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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:
Proposed mining projects near the BWCA Wilderness

West End News: June 16

Every West End resident feels pain in their heart when the word comes down that another person is missing and presumed drowned near the mouth of the Temperance River. We can only imagine the shock and horror of knowing that a loved one has gone from relaxing and recreating - to leaving this world - in the blink of an eye. Disbelief quickly turns to grief and the entire West End feels it. Our little community extends our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Alec Lawrenz, who they lost at the Temperance River last week.
It's been a tough week for the nation in light of the tragedy in Orlando. In my humble opinion, it's well past time that we enact common-sense gun safety laws that allow hunters and collectors to enjoy their hobby, while making it difficult for deranged shooters to get their hands on military grade weapons that are expressly manufactured to kill a lot of people fast. Believe me, I know this is a politically sensitive subject, but other countries have done it and we can do it, too.
On a cheerier note, after several years of anticipation, North Shore Winery and Sawtooth Mountain Cider House are opening for business on the Ski Hill Road in Lutsen. Owners Chuck Corliss and Kim Schroeder have hired Rob Grubb, from Tofte, to manage the new business. The grand opening is scheduled for Saturday, July 16th from 2 until 5 pm. I admit to being pretty ignorant about wine, so I look forward to learning more from the experts at North Shore Winery. 
It cheers my heart to see another new and entrepreneurial business starting up in the West End. Starting a business from scratch is a labor of love and an incredible amount of work, so I urge everyone to patronize the new businesses early and often. I'm also pleased to hear that the Winery and Cider House will be a new venue for acoustic music in the West End, adding to the already rich music scene that we all enjoy.
I mentioned the new FIKA Coffee location in Lutsen last week. I saw that the sign went up this week, so I'm guessing that the soft opening is underway. Stop by and check it out.
Speaking of jobs, the creation of jobs is the most talked about reason for opening up a new form of mining in northeastern Minnesota that extracts precious and strategic metals from sulfide bearing ore. No one wants economic development in northeastern Minnesota more than I do, but I am part of the majority of people in the region who are deeply skeptical about the motives and reliability of the companies that are behind these mining proposals. In a nutshell, mining from sulfide bearing ore has been done all over the world and has, in every single case, caused serious pollution flowing downstream from the mine waste.
The second mine in the permitting queue, known as the Twin Metals project, was dealt a serious blow this week when the Forest Service indicated that they have serious reservations about locating a huge sulfide type mine directly upstream from the BWCA Wilderness. The issue is complicated, but the Forest Service is the landowner of the surface rights above two federal mining leases that Twin Metals obtained back in the 1960s. Twin Metals let the leases expire, but now wants to renew them with no environmental review. The leases have never been reviewed because they were leased before all the pertinent environmental protection laws even existed.
In the past, mining leases were renewed more or less automatically with no public process. But this time, the Forest Service has announced a public input period from June 20th to July 20th for people to weigh in, both pro and con, about the wisdom of promoting sulfide mining right on the edge of the country's premier, water-based wilderness area. I applaud the Forest Service for getting the public involved. Opinion on this subject is changing fast and the decision makers need to know what people are thinking. These are, after all, our minerals.
I freely admit that my mind is firmly made up that this type of mining has no place in the region, but I urge everyone, no matter what your opinion, to let the Forest Service know how you feel about this important issue. You can google "Twin Metals public input" to find news stories with links to the comment process. Or, as always, contact WTIP for that information.
Fishing was excellent all over the West End last week. But after a big rain storm and the appearance of mayflies, it seems to have slowed down a little bit, especially for the walleyes. Walleyes are still being caught at dawn and dusk, but smallmouth and northerns are still being caught during the day. Lake trout are also biting well, but are now 30 feet deep or maybe even a little deeper.
You know that you may be a blueberry fanatic when you scout the berry patches at this time of year to see how the blossoms are coming along. I've come across several sets of locals, who wish to remain anonymous, that have been doing just that. They report that the blossoms are as thick and healthy as they've ever seen them, which bodes well for a bumper crop. A little warmth and sunshine will be required to make it happen and would be generally welcomed by most West Enders just for the fun of it. Rain or shine, it's still great to live, work in play in the wonderful West End.



A Year in the Wilderness: June 15 - Lake trout

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)



Northern Sky: June 11 - 24

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

Mars in retrograde; gigantic Antares between and below Mars and Saturn; Arcturus; on June 20, the summer soltice and a full moon.

(image courtesy of Blueshade via Wikimedia Commons)


The Red Canoe by Winslow Homer

Gus' Wild Side: A solo canoe

Gus tells about buying and traveling in a new "used" solo canoe.

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.



