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North Shore Morning

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!

 


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Superior National Forest Update: June 19

Hi.  I’m Cathy Peterson, administrative support assistant, 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 Superior National Forest. For the week of June 19th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
There are two logging operations still proceeding on this end of the Forest.  As in previous weeks, there will be log hauling on the Shoe Lake Road, Greenwood Road, and Gunflint Trail on the Gunflint District, and on the Four Mile Grade south of Wilson Lake, Lake County 7 south of Harriet Lake, and on FR 369, the Trappers Lake Road.
You might encounter more log trucks this week than you have in past weeks.  Visitors to the Tofte District can still expect logging traffic on the Four Mile Grade and Lake County 7 near Wilson and Harriet Lakes, and on the Trappers Lake Road and Dumbell River Road near Sawbill Landing.  Starting this weekend, we also have operations near The Grade (FR 170), just a few miles east of the Sawbill Trail. 
On the Gunflint District, there are operations off of the Pine Mountain Road and Greenwood Lake Road.  Visitor could encounter logging traffic on these roads and the Gunflint Trail.  There have also been numerous trucks hauling gravel out of the pit near Thompson Lake, so visitors near the Devil Track Campground should be aware of that traffic.  
This weekend is Father’s Day, and the summer solstice.  It is a nice idea that all the fathers out there get the longest day of the year to enjoy the outdoors.  There will be over 15 hours of day this solstice, so lots of time for hiking, fishing, canoeing, and all the other activities that a fathers might want to do on the Forest.  It will probably be a busy weekend out there as well, so take it slow on those one lane Forest roads.  You have plenty of time.
Starting next week on June 23, we will be having naturalist programs on the North Shore Tuesdays through Saturdays.  This program is funded in cooperation with Visit Cook County, and provides Forest Service naturalist programs at area resorts and campgrounds, as well as at Hedstrom’s Lumber Mill and Artists Point.  There are usually two evening campfire programs each day, and a morning activity as well.  See the schedule of all seventeen weekly programs on the Forest website, or at the Visitor Information building in Grand Marais, Tofte or at any Forest Service office.  These programs are open to everyone, whether you are a guest at the hosting resort or not.
There will also be a Forest Service naturalist program at Chik Wauk Nature Center at the end of the Gunflint Trail on Tuesday afternoons at 2pm.  Topics will change every week, starting this week with a wildflower hike.
Fire conditions have been low to moderate through the Forest, and with rain expected, they should remain in that area.  Regardless of fire conditions, make sure to extinguish campfires completely before leaving them for any length of time.  A fire left to burn out may smolder instead and then break out when fire conditions worsen.
Have a great Father’s Day weekend, and enjoy the Forest.  Until next week, this has been Cathy Peterson with the Superior National Forest Update. 
 

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Senator Tom Bakk

West End News: June 18

Fishing has been good this year and northern fishing was particularly good during the early part of the season. A lot of my customers reported catching big northerns this year and in every single instance that I heard about, the fish were returned to the water to be caught again another day. When I was a kid, every large fish was kept, shown off, and either eaten or mounted. Now, almost everyone releases big fish.

Under a new plan being proposed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, it looks like it will soon become mandatory to release all big northern pike caught in northeastern Minnesota. Research is showing that preserving the big northerns and removing the hammer handles is much better for the walleye population and the overall ecological health of the lakes.

DNR Fisheries managers are pretty confident in their science, but are still bending over backward to include the public in any future regulation changes. They know from bitter past experience that tampering with fishing regulations can have the same potential effect on politics that dynamite has on fish populations. They are hopeful that by tailoring different regulations to the circumstances in different parts of the state, they can get good buy-in from the public. Based on the many anglers that I talk to every day, the plan sounds like a good one to me.

Speaking of politics, our own State Senator Tom Bakk's tenure as Senate majority leader is being called into question by many editorial writers across the state. The chaotic end to the recent legislative session has led to some public disgruntlement among the members of the DFL caucus in the Senate. Some last minute back-room deals weakening some key environmental protections angered many Democrats, both within the caucus and across the state. Bakk also supported a downgrading of the State Auditor's power, which was widely seen as political payback for Auditor Rebecca Otto's publicly expressed reservations about proposed sulfide mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Although the change for the Auditor's position ultimately did pass, most legal scholars don't give it much of a chance of withstanding an expected constitutional legal challenge.

