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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:
Fall Lake

A Year in the Wilderness: August 15 - Visitors and Crickets

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)



Wildersmith on the Gunflint: August 12

As autumn rounds the bend, the “magnetic north” continues its attraction. Wilderness enthusiasts see their time in this spectacular place dwindling. Based on the idea of time in border country waning, vacationers are packing into area outfitters in droves. If parking facilities at both Seagull and Way of the Wilderness outfitters is an indication of what’s happening all along the Trail, business is booming as August heads into week three.

Added to the outdoor fanciers are blueberry pickers galore, making for perhaps more people in the BWCA/Superior National Forest right now than there are bears, or certainly moose.  

To make these wilderness adventures even more pleasant, Gunflint atmospheric conditions have been spectacular for paddlers, tent pitchers, and blue thumbed pickers. Moisture has been spotty though, but thankfully, what did fall came without the violence of storms experienced in June and July.   

Hopes for more fair weather are on the minds of eighteen Gunflint Trail Historical Society volunteers who will be starting an adventure into timber frame building at the North House Folk School as this report hits the air waves. Yours truly included, the group will be making sawdust and wood chips, while shaping timbers for the watercraft display facility to be erected on the bay-shore at Chik-Wauk Museum in the summer of 2017. Under the guidance of Folk House timber frame experts, the project will run daily beginning Friday the 12th and continue through August 21st. Wish us well in cutting a straight line and keeping all fingers intact!

A reminder to all seniors residing up the Trail, the AARP sponsored “Safe Driving” refresher course is being conveniently offered up this way on Monday, August 22nd. The class will be held in the Conference Center at Gunflint Lodge from 10 am to 2 pm. Be sure to bring your own brown bag lunch. 

Last call is being made for the Woods, Winds and Strings concert this coming Sunday. Some tickets remain available for the 4 pm performance at the facilities of Fire Hall number one. Give the Chik-Wauk Museum a call @ 388-9915 to reserve your seating.

August is the perfect month to be planting. If area property owners are intending to enhance their woodland properties, the Minnesota DNR offers help through a Forest Stewardship Program. The program provides technical advice and long-range forest management planning. All aspects of the program are voluntary and are designed to meet landowner goals, while maintaining sustainability of the land. A Forest Stewardship plan is always prepared by a natural resource professional from our local area. For more information the following website provides a link to such at, or phone local DNR Forestry offices. 

News from the staff at Chik-Wauk is that the loon chicks hatched on the man-made nesting platform are back in the bay after a few weeks’ hiatus to somewhere. They are nearing adult size, complete with white breasts and darkening formal attire. It is heartening to note they have matured enough to escape the jaws of a hungry northern pike and the talons of a ravenous eagle. It won’t be too many weeks until loon young’uns will be gathering for their first trip south.   

The Wildersmith two have observed very few bears over the summer, and not one in a couple months. However, one did cross our path just days ago on a Smith trek toward end of the Trail. It was a little guy/gal, suggesting a birth date back around first of this year. Being a youngster, there was a strong probability a mommy and perhaps a brother or sister could be nearby. In the area viewed, it was more than likely to have been coming from or entering a blueberry patch. Pickers beware! It’s time for Brunos to start tacking on the pounds. 

On a final note, harvest time is entering early stages for the rodent critters around our yard. Pine cones high in the white pines and white cedar seed clusters will soon be cut to fall earthward and onto our roof tops, as the foraging race begins. Chipmunks have already begun the mad competition with squirrels for seeds, stuffing their jowls and scampering to unknown winter food banks, while their gnawing cousins seem not the least bit concerned right now. Let the games begin! 
This is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, thinking of “getting ready for winter” chores! 

(photo by Seney Natural History Association via Wikimedia Commons)



