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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:
Io

Northern Sky: May 13 - 26

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

One of Jupiter's moons, Io, is the site of a powerful volcano. Saturn starts to be bright in the night sky, and on May 13-14, a bright moon follows close behind Saturn. In the middle of June, Saturn will be visible throughout the night.

Photo is courtesy of NASA/University of Minnesota

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Moon and Tree.jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: May 12

Our spring in the upper Gunflint looks to be back on track. The “May Day” snow and cold has given way to barren earth as we’ve been privy to some glorious days since we last met on the radio. While a few man-made piles of winter can still be seen in shaded spots along back country roads, one has to think the cold season stuff is now in the rear view mirror.

In spite of the ground still being cool, the full “Budding Flower” Ojibwe moon shone down on us a couple nights ago foretelling of things to come.

In concert, our master gardener, “Mother Nature,” has wild green shoots piercing through forest duff where the warmth of “old Sol” has offered inviting warmth. On a similar note, spires of the forest are finally showing green bud tips. In the meantime, domestic planters along the Trail remain anxiously waiting for an end to possible frosty mornings so they can get their hands in the dirt and do some sowing.

The upper Trail was abuzz last weekend, and looks to display more of the same with this segment, too. The Byway will come alive with anglers behind the wheel and watercraft in tow. It’s the annual rite of fish season opening. While fishing is always great, the catching sometimes is not, nevertheless, walleyes beware, here they come!                                                                                                         

It would seem this weekend is the true beginning of vacation season regardless of school not being out. So we’re off into the hub-bub of warm season activities. Good luck to all, be sane and safe, the water is still dangerously cold, and be mindful of fire danger as we await green-up in this wild territory.                                                                                                                           

Remembering what wild fire can do, the Gunflint community did just that this last weekend. Some 250 community residents, friends and visitors gathered for a commemoration of survival and rebirth on the 10th anniversary date of the Ham Lake fire.                      

Ten years seems like a long time, but those moments in 2007 remain as vivid as if it were yesterday in the minds of folks who endured that historic happening.                                                                                   

This day, ten years later, was glorious, with rippling Seagull Lake waters nearby; crystal blue, smokeless skies and bright new coniferous green showing as far as the eye could see. Emotions ran the gamut as those in attendance reflected on tragedy, and now triumph. It was truly a day to honor the spirit of mankind, more specifically the enduring soul of this Gunflint community.                                                        

Heartfelt thanks go out to the organizing committee, the sponsoring Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department, the Gunflint Trail Historical Society and the wonderful support agencies in attendance that were there for us in our times of terror a decade ago.                    

Oddly enough, ten years ago this week many of us resident evacuees were just being allowed to return to our wilderness places. In the same instance, many of our friends and neighbors did not have a place left for which a return was possible. Everyone lauds their spirit and courage to put life in Gunflint Territory back on track.                                                                                                            

History is all about remembering what brought us to this point on life’s journey. Attendees remember sadness and at the same time, rejoiced in our community’s energy to move forward, hoping to never experience such horror again.                                                                    

With hats, jackets and gloves still the mode of outdoor apparel for we two-legged beings, some of the “wild neighborhood” critters are into shedding their winter coats. I’ve observed a few fox and one of our resident pine martens in their molting ritual. Actually they looked pretty scruffy and unkempt. Getting prepared for hot days ahead, their plush winter attire is deplorable. I wonder, if when they meet their kin--do they give thought to how bad the other looks?                                                                                                                                  

More sounds of the season continue to delight. One such is that of those peepers. Heard a chorus of those aqua folk in a swampy area a few days ago and boy, did they ever seem to be in harmony with spring coming alive.                                                                                              

On a not so delightful note, reconnaissance squadrons of buzzing biters are out and about. I’ve been tempted to don the bug net a time or two as they’ve already given me a couple warning nips. I know frosty times are about over, but the winged terrorists presently have me thinking about autumns’ assistance (kind of sad isn’t it?)                                                                                                                                                  

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail at Wildersmith, where every day is great, in spite of bugs biting and perhaps, the fish not!

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Great Expectations School

School News from Great Expectations: May 12

Mary June and Lola report the latest school news.

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Superior National Forest Update: May 12

Hi. I’m Paulette Anholm, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For the week of May 12, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.

We’ve turned on the water systems in all the campgrounds on our two districts. We’re waiting for the water samples to be checked to make sure things are okay, but unless there are unforeseen problems, all our fee campgrounds should have water and garbage pick-up this weekend, and also begin charging fees for camping. It promises to be a great weekend, so we’re hoping you get a chance to go camping and maybe drop a line in the water for the walleye opener this Saturday.

