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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!

 


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West End News: March 30

This past Monday the Birch Grove Task Force reached an agreement. This final consensus is the result of more than three months of fact-finding and negotiation by a committee representing all of the various interests connected to the Birch Grove Building in Tofte. The Consensus Agreement is a carefully balanced set of recommendations made for the decisions makers, including the Birch Grove Community School Board, W.E. Connect Board of Directors and the Township Boards of Tofte, Lutsen, and Schroeder.

The next step is for the agreed upon recommendations to be accepted or rejected by those decision making entities I just mentioned. These groups must accept or reject the consensus as a complete agreement. Any changes would require the Task Force Conciliation Committee to meet again and agree upon the alterations.

These types of community consensus agreements provide powerful and enduring solutions to complex community issues. There is no explicit term on the effect of the agreement, but typically this type of consensus endures until there are significant changes in circumstances. In which case, it would be a good idea to reconvene a community conciliation process to produce a new agreement.

This agreement is fully supported by every member of the Birch Grove Task force Conciliation Committee. Many thanks are due to the committee members for their patience, commitment and hard work in reaching community consensus. Thanks are also due to Bill Hansen, who graciously volunteered his time to facilitate the process.

As an outfitter, each spring we watch the waning ice thickness with a mixture of excitement and anticipation. A bit like the calm before the storm of visitors. Many inland lakes right now are currently covered in large puddles of standing water. Upon encountering this scene on our daily ski the other day we thought it prudent to measure the ice before venturing out too far.

Lest you worry about us, the ice on Sawbill is still 24 inches, solid. There’s about four inches of hard packed slush and snow on top of the ice, and an abundance of big sloppy puddles on top of that. Puddle skiing doesn’t get enough credit - if you don’t mind sloppy socks. On a still sunny day, the puddles reflect the blue sky and patches of snow become the fluffy clouds. Standing in the middle of this on a large lake with the blue expanse stretching out overhead and reflected below your feet, it feels for all the world like you are skiing on the ski.

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

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Dr. Seth Moore: Should wolves be reintroduced on Isle Royale?

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 the ecological considerations of Isle Royale National Park's possible plan for reintroduction of wolves.

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Wolf at night, Mark Chinnick

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: March 24

Although spring has been making cameo appearances since the first of the year, it is now official. With the sun having reached its semi-annual journey to east is east and west is west, longer hours of daylight will indeed take on more meaning.

Beginning this week's Gunflint scoop finds weather conditions still in a slight grip of winter. The upper Trail territory remains on the short side of moisture deliveries having picked up barely a couple mini snow/freezing drizzle/sleet intervals since our last visit. So the lack of life-sustaining precipitation continues to wear on we forest dwellers.

In the interim, temps in this neighborhood have been about normal with night time shivering and daylight slightly above. There’s promise of more temperate happenings for this part of the world by this broadcast time. If such becomes reality, we’ll resume the meltdown which has recently been stymied, but this slowdown is not all bad.

In anticipation of the coming gardening season, green thumbs of the territory are readily planting under grow lights and greenhouse vitreous. Fact is, a report from one fellow tells of already having the first pickle (cucumber) on the vine under glass.

In confirmation of getting things growing, one sunny day recently found one of those northern indoor germinating facilities reaching the 100-degree mark, without manmade assistance. Suppose a little bit of winter had to be let in so things could cool down. “Old Sol” is getting more power hungry with each passing day.

Winter could get in another lick or two, but we’ve passed the worst possible coldness and whiteness. Meanwhile, northwoods folks are about to conjure up thoughts about ice out. It won’t be long before entries in annual ice-out pools will be due.

Remembering 2016, the ice cake on Gunflint departed officially on April 30, and was somewhere close to this date on other larger bodies in borderland. It’s a good bet lake solidarity could give way to liquidity, sooner rather than later, the way premature warming has been going so far in 2017.

Although I may be jumping the gun on getting at post-winter chores, a first excursion was made around the place last Sunday. Remnants of winter blowdowns were picked up to the tune of two big arm loads as I started the process of building next winter's burn pile. No pun intended, but things are really picking up around here. Who knows, I might be picking up shovels of snow by this time next week, or trying to channel running water.

A couple along the south Gunflint Lake shore reports a trio of wolves made a night time visit and were recorded on their trail cam. They must have been really hungry as the threesome was lapping up bird seed remains. With little to no venison available and other means of protein hard to come by, I suppose they are assuming omnivorous tendencies. One has to wonder how long it will be before these iconic predators move on to more generous hunting grounds or just die off.

There have been no local reports of bear appearances yet, but it probably won’t be long until these omnivores are scrounging about. A recent sighting not too far south of here indicates they might soon be squirming in winter quarters, and those winter babies could be wearing on momma bear.

