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North Shore Morning

AM Community Calendar/photo by masochismtango on Flickr

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News and information, interviews, weather, upcoming events, music, school news, and many special features. North Shore Morning includes our popular trivia question - Pop Quiz! The North Shore Morning program is the place to connect with the people, culture and events of our region!

 


What's On:

Superior National Forest Update: June 9

Hi. I’m Renee Frahm, visitor information specialist, on the Superior National Forest, with the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For the week of June 9, here’s what’s going on in the woods.

Schools are out in most of the state, and people are heading north! Expect some road congestion on Hwy 61 and Hwy 1 on Fridays and Sundays as people travel to and from the south. There can also be some congestion at our offices as people stop in to pick up Boundary Waters entry permits. Our offices are open from 8 to 4:30 every day during the summer, but there are often multiple groups picking up permits first thing in the morning, so there could be a wait. You may want to plan to get your permit at a later time of day to avoid the line.

There’s been an increase in people using emergency locator devices in the Boundary Waters. These small devices use a satellite system to send a location and pre-recorded help message in an emergency. If you plan on having one with you, make sure you know how to properly operate it so that you don’t accidentally trigger an emergency response. Pack these devices in a way so that the buttons can’t be accidentally pressed, and program them with different levels of concern, such as a ‘we’re late, but don’t worry’ message, or ‘there’s a problem, but don’t send help,’ or ‘send help immediately.’ Usually these devices contact a friend or family member, and those contact people should be prepared to respond by knowing the names of people in the party and what their itinerary was. They also should know that the correct next contact is the county sheriff, as search and rescue operations are run out of the sheriff’s department. In this area, that would be either the Lake or Cook County Sheriff, so the contact should find out which county the party will be in, and what the phone number for the sheriff is. The sheriff will contact the Forest Service if necessary. Remember, false alarms are expensive, and can needlessly risk emergency responders.

We are welcoming a new temporary ranger to the Tofte District. If you are passing by, stop in and say hi to Ben South who will be here for a few months. He’s coming from Colorado, so the Sawtooth Mountains may not impress him, but our 10,000 lakes are pretty spectacular.

While we are looking at some rain this weekend, we have had a recent dry spell and fire danger is moderate. During the summer, fire danger can change quickly as warm weather dries the forest quickly. Calculating the fire risk uses many factors. High temperatures, low humidity, and strong winds will all increase fire danger, so it is more than a measure of how long ago the last rain was. The drier forest did allow the fire crew to do a prescribed burn last Wednesday near Isabella. The underburn we conducted will allow for better growth of pine seedlings beneath the mature pines, and used up the fuel beneath the pines in a controlled way. That fuel could otherwise have created a major wildfire. As always, check for any fire restrictions before you head out camping, and be sure campfires are totally out before you leave the area.

Our roads are in pretty good shape, although they have yet to be graded this year. In fact, the dry weather has made them so hard that they can’t be graded right now. There is some logging traffic. On the Gunflint District, you may find trucks on the Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, Gunflint Trail, FR 1385, and Trestle Pine Road. On the Tofte District, logging traffic will be around the Grade and Trapper’s Lake Road.

Enjoy the woods this weekend, and until next week, this has been Renee Frahm with the National Forest Update.

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The loon egg that did not successfully hatch is being sent to Cornell University.

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: June 9

With official summer only 12 days away, the territory got a warm preview last weekend. Wilderness stickiness had some folks grinning while the moose and I were cringing.                                                                                                                                                                             
In concert with the early warmth, predicted rain turned out wimpy in this neighborhood, barely enough to the Mile O' Pine dust. Meanwhile, other places along the Trail received some short, but heavy downpours.                                                                                   

Mother Nature's gardening projects are just about done.  Our verdant forest spectacle is one to behold as the sugar maple leaf foliage closes the deal. On the ground, those forget-me-nots have remembered us once again, making for blue on earth as it is in the heavens. And the delectable pie plant is being harvested without a “rhubarb,' ummm!                                                                        
As we celebrate the Ojibwe, full “strawberry moon” tonight and the next couple days, outdoor life is tough. The annual black fly invasion has folks swatting like mad-people. A good bug net is somewhat comforting, but the mean critters are quite cunning in their ability to ride inside on one’s clothing and then torment when unprotected. In my opinion, they’re the worst they’ve been in several years.