Superior National Forest Update: August 12

Hi.  This is Tom McCann, resource information specialist on the Gunflint Ranger District, with the Superior National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Forest. For the week of August 12th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
We’d like to remind people who are camping about the fact that they are sharing the woods with bears.  Black bears normally are not an animal to worry about, and tend to shy away from human contact. But once a bear learns that people, dumpsters, or portage packs are sources of food, bears can cause problems.  The best way to prevent these problems is to make sure bears don’t learn to associate people with food.  That means campers need to follow some simple guidelines of bear etiquette.  To begin with, when you are camping at a campground, store your food out of sight in a hard sided vehicle.  Some bears can break through screens on RVs, and can recognize coolers sitting on back seats.  Put your food in the car’s trunk, or cover it with a blanket in vehicles without trunks.  Garbage equals food for bears, so treat garbage like food.  Don’t store either food or garbage in your tent, ever.  Take your garbage directly to the dumpster after meals - don’t keep the garbage bag at your campsite during your visit.    After putting your garbage in the dumpster, be sure to secure the lid with bars, or use whatever system is provided.  This can be inconvenient, but it is better than letting bears get into the dumpster.  Don’t leave bags of garbage sitting outside the dumpster.  If it is full, temporarily store your garbage as you would your food, and contact the campground host or concessionaire.
Camping in backcountry or Boundary Waters sites takes some different skills.  Hang food and garbage in a pack twelve feet off the ground, six feet out from tree trunks, and four feet down from branches.  There are several different ways to rig a system to hang your pack, the best ones use a pulley to make it easier on the tree and on the person hauling up the food pack.  You can see diagrams of food hanging methods on our website in the camping section.  There are many campsites with no good tree for food hanging, particularly in post fire areas.  Campers in those spots should use a bear resistant food container.  The popular blue plastic barrels used for packing food are not bear resistant, they need to be hung just like a pack.  Bear resistant containers with food in them should be stored at night away from the campsite. 
Taking all these precautions might take a little extra effort, but will help keep our bears wild and not dependent on human food.  This will help prevent bear problems while camping, and make it less likely problem bears will have to be destroyed.
Getting to some of the campgrounds may be a little easier this week.  Paving on the Sawbill Trail and Temperance River Road has been completed.  Only a short section of the Temperance River Road was paved, primarily to eliminate the deep washboarding which happened as vehicles went up the steep hill, and to keep gravel off the bike trail. 
While the Sawbill to the Temperance River Campground is now paved, you will find some logging trucks in that area.  There are timber harvests going on near the site of the Sawbill CCC camp, and on the Grade between Sawbill and Baker Lake.  There will also be trucks in the Sawbill Landing area near Silver Island Lake and on County Road 7 near Harriet Lake.   On Gunflint, harvest is taking place off of Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, and Powers Lake Road.  Log hauling will be taking place in all these areas, so please drive carefully.
So, enjoy the new roadways on your way to the campground, and respect the bears when you arrive.  Have a great weekend, and until next week, this has been Tom McCann with the National Forest Update.


Camp Finland kids study rare dragonflies

West End News: August 11

Birch Grove Community School invites one and all to their annual open house. This year it is on Tuesday, August 23, from 5 pm until 8 pm. This event is open to everyone, but is especially geared to families that would like to have their children attend Birch Grove. The open house includes informal conversation with teachers and staff, a tour, a bouncy house in the gym and a free pizza bake in the outdoor wood-fired oven.
Birch Grove serves kids for pre-school, starting at the age of three, on up through the fifth grade. It is an award winning program and the opportunity to give your child an excellent education with a lot of personal attention from their teachers. I can vouch for this because I’m the proud parent of two Birch Grove graduates.
For more information, you can contact Diane Blanchette at 663-0170 or email
There is a great report out of Finland from the Camp Finland program that runs out of the Clair Nelson Community Center every summer. Among many other activities, the kids got to capture and identify dragonflies with DNR biologist, Kurt Mead. Kurt reports that there are about a hundred known species of dragon and damselflies in the Finland area.
Kurt expected that most of the captured insects would be the more common varieties, but was surprised by how many of netted flies were uncommon or rare. The predominant damselfly that the kids were catching was the Aurora damsel, which has only been documented in Lake County once before. Another exciting find was the Ski-tailed Emerald Dragonfly. The last time this species was found in Lake County was in 1920!
Reports of the outing will be included in a national database and a few species have been donated to the University of Minnesota Insect Collection in St. Paul. Although the kids had a lot of fun chasing dragonflies around on a warm, windy day, they did real science that will advance everyone’s knowledge of these fascinating and beautiful creatures. If you want to see the full dragonfly report, go to the website:
While I’m thinking about the excellent Clair Nelson Community Center, let me remind you of the Finland Farmer’s Market that takes place every Thursday from 5 until 6:30 pm through the first Thursday in October. 
The entire West End community is saddened by the passing of Craig Spates, who was a long time resident of Lutsen. Craig was a true character in a community that isn’t short on characters. When my son, Carl, was about four, he used to call Craig “that really ugly guy.” That sounds sort of cruel, but Carl really, really liked Craig, and actually meant “that very interesting looking guy.”
Craig was a mainstay in the community, working for decades in almost every capacity at the ski hill among a host of other jobs. He was an intelligent man with many interests, two of which I shared with him - music and politics. Craig was a big music fan and a unique and original musician and songwriter. He was also a dyed in the wool Democrat who followed all levels of politics closely. He had a deep understanding of the issues and the complex political dynamics that surround them.
Craig was a friend to everyone he met and the West End is a less interesting place without him.

