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North Shore Morning

AM Community Calendar/photo by masochismtango on Flickr

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News & Information

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:
Great Expectations Charter School

School News from Great Expectations: May 12

Sol and Noah report the latest news from Great Expectations Charter School in Grand Marais.

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Spring Beauty

North Woods Naturalist: Spring ephemerals

They’re the first flowers of spring getting as much sun as they can before the leaf cover takes over.  WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about spring ephemerals.

(Photo by Emma-O Productions on Flickr)

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“Soon to be paved” Sawbill Trail

West End News: May 12

The Sawbill Trail has become a beehive of activity this week and the busy tourism season hasn’t even started.
 
Many fire engines have been patrolling the back roads, including the Sawbill Trail, due to the almost continuous red-flag fire conditions that we’ve been experiencing. On Wednesday, with cooler temperatures and a solid forecast of coming rain, the decision was made to burn over some recent logging sales along the Sawbill.
 
This involves many people in many pickups, semis with heavy equipment and a lot of good communication with stakeholders and the public. The Forest Service is really good at fire, due to their thorough understanding of fire science and many decades of hard-core practical experience. The fires burned hot, the rain arrived on schedule and it was “mission accomplished” all around.
 
On the same day as the fires, Northland Constructors of Duluth started work in earnest on the eight mile paving contract that they have this summer on the Sawbill Trail, which is known to them as Cook County State Aid Highway # 2. Unlike the Forest Service, the County does very little public outreach when they start a new project. I guess they figure the stakeholders and public will figure out what’s happening when they see it. In chatting with the contractors though, they mentioned that they expect to be on the job for at least three months, with a month and a half of prep work and two months for the actual paving.
 
The Sawbill Trail was completely reconstructed about 20 years ago, so the paving will basically go on top of the existing roadbed. It looks like some culverts are earmarked for replacement. I’m hoping that the half-dozen “Dukes of Hazard” style frost heaves that form every year will be dug up and stabilized, otherwise the paving in those spots will be broken chunks by this time next year.
 
While there is something sad about encroaching civilization up the Sawbill Trail, I recognize that a gravel road is no longer practical for the amount of traffic received.  The engineers also make a strong case for both the greater safety and long-term environmental advantages of pavement over gravel. Fortunately, the last six miles of the Sawbill Trail will never be paved, so the tradition of dusty washboard and bone-jarring potholes will continue for future generations.
 
As if that wasn’t enough activity for one little rural back road, there were also contractors that were placing some kind of foam protectors over recently planted trees along the Sawbill Trail. I assume it is a form of browse protection, but didn’t have time to stop for an explanation.
 
Very soon, the canoeists and fishermen will be mixing it up with all the workers along the trail, which will make for an interesting and lively summer.
 
I try not to put too much about my own family in the West End News, but I must break the rule to announce the arrival of my latest granddaughter, Kit Shirley, on May 7. Kit’s mother is our daughter, Clare, and father is our son-in-law, Dan.
 
The women on Clare’s side of the family have a reputation for fast deliveries, so that was a concern, now that hospital deliveries are no longer done in Grand Marais. When Clare’s labor started, she and Dan headed for Duluth as planned.  However, little Kit really wanted to be born in Grand Marais, just like her mother and grandmother, and that’s exactly what happened less than two hours later and just minutes after arriving at the emergency room. It was an anxious and hectic trip to town, but the result was perfect and healthy in every way. Kit is now firmly in residence at Sawbill, where her parents took over management this spring. She may not be washing canoes this summer, but I expect she’ll be completely in charge of public relations.
 
 

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Silver Creek in Lake County

Spring Along the North Shore: The good, the bad and the beautiful

Spring in northeast Minnesota often starts out with dirty snow and cool temperatures. But the season can also be full of color and the promise of summer. WTIP’s Martha Marnocha recently got some opinions about this transitional time….
 