Speaking of fishing, and who isn’t, we’d like to remind everyone about aquatic invasive species. Don’t move invasives around! Make sure to drain all water from live wells and bait containers, thoroughly wash your boat and trailer, and dry it before you change your fishing spot. Dispose of bait in a way that will insure that it won’t survive. While it is the law, and you could be fined for transporting exotic species, the more important reason to do this is that it will help preserve our lakes and our native fish. It can be a pain to completely wash off a trailer, but you really owe it to everyone else fishing, and to the next generation of people fishing, to do your part to help keep exotic invasives under control.

Out of the water, the land is getting drier. Fire danger might actually be in the high range this weekend because as yet we have little green-up happening, and an escaped fire could grow quickly in dried grasses and leaf litter. If you are cooking your fish on shore, use only designated campfire rings, and fuel your fire with small wood, only as big as your wrist. This will make it easier to extinguish the fire later. Before you leave, double-check that your fire is cold to the touch.

Speaking of fire, we’d like to note the 10th anniversary of the Ham Lake Fire at the end of the Gunflint Trail. This very large fire was remembered at an event at the Gunflint Community Center last weekend in a celebration of community. While we wouldn’t like to see a fire like that again, it was wonderful to see all our friends and neighbors from the Gunflint Trail celebrating the spirit that really makes this a special place to live and work. At the event, the Forest Service unveiled a new interpretive sign which will be installed at the Gunflint Lake overlook. Next time you’re up the trail, check it out.

This drier weather does make it possible for us to continue to conduct our prescribed burns. Fire crews have done several burns recently to help maintain wildlife openings, and are now doing burns which will help prepare areas which have been logged for the planting of new trees. There are three of these scheduled for this weekend, so people may notice smoke, and may encounter fire crews on the ground during the prescribed burns. Information on the location of these fires will be posted on Boreal. If you see smoke, and are not sure if it is from a prescribed fire, go ahead and report it. It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to fire.

While the Forest is drying out, the roads are still too wet for the spring weight limits to be removed. This means that there are no large logging trucks on the roads, but there are still soft spots and washouts to look out for.

That’s all for this week! Enjoy the weather, the forest, and with luck, the fish! Until next week, this has been Paulette Anholm with the National Forest Update.

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West End News: May 11

Clare Shirley's West End News is a weekly feature on WTIP. Clare is a fifth-generation local, and third-generation canoe outfitter from Cook County's West End.

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Sawtooth Mountain Elementary School

School News from Sawtooth Mountain Elementary: May 11

Katie and Tighe report the latest school news.

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Gus' Wild Side: Biting bugs

In this edition of Gus' Wild Side, we'll hear about biting bugs - a negative aspect of our brief northwoods spring and summer seasons.

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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School News from Birch Grove: May 5

Sophia, Jack and Nataliya report the latest school news.

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: May 5

A return to Gunflint territory never ceases to dish up a surprise. Such was the case in the Smith’s reentry into wild country last weekend.

While pulling away on our departure south to Iowa for ten days of visiting family and friends, plus taking in “America’s Athletic Classic” at the Drake Relays, spring had been characterized as full speed ahead at Wildersmith and all points north. For listener/readers outside the area, what a surprise it was when our trip back out the Trail found the landscape once again dressed in winter character.

With quiet ponds and wetlands skimmed over, and snowy white all about, the season of rebirth has been put on hold. And, I as key this week's scoop, prognosticators are indicating “May Day” could see another dose of the shoveling material. Guess we’ll know by this air time if such came to pass.

For those of us residing here, like it or not, the late season coating was, and any additional, is always a blessing this time of year. Since a good share of the new precipitation fell in the form of sleet (about four inches here), it is packed and frozen so hard it will take a few days to melt down. Slowly saturating the forest floor as the icy pack dwindles, wildfire danger is considerably reduced for the time being.

In spite of the smaller water bodies getting a fresh skim during the cold stretch, the lakes throughout border country are free of ice. The official ice-out date on the Gunflint gal was April 20, two weeks ahead of the May 6 average as documented by the State Climatologists. It seems strange to have waters lapping at the shoreline and a white blanket on the ground. Surely this cannot last too long and we’ll be back on track. In the meantime, May flowers will have to wait.

