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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!

 


What's On:
Cross River (Matt Becker /Flikr)

Schroeder Township elections and annual meeting update

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The Schroeder Township Board held their annual meeting and elections on March 10. WTIP volunteerJulie Carlson spoke with Schroeder Township Deputy Clerk Gale Ring on North Shore Morning. 

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Superior National Forest Update: March 20

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Hi.  I’m Steve Robertsen, education and interpretation specialist on the Superior National Forest, 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 March 20th, here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
First and foremost, it’s official!  It is now spring!  Three big celestial events happened on March 20th.  If you happened to be in Northern Europe, you got to see a solar eclipse, but it happened at the wrong time of day for us over here.  There also was what is called a Supermoon, which happens when the moon is at its closest point in its orbit to Earth.  The Supermoon on the 20th happened when the moon was new and not visible, so that’s two events we couldn’t actually see.  So, the most important event for us in Minnesota was that the 20th was the spring equinox.  Day and night on the equinox are exactly the same length, but from then on, days will be longer than nights until September.  That’s something we can actually see!  The equinox marks the official beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere!
Also in astronomical news, a large solar storm took place this week.  While the storm wasn’t visible, it caused beautiful northern lights.  With that storm subsiding, there is less of a chance of an aurora, but the possibility lingers, making it worth going outside before bedtime.
Despite astronomy saying it is spring, there is still some winter left out there.  Cross country ski trails up the Gunflint Trail are still open and actually not bad skiing.  At the time of recording, Pincushion ski trails are also still very skiable, and even the Sugarbush area down near Tofte has a 3 to 6 inch base.  Be on the lookout for bare spots though, nothing will stop you faster than hitting grass at the bottom of a hill.
If you are out driving, there are a couple of logging operations going on.  One is off the road to Wilson Lake on the Tofte District, and the other is off the Greenwood Lake road on the Gunflint District.  Due to the spring thaw making gravel road beds mushy, the county has imposed load limits on county roads which means that there is not much in the way of logging truck traffic right now.  While this means you don’t have to watch for large trucks as much, it also means you have to watch for washouts, crumbling shoulders, and water over the road.  Since we didn’t have much snow this past winter, conditions are better than they are some springs.
Most roads that were not plowed during the winter are still impassable due to snow.  Plowed roads have been thawing and refreezing, and with cold weather anticipated this weekend, they will probably be very icy in spots.  One of our people reported that some plowed roads were so icy, it was hard to even walk on them.  Enjoy spring, but keep a watch for those remaining bits of winter!
With all the snow and ice, you are probably not thinking of forest fires.  Our fire people are already preparing for the spring fire season though.  The prediction is that this will be a warm and dry spring, nice for hiking, but also good for accidental fires.  Until May when we start to get thunderstorms, humans are the only source of wild fires, and conditions predict a higher than normal potential for fire.  We’ll be talking more about this in weeks to come, but the main message will always be to be careful with fire.  As Smokey says, only you can prevent wild fires.
While we’ve seen signs of raccoons, I have yet to hear a report of a bear being up and about.  But, this is the time for the bruins to start waking up.  If you have bird feeders out, it is also the season to start taking them in at night, unless you really want bears to take them down for you.  Gulls have returned as well, and it just makes me feel warmer when I hear the cries of the gulls as I walk the shore.
Enjoy the gulls and the Forest, and until next week, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.
 


 

Superior National Forest Update: March 13

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NOTE:  Seasonal road restrictions are now in effect (as of 12:01am Friday March 13th) and will continue for a minimum of eight weeks.  All Cook County roads are limited to 5 tons per axle unless otherwise posted. More information is available from the Cook County Highway Department at 387-3014. 