Sad to say, but the situation will multiply in intensity as the mosquitoes are just coming on. So if it seems as though I’m a bit snarly, I probably am, due to building heat/humidity and the attack of the swarm.

If you were a WTIP website reader of last week's column, you missed my on-air “breaking news” about the loon at the Chik-Wauk site. As an update, a young’un was hatched a week ago this past Wednesday with the partnering mate still AWOL. All went well and by afternoon the little chick was into the water with mom and one egg still in the nest.                                                                                                                                                       

The same afternoon, who should appear but the apparent, missing partner.  After some quiet loon conversation, the slacker dad climbed onto the nest. There was a lot of prideful cooing as mom and baby floated about for the rest of the day.                                                     

Next morning the museum staff announced with dismay that the family had departed the nesting site which seemed unusual. Later in the day, it was discovered the abandoned nest still housed an egg, still no return of the family. Hearing of the plight, an interested fisherman made a trip by the nesting platform and retrieved the egg. Finding a small escape hole had been opened, the tiny pecking effort was all the un-hatched could muster, thus perishing.                                                                                                                                     

People with experience and knowledge of what might have occurred, surmise the black flies probably drove the parents away from the last incubation. Through field glasses, observers had noticed the infestation swarming momma's head just days before the first hatching.  Evidence indicates we humans are not the only ones being tortured by these nasties, although the species of flies bothering the loons and other water birds is different than the one nipping people. We have to feel for all critters of the “wild neighborhood” during this biting onslaught.

By the way, the egg is being shipped to where researchers at the Cornell University Ornithological Institute will analyze the egg in loon studies.                                                                                                                                                                                 

A bear with quadruplet cubs has found its way to the south shore of Gunflint Lake. Then again, there might be more than one momma bear with four mouths to feed as I reported hearing of one up in end of the Trail places a couple weeks ago.                                                                          
Regardless, this Bruno family caused quite a stir at a residence down along South Gunflint Lake Road (County Rd. 20) one day and night last week. I’m told a noisy attempt to dispatch the gang from the yard spooked two of the cubs into exploring their tree climbing techniques. The sequence of events sent the duo climbing a tall pine to nearly the top.  Once up there, climbing down was discovered to be a scary option, so there they remained for hours. Meanwhile momma and the others made their way into the woods out of sight.                                           

Needless to say the residents were not about to interfere with a rescue attempt. As darkness overtook the scene, I’m told the little ones were still aloft.                                                                                                        

It’s amazing how moms have a way, because some time during the night she must have talked them down. By morning, the homeowner's trail cam revealed the foursome was reunited and while still hanging around, had to be issued another loud “get out’a here” notice, which sent them off  not to be seen again.                                                                                                                                        
Area folk are reminded of the annual shrimp boil feast this coming Sunday (the 11th). Sponsored by the Gunflint Trail Historical Society, the event takes place at the Seagull Creek Community Center beginning at 4 p.m.                                                                                                                  
A bake sale is also being held in conjunction with the meal. If any Trail residents wish to contribute a baking confectionary, it’s not too late, but a call to coordinator Judy Edlund in confirmation would be appreciated at 388-4400.                                                                                                             
This event is an important fundraiser for the society with a per plate donation suggested.                                                                                                                                                                      

Reminder is also given to GTHS members about the first membership meeting of the summer. It will be held this coming Monday, the 12th at the Schaap (Mid-Trail Community Center) beginning at 1:30 p.m.  A history of the Blankenbergs will be presented by Bill Douglas and Bruce Kerfoot. Members who also might have stories about the territory's legendary landowners are urged to share during the program.  Treats and conversation will follow.          
                                                        
For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail at Wildersmith, where every day is great with expected, border country adventures.
 
 

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Loren Acton

West End News: June 8

Meeting new people is one of my favorite parts of the summer visitor season. With a wide array of things to do and see in the most popular Wilderness area right in our backyard, people from all walks of life are drawn to Cook County. You just never know who is going to walk through the door, and I love it.