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Anishinaabe Way: Jonathan Thunder

Jonathan Thunder is a painter and digital media artist who was born on the Red Lake Reservation, raised in the Twin Cities, and currently resides in Duluth. In this segment, he shares his thoughts on dream imagery and some urban influences that have appeared in his paintings. He explains the choices that Native American artists have in classifying their work and the complications involved with using "traditional" images in works of modern art. He also tells the story of his first solo exhibition and the courage required to show highly personal artwork to a larger audience. In closing, Jonathan shares his experience animating the Onondaga Creation & Peacemaker Story, a film he created for the 2015 LaCrosse World Championships.

More art and information is available at www.thunderfineart.com.

(Photo of Jonathan Thunder by Jason S. Ordaz, courtesy of the Institute of American Indian Arts, 2016; other photos by Jonathan Thunder)
 

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Birch Grove Community School

School News from Birch Grove: May 10

Tucker, Gus and Sophia report the latest School News.

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Student-created art from the 2016 Oshki Ogimaag 'Public Art Project'

Oshki Ogimaag "Public Art Project" exhibit on Thursday, May 12

Jana Berka spoke with Oshki Ogimaag's Belle Janicek about Oshki's participation in the “Public Art Project” which features artwork created by Oshki Ogimaag students.

An opening reception will be held at the Grand Portage Community Center on Thursday, May 12, from 3 to 5 pm, and the artwork will remain on display at the community center for several weeks.  The Grand Portage Community Center is open Monday through Friday, 6 am to 9 pm; Saturday, 1 to 9 pm; and Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm. More information is available from the community center, by phone, at (218) 475-2653.
 

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A Year in the Wilderness: May 6 - Ice-out

Cook County adventurers Dave and Amy Freeman are spending a year in the wilderness. On a regular basis they’ll be sharing some of their experiences traveling the BWCAW.

(Photo courtesy of Dave and Amy's Facebook page)

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: May 6

April has given way to May, and week one is into the books. The Wildersmith two are back in the woods following a trip to Iowa for my annual officiating duties at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, in addition to visiting our kids and re-connecting with many dear friends.   

The Gunflint wilderness seems so quiet and welcoming after what was a hectic time of helping our daughter prepare to relocate, and experiencing the never ending turmoil of human interaction in metropolis. We are surely blessed to have the better of two worlds, one being the ability to reconnect periodically with the civilized world; and two, being able to escape urban hubbub for the serenity of life in unorganized territory. No wonder this place has such magnetism!   

My last day at the Relays event proved to be record setting in terms of miserable weather endurance. A day in Iowa with rain, 40 degree temperatures, and 30 mile per hour winds made a brisk 40 below January segment in the north woods seem not too bad at all. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt such a bone chilling, and that’s saying a lot for a guy who enjoys winter as I do.    

Speaking of winter, it’s pretty much put to rest as of this scribing. But we can’t count it out for yet another couple weeks. Remnant splotches of snow in roadside ditches and shadows of the forest, along with broken tree branches, a few downed telephone poles and sagging phone lines linger as the only reminders of our past season.   

A further note on the area's advance toward seasonal rebirth, declares the ice is out on area lakes. Here on Gunflint, the progression of open water took the better part of a week, with final hard water disappearance at the east end occurring on April30. So it lasted just about as I thought it would. I’m indebted to a friend down the road who stepped up to make the official “ice-out” call in my absence.     

The water now lapping against our granite shore is every bit as joyous, as is the anticipation of those first freezing crinkles each November/ December. It’s just pretty darn energizing! And for angling enthusiasts, there will be no worry about ice in 2016 for getting after those walleyes next weekend.   

Back country roads are drying readily as run-off is back into drainage swales and culverts. In fact, my return trip found the vehicle kicking up dust instead of “mud season” goop!    

Meanwhile, the forest landscape is drab as it awaits renewal of chlorophyll production. The deciduous part of the forest is barely into the budding stage. However, coniferous cousins have regained the verdant twinkle as their juices are already running.     