(Photo courtesy of Camp Finland)



Gunflint Woods, Winds and Strings Concert - August 14

The 4th annual concert features vocal and instrumental classical and jazz music to benefit the Gunflint Trail Historical Society and the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department. The concert is held in the cold storage building with a reception to follow in the Schaap Community Center adjacent to Fire Hall #1 at Poplar Lake.

The concert will also feature a commissioned piece composed by Bill Beckstrand.

More information and reservations are available at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center, 218-388-9915



A Year in the Wilderness: August 9 - Girl Scouts

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: August 6 - 19

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

The Perseid meteor shower peaking on August 12, with a chance of an ‘earth grazer’; the Persied’s parent comet – Swift-Tuttle; August’s full moon on the 18th; Mars gliding through the crown of Scorpius August 6-11; and in the West, Bootes, the Herdsman.

Dark skies for starwatching around the new moon on August 2; Scorpius low in the south with Mars and Saturn; an asterism - the teapot of Sagittarius; this episodes challenge constellation: Ophiuchus, the snake handler; and the summer triangle, high in the east and moving westward.

(photo by Nick Ares via Wikimedia Commons)



Wildersmith on the Gunflint: August 5

The Wildersmith two are back in the woods once again. It’s great to be home to the “cool” north woods after a trek along the Mississippi to “steamy” Iowa for a visit with our daughter. 

With nearly a week of August under our belts, tell-tale signs of autumn are perking up in places along the Trail and back country roads. The first indication of such is noted in ground level cover called dogbane. Apparently, this is the first flora to discover the diminishing daylight minutes and has begun to cut back on chlorophyll production, thus illuminating roadsides with our first sampling of fall gold. 

In the company of this happening: fireweed, Joe-Pye weed, black-eyed Susans, and goldenrod have picked up the blooming slack from June and July's floral decline. Further signals are noted in grasses of many varieties beside our pathways turning golden brown with seed tops ready to drop, sowing next year's generation, and last but not least, rose hips are gaining on their crimson color.   

Since our return to paradise, upper Trail weather has been spectacular with cool nights and moderate daytimes. Here at Wildersmith, we even experienced a temp in the thirties one night late last week. Whoa, we have tomatoes yet to ripen!  
The pleasantness has been well received but somewhat with tongue in cheek. There has been almost no significant rain in this neighborhood over the last two weeks, until a four-tenths dropping a couple days ago. Therefore, the forest had become quite dry. If one was caught traveling backwoods roads following another vehicle, it’s been like one of those wicked Arizona dust storms. In spite of the recent shower, area folks might want to be cranking up those wildfire sprinkler systems just to add a dampening to their properties.   
Lots of August happenings occur during the next week or so. First up is The Gunflint Trail Historical Society meeting, this coming Monday, the 8th, beginning at 1:30 pm. The gathering will be at the Seagull Lake Community Center. Following a short membership meeting, an interesting program will feature Patricia Emerson, from the Minnesota Historical Society talking on the underwater exploration of the Granite River, which the Society conducted from 1963 to 1970.

Then on Wednesday, the 10th, the big mid-Trail flea market/gift boutique, auction and quilt raffle takes center stage at
Fire Hall number one. The always fun event commences at 1 pm and runs until about 4 o'clock. Proceeds from the flea market will go to the Gunflint Trail Historical Society, while the balance from other activities will be donated, once again, to our volunteer fire department. Chances for the quilt raffle drawing continue on sale at Trail Center Restaurant. Come one, come all!    

If these two wilderness community affairs aren’t enough, another happens on Sunday, the 14th. The fourth annual Woods, Winds and Strings concert takes place at Fire Hall number one and the Schaap Mid-Trail Community Center at 4 pm. Ticket reservations remain on sale through the GTHS at Chik-Wauk Museum. Call 388-9915 if you haven’t already reserved yours. The concert of classical and jazz music highlights a blend of many local musicians heard in the past, as well as new performers from Cook County and beyond. New this year will be Mike DeBevec’s Sky Blue Jazz Ensemble. The woods will be alive with “the sound of music”, don’t miss it.      
If Cook County residents and visitors haven’t made the trip out to the new Nature Center at Chik-Wauk yet, you don’t know what you’ve been missing. Every day finds some neat natural occurrence being explored with naturalists Jacqueline Mallinson and Kathy Lande.     
As an example of what one might experience, yours truly was in attendance last Sunday when Ms. Mallinson presented a female “striped fishing spider” captured with an egg sack attached to an intricate web encompassed branch. During the hours soon after being incarcerated in a big glass container, the arachnid’s egg sack hatched. Bearing countless (perhaps hundreds) of baby spiders, each one was smaller than the head of a straight pin. The new mom and her family were to be carefully released back into the end of the trail wild later that day.     
Although I’m not into these creepy crawlers, having never been this up close and personal with the critters, the marvel of observing this miracle was one more for the books of Gunflint Trail magic.  
Fascinating programming continues on Sunday afternoons at the Nature Center providing special insights into many aspects of our natural Gunflint world. This coming Sunday will feature Wildfire Ecology, presented at 2 pm by Gunflint Lodge Naturalist John Silliman. While there, it would be a good idea to stop in the museum for a look at the Trail of yesteryear, and to observe the current temporary exhibit, “Heard but not seen” on birds in the Gunflint Territory.
This is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, watching the wonders of summer begin to fade away!