This week a nice fellow stopped by my office to inquire whether I, or someone I knew, would like to buy is his old Kevlar canoe. Now, he is not the first person to ask me this, nor is it really something I usually do. I have plenty of my own canoes to deal with. This man was so nice, however, that I thought I’d at least take a shot at finding a new home for his canoe. He and his wife were hitting the road for Montana the next morning. Fellow Sawbillian Jessica Hemmer sent out a few texts and lo and behold, Adrian Hess of Lutsen was in the market for a new-to-him canoe. The next morning, the gentleman came back to our store and while Jessica was helping him get the canoe off his car he casually mentioned “well, something kind of interesting you can tell your friend, he just bought this canoe from an astronaut.”

Sure enough, our kind visitor turned out to be none other than Loren Acton, a physicist who specializes in solar physics. Loren flew on STS-51-F/Spacelab-2 Challenger in 1985. It took seven years of training to prepare and at the end of the mission he had spent just over a week in space, and traveled over 2.8 million miles in 126 Earth orbits. Currently, he is a research professor of physics at Montana State University. Loren and his wife Evelyn are two of the nicest people I’ve met, which would’ve been great in and of itself, but it’s not everyday that an astronaut strolls into your office - that’s for sure!

The much anticipated Lutsen 99er bike race is coming up on June 24 this year. While registration for the race itself is closed, there are still volunteer opportunities to be had. If you are interested, you can get a hold of Signe Larson by emailing her at signesummer@gmail.com. There are pre-race jobs on Thursday and Friday as well as places to help during the race itself. The race is quite the event, and something well worth checking out. The big start is at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday at Lutsen Mountain near Rosie’s Chalet and spectators are welcome. After the race there will be live music at Papa Charlie's.

Speaking of biking, the sun is shining and it’s time for me to hit the trail.

For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley with the West End News.

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Dr. Seth Moore

Dr. Seth Moore: Engaging tribal youth in an environmental career path

Dr. Seth Moore is Director of Biology and Environment with the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. 

The Grand Portage Reservation is located in the extreme northeast corner of Minnesota, on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Cook County. Bordered on the north by Canada, on the south and east by Lake Superior and on the west by Grand Portage State Forest, the reservation encompasses an historic fur trade site on scenic Grand Portage Bay.

The band engages in fisheries and wildlife research projects throughout the year, working with moose, wolves, fish, deer, grouse, and environmental issues. Dr. Moore appears regularly on WTIP North Shore Community Radio, talking about the band's current and ongoing natural resource projects, as well as other environmental and health related issues. 

In this segment, Dr. Moore talks about a project that hopes to engage Grand Portage tribal youth in environmental education and careers.

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Ovenbird

North Woods Naturalist: The ovenbird

There’s a small, camouflaged warbler with one very familiar song and a second song that few people recognize. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about the ovenbird.

(Photo courtesy of Kent McFarland on Flickr)

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Superior National Forest Update: June 2

Hi. I’m Phillip Hass, botany technician on the Superior National Forest, with the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For the start of summer and the first week of June, here’s what’s going on in the woods.

There has been a lot of deer activity recently with plenty of new fawns appearing. Child care in deer is a little different from child care in humans. The doe will leave the fawn alone for most of the day while she goes out foraging. Fawns will lie down where they are left and stay as still and hidden as possible. Mom may not return to the fawn until sundown. These quiet little fawns are often seen by people who think they have been abandoned, and worried people will pick them up, or otherwise try to help, and end up actually causing problems instead of helping. The best thing to do if you find a fawn is leave it alone. Take some pictures from a distance, but otherwise don’t disturb it. Mom will be back later; the fawn is going to be fine. It’s also worth mentioning that does can be very protective of their fawns. We had a report of someone’s dog getting hoofed yesterday by an aggressive deer defending its fawn, so it is best to just keep your distance right now, and keep your pup away from deer.

If you are out and about this week, there is some log hauling going on. Watch for trucks on the Trapper’s Lake Road, the Grade, and the Sawbill Trail, as well as on the Shoebox Road and Greenwood Road. Also it is graduation weekend, so keep an eye open for students and parents traveling to and from graduation parties.

You’ll also see traffic in town from the Northern Landscapes Festival at North House Folk School. The Forest Service is a part of this event, and is putting on two programs which are free and open to the public, not just open to Festival attendees. The first of our programs is a talk on loons given by loon expert biologist Kevin Woizeschke. Loons are truly amazing birds, able to dive to incredible depths, and also fly at high altitudes. Imagine trying to design a flying submarine…it seems almost impossible. Kevin’s loon presentation will take place at the Folk School on Friday, June 2 at 7 p.m. Be sure to mark your calendar. Our second program is bird banding at the Sweethearts Bluff trail, just past the Grand Marais campground. It will take place on Saturday morning from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Stop by any time to watch birds being banded, find out more about birds and bird monitoring, and be able to see some of our birds up close and personal.