Superior National Forest Update: June 10

Hi.  I’m Mike Krussow, seasonal naturalist, with 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 June 10th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
This weekend is another busy one in the Forest, a sure sign of summer’s arrival.  The Boundary Waters Expo is taking place at the end of the Gunflint Trail at the Seagull Lake public access at Blankenburg Road.  There are programs and events both Saturday and Sunday, enough that you should take a look at the full schedule on Visit Cook In addition to the Boundary Waters Expo, there is a Take A Kid Fishing event which will be happening at the Kimball Lake Campground on Sunday from 9 to noon.  This is for kids 5 to 12, accompanied by an adult.  There will be fly fishing and angling both, there are some poles available, but bring your own if you have one.  Reservations are required, and space is limited, so please call 218-387-1750 to reserve a spot. 
While traveling to these events, keep an eye open for animals.  There are a lot of youngsters out on the roads right now that might not be acting very carefully.  We’ve seen several fawns out in the middle of the road, as well as fox kits.  Sadly, there was also a bull moose in its prime that was struck and killed on Hwy 1 this past week.  The Minnesota DNR is collecting information from moose kills to better understand why the population is decreasing, and they were able to harvest organs from this moose for study.  If you are unfortunate enough to hit a moose, please contact the DNR as soon as possible so that they can make some good out of the accident.  Better still, drive slowly with caution on roads at night and try to avoid the moose altogether.  Moose love to use roadways for travel, and a dark moose on a dark night is nearly invisible.
As usual, there are log trucks out there in addition to the moose.  Hauling will be happening on the Wanless Road especially near Elixer Lake, the Dumbbell River Road, the Trappers Lake Road, also known as the Sawbill Landing Road or Forest Road 369, Lake County 705, and the Grade. The Trapper’s Lake Road will be especially active between Sawbill Landing and Forest Road 373.  On the Gunflint District, trucks are on the Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, Firebox Road, Trestle Pine Road, and Ball Club Lake Road.  Tofte’s Timber Sale Administrator, Matt Riederer, warns people to drive defensively, and watch out for log trucks, which take up more of the road, are not as maneuverable as passenger cars.  Sadly for us, Matt is taking a new Forest Service position in Wyoming, and this will be his last contribution to our updates.  We’ve all benefitted from his truck information, and he’s also helped with reading the report on the air several times.  Thank you, Matt, and have fun out west!
Out in the Boundary Waters, crews are still clearing portage and latrine trails from the winter’s storms.  This will probably be going on the entire summer, so be prepared for some more difficult travel on your wilderness adventure, but don’t let it stop you from getting out in your canoe.
We’d like to remind people to check out our Facebook page and Twitter feed.  Both have some great pictures and information during the recent fires on the west side of the Forest, along with interesting links and facts all the time whether you are a visitor to the area, or a permanent resident.   Have a great weekend in the woods, and until next week, this has been Mike Krussow with the Superior National Forest Update.


Sawbill Lake, looking peaceful after an efficient rescue

West End News: June 9

We had some excitement at Sawbill this week, but not the kind we like to see. A quiet afternoon in the store was interrupted when a frantic camper rushed in to report hearing cries for help and seeing a swamped canoe on Sawbill Lake. Three of our crew-members, Kevin Taralseth, Alyssa Dahle-Koch and Phil Lindgren, responded instantly by running to the lake with canoes and warm blankets. Kevin is a Wilderness First Responder and an active leader in the fine Outdoor Program at UMD. Alyssa is a college student who has been on dozens of wilderness trips with her pastor father. And Phil is a wilderness canoeist with more than 20 years of experience. Within minutes they had pulled an older couple from what is still pretty freezing water and brought them back to the store. 
The couple had been concentrating on fishing and both leaned the same way at the same time. The husband was recovering from recent surgery, so he reacted pretty strongly to the cold water and was in the early stages of hypothermia. The Sawbill crew had them warmed up and in dry clothes in no time. The couple gratefully returned to Bluefin Bay only slightly worse for wear. The whole unfortunate situation could not have gone better and we are extremely proud of our competent and calm Sawbill crew.
Congratulations to this year's Birch Grove Community School graduates! The June 3 ceremony marks a big turning point in the school careers of these scholars. Next year, they will be attending school in either Grand Marais or Silver Bay.
I remember well when our own kids graduated from Birch Grove. They talked a lot about their excitement and fear of moving up to the "big school" in Grand Marais. This caused Cindy and I some amusement, as we both had attended schools in the Minneapolis suburbs that really were big schools. In any case, our kids were well served by their school experience in Cook County and used their great early education to excel in college and beyond.
There is still time to purchase your tickets for the Gala For The Grove scheduled for the evening of June 18. Call Caroline at Birch Grove Community School or visit their website to purchase yours!
The new FIKA coffee location in the Clearview complex at Lutsen is coming together fast. I mention it because they will have a soft opening, probably within the week, so keep your eyes open and be among the first to sample freshly blended, roasted and brewed coffee in Lutsen. I will have much more to say about this once they are officially open, but I will say that I'm thrilled that young entrepreneurs are opening new businesses in the West End.
Construction on the Sawbill Trail is in full swing and I'd like to give a shout-out to Northland Constructors from Duluth who is the contractor for the eight mile paving project. They are still in the preparation stage, which means that they're replacing many culverts and strengthening the road in areas that are known to have problems.
They seem to be very good at their jobs, even drawing praise from local contractor, Mike Rose. Mike said they are almost as good as his crew of Brett Hansen, Dave Rude and Charlie Nelson who are currently working on a septic system here at Sawbill. Coming from Mike, this is high praise… and is also probably true. 
Charlie Nelson, from Lutsen, turns an incredible 86 years young this week. When Mike told me that they were going to dig some test holes with the excavator, I commented that I thought Charlie would dig them by hand. Mike replied that Charlie could probably dig them faster than Brett could with the excavator. He then turned to Brett, the North Shore's best equipment operator, and said "no offense." Brett quickly replied, "none taken."
For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.
(Photo by Bruce Rubinstein)