Earlier this year, Bakk received a bitter tongue lashing from fellow DFLer Governor Mark Dayton in which the Governor said that he could no longer trust the powerful Senate Majority Leader. The two men eventually reconciled, but the end of the session seemed to expose some ongoing tension.

Of course, for those of us lucky enough to live in Senator Bakk's district, he has been a good friend, bringing millions of dollars to the district for good projects and by stint of his leadership power, protecting our interests very effectively at the legislature. It would be a distinct loss for us if Senator Bakk lost his leadership position. However, some political pundits are suggesting that Senator Bakk's weakened position within his own caucus, combined with a distinct swing of statewide public opinion against sulfide mining near the wilderness, which he strongly supports, may cost him that very leadership position.

Even if it does't happen next year, the Iron Range will very likely lose some political clout after the 2020 census, based on population trends alone. Whatever ends up happening, it will be an interesting next few years for political nerds like me to observe the happenings.

Two former Sawbill Outfitters crew members who have become permanent residents of Cook County, Carla Hill and Jessica Hemmer, went on a canoe trip together last week. On the last morning of their trip, they awoke on Polly Lake, to discover that a large snapping turtle had crawled into their fire grate, where they had built a fire just the night before, and was laying its eggs. They saw at least 15 eggs go into the hole dug by the turtle with their own eyes.

After a couple of hours, the turtle, apparently now empty of eggs, jostled itself around and headed back to the lake. The two experienced wilderness women watched with interest as the primeval looking reptile waddled toward a steep rock incline. They speculated that the turtle was planning to slide on its bottom shell, down the steep slope to the water. Much to their surprise, when the turtle started to slide, it immediately went end over end, or as the late Millie Croft used to say, "arse over teacup," clump, clump clump - until it finally splashed back into the lake. After briefly gathering its wits, mama turtle swam calmly off, leaving two astonished humans in its wake.

It was just another unique experience in the wonderful West End.

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Veery

Field Notes: Veery and Least Flycatcher

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 Biodiversity Heritage Library on Flickr)

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The Lake Superior Project/Logo by Lauryl Loberg

LSP: The toxic legacy of the former Finland Air Force Base

Just outside of Finland, Minnesota, on the top of Lookout Mountain, is a Minnesota Superfund Site. Clean-up at this site has been an ongoing project of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency due to soil and water contamination. In this edition of the Lake Superior Project, Heidi Bauman - one of the project managers on the clean-up project - talks about how the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is dealing with this contamination.
 

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The Lake Superior Project/Logo by Lauryl Loberg

LSP: A Natural History of Minnesota's Superior Coast

“North Shore: A Natural History of Minnesota’s Superior Coast” is a major new book written by naturalists Chel Anderson and Heidi Fischer, published by the University of Minnesota Press. In this edition of the Lake Superior Project, the authors talk about Lake Superior’s headwaters and highlands.

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"South season" by Tauʻolunga

North Woods Naturalist: Summer solstice

The summer solstice means the longest day of sunlight. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about what’s happening just around the corner.

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New Horizons Mission to Pluto {NASA /Flickr}

Northern Sky: June 13

Deane Morrison is a science writer at the University of Minnesota. She authors the Minnesota Starwatch column, and contributes to WTIP bi-weekly on the Monday North Shore Morning program through "Northern Sky," where she shares what's happening with stars, planets and more.

The distance between Venus and Jupiter shrinking; New Horizon spacecraft closing in on Pluto; The double dwarf system of Pluto and Charon; and the teaspoon of stars hanging above the teapot of Sagitarius.

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Parula Warbler by Mitchell McConnell on Flickr

Field Notes: Walking in a Pine Forest

Field Notes with Molly Hoffman can be heard every Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning between 9 and 10:00.  Support for Field Notes comes from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

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Superior National Forest Update: June 12

