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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!


What's On:
Common yellowthroat

Field Notes: Common yellowthroat

Field Notes with Molly Hoffman can be heard every Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning between 8:00 and 10:00.  Support for Field Notes comes from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

(Photo by Stan Lupo on Flickr)



West End News: July 23

It was a week of disaster and near disaster in Tofte. 
Firmly in the disaster category, the Life Flight had to be summoned to Tofte and all our hearts go out to the Martinez family in their time of sorrow.
In the near disaster category, Rita Wehseler rolled her pickup on to its top on Highway 61 right in front of the rescue squad garage.  She had to take the ditch to avoid a vehicle pulling out of Bluefin and it was steep enough to flip her over.  Fortunately, she was wearing her seatbelt and escaped with minor injuries.  As we all know, Rita is pretty tough.  Once you've been dragged for a few miles by a dog team at 45 below zero, your perspective changes a bit.
Nevertheless, we're all grateful that she wasn't seriously hurt and it's a good reminder to all of us to respect the danger of the highway during this busy, busy season.
Finally, in the category of serious, but kind of funny now, the ice truck caught fire and burned up in Tofte last week.  The story around town is that it broke down and then caught fire spontaneously.  No one was hurt, but the ice was a total loss.
Dave and Amy Freeman call Lutsen home, but they actually live most of their lives in a tent, in their capacity as wilderness guides and the principals of Wilderness Classroom, the non-profit organization that connects school children with wilderness via technology.  One or both have paddled the length of the Amazon River, the Mississippi River, The River of Doubt in Brazil, paddled, hiked and dog-sledded halfway around North America, and paddled from Grand Marais to Washington D.C., just to name a few of their adventures.
Now, they are fulfilling a long-time goal by camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for a full year, without coming out.  From September 23, 2015, until September 22, 2016, they will travel the length and breadth of the BWCA Wilderness, but will not leave even for a single moment, unless they have an emergency.
They are calling it their "Year in the Wilderness" and are hoping to use the feat to call attention to the environmental threat posed by international mining interests that are hoping to mine sulfide-bearing rock within both the Boundary Waters and Lake Superior watersheds.
The Freemans are encouraging people to join them for short periods during the year, which is also how they plan to be re-supplied with food.  They plan to travel over 3,000 miles by canoe, foot, ski, snowshoe and dog team.  They will stay at more than 120 campsites.
You can find out more about their trip - and sign up to travel with them for a while - by googling "Campaign To Save the Wilderness."
Right now in the wilderness and in secret locations outside the wilderness, blueberries are starting to ripen.  Although far from the peak, ripe berries are being picked, especially on the south facing slopes.  It looks like it will be a mediocre berry crop this year, especially after we were all spoiled by last season's record harvest.
Between the half decent berry crop and a bumper crop of hazelnuts, the bears should be infrequent visitors to campsites, cabins and back yards this season.  Although there is always the possibility of bears capitalizing on easy access to human food, the availability of ample natural foods will keep most of the bruins deep in the woods, where they belong.


Cow Parsnip (Photo by Marilylle Soveran on Flickr)

North Woods Naturalist: Lush July

The combination of moist weather and cooler temps means a lush July this year. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about perfect weather for blooming wild plants.



Solar photovoltaic workshop offered on July 23

If you’d like to learn more about solar power options for your home or cabin, there are resources available in Cook County. WTIP volunteer Mary Manning talked with Virginia Danfelt of the Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP) on North Shore Morning.
CCLEP will host a solar PV workshop on Thursday, July 23, 7:00 at the Community Center followed by a solar PV tour on Saturday, July 25 at 9:00 am. These events kick off a Solar Initiative Project with the production of Going Solar: A Cook County Guide.
Fore more information go to or contact Virginia Danfelt, CCLEP Coordinator, at



New 'Local Food Market' offers a taste of the northern summer

Everyone is invited to visit the new Local Food Market for locally produced foods, an opportunity to meet your farmer neighbors, and enjoy the bounty of summer on the North Shore. WTIP volunteer Marnie McMillan spoke with Kristin Dearruda Wharton on North Shore Morning.

