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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:

Sunny's Back Yard: Taking a walk

Sunny has lived off-grid in rural Lake County for the past 18 years and is a regular commentator on WTIP. Here she shares the benefits of taking a walk - especially in a natural setting - in Sunny's Back Yard.



Northern Sky: July 9 - 22

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

Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown; Scorpius, low in the south, near Mars and Saturn; and big Jupiter news: NASA's Juno entered Jupiter's orbit.

(photo: High Heels by THOR/Flickr)  Tune in to Deane's audio to learn more about Jupiter and find out why this is an appropriate photo.


Loon with fish, courtesy of Chik-Wauk

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: July 8

We’re a full week into month seven and the upper Trail weather is much less frightful than the previous two weekend segments. In fact, our National Birthday holiday was splendid for both Gunflint residents and visitors.

Rapidly as the days tick away it seems unnerving we are closing down July’s second weekend so soon. I’ve even heard comment to the effect that summer is over after Independence Day. This is a bit of a stretch, but then again we are only a three short weeks away from August as this scoop hits the air.

This in mind, the calendar for area folks is plenty full of summer activities. First up and highly important is the current membership drive for WTIP. At broadcast time, the station is into the third full day of its drive for membership support, with only two and one-half days remaining (until noon Monday).

WTIP needs you! Please get on board without delay. Give operators a call at (218) 387-1070 or 1(800) 473-9847, or click and join at – or better yet – stop by 1712 West Highway 61, hand deliver your pledge and see our staff and volunteers in person.

Next up is the fortieth year for the Gunflint Trail Canoe Races, scheduled for Wednesday, July 20, with food service beginning at 4:30 pm and races at 6:00. Plan to be there for all the fun on the waterfront at Gunflint Lodge.

Remember proceeds from this great community event go to support our Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department and EMS crew. Tickets for the general prize raffle and the kayak drawing are on sale now at Trail Center and any number of places along the Trail. They can also be bought on site the evening of the event.

As we get into August, the mid-Trail gang will be following up with their annual flea market, gift boutique and auction, also on behalf of our Gunflint protectors. Stay tuned to WTIP for more details on the August 10 happening which runs from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.

Like windrowed snow in winter, daisies are drifting in along our byway Trail sides. Thus they join our 60 mile “Technicolor” wildflower garden. It’s uncanny how “Mother Nature” has sequenced blooming things out this way. The floral show is just a mosaic of pigments.

A note on the loon chicks at the Chik-Wauk site, finds all is going well. They hatched on June 28-29. However, the big wind/rain storm of last weekend disturbed the parents enough causing them to move from the nesting platform to the bay southwest of the Museum. This new location, along the Moccasin Lane hiking trail, is actually more accessible for photo-ops than the birthing place.

A couple big Bull Moose sightings, in different locales on the Trail, have been reported. Being several miles apart, I presume they are two different characters, and this is heartening.

Further moose lore comes from a couple gals over on Leo Lake. I’m told they are seeing more moose this summer than in several years past. It was also shared that the ladies are in a challenge contest over who observes the most. To date one has seen 15 while the other has counted seven. It makes me wonder if they are counting the same critters time after time. Too bad the animals couldn’t be marked with a dab of paint for confirming ID’s. In any event, to see just one is great, and these ladies’ scorecards are fantastic. Maybe their sightings indicate a turn-around in the territory's moose population decline.

On a final note, a friend reports the observance of three young Pileated woodpeckers. I’m told the trio was found hanging out on the USFS leased land properties at the west end of Gunflint Lake. Guess the “woody woodpecker” look-alikes were making a lot of racket, perhaps calling for mom and pop who were nowhere to be seen and probably tired of the adolescent chatter.

This is Fred Smith, on the Trail at Wildersmith, encouraging your call to arms for WTIP!



