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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!

 


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Superior National Forest Update: July 7

The Superior National Forest Update helps you keep up to date with Forest activities that you might encounter while driving, boating, or hiking in the Superior National Forest’s Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Districts. It includes road and fire conditions, logging and other truck activities, as well as naturalist programs and special events.  

This week's update features Steve Robertsen.

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Tofte Trek

West End News: July 6

Clare Shirley owns and runs Sawbill Canoe Outfitters at the end of the Sawbill Trail in Tofte with her husband Dan. Clare was born in Grand Marais and grew up in Tofte. Clare is a third-generation Outfitter, and third-generation West End News writer. Clare follows in the footsteps of her father and grandfather, Bill and Frank Hansen, long time West End News columnists.

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Recent rains have brought out an abundance of wild flowers

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: June 30

Rain on the Gunflint! It’s another weekend washout as Trail news spews from my keyboard. However, since “water is life,"  life is just swell out this way.                                                                 

Territory streams and rivers are gushing, lakes are rising and wildfire danger remains subdued. Our most precious natural resource has cascaded from the heavens for the second straight week, thus, kicking off month seven on a wet note.                                                                               
Along with soggy conditions, temps have been cool, much to the chagrin of early season vacationers, but have me and the moose smiling. On another note, it’s a good bet, but bad news, mosquitoes will find the abundance of new standing water to their re-productive delight.     

While rivers are roaring with liquid, on the few sunny days we’ve had during the past seven, our Scenic Byway ditches are running what looks like “rivers of gold.” Canadian hawkweed, buttercups and other blooms of yellow have intensified into a flowing mirage of ground level sunshine. About the only thing interrupting the waves of golden hue are patches of orange hawkweed cousins, daisies and invasive lupine. It’s summer complexion at its best!                                                                                                                                                                                
Speaking of things wet, I can’t help but recommend reading The Nature Conservancy summer edition. This periodical delves into “rethinking water on a thirsty planet.”  I found several articles vexing in consideration of humans taking our most critical resource for granted through greedy, wasteful practices.  There’s a lot of bad stuff going on!    

The overall magazine theme concerns our misuse/management of this life sustaining element. The subject matter is even more disturbing when I read of state and federal government representatives putting the quality of northland clean water in jeopardy for the benefit of big money investors and a select segment of voters, in order to get re-elected.                                                      
Then again, isn’t what a lot of things, elected officials do, about ego fulfillment in concert with extending lifetime careers as self-anointed “servants” all on the public's tab?                  

Enough “soap boxing”, this Nature Conservancy reading is good stuff, cover to cover, with implications for all area folk and WTIP website readers/listeners who cherish our land of pristine waters. It sure can catch one’s attention!                                                                                                                                                                                  
he Northshore Health Care Foundation (NSHCF) held its’ annual fundraising barbeque this past Sunday at Gunflint Lodge. I’m told it was the best turnout in history of the event. Congrats to the NSHCF organizers, the Gunflint Lodge staff and all who braved the heavenly deluge for a fine gathering and a worthy cause.                                                                                                                                     
As the calendar turns to July this weekend, the Gunflint Trail Historical Society is inviting all to an open house at Chik-Wauk this coming Sunday. The event is being held in recognition of the Ham Lake fire 10th anniversary, and to formally show off the museum's summer exhibit of the historical tragedy. Special guests from the US Forest Service will be stationed near the display to talk about and answer questions in regard to yet another chapter in Gunflint Trail history. Cake and refreshments will be served from 11:00 a.m. until 4 p.m. on the nature center patio.                                                        
Planning for the 40th Gunflint Trail Canoe Races has been going on behind the scenes for several months. The July 19 date is now in sight, and its full speed ahead to have all components ready.                                                                                                                                                                 

This big community happening needs the help of about 100 volunteers so if area folks haven’t signed up yet, get on the phone with Chair Arden Byers ASAP at 388-9475.                                    

Kayak and general raffle tickets are on sale at Trail Center Restaurant, Chik-Wauk Museum and several businesses along the Trail. There are several ticket selling slots open for sales at Trail Center on various dates starting today and running until just before the 19th, so give Arden a call and lend a hand! All proceeds go to support the GTVFD and RESCUE squad, so WE NEED YOU!                                                                                                                                                            

Friends down the road report the momma bear and her quadruplets are back hanging out. The recent visit comes two weeks after they were dispatched following several hours of turmoil in the tree tops by a pair of the young’uns. This time all four of the fluffy varmints displayed tree climbing skills, however they were more easily coaxed down when resident warnings were issued.                                                                                                                          

As the “dog days” of summer approach, here’s hoping everyone has a safe and sane national birthday celebration. Happy Fourth of July…and don’t forget, WTIP’s “Summer of Love” membership drive is coming next week too!                                                                                                                                                

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith on the Trail at Wildersmith, where every day is great, as “Mother Nature” beckons for our heavenly and earthly stewardship!
 