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This Sarah Poznanovic, biological science technician on the Tofte Ranger District, with this week’s edition of the Superior National Forest Update  -  information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest.
For the week of March 13th, here’s what’s happening on and around the Forest.
The most obvious thing going on all over is that temperatures have warmed and the snow is melting!  There is still inland snow, but conditions are getting to be pretty hazardous for skiing.  Trails alternate between ice and slush, so you either are going too fast on ice, or making a sudden stop when you hit slush.  Many trails are listed as open, but conditions are changing fast.  A good alternative to trails for a workout is to ski on lakes because bare ice is a lot easier on skis than rocks.  Of course, the ice is melting too, but most lake ice is still pretty thick… for now.  Don’t take anyone’s word for it though, do your own checking and make sure that the ice is thick enough before you venture out onto a lake.  Ice should be at least 4” thick to safely walk on, and it is also recommended that you have ice picks along with you.
Most snowmobile trails are listed as open by the DNR as of March 5th, but again, trail conditions are changing rapidly.  Check the DNR website before you head out for up to date information.  Bring along what you need to pull your sled out of slush if you get mired.  And, of course, use your good judgment.  If the trail is listed as open, but all you see is dirt and rocks, you can assume that route isn’t one to travel on.  Remember that cross country travel on a snowmobile requires at least four inches of snow on the ground to be legal.
Our gravel roads are also getting soft this time of year, particularly on the shoulders.  This means to really watch for truck traffic as it will be harder for either you or the truck to pull to the side.  There is still hauling taking place on the Tomahawk Road, 4 Mile Grade, Lake County 7, and possibly the Honeymoon Trail, so be on the look out for log trucks, especially along those routes.
We’ve seen water across some roadways due to clogged culverts, a pretty common occurrence this time of year, even on major roads like Highway 61.  Water on the road is always worth slowing down for, since you never know how deep it may be.
So far, this has sounded a lot like a list of ‘watch out’s and ‘be careful’s.  But, even though spring around here is known as the mud season and comes with some warnings, there are a lot of reasons to get out and enjoy the forest.  Skiing in short sleeves can be a lot of fun, and the smell of warm soil after a cold winter is always great.  It won’t be long until spring migration begins, and chickadees are already singing their short but sweet two note spring song.  Soon we’ll be seeing the first robins arriving for the year and chipmunks emerging from hibernation.
Enjoy the warm weather and what may be the last bit of our winter season.  Until next week, this has been Sarah Poznanovic with the Superior National Forest Update.
 


 
Milt Powell

Anishinaabe Way: Milt Powell, Part 3

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Milt Powell grew up on the Canadian side of Saganaga Lake on what was once known as "Powell's Bay." In this segment he tells a family moose tale about his dad, Mike Powell, and his uncle, Frank Powell, shares his experience working for the gold prospector Benny Ambrose on Ottertrack Lake and talks about his family's deeply rooted Ojibwe traditions. From an interview with Milt and his wife Alice Powell in 2012.
 


 
Ultraviolet Saturn (NASA, Hubble, 2003 /Flikr)

Northern Sky: February 21

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

In the West, Venus and Mars less than one full-moon-width apart; use the crescent moon to find the little blue dot of Uranus; Saturn in the morning sky; and March 5th, a full moon at apogee.


 

Superior National Forest Update: February 20

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Hi.  I’m Cathy Peterson, Administrative Support Assistant for the Tofte district of the Superior National Forest, and this is the National Forest Update for the week of February 20th.  As we ease out of February into March, it may seem that spring is right around the corner, but we know up here that there is plenty of winter left to go.
 
There have been enough small snowfalls now that ski and snowmobile trails are in pretty good shape, thanks to the grooming done by our trail partners.  Be sure to respect trail use designations though, there isn’t a lot of snow to repair ski trails marred by snowshoes or snowmobiles.
 
Some visitors to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on recent weekends may have been surprised by groups of students winter camping.  The culminating event for an outdoor recreation course for several Twin Cities schools is a trip to the Boundary Waters in the middle of winter.  Students learn how to adequately prepare for extreme weather conditions and overcome the challenges of winter camping.  They also learn the rewards of what is really a wonderful time to camp.  If you’ve never been winter camping in the Boundary Waters, you’d do well to learn from these students and give it a try…properly prepared, of course.  The two big advantages are that you can pretty well eat as much as you want, and there are no bugs at all!
 
There is logging activity going on in the Forest outside of the Boundary Waters.  In the distant past, almost all logging was done in the winter when logs could be slid out on sledges traveling ice roads and across frozen rivers and lakes.  Now we log in the summer as well, but winter is still a good time for timber harvest.  Watch for traffic on the Tomahawk, Four Mile Grade, and Trappers Lake Road.  Also, remember that almost any plowed side road was probably plowed for logging traffic.
 
If winter has you down, it may cheer you up to realize that there are some signs of spring around.  Owls have laid their eggs, and some may be starting to hatch.  Denning bears usually give birth in late January, so there are probably cubs around in the bear dens.  Even better, we’re up to 10 and a half hours of daylight, up from a mere 8 and a half in December.  We still have two hours to gain before the spring equinox around March 21, but we’re half way there.
 
For now though, keep thinking snow, and enjoy the winter.  Until next time, this is Cathy Peterson for the Superior National Forest Update.
 
