goldfinch (Carduelis
tristis), Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus), and the Indigo
Bunting (Passerina cyanea).
- Any of the evergreen, coniferous trees of the genus Abies.
Represented in the North Country by the Balsam Fir (Abies
balsamea). From the Old English fyre.
- The great shaper and transformer of the northern forest. Ishkote
or ashkote in the Ojibwe.
- Any natural or constructed barrier or space, clear of flammable materials,
used to segregate, stop, and control the spread of fire or to provide
a control line from which to work. Bodies of water can form natural
- Fire Danger
- A measure of the likelihood of a forest fire, based on temperature,
relative humidity, wind force and direction, and the dryness of the
woods. Often proclaimed on roadside signs in National Forests,
including the Superior.
- Fire Grate
- A heavy assemblage of welded, square iron stock serving to mark the
location of established and officially sanctioned BWCAW campsites.
Not particularly useful for cooking, except as a platform upon which
to balance one's cook stove. (Photo:
Fire grate doing service as cooking table)
- Fire Interval
- The typical period between wildfires in a natural environment, free
of fire supression efforts. Varies widely among different plant
communities, being as little as 100 years in Black Spruce (Picea
- Fire Line
- Cleared area extending down to mineral soil that surrounds a fire
to prevent the fire from reaching fresh fuels.
- A tall, herbaceous perennial (Chamerion angustifolium) with striking, rose-pink flower spikes.
An early colonizer of burns, hence its common name.
- First Growth
- Timber from a forest that has not been previously logged. Also known
as Virgin Timber.
- Fish Consumption Advisory
- An annual publication of the Minnesota
Department of Health providing lake-specific information on the
number of fish of a given size and species which may be safely eaten
without undue risk of exposure to harmful chemicals, primarily mercury
and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). These are airborne contaminants;
the isolation of wilderness lakes affords little protection from them.
The Advisory is available
online from the DNR with a Lake Finder
search function or you can download
or view online the entire 97 page Advisory in PDF format.
- 1) A large northern weasel (Martes
pennanti) once trapped extensively for its rich, silver-tipped fur;
sold as sable. One of the few predators of the porcupine.
Otchig or akâkwidjish in the Ojibwe. 2)
One of the two popular map series
for navigating Canoe Country. Yellow background at a scale of
1½" to the mile.
- An old common name for iris and iris-like plants with bladed or flag-like
leaves. Represented in Canoe Country by two waterside species,
the Blue Flag (Iris
versicolor) and Sweet Flag (Acorus americanus).
- Flat Bottom
- In canoe design, a shape affording great initial
stability; reduced secondary stability.
- Any of several related plants of the genus Erigeron that emit
an odor thought to drive away fleas and other insects. Represented in
the North Country by Common Fleabane (Erigeron strigosus).
- Flowering Fern
- Any of several species of large primitive fern of the family Osmundaceae,
named for the Saxon god of war Osmunder,
who hid his family under a clump of these ferns. The common name
is a misnomer for a non-flowering plant, and is derived from the prominent
spore bearing structures of these ferns. Represented in the North
Country by three species of the genus Osmunda, the Cinnamon Fern
Interrupted Fern (Osmunda
claytonia), and the Royal Fern (Osmunda
- Any of a large group of insectivorous birds of the family Tyrannidæ,
so named for their penchant for catching their insect prey on the wing.
Represented in the North Country by seven species, the Olive Sided Flycatcher
(Nuttallornis borealis), Eastern Wood Pewee (Contopus virens),
Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe), Eastern Kingbird (Tyranus
tyranus), and three of the frustrating Empidonax flycatchers,
the Yellow Bellied (Empidonax flaviventris), Alder (Empidonax
alnorum), and Least (Empidonax minimus). Also known
as Tyrant Flycatchers.
- A type of dry fruit derived from a single pistil that splits open
along only one suture line, as in the pods of Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias
incarnata) and the other milkweeds..
- You know what a forest is to you. Here is what the USFS, in
one published definition, sees: Area managed for the production
of timber and other forest products or maintained as wood vegetation
for such indirect benefits as protection of catchment areas or recreation.
- Forest Center
- A former logging camp just off the south shore of Isabella
Lake, established in the late 1940's to support the infamous Tomahawk
Timber Sale, which decimated vast areas of wilderness in the region
between Isabella Lake and Insula.
Forest Center served as a railroad terminus for the Duluth, Mesabi,
and Iron Range Railroad as well as the hub of a network of gravel logging
roads, remains of which can still be seen, on maps of the region and
on the land itself.
- Forest Floor
- General term for the surface layer of soil supporting forest vegetation;
includes all dead vegetation on the mineral soil surface in the forest
as well as litter and unincorporated humus.
- A body of rock both large enough to be mapped and distinct from surrounding
rock. Usually takes its name from a geographic feature in the
area where it is exposed on the surface (the Saganaga
Batholith, for example).
- Friends of the Boundary
- A not-for-profit advocacy group with a rich and distinguished history,
working "To protect and preserve the wilderness character of the
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the Quetico-Superior Ecosystem
through public advocacy, ecosystem preservation, scientific understanding,
user education, and enhanced public appreciation."
- Water loving amphibians quite at home in Canoe Country. Represented
in the BWCA by three species of Treefrogs (family Hylidæ),
the Grey Tree Frog (Hyla chrysoscelis/versicolor), Boreal Chorus
Frog, (Pseudacris triseriata), and Northern Spring Peeper (Pseudacris
crucifer); and four species of True Frogs (Ranidæ),
the Mink (Rana septentrionalis), Green (Rana clamitans),
Northern Leopard (Rana pipiens), and Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica).
Omakaki in the Ojibwe, with various kinds of frog known as jashagawashkogissi
(a green frog), passekanak, and pikonekwe (a small
- The leaf of a fern. It has two parts, the Stipe
(leaf stalk or petiole) and the Blade
(the leafy expanded portion of the frond).
- A type of lichen (stalked, shrubby,
or hair-like) which attaches to a tree bark substrate at only one point.
They resemble trees or bushes with all but the attached portion away
from the bark. They are the most highly developed of lichens.
- Fruiting Body
- A specialized fungal structure, often prominently visible, on or
in which spores are produced. The large conks
often encountered on tree trunks are an example.
- The kingdom of organisms which includes slime molds, mushrooms, smuts,
rusts, mildews, molds, stinkhorns, puffballs, truffles, and yeasts.
All absorb food in solution directly through their cell walls and reproduce
through spores. None conduct photosynthesis.