 

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Superior National Forest Update: June 30

Hi. I’m Cathy Peterson, administrative support assistant in Tofte, 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 July 1, here’s what’s up out there.

July 4th is here already, and with it comes the annual message about fireworks on the Forest. That message is “No, None, Never.” Fireworks are prohibited everywhere on the National Forest, including gravel pits and over lakes. This includes all types of fireworks. Please don’t release any of the popular fire balloons either. These are plastic bags with a candle which work like hot air balloons. While pretty, they are both a source of litter and wildfire ignition, so just say no. You don’t have to be without fireworks though. There are great fireworks shows in Grand Marais, Tofte, and Silver Bay, so grab a lawn chair and head to town for the 4th. 

While we’re on the subject of safety, it is also the time of year to be reminded of water safety. Almost every year, there seems to be drownings or near drownings in our local rivers around the 4th of July. River swimming is always dangerous to some degree, and with the high water from rain, it is particularly dangerous this year. Moving water is powerful, and even a slow-moving river can push a strong swimmer off their feet and into faster water from which there is no escape. Many drownings involve at least two people - the original swimmer and the person who tried to rescue them. Even if you feel confident risking your life, realize that you are also risking the lives of the people who will try to save you. If you do get caught in an undertow going into Lake Superior, or you’re caught in a hydraulic which pulls you under below a waterfall, the correct thing to do is to head for the bottom. Swim along the bottom parallel to the shore for an undertow, or away from the falls for a hydraulic. But, it is best to avoid the problem in the first place and swim only in approved areas.

If you are heading into the Forest this July 4th, there is some logging activity. On Tofte, there will be hauling on the Trapper’s Lake Rd, Lake County 705, Cook County 33, the Sawbill Trail, and The Grade. On Gunflint District, hauling is taking place on Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, the Gunflint Trail, Forest Road 1385, and the Trestle Pine Road.

With the rain, there’s not much in fire news. Some of our fire people are headed out west to help with wildfires there, and we wish them success in controlling those fires. 

While our fire crews are helping in the west, our recreation shop has had a lot of help clearing trails from the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa. Take advantage of our renewed hiking opportunities and go for a walk this week. If you notice any blocked trails, make sure to report them to our offices so we can take care of them while we have our extra summer help.
If you are more in the mood to sit by a fire instead of hiking, our naturalist programs are in full swing with two presentations every night from Tuesday to Saturday. You can enjoy a campfire, check out a resort that you may never have visited, and learn a little about our natural history. These programs happen rain or shine with an indoor location during the rain, so it is a good rainy day activity for camping families looking to dry off for a while. The complete schedule can be found on our website.

Have a great 4th of July! There isn’t a better place to celebrate a national holiday than on a national forest. Public land is part of what makes America a wonderful country, so celebrate America’s birthday on the Superior – three million acres of forest owned by all Americans.

Until next week, this has been Cathy Peterson with the National Forest Update.
 

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LSProject/Logo by Lauryl Loberg

LSProject: Mons Hanson - The life and death of a Hovland pioneer

In the early 1900s, many Scandinavian immigrants settled along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

In this edition of The Lake Superior Project, WTIP's Martha Marnocha tells the story of a Norwegian immigrant named Mons Hanson who homesteaded in the Hovland area.

See slideshow for more photos of Mons Hanson. 

Special thanks to Virginia and Duane Johnson, Judy Falc, and the Cook County Historical Society for their contributions to this feature. Photos of Mons Hanson courtesy of the Historical Society.

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Moon, with the constellation Auriga

Northern Sky: June 24 - July 7

Deane Morrison is a science writer at the University of Minnesota. She authors the Minnesota Starwatch column, and contributes to WTIP bi-weekly on the Monday North Shore Morning program through "Northern Sky," where she shares what's happening with stars, planets and more.

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Chik Wauk Museum and Nature Center had an interesting visitor this week.

