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July 4th 1999 Blow Down

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 28, 2000

Contacts: Carleen Pieper, Communications Director, (651) 221-9423

Alicia Cordes, PR Coordinator, (651) 221-9412

SCIENCE MUSEUM OF MINNESOTA UNVEILS NEW EXHIBIT ABOUT BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE AREA WILDERNESS (BWCAW) BLOWDOWN

New exhibit helps canoeists plan trips to find—or avoid—last summer’s damage

St. Paul, Minn.—As the one-year anniversary of one of the largest natural landscape changes in Minnesota history approaches, the new Science Museum of Minnesota has introduced a new exhibit designed to help visitors understand the long-range implications of the "Blowdown," the July 4, 1999 storm that felled some 25,000,000 trees and left still untallied ecosystem damage in the BWCAW on the border of Minnesota and Canada.

The new Blowdown exhibit combines evidence of the damage (shattered tree trunk, mangled canoe) with detailed before and after maps of the area and ecological information about the short and long-range issues that will reshape the natural environment in the northern border forest.

"It’s an unbelievable opportunity for ecological study," says Joel Halvorson, research fellow at the Science Museum of Minnesota. "Seldom do scientists get to watch such a large ecosystem repair itself after such catastrophic damage. And so many people in Minnesota and across the country have ties to this area—whether they’ve canoed and camped there in the past or have plans to do so in the future. At the Science Museum, we want to help everyone understand what’s going on."

Framed by a mangled canoe that was on top of a car in the parking lot of the Gunflint Lodge at the time of the storm, and flanked by a splintered 15-inch-diameter aspen trunk, a 10-foot-wide map greets visitors with a color-coded overview of the Blowdown’s impact. Shaded purple areas indicate places where fallen trees have altered the landscape. More than 2000 campsites and hundreds of lake names dot the map, helping museum goers locate destinations and gauge the extent of the damage.

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