Thanks are in order to listeners/streamers and website readers who made a big splash into spring with a vow of support for the WTIP “grass roots” membership drive last week. Although the “boys of summer” have yet to take the field, our family of members--both renewing and first timers--got the first “hit” of the season. Pledging generated nearly 23K dollars, and exceeded the budgeted goal.

At this time of uncertainty for continuing governmental backing with respect to independent/public radio, advocate willingness to dig a little deeper, to help assure this North Shore broadcasting gem remains vibrant, is appreciated beyond all means of understanding. WTIP is OUR radio station!  ALL who contributed made this funding effort the best of all reality experiences, and are congratulated for their enduring “commitment to excellence.”

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where every Gunflint day is great, with budding dreams and evergreen enchantment!

Photo courtesy of Mark Chinnick/Flickr

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Lunch ladies

West End News: March 23

I was sorry to hear this week of Bob Dunn’s passing. A resident of Princeton, MN, Bob and his wife Bette enjoyed much of their retirement time at their home on Caribou Lake near Lutsen. While I never had the privilege of meeting Bob personally, by all accounts he was an incredible person. After serving in the Marine Corps during World War II and the Korean War, Bob served in the Minnesota State House and Senate from 1965 to 1980. He was a progressive Republican, well respected by members of both political parties. While he prioritized education, good government, and the concerns of his constituents, he will perhaps be most remembered for his work on several environmental laws that, as his family says, put Minnesota at the nation’s forefront.

Bob was the chief author of the Environmental Policy Act. He also helped to create The Environment Quality Board, which he later chaired as a citizen member. He also served as Chair of the Waste Management Board and was Chair of the first Citizen’s Advisory Committee to the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources regarding the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. In 1993, the DNR dedicated a portion of the Sand Dunes State Forest as the Bob Dunn Recreation Area.

A steadfast environmentalist, Bob and his family planted more than 20,000 trees during his lifetime. Bob held a special place in his heart for our North Shore, and I think it’s safe to say, the feeling is mutual.

Kindergarten round-up will be happening at Birch Grove on Tuesday, April 11, this year from 8:30 a.m. to noonish. Any kids eligible for Kindergarten next year (that is if they are 5 by September 1, 2017) are invited to come and experience being a big kid for a day. Prospective Kinders will get to ride the bus, participate in a classroom project, and eat community lunch with their parents. After lunch, kids can go home or sign up for the Saplings preschool program for the afternoon free of charge. To register for this big day, please call 663-0170 or download the form from www.birchgroveschool.com. Again, that’s on Tuesday, April 11. As a former Birch Grover myself, I can say that it is a top notch little school any Cook (or Lake!) County kid would be lucky to attend.

Speaking of Birch Grove Community lunches, this spring marks 12 years of the program. A big hearty thank you goes out to Julie Aldinger, Barb Merritt, Lisa Hemp and Rosie Somnis for all their years of lunches. Community lunches are an opportunity for folks to come to Birch Grove and have lunch with the kiddos. It happens on the second Tuesday of every month at noon during the school year.

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: March 23

Lilya, Piper, and Parker report the latest school news.

Click here for more school news. 

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North Woods Naturalist: Snowpack

With the freeze and thaw and rain we’ve had earlier in the winter, a crust has formed beneath the snow…and it’s hard. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about this year’s snowpack.

(Photo by Steven Bratman on Flickr)

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Peach

Gus' Wild Side: A dog named "Peach"

In this edition of Gus' Wild Side, we'll hear about Peach - a strong, but not-too-bright dog.

Gus’ Wild Side is a regular feature on WTIP. Gus writes about our connections to Nature as he explores wildness from the High Arctic to his own backyard along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

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Northern Sky: March 18 - 31

Deane Morrison is a science writer at the University of Minnesota, where she authors the Minnesota Starwatch column.

Venus drops out of the evening sky during March, and on the 31st a crescent moon can be seen near Taurus, the Bull. The winter stars are starting to fade; Sirius - the brightest star - can be seen in the southwest after nightfall, with Jupiter ascending in the southeast. Spring arrives on March 20, with day length increasing in a northward direction.

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Superior National Forest Update: March 17

Hi. This is Renee Frahm, administrative assistant, with this week’s National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior National Forest. For March 17, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.

It’s a holiday weekend! While most of the country is excited about St Patrick’s Day, around here we are also celebrating St Urho’s Day. March 16th celebrates the day St Urho chased the grasshoppers out of Finland and saved the wine crop. There will be a parade on Saturday, March 18, which will shut down Hwy. 1 in the town of Finland at noon. Even when the parade is not happening, expect people to be on the road in that area as well as vehicles parked on both sides of the street.