Hello, I’m Chelsey Coley, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Planner, for the Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Districts, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update. This includes information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For the week of June 12, here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
For driving up the shore on HWY 61, there is a small section by the Cutface Creek rest area that is down to one lane. A traffic light directs travel flow and the waits are rarely more than one to two minutes. Also, please note that the old culvert is being replaced by a bridge.
Visitors could expect to see logging traffic on the Four Mile Grade near Wilson Lake, on Lake County 7 near Harriet Lake, on the Trappers Lake Road, and on the Dumbbell River Road. Visitors should drive defensively, and should be on the lookout for clouds of dust on the road that may indicate a log truck approaching.
According to Trent Wickman, our Air Quality Specialist in Duluth, the smoke we’re seeing appears to be coming from Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Please do not be alarmed, the transport of smoke from Canadian wildland fires is fairly common in Minnesota, especially northern Minnesota. Smoke is also commonly transported into Minnesota from the western U.S., particularly during active fire years.
We are now in full “green up”, which means fire danger has subsided substantially. We are still looking at some prescribed burning if we dry out enough. The next two burns we are looking at is Honeymoon which is south of the Honeymoon Trail near White Pine Lake and Koski which is off the Sawbill Trail north of the intersection of the grade and the Sawbill Trail. There will be more to come on the prescribed fire front as we see how the weather shapes up later this week into next week.
Last week we started a forest inventory contract. In the very northwest corner of the Tofte district from Isabella to the north of the Tomahawk Road, contractors will begin to collect data on 15,000 acres this field season. Crews will measure and count mature trees as well as seedlings and saplings. Also, one of our Fuels Technicians will be assessing forest fuel hazards in the area and this data will be used in the future to develop forest management plans.
With the help of the Lake Conservation Corps of Minnesota Crew, our fisheries program was able to plant a mix of 3,025 White Pine, Red Pine, White Spruce and Northern White Cedar seedlings in the riparian areas of Kimball Lake, Thompson Lake, Kadunce River, Cascade River, Temperence River and Onion River. These tree species are classified as long-lived conifers and they will provide shade and structure to the lakes, streams and future nesting trees for eagles and osprey.
With all of that being said, I hope you that you all will enjoy your weekend and this has been Chelsey Coley with the National Forest Update.

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West End News: June 11

This is the last call for the medical research project known as FISH that wants to interview and test 500 women of childbearing age that live on the North Shore.  The interview and tests are entirely confidential and relatively quick and painless.  The study is important for the future of our children and you get a $50 gift card if you participate.
 
I’m sure the data won’t be terribly skewed if they don’t reach the goal of 500 participants.  That said though, they are so close, wouldn’t it be great to hit that goal.
 
If you’re interested, contact the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic in Grand Marais or the Grand Portage Clinic for details.
 
I read, with interest, the fine article in the Star-Tribune by Thomas Fisher about the future of driverless cars and the impact they will have on our communities.  What made this article interesting is that it was reporting on statements made by an infrastructure specialist in one of the world’s leading engineering firms. 
 
The gist of it was that driverless cars will be widely available within 3-5 years and could outnumber human-operated cars within ten years.  He pointed to major research and development that several car and technology companies are now conducting on public roads all over the world.  The driverless cars will be much safer, cheaper and more efficient, so much so that it will become an obvious next step in transportation technology.
 
As with all big technology shifts, some people will really benefit, especially the 25% of the human race that can’t drive, for one reason or another.  And, some people will lose out. Perhaps it will end up being more expensive for some people. Those of us who love to drive will certainly lose that sense of pride in a practiced skill.  Hopefully, there will still be plenty of opportunities to drive for pleasure.
 
I for one can’t wait for my driverless car.  I imagine reading, napping, watching movies and surfing the Internet while my car safely and swiftly carries me to Duluth and beyond.  I’m assuming a shift to driverless cars will benefit our tourism industry by making it more convenient and cheaper to drive to a favorite vacation spot.  Time will tell.
 
The talk up here in the backwoods of the West End includes a lot of theorizing about how this year’s weather has caused the transition from spring to summer to be a little weird. For instance, fishing has been quite good. The walleyes are hungry and in their usual spots, while the bass have been biting much earlier than usual. At least around here, there has been no major mayfly hatch. Until late last week, there were almost no mosquitoes. They’re starting to show up now, but the dragonflies have hatched early, so the bug season may be fairly mild this year. Here’s hoping, anyhow.
 
It is gloriously green back in the woods right now. Blossoms are more plentiful than I’ve seen in a long time and the water is running high.  I’ve even seen my first turtle laying eggs in soft gravel along the edge of the Grade Road.
 
It’s a crazy explosion of fertile life after the long cold winter. Get out and enjoy the beautiful and wild West End as often as you possibly can.
 
 
 
 
 

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