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - June 23

Blessings from the heavens have been raining down on the territory as I begin keying this week's scoop. When one resides where wild fire can often be lurking, any rain is always a good rain in spite of the damper it might put on outdoor activities. Then again, energized wilderness folks are pretty much undaunted by difficult weather happenings.  

With the richness of wet soil, blooms are exploding all over border land. The golden floral edging along the Scenic Byway is growing by the day, while the rainbow of lupine spires is adding multiple tints to this journey through the northern Riviera.

And in other unique places, one can encounter wild roses flashing their pinkish splendor. Despite the recent gloom overhead, Mother Nature's pallet can’t help but brighten one's day.                                                                    
All growing things considered, we are slowly being consumed by the green forest monster. This big green scene makes one feel pretty minute in the total scheme of living beings.                                                                     
To go along with the glory of “Neebing” (summer in Ojibwe), a flurry of critter sightings has been reported. Yours truly had the good fortune of meeting a little gang of fox kits over the past few days. The little cuties were flirting with danger along the Trail near Little Iron Lake. Three foxy faces were peeking out of the roadside weeds, and then jumping frightfully into the air like popcorn popping as I crept by. Sure hope traffic through that area gives them a break.                                                                                                                                                     
Some residents can go days, if not weeks, without seeing a moose, and then out of nowhere the north woods originals are making all kinds of appearances. One couple spotted two in separate sightings through the mid-Trail area and another couple recently found a momma supervising swimming lessons for her twins in a pond up near end of the Trail.                                  

One just has to be in the right place at the right time. Somehow visitors to the territory seem to assume moose should be found just around the next curve. Tongue in cheek, I direct them by the Poplar Haus (old Windigo Lodge) as there is always one there.                                                                                                        
A snappy happening was observed up at the Chik Wauk Nature Center site last weekend. A fairly large snapping turtle meandered away from the bayside water apparently in search of a nesting site for her egg laying exercise. The hard shelled old gal ended up along the parking area perimeter near the museum entrance where she dug a hole in the sand and gravel and proceeded with her second step in motherhood.                                                                                                                                                   

It would seem doubtful the hatching process could become reality with invasive humans prodding around close by, in addition to the danger of some protein consumer sniffing out the eggs. Further complications might involve the up to 125 days of incubation running up against early cold weather when those eggs need 80 degree warmth.                                                                                                   

Regardless of the outcome, this was exciting viewing for staff and visitors. The nesting site will bear watching, as once again you have to be in the right place at the right time.                                                                                                                                                                         
During a recent “wild neighborhood” excursion, I came across a grouse hen alongside the county road. As usual, she reluctantly, sauntered out of harm's way. While slowing for the observation, I discovered the reasoning for not making a swift escape was her brood of chicks. The little puff balls were all scattered on either side of my pathway, and like the little foxes mentioned above, had no clue about dangers of playing in the road. There is little doubt momma grouse was about to pull her feathers out trying to keep them safe.                                                                                                                                                                  
One can be in the right place this coming Sunday at the Chik Wauk Nature Center as a program on “Loons from a Loon Enthusiast’s Point of View” is on tap at 2:00 p.m. Phyllis Sherman, who has been a volunteer since 2003 for the DNR non-game division Loon Watch Program, will be the presenter. It looks to be a meaningful and fun hour with loon-inspired door prizes for attendees.                                                                                                                                   
It’s with sadness area residents have received word on the passing of Ken Rusk. Since the late 1960s he’s been a seasonal resident of the upper Trail with his late wife Nathalie (“Nat”). Ken, who would have been 100 in October, died in White Hall, Wisconsin last weekend.                                                                           
In spite of the sorrow surrounding his departure from our midst, this north woods gentleman will always be remembered for the joyous smiles he brought to every occasion. Gunflint community condolences are extended to his survivors and many friends.                                                                            

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail at Wildersmith, where every day is great, and  overflows  with majesty and adventure! 

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Superior National Forest Update: June 23

Hi. I’m Tom McCann, resource information specialist, on the Superior National Forest, with the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation in the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For the week of June 23rd, here’s what’s up out there.

This weekend, you can expect a lot of traffic out in the Forest, but most of it will be bikes. This is the weekend of the Lutsen 99er, a mountain bike event which has been growing for the past several years. If you are traveling on forest roads in the Lutsen area, keep an eye out for posted information about the race route and the presence of bikers on the roads. There are also several spots for spectators where cars will be parked along the roadside. You may want to be a spectator yourself; it’s a fun race to watch. While the race itself is on Saturday morning, often participants stay the weekend and you can expect bike traffic in the Forest all weekend long.