After bird banding, it might be a great time to take a hike or go for a bike ride. It is National Trails Day this weekend, so it is time to celebrate all the trails we have for your use on your public lands. There are a lot of places to visit on the Forest, and a lot of those are only accessible by trail. So, go visit Magnetic Rock, or find the Paulson Mine on the Centennial Trail, or look over Honeymoon Bluff, or try the mountain bike loops at Pincushion or Britton Peak. With all those trails for you to explore, maybe it should have been National Trails Month!

We have to say a few farewells with the end of May. Long term employees and Superior National Forest fixtures Jeff DeShaw and Becky Bartol are retiring, and short term Tofte District Ranger Lenore Lamb is returning to her full time position elsewhere. We will miss all of them and wish them the best

Happy hiking, and until next week, this has been Phillip Hass with the National Forest Update.

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Chik Wauk has been enjoying watching loons like this one.

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: June 2

The last hurrah of winter has now evaporated from this neighborhood. It took the better part of five months, but alas the season of cold, ice and snow is sent off into history.                                           

Conditions still remain on the cool side as I key the Gunflint scoop over Memorial Day weekend. Showers measuring in the few tenths range have kept the dust down, and forest duff damp during the past seven.                                                                                                                                          
Forest green-up is making headway, but seems to remain a week or so from completion in my estimation. “Mother Nature” operates in strange ways it would seem. Many quaking aspen tokens have reached fullness, while others right alongside have barely broken the green tip bud stage. Same is true for many other deciduous floras. It’s difficult to understand, but the “old gal” in charge of all things natural obviously has a plan.

I was in the lake this past weekend with a friend putting the dock out. In spite of donning the wet suit, the H2O got my immediate attention. Dipping the thermometer after the last pallet was in place, I found the temp at a depth of four feet to be only 44 degrees, burr!            

Many great residents along the Trail having been showing their Gunflint pride this past week doing the road side clean-up. Big thanks to everyone who pitched in with the pick-up. A good friend and yours truly did our two-mile stretch and came up with a sundry of debris in the amount of six garbage bags full, plus any number of items not a fit for the bags.  

What a shame that a segment of byway users would be so irresponsibly careless and inconsiderate of this precious place.  As I walked along climbing in and out of ditches, a few observations came to mind:      

No. 1, as the Trail is a one way in and the same way back out, I found I was picking up far less on the north (inbound) side than my friend on the south going (outbound). Clearly, the littering folks are pitching their garbage on the way out rather than taking it home and/or disposing of it properly.                                                               

No. 2, another conclusion is there is great wonder why more fires aren’t started in the dry ditch cover with all the cigarette butts cast out vehicle windows.                                                                                

No. 3, the most obvious view confirmed an un-countable number of visitors cannot go anywhere, or do anything without an alcoholic beverage in their hands (and what’s more, while behind the wheel). This fact is borne out by the beer cans, bottles and booze containers collected during our pick-up mission.

It seems unimaginable a number of Trail users, who to give lip service to this territory being such a cherished environment, are so thoughtless to not “walk the talk” by “leaving no trace.”                            

One more item, though not related to the clean-up, is based on the vehicles passing us during the walk. It is fairly obvious the 50/55 mph speed limit is being interpreted as 65 to 70, and more. Cook County financial woes could surely be tempered if these speed demons were corralled more frequently and had their wallets lightened.                              

Stepping down from my soap box to happier wildland tidings, my commentary goes beyond garbage collection. No matter if one has seen just one, or perhaps dozens of “wild neighborhood” critter situations, every new sighting remains energizing. Such happened to the Smith’s in our travels during the past week.                                                                           

Our first encounter found a momma moose and her calf interrupting our travel down the Trail. This little brown tag-along could not have been very old as it gamely attempted galloping to keep up with mom in order to get out of our way. Then a few days later, we came upon a young bull munching in a pond along the Trail. This handsome fellow was in sleek summer attire with lush black velvet on his rack, what an iconic dude!    