The new Local Food Market will be open weekly on Thursdays through August.  Hours are 4 to 6 pm at the Cook County Community Center in Grand Marais, rain or shine.  More information for shoppers and vendors from Kristin at 387-2330 or from Diane at 387-3015.

Guidelines for Farm Market vendors are here.



The Marvelous Imagination of Katie Addams: Chapter 17

Chapter 17: The Storm

(Photo courtesy of Loren Kerns on Flickr)


Chippewa City Church {photo courtesy of the Cook County Historical Society}

120th Anniversary Celebration: Chippewa City Church, Sunday July 19

Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church, known locally as Chippewa City Church, is the site of a celebration this Sunday, with history, music and more. WTIP volunteer Julie Carlson spoke with Chippewa City historian Staci Drouillard on North Shore Morning.
Chippewa City 120 year Celebration and Fundraiser
Sun., July 19, 2015  1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Chippewa City Church, Highway 61, 1 mile east of downtown Grand Marais
1:00      Presentation and slide show with Chippewa City Historian Staci Drouillard
Bring your Chippewa City memorabilia, photos and stories to share.
2:00      Live music with SplinterTones  (2:00 – 4:00)
            Silent Auction
            Treats and Goodies
4:00     Prize Drawing
            Silent Auction ends

The Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church is located about one mile east of Grand Marais. Call the museum for information regarding visiting opportunities at 218-387-2883.



Wildersmith on the Gunflint: July 17

Having reached the halfway point in July, Gunflint weather has turned frightful for the moose and me. Although hot humid conditions have not been as bad in these parts as other places in the Midwest, it has nevertheless been uncomfortable for my ungulate friends and those of us who have a disdain for sweating. Meanwhile, those favoring stickiness of jungle-like tropics must be happy as clams.

A timely rain soaked the area earlier this week. And although this moisture added angst to our sticky air, it was nonetheless welcomed after minimal amounts the previous seven. After many days of smoky skies reflecting huge Canadian fires in Saskatchewan, we are thankful for the rain cleansing our air and tempering our own wildfire danger, at least for the time being.

The Gunflint forest is lush with green. It’s incredible how consuming “Mother Nature” is with regard to growing things. She certainly has the “master green thumb.” It seems in the blink of an eye, wild grass species along the Mile O Pine are six feet high. Taking this a step further, much of this grassy flora is presently going to seed as summer whizzes by. A faint glimmer of fall is in the distance.

As of last weekend, word from 3 area blueberry pickers tells of limited harvesting to date. However, by the time my scribing hits the air wave things could be turnin’ up blue in them “thar” patches.

One of these pickin’ “pros” did indicate there appears to be less fruit on upper branches than in past years. Her thought is late frost might have doomed some blossoms before the blackflies did their pollinating exercises. As I drive the Trail this season, it’s evident vast areas exposed by the Ham Lake Wildfire, creating perfect habitat for expanded berry development in recent years, have rapidly given way to sapling trees of many varieties. I’m no expert, but it would seem growing shade from the new forest generation will no doubt diminish many sun drenched areas of prolific berry production as years progress. However, like fisher folks with their hidden depths, long time berry picking masters will still have their secret spots so the blue pearls will be had by some.

There’s a conspiracy in select locations along the south shore of Gunflint Lake this summer. Fortunately not one schemed by some humans, but this arrangement is of a natural order. Several residents tell of more than usual numbers of raven families in this locale. There is also one such within ear shot of Wildersmith.

If one is not familiar with the naming of a group of ravens, Webster defines such as a “conspiracy,” thus our Gunflint Conspiracy. These glossy corvine beings (crow-like birds) can also be known as “unkindness.”