Superior National Forest Update: July 8

Hello.  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 July 8th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
Now that July 4th is in the rearview mirror, summer is truly here. With summer in full swing, we will start to see a change in the wildlife within the forest. Many animals will start to travel with their young and one animal that we are likely to start seeing and hearing would be the loon. Loon chicks will typically hatch around the end of June or beginning of July. Even though the chicks are small, they will leave their nests within a day or two of birth to explore the waters surrounding them. It may be exciting to see a loon chick out on the water, but make sure to give plenty of space to the birds. If you happen to be out in the water this weekend, avoid closely approaching the loons. These close encounters may trigger a defensive or even aggressive response from the parents, which is no help to us or the animal.
One other animal that we would like to remind people about would be the black bear. Whether you are camping, backpacking, or out for a day hike, we want to remind you about some safe bear practices to keep in mind. Bears have an acute sense of smell and can be quite curios towards an unknown scents. At night, be sure to store all scented items in a bear proof container or hang them at least 10 feet off of the ground and at least 5 feet from the nearest large tree branch. This will help to reduce the chance of a bear encounter. If you do happen to encounter a bear in the forest, slowly back away from the animal and do your best not to disturb it.
If the animals just mentioned or the forest as a whole are something you would like to learn more about, we invite you to join us during our naturalist programs. The naturalist programs are free and open to the public and include topics such as wildlife, cultural history, geology, and more. All ages are welcome to attend these programs. For more information you can check online at for a full list of programs.
We will see some logging traffic this week in the forest. Most of the traffic will be located in the same areas as the last few weeks and will include Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, and Firebox Road. Some new areas to watch for include Trestle Pine Road and Ball Club Road. Please make sure to use extra caution when driving or recreating in these areas, as the logging truck are not as nimble on the roads as our personal vehicles.
We would like to remind people to check out our Facebook page and twitter feed for current photos and information regarding the forest. I want to wish you all an excellent weekend in the woods and until next week, this has been Mike Krussow with the Superior National Forest Update.


Sawbill Canoe Outfitters

West End News: July 7

Earlier this week, I went to Duluth for a long list of mundane errands.  Among the chores was stopping at the sign store to pick up a banner for the front of the Sawbill Outfitters’ store.  I unfurled the banner and was suddenly struck by its message: “Sawbill Canoe Outfitters - Celebrating 60 Years!” 
I’ve seen this coming for a while, of course, but the reality strikes home this weekend when many of the Sawbill Outfitters crew members from the last 60 years return for a grand reunion.
I have been extraordinarily blessed to spend my life in such a sweet little corner of the world.  There is no paradise on earth, but Sawbill is close.  People tell me all the time that I have the best job in the world and I’m hard pressed to disagree with them. 
I believe there are three reasons that Sawbill Canoe Outfitters is a special place for so many people.  They are - the vision of the founders, Frank and Mary Alice Hansen; the wilderness; and the Sawbill Crew.
My parents started and operated the business in an generous, friendly and joyful way.  They definitely made it “success” in the narrow business sense of the word, but they also created an atmosphere of cooperation and congeniality that defined a much broader definition of success over the last six decades.  It has created what can only be described as a very extended family crewmembers and visitors.  My folks’ ability to build community, whether here at Sawbill, or around the county and beyond, is the key ingredient to the magic at Sawbill.  It has been a pleasure for us to try our best to continue in their tradition.
The wilderness, both big W and little w, are what makes Sawbill such a unique spot.  Sigurd Olson said it much better than I can, and I quote: “In wilderness people can find the silence and the solitude and the non-civilized surroundings that can connect them once again to their evolutionary heritage, and through an experience of the eternal mystery, can give them a sense of the sacredness of all creation.” Close quote.
Olson’s description is familiar to anyone who spends more than three days in a wilderness setting. The vast canoe country, with its awkward alphabet of a name, and the surrounding forest, are a well-proven source of refreshment, relaxation, renewal and self-confidence.  What a gift to be able to live in the midst of profound beauty every single day.
And finally, I’ve been privileged to know a cast of hundreds who have worked at Sawbill over the long years.  Due to our remote location, all of our crew live on-site.  When you live and work – hard – with people for a full season, or as is often the case, many seasons, you get to know them as true and beloved friends.  They are an amazing cast of vivid characters - each contributing in her or his own unique way - to the rich history of this place.
So, my life at Sawbill has taught me that those three ingredients: a vision of a better future; healthy natural surroundings; and true friendships; are really the secret to success in any human life.   They are surely the formula for success all over the wonderful West End.
And, I’d like to add, they are also the secret of success for a community radio station, like this one, WTIP. While it surely has vision and surrounding beauty in abundance, we all need to occasionally think about how WTIP is a true friend and deserving of our friendship in return. 
There are many ways to demonstrate friendship for this great radio station, but one of the crucial ways is to help, as you are able, with the financial demands of keeping the station up and running.  Please, if you are a listener, call or go online right now and show your support. It’s what friends do.
For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.