Signaling spring is in full swing, snowshoe hares have just about completed their warm season wardrobe transition. One crossed our path on the county road during last Sunday's return. It was sporting the usual dusty summer coat with the only reminder of winter garb, being its snow white socks. 

In a closing tidbit, it’s always a relief to get back home after a time away. I was amused while beginning to unload the vehicle, as a couple of resident squirrels came by to greet me. Obviously they wanted a hand-out as they scurried about, chattering food service orders. Following me like a canine pet, until I threw out some seed morsels, one excitably came close to running into the house while I carried in luggage. It sure is nice to be wanted!  

This is Fred Smith, back on the Trail, at Wildersmith, savoring the Gunflint charm!

(photo by Enzik via Wikimedia Commons)
 

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Superior National Forest Update

Hi.  I’m Paulette Anholm, information receptionist, on the Gunflint and Tofte Ranger Districts, with the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Superior National Forest. For the week of May 6, here’s what’s happening on the Forest.
Things are really starting to pick up for spring.  Starting on May 1st, Forest Service offices have gone to their summer hours, 8 to 4:30, seven days a week.  That means that we have new summer seasonal staff like me starting, so stop in and say hi.  Part of the reason for the change of hours is the yearly start of the quota permit season for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  From now until October, you will need an issued permit for overnight trips into the Boundary Waters, available at Forest Service offices or various cooperating business.  Day trip permitting doesn’t change.  Day trips will still need a self-issued permit, available at entry points or offices.
Lakes in the Boundary Waters, along with lakes everywhere else, are mostly open.  Some bays may still have ice, making some portages difficult to access, but even that should be breaking up soon.  Outside of the Boundary Waters, we are in the process of preparing campgrounds for the fee season, which will start around May 13th with the fishing opener.  Docks are next on the spring to-do list.  Most are sitting on shore at this point, but the boat ramps are usable as soon as the lake is open whether the dock is in or not.
Getting to the lake may actually be the hardest part.  Roads are still soft, and some have crumbling shoulders and potholes.  Many of the roads which were not plowed in the winter have downed trees across them from the heavy snow ‘snowdown’ event this past winter.  We are making progress opening up these roads, but it takes time, and there are many roads which are still impassable in sections.
The counties have partially lifted the spring weight restrictions on roads.  There are links to their websites from our Current Conditions webpage.  Forest Service roads still are under spring weight restrictions, but that will probably be changing in the next few weeks as things dry up.  Until then, there is still minimal truck traffic in the woods.
The drying out is also starting to affect fire danger.  This time between green up and snow melt can be dangerous.  It has been 9 years since May 2007 when the Ham Lake fire on the Gunflint Trail burned 76,000 acres and a number of homes and structures.  We don’t want a repeat of that, so please be careful with fire this spring.  Before you start a fire, check what restrictions are in force currently, and get a burning permit if required.
One of the least welcomed signs of spring is the emergence of ticks.  They are starting to be active and looking for meals.  The nymphs of the deer tick are very tiny and hard to spot, so the best thing to do is try to prevent getting any.  Put on repellent, and make a fashion statement by tucking your pants into your long white socks.  We know you’d rather wear sandals and shorts, but you really don’t want to get any of Minnesota’s tick borne diseases, and covering up is one of the best ways to prevent infection.
Despite their stingers, bees are much nicer than ticks, especially the fuzzy slow buzzing bumblebee.  There are 18 kinds of bumblebee in Minnesota, and citizen science is being used to keep track of them.  Not much is really understood about these pollinators, so on this Saturday May 7th, there will be a workshop 10 am to 4 pm at the Gunflint Ranger Station to learn to identify bumblebees and help create the Minnesota Bee Atlas.  There is a $20 registration fee, call our office for further details.
So, take the time and get out and enjoy this beee - utiful spring, and until next time, this has been Paulette Anholm with the National Forest Update.
 

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