Joining the people on the road are lots of deer. With the shift to daylight savings time, your morning or evening commute may have shifted into prime deer time. Traveling at 55 miles per hour from Grand Marais to Silver Bay is only 5 minutes longer than traveling at 60 miles per hour, and it will reduce your chances of hitting a deer considerably. It will also reduce your chances of hitting an owl, and increase your chances of seeing one. There have been several great gray owls along the roadways. They like hunting along roads where there is a nice open area to swoop down onto mice. Unfortunately, part of the open area is the road itself, which puts the bird in danger of being hit by cars. Driving slower means you can avoid hitting these birds, and give yourself a chance to take a picture instead.

You’ll see a lot of other bird activity as well, particularly in the ravens and crows. They are fixing up nests and establishing pair bonds, so you will see them flying around right now with large sticks and doing displays for both their potential mates and their rivals.

Off the highway, on the Forest roads, you’re going to also want to slow up. The freezing and thawing that has been happening have left some roads literal ice rinks. Signs have been posted in some places, but there are plenty of icy spots which are unmarked. The Greenwood Road on the Gunflint is particularly glacial. If you must travel in these ice covered areas, use extreme care. We recommend using alternate routes if possible.

Greenwood has the added hazard of truck traffic. On the Gunflint District, trucks are on the Greenwood, Shoebox Roads, and Gunflint Trail. On the Tofte District, trucks are on The Grade, Cook County 3, the Sawbill Trail, Trappers Lake Road, and Lake County 7. The logging operation is finished on the Honeymoon Trail, so that is now free of most truck traffic.

Enjoy your holidays! Even if you are not Irish or Finnish, it is great time to celebrate the winding down of winter and the beginning of spring in the Northland! This has been Renee Frahm with the Superior National Forest Update.

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Fishing success

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: March 17

March seems to equate with madness, and although the Gunflint Trail is endowed in a semi-calm state most of the time, we residents are not excluded from at least some connection to the delirium. At this moment we are caught up in bedlam of some sort, from many of life’s manifestations.  One has to wonder if the spirit in the “crust on the snow moon” might have cast a spell of chaos over us to muddle up month three.

Of note in this territory, weather “madness” continues to up-end daily routines. Bouncing back from the early March meltdown, where we experienced warmth, thunder, lightning, pea-sized hail and rain, we have seen winter regain a foothold with a little snow, gale force winds, blizzard conditions and bitter cold for several days going into and through last weekend. And I see spring tinkering around once again as this report hits the air waves.

As a matter of seasonal character, this roller coaster warm and then cold is really accelerating the build-up of mini glaciers at many frozen back road culverts and low lying water ways. The process is likely to get even worse until running water and warmth can line up allowing liquid to find its way back underground, where it belongs. 

In this neighborhood, the winds were scary as those straight line episodes in the summers of 1999 and then again in 2016. They blew in some degree of rage over four days. Blowing at such force, at times I felt I would surely lose some “old growth” white pines. Fortunately, they showed their grit and remain vertical after bending in a tenuous state through the turmoil. Unfortunately, a couple centuries old cedars, right off our lakeside deck didn’t fare so well. Luckily they went down away from the house.

So now it’s just a matter of clean up when winter is no more.

Added to our northland atmospheric madness, many things are going on about us so life is literally in a whirlwind. Whew, from excitement of the full March moon; to the nonsense of humankind manipulating time pieces; to thoughts of the coming Vernal Equinox; to the fervor of hoops, hockey, wrestling; and more, it will be nice to see March give way to the calm of April and mud season.

As the trout season nears month's end, Gunflint Lake has been abuzz with anglers screaming up and down the ice to get in their final jigging reps. On a related note, the ice depth on Gunflint is hanging in there at two feet plus, easily accommodating all modes of vehicular use.

A family down the road on Mile O Pine was here last weekend to join in the fishing fun. Included in the group were two young grandsons. The oldest, a five-year-old, jigged right alongside Dad and Grandpa.  Wouldn’t you know it this little guy was a hero for the day pulling in a fine eight pound trout? No doubt, if fishing wasn’t already in his DNA, this young fellow is now probably hooked for life!

By the way, this catch would have easily won the recent trout derby over many veteran anglers.

It seems apparent our neighborhood fisher (the animal) is making the Wildersmith place a routine stop on its sustenance quest. The lush animal has made several visits over the past week both day and night. Sporadic visits earlier this winter found the grizzly character easily spooked, but recent calls have found it less alarmed by our gawking out the window. Guess hunger has power over common sense for all critters of creation, even if survival safety is jeopardized.

Speaking of common sense, which seems not so common anymore, I remind listeners it makes “good” sense to get on board with the grass roots effort going on right now at WTIP. This independent community station is in the midst of its’ “GRASS ROOTS” spring membership drive. Continuing funding resources are necessary to help further quality programming, and it takes us listeners to make it happen. Our north land treasure is for members, by members and about members!
So to pledge give operators a call at 218-387-1070; 1-800-473-9847 or click and join at wtip.org.                     

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith where every day is great, and full of unexpected natural grace. Have a happy day for the wearin’ of the green!
 

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