Dr. Tiffany Wolf and Dr. Seth Moore

Dr. Seth Moore: Partnership with University of Minnesota looks at Grand Portage ecosystem health

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 a partnership with the University of Minnesota taking a closer look at the health of the Grand Portage area’s ecosystem.



Citizens' Climate Lobby addresses climate change

The Citizens' Climate Lobby is a nonpartisan group working to spread the idea that each one of us can help to address climate change. Regional coordinators Paul Thompson and Mindy Ahler joined Grand Marais group leader Rebecca Wiinanen to talk about their mission and philosophy.
The local Grand Marais Citizens Climate Lobby meets on the second Saturday of each month. More information is available by email at


Jill Doerfler

Anishinaabe Way: "Those Who Belong" with author Jill Doerfler

The book "Those Who Belong: Identity, Family, Blood, and Citizenship among the White Earth Anishinaabeg" by UMD Professor Jill Doerfler, recently won the 2015 Midwest Independent Publishing Association Award for History. In this segment, Professor Doerfler gives a brief history of blood quantum as it relates to membership in the MN Chippewa Tribe, and describes recent efforts by some White Earth tribal members to create constitutional reform on that reservation, including a change from the 1/4 blood quantum required by the MN Chippewa Tribe (MCT) to a system that honors family lineage as the basis for citizenship at White Earth.

(Photo courtesy of Jill Doerfler)


Yellow hawkweed (Lmmahood /Wikimedia Commons)

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: July 1

Ten days into official summer and we welcome July. It’s hard to believe, we have reached the month of the Ojibwe 2016 “halfway” moon.

The last weekend of June found this area once again in the bad weather bullseye. As luck would have it, “Mother Nature” spared us a repeat of the previous week's blitz. This time the violence skirted us in other directions.                                                                                                        
This neighborhood did get a nice rain of nearly an inch last Saturday while most folks kept their eyes on the sky under a full day of severe weather advisories. All of us residents are thankful to have not experienced more blowdown as we continue the current clean-up efforts.  
Speaking of the June 19 storm damage, some parts of the territory look like nothing happened, while many other spots were smashed pretty well. The Wildersmith place took a hit with seven big trees down, while neighbors to the west and east were hit even worse.             
It seems residents on the Mile O Pine and east along the south shore of Gunflint Lake caught the brunt. Sadly, I mention many one to 200 year old white pines were downed in addition to countless other species. Further, I’m told the popular “campers island” was about totally smashed. As far as I can tell structure damage seems limited to docks, boats and boat lifts.                                                                                                                                              
All of this weather terror is making me long for winter when a good dose of cold and snow would look like pie and ice cream compared to what we’ve had lately.                                                          

On a brighter note, temperatures have been just right to allow for garden plantings to explode. While on the wild side, a burst of gold has taken over along the Trail. The plethora of buttercups, Canadian hawkweed and other yellow beings has laid claim as the guide through this paradise pathway to the end at Seagull Lake. Added to a sprinkling of orange hawkweed, daisies and waning lupine, and we have a rainbow right here at ground level. It would seem a trip on the Trail would be in order.                                       
Speaking of Trail treks, The Gunflint Trail Historical Society is hosting an open house this coming Sunday, July 3, in honor of the new Nature Center facility on the Chik-Wauk Museum campus. The happening occurs from 11 am to 4 pm with free admission and treats for all.    
As part of the celebration, the GTHS is excited to announce two recent exhibit additions. The beautiful “Diving Loons” sculpture is now in place. This work was designed and produced by local artist, Keith Morris. Besides the loon display, the Nature Center has been gifted with a marvelous display of Trail butterflies, skippers and moths. This collection has been provided by local lepidopterist, David MacLean. Grateful thanks go out to both gentlemen for their elegant contributions. 