 

 


 

Great Decisions meeting: Human Trafficking in the 21st Century, February 19th

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The Great Decisions discussion group invites you to bring your questions, perspectives and ideas to this month’s discussion about human trafficking.  North Shore Morning host Julie Carlson spoke with February discussion leader Jake Hjorth on North Shore Morning.

The next Great Decisions meeting will be held on Thursday, February 19 from noon to 1:30 pm at the Cook County Community Center, 317 West 5th Street, Grand Marais.  Two copies of the 2015 Great Decisions Briefing Book are available at the Grand Marais Public Library.

Program: 

 
Sirius and Orion (H.Raab/Flikr)

Northern Sky: February 7

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

Jupiter in retrograde; our near neighbor Sirius and it's white dwarf pup; moonless nights of February 7 through 20; a dim Mars above a bright Venus and more.


 

Superior National Forest Update: February 6

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National Forest Update February 5th, 2015
 
Hi.  I’m Jon Benson, Recreation Specialist for the Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Districts.  I’m here today with the Superior National Forest Update.  For the week of February 5th, here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
 
Winter recreation on the Superior National Forest is in full swing.  Along the shore snow levels are making some of the snow-based winter recreation opportunities more difficult to groom, but thanks to some excellent work by our ski and snowmobile trail partners, all trails are currently open.  Skiers and snowmobilers on trails close to the lake may see some areas with minimal snow cover, but the fact that there are so few of these areas is a tribute to the hard work of dedicated ski and snowmobile volunteer groups.  As a reminder, skiers on any of the major trails near the shore are required to have a Great Minnesota Ski Pass.  The small fee for these passes goes directly into helping volunteer groups maintain these trails so it is well worth the $20 annual pass.
 
On the lakes, we have been hearing reports of a great start to Lake Trout season.  As usual, please use caution when walking on frozen lakes.  We recommend that anyone planning to travel on the ice not do so by themselves but if you must, make sure that someone knows where you will be and when you plan to return.  For those hardy fishermen and women out there, please make sure that your car is fully off of the road when you venture on to the ice so that plows and other vehicles can get through. 
 
The winter camping season is also going strong.  For those of you who partake in this activity, or for those that simply want to have a fire while out on the ice, please look for dead and down trees away from the shoreline.  I realize that this is a little more work, but cutting seemingly dead trees along the shoreline results in visual impacts to summer paddling trips.  We have been seeing some evidence in the BWCAW of freshly cut cedar trees along the shorelines of lakes.  Please remember that the rule for gathering firewood is to seek out dead and down trees.
 
While driving, you can expect logging traffic on the Mark Lake Road, Caribou Trail, Swamp Lake Road, Cascade River Road, Cook County 45, Cook County 7, Bally Creek Road, Devil Track Road, Ball Club Road, The Grade, Gunflint Trail, South Shore Drive, and Meridian Road.  There is a short stretch of the Gunflint Snowmobile Trail on the Meridian Road south of Devil Track Lake that will be used for hauling activity.  Use caution in this area, and watch for signs indicating logging traffic.  Hauling is only permitted Monday through Friday on this section of trail, but snowmobilers should use caution when sharing the road with log trucks.
 
If folks are recreating in the area between Isabella and Ely, extra caution should be used on the Tomahawk Trail.  Three timber sales are currently being harvested on the Kawishiwi Ranger District and hauling traffic is present on the Tomahawk Trail from the junction of Filson Creek and the Spruce Road (Forest Road 181) to Nickel Lake.  Logging activity is expected to continue through the end of March.
 
In other news, District reforestation personnel are currently making plans for this spring’s planting season.  District personnel have recently ordered seedlings and tree seed for the 2015 planting and aerial seeding program.  This upcoming spring, over 270,000 seedlings will be planted across 900 acres on the Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Districts.  Planting activities will aid in the reforestation of previously harvested sites, as well as enhance wildlife habitat in non-harvested poorly stocked stands (especially for moose).  Float planes will be used to aerial seed 61 pounds of black spruce, jack pine, paper birch, and red pine on 265 acres of formerly harvested stands.  In addition, winter shearing activities will begin shortly on 65 acres to prepare sites for planting in the Spring.”
 
I hope you all have an excellent weekend and you can get out and enjoy the outdoors.  Until next week, this has been Jon Benson with the Superior National Forest Update.


 
full moon (AMHenriette/Flikr)

Northern Sky: January 24

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

A full Snow (or Hunger) Moon on February 3rd; Jupiter in opposition while followed by Regulus on February 6th - the same day that Earth laps Jupiter; and not to forget Imbolc or Groundhog Day on February 2nd.