It would seem this “unkindness” tab to be more appropriate as their continual raucous conversation, particularly the youngsters, grows annoying after hours on end. Their vocal chords must be tougher than rawhide!

Another grouping in this “wild neighborhood” is frequenting our yard in growing numbers lately. However, I cannot find Webster being accountable for assigning a handle to more than one in this assemblage. I’m talking about at least a half dozen red squirrels gathering all at one time for some regular seed scrounging in a small grassy patch. With enough chatter to sometimes match the raven talk, it would be my thought the rodent groupies should be called “mayhem” because that’s what it is during their dining experience.

The thirty-ninth Gunflint Trail Canoe Races hit the waterfront at Gunflint Lodge this past Wednesday. As usual, a fine turn-out for the annual Volunteer Fire Department and EMS crew fundraiser witnessed more great community spirit and enthusiasm. Congratulations, and thanks to races Chairman Chris Steele and his nearly one hundred volunteers for putting on another splendid show.

The grand prize giveaway, that fabulous kayak from the Wenonah Canoe Company, found Clare Cardinal of Central Iowa as the lucky winner. More thanks are extended to many charitable county merchants and crafts people for donating prizes to the always exciting raffle drawings.

As one of dozens of volunteers at WTIP, and on behalf of all associated with broadcast production, a repeated thanks is extended to the over three hundred new and renewing members for their support of last week's “feelin’ groovy” celebration. It is heart-warming to have so many community radio followers step up to assure WTIP remains the vibrant resource it has become over the past eighteen years. We’ll all do our best to keep the radio waves hummin’ with tip of the Arrowhead and north shore spirit!

On a final note, seating reservations for the Gunflint Woods, Winds and Strings chamber music concert at the Schaap Community Center on August 9 continue on sale. Be reminded there are only 150 seats available, and the first two years of performances were sell-outs, so secure your spot for this classical performance ASAP by calling Susan at 388-9494.

This is Fred Smith at Wildersmith, on the Trail. Wilderness adventure awaits you on the Gunflint!



Superior National Forest Update: July 17

Hi.  I’m Steve Robertsen, Interpretation and Education Specialist, 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 July 17th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
I know there are a lot of photographers out there because I see wonderful photos posted every week online.  You now have an excellent opportunity to share some of those photos nationally.  You can participate in the “Share the Experience:  Official Federal Recreation Lands 2015 Photo Contest”.  Rules and information are available at district offices and on the Forest’s website at  Your photo could be chosen to be featured on the national Federal Recreational Lands Pass… and there’s over $30,000 in prizes and cash to be awarded as well.  While you’re at it, we are always looking for good photos to share on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.  You can send photos to Ali Bickford at  Please put “Photos of Superior” and your name on the subject line, and retitle the image file with a descriptive name.  You can also upload photos to the Superior National Forest Photo Club on Flicker.  Note that this won’t enter you in the contest, you’ll have to do the entry separately, and submitted photos become part of the public domain, so cannot have a copyright watermark.
Getting to places to take photos should be pretty easy.  Our sporadic rains have kept the dust down on roads, but haven’t been heavy enough to cause any damage.  There is washboarding on some roads, but grading is taking place to smooth them down.  If you are on a washboarded road, slow down.  Washboarding can cause your tires to lose contact with the road at higher speeds, even if your suspension is keeping you nice and level in your seat.  You may not notice the lack of contact on a straight, but when you get to a corner, you’ll suddenly be drifting off the roadway, so just slow down.
On your trip, you could also run into logging traffic on the Greenwood Lake Road and Gunflint Trail, as well as possibly on the Bally Creek Road, Pine Mountain Road, Caribou Trail, The Grade, Sawbill Trail, the Four Mile Grade, Lake County 7, Dumbbell River Road, and the Wanless Road. 
This may be a good weekend to learn more about our namesake Lake Superior.  It is Lake Superior Days in Duluth at the Maritime Museum, and the Forest Service will be present at a booth during the event.  You may wonder what a three million acre forest has to do with a 20 million acre lake, but we are connected physically through our waterways, environmentally through animals such as lake trout that spawn in forest rivers and live in the lake, and historically through the use of the lake as a travel route and as a means of shipping forest resources such as timber and minerals. 
Some of you might be headed away from the city into the wilderness instead.  Remember that you always need an entry permit to enter the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  If you are day tripping, you can pick up a self-issued permit at the entry point.  Just fill it out, put one copy in the box and keep the other copy with you.  This helps us track wilderness use and make informed decisions on wilderness management.  If you are staying overnight, you’ll need a permit issued by the Forest Service for the entry point and date on which you plan on entering the BWCAW.  This helps spread visitors out over the area and time so everyone has a good wilderness experience.
Wherever your travels take you, have a great weekend, and enjoy the Forest.  Until next week, this has been Steve Robertsen with the Superior National Forest Update. 