Although winter scenery captured most attention during our trek back to home sweet home, a black Bruno was observed at some point along the way. It was our first viewing of the new season, and “br'er bear” stood out in stark contrast to the ditch whiteness.

Several north woods bunnies were seen in varying stages of roadside activity, too. Most have adapted to summer color except for sporting their winter white socks. Animals have great ability to adapt, but in both animal sighting cases, one would wonder if they might be a bit bewildered about our vernal season weather disruption.

The upper Gunflint will be a busy place this weekend. Saturday morning finds the tenth annual Ham Lake half marathon/5k events kicking off the day. Beginning at 10:00 a.m. from the Gunflint Pines Resort and Seagull Creek Fishing Camp respectively, the event is administered by the Cook County YMCA with sponsorship from a number of area businesses and institutions. For more information on running the “trail less traveled,” go to the Cook County YMCA website and click on half marathon.

In the afternoon, residents and friends will be remembering the 2007 Ham Lake Fire. “A Celebration of Community” commemorates survival and rebirth from the tragic inferno that changed lives, as well as the complexion of the forest.

Activities will be held at the Seagull Lake Community Center beginning at 3:00 p.m. with a getting reacquainted hour. A sit-down buffet dinner will follow at approximately 4:00 with a commemorative program to follow at 5:00 p.m.

The Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department and the Gunflint Trail Historical Society are co-sponsoring the event in observance of the tenth anniversary. This will be a chance to gather with friends, neighbors and volunteers to share stories and reflect on this historical Gunflint happening and the aftermath.

All are invited to come and rejoice that no lives were lost, properties have been rebuilt and a new generation of green is flourishing! You can’t keep Gunflint folks down for long, nor “Mother Nature” from regaining command! Let us celebrate!

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where every day is great, with mysterious natural wonders yet to be revealed.

(Photo courtesy of Suzanne Weber)

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Superior National Forest Update: May 5

Hi. I’m Renee Frahm, visitor information specialist at Gunflint and Tofte, with the National Forest Update for May 5 - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For the start of May, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.

May Day marks the beginning of high season on the Superior. The students at Birch Grove Elementary helped to get us in the mood at Tofte by bringing everyone a May Day basket, complete with seeds to plant. Thanks, kids! We loved our May Day baskets! Our team of silviculturalists is taking planting one step further and getting ready to plant thousands of trees as soon as the soil dries out a little. Right now they are setting up fencing to protect trees from deer, so you may see some activity and piles of fencing in the areas where planting is planned.

Road conditions are still fairly poor on back roads due to the roadways being waterlogged. Keep an eye out for soft shoulders and washouts, and try to avoid creating ruts on wet muddy roads. Spring weight restrictions are still in force, so there won’t be large truck traffic in the Forest again this week.

With snow off the ground, burning permits are now required for anyone planning on doing some spring clean-up. Stop by an office for details on burning before you light a match.

It’s also the start of the quota permit season for the Boundary Waters. People entering the wilderness will need a permit from one of our offices or one of our cooperators. You can find a list of cooperators on our website. If you are looking to reserve an entry permit through the website www.recreation.gov, you should be aware that the reservation fee has increased this year from six dollars to ten. The permit itself has not changed in price. The permit fee goes directly into a fund used for the Boundary Waters, and helps us take care of the wilderness.

Campgrounds outside of the Boundary Waters are moving towards being fully opened. You can camp in any of our rustic or fee campgrounds now, but as of May 4, water systems at fee campgrounds are still shut off and there is no camping fee. That should be changing in the next week, and we anticipate that the campgrounds will be fully open by fishing opener.

Mother's Day is coming up too. It’s an appropriate time of year for that celebration as many birds and animals are starting to raise this year’s young. It’s also the time of the year that the hummingbirds usually return. Flowers are few and far between this time of year, so the hummers would appreciate you putting out that hummingbird feeder. Before you do, take the time to really clean it out. Moldy feeders can be very bad for hummingbirds, so make sure you are starting with a clean feeder. It is easy to make your own nectar with four parts water to one part white refined sugar. Avoid commercial nectars with dyes in them, the birds don’t need the extra chemicals, and there is no reason that the sugar solution has to be red. Honey and unrefined raw sugars are not recommended, they both contain amounts of iron that can be harmful to hummers. Sugar water can go bad in the sun, so it is best to not fill the feeder full, and refill more often. Extra nectar can be stored in the fridge.

Have a great weekend, and until next week, this has been Renee Frahm with the National Forest Update.

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