Bears have made it to the Wildersmith neighborhood. Sure enough a clamoring on the deck one evening after dark found one snooping around. Turning on the outdoor light spooked it, and Bruno panicked forgetting how it got up there. After stumbling around, it decided to slide under an opening in the deck rail. The last I saw of it to this point, the bear was clinging to the deck by its claws, not aware it was about ten foot to ground level.  By then I was out the door with my trusty blank starting pistol, firing wild-west fashion. Turns out, there was a little companion below the deck and the last I saw of them, they were sprinting off into the darkness.                                                                                                                   

A day later, during a trip to the village a wolf crossed our way. This was a highly unusual scene where the stately Canid seemed curious of us as we were with it, not skittish in the slightest. We spent the better part of ten minutes watching the animal investigate us in our vehicle only to have it lay down in the ditch a short distance away, eyes in deep fixation on this strange happening in its world. Fumbling with a camera, we never did get a good photo op, and as we departed, the north woods hunter remained at the scene eerily watching as we rolled away.

In addition to these animal meanderings, we’ve also had a nocturnal visit from two fishers. One came in the evening and the other, a larger version, in the wee morning hours, each causing a ruckus. Both were in search of sunflower seed nutrition that was no longer available.                                             

A final note comes from the nesting platform at the Chik-Wauk Museum site. Tragedy has occurred as one of the loon pair has disappeared. Not knowing what may have become of the missing partner, a single parent is now sitting on the nest 24-7. With only brief times off the nest, to get in a little fishing, the scene is being watched with care to see if hatching and early nurturing becomes a reality.  

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail at Wildersmith, where every day is great, with Mother Nature's caring ways looking after the menagerie.

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West End News: June 1

For many west enders, summer means swimming in the Temperance River. While the river is unforgiving in many places, there are a few relatively safe spots where many a memory can be made. Kyle Puelston and his family were doing just that one summer day a year ago. Kyle had received a Go-Pro camera from his wife and was wearing it on his head, capturing thrilling footage of his family jumping into the river. What happened next probably didn’t surprise his wife much, but on one big jump, the camera slipped off Kyle’s head and was immediately carried off by the current. The family quickly resolved to never see it again.

A year later, Chris Flores and his brother were snorkeling downstream of the swimming hole when lo and behold, they came across a Go-Pro camera, still dry inside its waterproof case. Delighted with their find, the took it home and downloaded the footage. What they found were hours of family movies and adventures. Quickly realizing that this was more than just a cool river find, Chris dug in to find the camera’s owner. He was able to read a Chisago SWAT patch, worn by Kyle, the camera’s owner, in one particular video. A few quick phone calls later and they connected. Kyle was so touched by Chris’s efforts to return the camera, that he told him to keep it, just send along the video card.

You can see a short video about this story by going to the West End News tab on WTIP’s website. The video shows some of the footage taken after the camera fell into the river. You can briefly see Kyle swimming around above it, searching. Then some tumbling river rocks, and finally it comes to rest facing up, the outlines of fish passing back and forth overhead.

Here’s the link to the video: http://www.inspiremore.com/sunken-gopro-found-year-lost/

Next Saturday, June 10, Kah-Nee-Tah gallery in Lutsen is hosting a celebration of Anishinaabe Artists and their craft. The event is from 1:00 - 3:00 in the afternoon and features Author Colleen Balrica of the Pembina Band of Ojibwa, who will share stories and talk about her book, Tree Spirited Women. Also featured is artist Susan Zimmerman of the Grand Portage Band of Ojibwa, who will be introducing her new collection of handmade gourd drums. Weather permitting, Colleen Baldrica will lead a drum circle and folks are encouraged to bring their own hand-drum and join in.

Finally, high school graduation is upon us this Saturday. A special congratulations goes out to former Birch Grovers Madysen McKeever and Will Lamb of Schroeder and Erik Lawler of Lutsen. A job well done you three, we can’t wait to see what adventures you get up to next.

For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley with the West End News.

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Sawtooth Mountain Elementary School

School News from Sawtooth Mountain Elementary: June 1

Cy, Westin, and Maggie report the latest school news.

Click here for more school news.

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Marsh marigolds

North Woods Naturalist: News from spring

The spring flowers are budding and the birds are singing, and the insects are buzzing and flitting about.  WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about news from spring.
 

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