Bode, the formerly lost dog

West End News: July 16

It is not much of a surprise, but upsetting nonetheless, to hear Minnesota Power announce the permanent closing of their coal-fired power plant in Schroeder.  To their credit, the utility has been preparing the community for this announcement for several years. 
There will be a lot of talk about who is at fault for the closing, but the bottom line is that the power plant has been left behind by the modern world, just like any other outdated technology.
However, the pain felt by the community and the people who work at the plant is real and immediate.  Some of the employees will retire. Some will take Minnesota Power up on their offer to relocate to another facility.  But a significant number, who have deep roots and other commitments in Cook and Lake Counties, will be forced to change careers – which is a difficult task in this part of the world.
On the positive side, Minnesota Power plans to keep the plant in reserve for another few years, which will require some people to keep up with routine maintenance and security. The decommissioning and deconstruction of the huge industrial site will provide some jobs for quite a few years after that. 
With its access to rail service, the power grid and a deep-water port, hopefully a new line of business can be developed at Taconite Harbor that will provide significant jobs into the future.
It strikes me as a perfect location for a large solar power facility, perhaps paired with a large greenhouse/fish farm operation.  In any case, we’ll have to put on our thinking caps and make the best of a bad situation.
Several other news items caught my eye this week. 
The first is a document put together by the nonprofit group Water Legacy.  They prepared it as a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency to intervene with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.  The nearly 500 pages of official documents form a devastating indictment of how the mining industry in Minnesota has managed to avoid meeting even the most basic water quality standards over the last twenty or more years.
Water Legacy’s investigation makes it clear that the mining industry has used its considerable political clout to essentially make up its own rules, resulting in significant damage to public rivers and lakes.
The second news item that caught my eye is a report that lobbyists spent almost 70 million dollars this year to influence the Minnesota Legislature.  That is more than $320,000 per legislator in a single year. 
The third news item was the release of a timetable for the Polymet Corporation to begin a huge new mining operation near Hoyt Lakes in the Lake Superior watershed.  The Polymet executives have repeatedly said that they plan to fully comply with Minnesota’s water quality regulations.
I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions about how these news items might, or might not, be related.
Bode, the dog from Minneapolis who has been on the loose around Sawbill for the last few weeks, has finally been captured and returned to his owners. 
Bode became spooked during a thunderstorm near Burnt Lake in the BWCA Wilderness and ran off from his owners, who had only recently adopted him from a dog rescue organization.  He was spotted every few days since then, but was too skittish to be captured.
He finally walked into a campsite at the Nine Mile Lake Campground, more than 25 miles from Burnt Lake.  A woman in the campsite grabbed his collar, thinking he belonged to another party in the campground.  Bode’s dog tags led them to the true owner and the saga of Bode concludes with a happy ending.  Bode’s owners have asked me to thank everyone who helped them over the last few weeks and expressed their gratitude for all the support and concern they received from the good people of the West End.