A Year in the Wilderness: June 6 - Dragonflies

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)



Anishinaabe Way: The Inherent Right of Sovereignty, Part 6

Tribal governance, like tribal sovereignty is a dynamic process. In this segment, Grand Portage community leader April McCormick, former Fond du Lac Tribal Chair Karen Diver and Nevada Littlewolf, Virginia City Councilor and Executive Director of Rural and American Indigenous Leadership (RAIL) discuss the role that women play in tribal leadership and the reasons why there is a high percentage of women leaders who have historically and currently served as Tribal Chairs throughout the eleven MN reservations. They also discuss some of the cultural factors that might contribute to strong women's participation in elected leadership throughout Anishinaabe communities.

(Photo: untitled, courtesy of Ivy Vainio)



Wildersmith on the Gunflint: June 3

Border country is off into June, the month of the Ojibwe full “strawberry” moon. Where did May go?

The past weekend's intro to summer probably seemed bleak if one was a visitor to the area. Our Memorial Day break was nearly a bust as “Mother Nature” chose to do some catching up on overdue moisture, along with cool, but “moose comfortable” temps.

However, we Gunflint byway residents are not complaining. Furthermore, we are deeply appreciative for the heaven-sent liquid. The rain couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, after a near month of tinder dry conditions. Nearly an inch and three-quarters filled the Wildersmith rain gauge during the soggy weekend siege.  

The accumulation will surely enhance mosquito habitat, and the now gushing streams and rivers will provide equal enthusiasm for hatching more of an already active black fly contingent. So everybody, net up!

The north woods jungle has exploded, no doubt aided by the welcome rain. Early wild flowers are aglow, and weeds will soon be beckoning to be whacked. With exception of the sugar maples along the Mile O Pine, leaf-out is completed for summer, while red and white pines are sporting the candles of next generation branches. 

People activities along the Trail were not a washout, as a nice crowd filled the hall at YMCA Camp Menogyn for the annual pancake breakfast on Sunday, while the seasonal opening of the museum at Chik-Wauk & the new Nature Center drew a busy crowd of visitors last Saturday.    

This is just the beginning of what looks to be another hectic summer in the Gunflint Community. Next weekend (June 11 & 12) finds the Boundary Waters Expo taking center stage up at the Seagull Lake boat landing. This 2nd annual event will feature both exhibits and family friendly programming on learning how to explore the Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness. For a full schedule of events, contact Visit Cook County at (218) 387-2788.   

As the “Expo” draws down on Sunday the 12th, the Gunflint Trail Historical Society will be holding its annual Shrimp Boil and bake sale at the Seagull Lake Community Center. Commencing at 4 pm, this is always a fun gathering. A fundraiser for the Society, a per-plate donation is suggested, with proceeds going to the Chik-Wauk facility operations. 

While the weather was cold and dismal, it didn’t temper the excitement for area fisher people. A friend down the road found catching to be action packed down on North Lake with a goodly number of trout keepers and subsequent releases. I’m told, the most difficult part of the angling/watercraft excursion was fighting through the rapids from Little Gunflint Lake into Little North. Guess “Beaver & Beaver” Construction have engineered and built quite a dam in the passage, causing the entry to be narrowed with turbulent flowage. 