(photo by grassrootsgroundswell via Wikimedia Commons)


Dr. Seth Moore

Dr. Seth Moore: Should moose be listed as a federal Endangered Species?

Dr. Seth Moore is Director of Biology and Environment with the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. 

The Grand Portage Reservation is located in the extreme northeast corner of Minnesota, on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Cook County. Bordered on the north by Canada, on the south and east by Lake Superior and on the west by Grand Portage State Forest, the reservation encompasses an historic fur trade site on scenic Grand Portage Bay.

The band engages in fisheries and wildlife research projects throughout the year, working with moose, wolves, fish, deer, grouse, and environmental issues. Dr. Moore appears regularly on WTIP North Shore Community Radio, talking about the band's current and ongoing natural resource projects, as well as other environmental and health related issues. 

In this segment, Dr. Moore talks about the impacts of listing moose under the Endangered Species Act.



Superior National Forest Update: August 5

Hi there my name is Cathy Jasperson, Customer Service Representative for the Tofte Ranger District. On behalf of your Superior National Forest here is the current Update for information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Forest. For the week of August 5th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
August is really the height of summer in Minnesota.  Hot muggy days and the sound of locusts jumping up as you walk in the forest may bring thoughts of swimming in a lake or stream or relaxing in a hammock in the shade with a good book just enjoying the forest.  As you travel into the forest in search of those trees, just the right distance apart for your hammock, or for the perfect swimming hole, here is some information to keep in mind.
If you travel plan to travel on the Sawbill Trail please be aware that Paving of the road is still in process but it is coming closer to being finished.  Expect some flaggers and one lane road in spots as they add layers of asphalt to the roadway.  The culvert replacement project on the 170 Grade will be shifting locations from west of the Sawbill to east of the Sawbill, between the Sawbill Trail and Crescent Lake Campground.  There may be times where this road is closed entirely for periods up to an entire day.  If you are headed for Crescent Lake, you may want to take an alternate route using the Caribou Trail County road #4 to save time.
Logging traffic On the Superior National Forest is much the same as it has been.  You may encounter trucks using the 170 Grade, near the Sawbill Landing area off the Wanless Road.  On the Gunflint District, haulers are using the Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, and Powers Lake Road, so watch for trucks in those areas also.
In addition to relaxing in a hammock and some swimming, many people are headed out to pick blueberries.  If you are planning to berry pick berries in a location using minimum maintenance roads, only drive in as far as you are capable of walking out.  Many of these old roads increase the potential for getting stuck or having vehicle problems and there is usually little to no room to turn a vehicle around on these roads and you may have to back out the way you came.  If you are parking off a main roadway such as the Gunflint Trail, be sure you are parked in a safe location, completely off the road and where there is good visibility.
 Blueberries are often found in past fire areas, full of new growth, but with little in the way of landmarks, and it is easy to suddenly look up and have no clue where you left your car.
Remember that Cell phone reception in these areas can be very poor so you should always have an emergency plan.
Remember too that it is easy to get turned around when picking those blueberries.   Your focus is usually on the ground where the berries are and not on your surroundings, you may lose track of where you have been.
 The following are some helpful tips when picking berries:

  • Try to stay in a group and in sight of your vehicle
  • Have plenty of water on hand
  • You may want to wear a colorful hat to be noticed and to shade your head
  • Make sure someone back home or at camp knows the location you plan to pick in, and an approximate return time.
  • Bring a whistle for emergency signaling and a compass to track your location

If you head to the south side of the road, the compass will help you head back north and hit the road at some point along its length, even if it isn’t exactly at your car.
A GPS is a good tool as well, but make sure you have enough charge or spare batteries, and don’t rely on it.  Just like most computers, they’ve been known to suddenly refuse to work.  Look up frequently, and look back the way you came to learn what landmarks you can.  
So, take some time in these dog days of summer to relax in the warmth with a nice piece of blueberry pie and a scoop of ice cream. 
Last but not least be sure to stop by the Superior National forest booth in Grand Marais the weekend of August 6th to chat with forest personnel during the Fishermans Picnic and be sure to shake Smokey Bear's hand if you see him in town.  Until next week, this has been Cathy Jasperson with the Superior National Forest Update.  Be safe and LEAVE NO TRACE!