Highway 61 is a designated scenic byway, and as such, it is often a destination for people who like to drive. Every year, various clubs come to drive the road, and in the past you’ve been able to see classic cars, great motorcycles, and, one year, the largest gathering of DeLoreans on the planet, all cruising 61. Some of these groups drive slowly, so exercise caution when passing them, and don’t try to pass the entire group at once. Pay attention to oncoming groups as well because there may be people pulling out into your lane to pass.  And… keep your eyes on the road, not on the very cool 1939 Ford coupe going by, but do take the time to appreciate our yearly mobile car show.

We may not have classic cars in the woods, but we do have some logging trucks out on the forest roads. On the Gunflint District, hauling is taking place on Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, Gunflint Trail, Forest Road 1385, and Trestle Pine Road.  On the Tofte District, hauling is happening around the Sawbill Landing area.

This past week was the start of our summer series of naturalist programs at area resorts and campgrounds. These programs are brought to you through a cooperative agreement with Visit Cook County. The schedule is posted in many places, and is available on our website as well as on Visit Cook County’s website. The programs are free and open to the public, and while you learn about bats or wolves or bogs, you also get a great chance to visit some of the resorts along the shore and grab a s’more by the fire.

Speaking of fire, recent rains have kept the fire danger low. With our long days and warm sun, the forest can dry quickly, and people should check on fire conditions before heading out on trips when you plan a campfire. Crews are doing some work in Sawbill Lake, Wilson Lake, and Baker Lake campgrounds to clear understory brush and trees which would provide fuel in the event of a wildfire. While it may look destructive, fuel reduction actually keeps the forest in a more natural condition, mimicking what an understory fire would have done naturally. By reducing fuel on the ground, the intensity of a wildfire should be reduced. This makes it more likely that if there was a fire in the area, the fire would spare large pines, do less damage to structures, and be more easily brought under control. To minimize impact to campers, these crews are only working during the work week, during daylight hours, or when there are no campers in the area.
 
Enjoy the woods this weekend, and until next week, this has been Tom McCann with the National Forest Update.
 

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West End News: June 22

With the solstice comes the true arrival of summer. And with summer comes an array of outdoor activities here in the west end. If you need an excuse to get out and explore our collective backyard, you could attend one of the nature walks at Oberg Mountain in Lutsen this summer. Every Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to noon from June 22 and running to August 24 there will be a naturalist at the Oberg trailhead with something interesting to share. There are no guided hikes and no fees so feel free to just drop on by.
 
If biking is your scene, be sure to join the Superior Cycling Association in their grand opening and subsequent ride of the new Flume mountain bike trail in Tofte. The opening is on Saturday, July 1 at 3 p.m. Riders can meet at the Britton Peak parking lot and the group will ride to the start of the Flume Trail and beyond. All riding abilities are welcome.
 
If you’re a runner I hope you’re planning to attend the annual Tofte Trek 10K trail Run on the fourth of July. Sponsored by the Sugarbush Trail Association, you can register on their website, sugarbushtrail.org. Pre-registration closes on July 2, although you procrastinators can still register on the Fourth starting at 7:45 in the morning at Birch Grove. The first 200 registrants are guaranteed a t-shirt. The races begin at Birch Grove at 9a.m. This is always a fun event, that also includes children’s sprinting races, a youth one-mile run, and the main muddy event, the 10K. It’s a wonderful way to kick off your big Tofte Fourth of July celebration.
 
If you’re not a runner, you are still welcome to participate in the fun atmosphere and the Birch Grove Foundation will be selling breakfast pizza from the wood-fired oven from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. After the race, head over to festival at Tofte Town Park. There will be the ever-popular dunk tank, live music, food, beer garden, bingo, art and craft show, and minnow races. The evening ends with a spectacular fireworks show over Lake Superior that is not to be missed. 
 
The woods update this week is more wildlife. Bear cub sightings, moose with babies swimming across lakes, and loons galore have all been reported this week from the wilderness travelers. The no-see-ums have also made their presence known, but rumor has it that even just a few lakes to the north of us here and the bugs are much less nuisance. Fishing has picked up a little, and the frequent bouts of rain interspersed with sunshine have made for some lush green growth and an abundance of wild flowers.
 
For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley with the West End News.
 

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Summer in the forest

North Woods Naturalist: June and summer

June is ramping up toward full-fledged summer. Plants are flowering, trees are leafing out and insects are buzzing about. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about summer starting.

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