It is unknown if other area folks are noticing a scarcity of hummingbirds this summer. Our usually busy nectar station is experiencing almost no activity. Over the past couple weeks the only hummer arrival has been a singleton. The mini bird arrives shortly after daylight commences, and that’s all we’re seeing. Kind of makes me wonder what human invasiveness has done now to screw up more wild country habitat.          
On the angling agenda, a few area fishermen indicate their catching has gone to pot. They are thinking the big storm has driven fish down and stirred up other bait sources. They’re just not into being lured by hooks with meat attached for the time being. However, a fellow on Gunflint Lake tells of watching a gull (often referred to as a winged French fry-eating rat) having better luck than he. It seems the “gull’ snatched an eelpout from somewhere nearby and stopped by his dock where it set down to have its version of a “shore lunch.”                                                                                                                                                                      
The angler headed in soon after his observation and came up dockside of the dining bird. Not to be denied dinner, the winged critter was reluctant to take flight. The fisherman eventually had to shoo it off, and placed a lawn chair over the finny in order to discourage a return.  In the end, an eagle eyeing the goings-on circled overhead, made a careful landing, and made off with an easy dinner. This is yet another predator/prey epic in the natural magic of life on the Gunflint Trail.                                                       
A note of “breaking news” comes to all WTIP listeners and website followers. Our summer membership drive begins in earnest this coming Wednesday, July 6, and continues through noon, Monday, July 11.                                                                                           
One of three such drives each year, this is the biggest and is so important for continued growth of this North Shore Community broadcast experience. I encourage all to re-up their membership and /or become a new member of the WTIP team during this coming effort.    
I think we can all say we got to where we are to today “with a little help from some special friend.” At this time, “with a little help from all WTIP friends” radio excellence can blossom even further. Be sure to give us a call or click and join at or stop by 1712 West Highway 61 and pledge your support, beginning next Wednesday.                                                                                                                                            
This is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith reporting! Have a safe and sane July 4.                             



Superior National Forest Update: July 1

Hi.  This is Andrew Gale, seasonal interpreter, 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 July 1st, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
It is the week of July 4th already!  Many people enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, or just driving through the Forest over the Independence Day holiday.  We’d like to remind people of one thing they cannot do.  Shooting off fireworks is illegal everywhere on the Forest.  That’s all kinds of fireworks, including those that are legal in other parts of the state.  If your celebration of the Fourth has a few things that go boom in the night, you’ll have to set them off outside of the national forest, and we encourage you to pay extra attention to safety when using fireworks.  Recently, fire balloons have become a common sight on the Fourth as well.  These are the large plastic bags with a candle at the base that work as small hot air balloons.  They act both as a source of ignition for wildfires, and as a source of litter, and are also not allowed on the Superior.  There will be great fireworks in Tofte and Grand Marais, and that really is the best and safest way to enjoy them.
You may also want to take in the Fourth of July parade in Tofte, and while you are there, you can watch or run in the Tofte Trek, an annual trail race.  Watch out for runners and spectators around the Tofte area on trails and near the base of Sawbill Trail.  The start and finish is at the Birch Grove Community Center, and the race route uses snowmobile trails, ski trails, and the Superior Hiking Trail.
Besides fireworks, one of the other sights at night this time of year are the large silkworm moths.  Silkworm moths include the cecropia, polyphemus, and luna moths.  They are all spectacularly big, and are fun to find roosting during the day.  Lunas are the pretty light green moths with the tails on their wings.  The caterpillars eat birch leaves, so our forest along the North Shore is perfect for them.  The tails on the wings are thought to be useful in confusing bat sonar and making them harder for bats to catch.  Cecropias and polyphemus both have large eyespots on the wings to confuse predatory birds.  None of these moths eat as adults, and are only around for a short time in the summer, so look for them while you can.
If you are interested in moths or any other kind of biology, you may want to be a part of the July 7th Bioblitz.  Superior National Forest, Sugarloaf Cove, Tettegouche State Park, and Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center are cooperating on this one day event to identify as many species as possible in a specific location within a short time.  Contact the Tofte District Office, or any of the participating organizations for more information. 
There is some logging traffic this week, mostly in the same areas as the last few weeks.  On Gunflint, harvest is taking place off of Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, and Firebox Road.  Log hauling will be taking place on these roads, as well as Trestle Pine Road and Ball Club Road, so please use caution when driving or recreating in these areas.  Tofte logging activity continues on FR369 with multiple logging operations.  In addition, expect truck traffic on the Wanless Rd., Lake County 7, Cook County 3, and The Grade.
Speaking of logging and lumber, the Forest Service is cooperating again this year with Hedstrom’s Lumber Mill outside of Grand Marais to provide tours of the mill.  The start of the tour season was delayed this year due to a fire in the mill, but will be starting this next week on Tuesdays and Fridays.  Please call Hedstrom’s ahead of time for a reservation.  For details on this and on other naturalist programs this summer, go to the Superior National Forest website and click on the naturalist program link from the homepage.
Enjoy your Fourth, good luck to the Tofte Trekkers, and until next week, this has been Andrew Gale with the National Forest Update.