Spring babies are growing rapidly to the point where they begin venturing out from their birthing places. Guests at Rockwood Lodge had the rare pleasure of recently watching a trio of fox kits playing around and learning of life. Fortunately, the activity was captured on video and shared with WTIP. One can get a look at this foxy fun by clicking on the website at and going to the “photos on the edge" section.

Meanwhile, a few moose opportunities have been reported. One such was a calf the Smiths’ observed in a swamp along the Trail at the turn-off to Big Bear Lodge. And on another day, a couple gals found a big bull munching greens in the pond above the Birch Lake overlook.    

Then, in a rarity during a recent mail run, I found a trail of moose tracks along the Mile O Pine. Moose are seldom found in this neighborhood, other than near the “dog eared” bay of mid-Gunflint Lake. Other Alces alces sightings have been re-counted from mid-Trail on up since last week's scoop. 

If our current cool weather trend extends, there surely will be more sightings of the iconic creatures as they venture out from the shady shelter of balsam groves in twilight hours. 

Those feisty hummingbirds have returned to many feeders around the territory, although to date, we at Wildersmith have observed only minimal arrivals at our nectar supply port. Guess the heavy traffic time for ruby throats is yet to come, and/ or they might be delayed in TSA security lines somewhere south of here.

Finally, the Smiths observed a young “Bruno” crossing our vehicle path not long ago. Other than this lone sighting, I’m not hearing of bear happenings. Stay tuned for future bear tales as more careless humans infiltrate their domain with appetizing temptations.  

This is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, savoring, “the land of sky blue waters!”

(still shot from Sally Wilson's video; footage courtesy of Rockwood Lodge & Outfitters)



Superior National Forest Update: June 3

Hi.  I’m Andrew Gale, seasonal naturalist, with 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 June 3rd, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
There are several events happening on the Forest this weekend.  The first is on Friday night at North House Folk School as part of the Northern Landscapes Festival.  Forest Service biologist Chris Beal will be talking about his previous position working with penguins at a penguin colony in South America.  This should be a really fun presentation, though it is about as far from a northern landscape as you can get!
Also, as part of that same festival, we will be having a bat house build at North House on Saturday morning.  There will be two sessions, one starting at 9 am and one at 10:30.  There are a limited number of kits, so you’ll need to sign up ahead of time.  Families and young builders accompanied by an adult are welcome, but one house per family, please. 
A new event will be taking place in the area between Lutsen Mountain, Barker Lake, and the Onion River Road.  23 to Zero is a 23 hour trail and road run/walk that will be raising money to help reduce suicide in currently serving military and veteran.  There will be lots of people on the some of the trails and roadways in the Lutsen Mountain to Onion River Road area throughout the day and night starting on Saturday.
There, of course, will be logging trucks in the Forest as well.  Visitors to the Tofte District should expect log truck traffic on the Wanless Road (172), Dumbbell River Road (174), Trappers Lake Road (369), Lake County 705, and The Grade (170).  There is also an active state sale near Green Wing Lake.  On the Gunflint, hauling will be going on the Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, Firebox Road, Trestle Pine Road, as well as on Ball Club Road.
Rain has really made the leaves pop out over the last week, and has also helped reduce fire danger.  While we are thankful for that, we want to remind people that this doesn’t mean you should quit paying attention to your campfires!  Smoldering fires in duff layers can persist through wet times, and then spring to life when the forest dries out.  Make sure all your fires are dead out when you leave a campsite or picnic area.
All of our campgrounds are now open and into the fee season.  This means water is turned on, and garbage is being collected.  When you are using campground dumpsters, be sure to replace the bar to lock the dumpster against bears.  It only takes one experience of getting into a dumpster to train a bear to regard a campground as a restaurant, and the best way to stop a bear problem is to not let it start. 
Those dumpsters, by the way, do cost money to have emptied.  They are not free dumping areas for household waste.  It is a federal crime to dispose of household or construction waste in a campground dumpster, punishable by fines of up to $500 or even six months imprisonment.  The campground dumpster is only for the use of campers at the campground.  Also, if you are on a Boundary Waters trip or at one of the rustic campgrounds without garbage pick-up, please don’t use garbage cans and dumpsters at area businesses for your camping trash either.
The wilderness ranger crew would like to remind visitors to the wilderness that the latrine trail at many campsites may be obscured by fallen branches from our winter snows.  It is a good idea to find the latrine during the day, before there is an emergency in the middle of the night.  If you are up in the middle of the night, make sure to look up in the sky.  The Boundary Waters is listed as ‘black sky’ area, and one of the few spots in the lower 48 where you can truly see the night sky.  There are several planets visible right now, including a spectacularly bright Mars.  It’s well worth staying up a bit longer to see the show. 
Enjoy the stars and the rest of the Forest, and until next week, this has been Andrew Gale with the Superior National Forest Update.