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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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Fireweed

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: July 31

For non-believers in this Global Warming thing, sure hope they’re enjoying the roast! The upper Gunflint has not been spared over the past week, and these lousy hot temps are getting a lot of folks down.

As I prepare this week's commentary, no break is foreseen in the forecast. It’s forcing the moose and me to lay pretty low after mid-morning. Then again, being retired, I quit most work-related chores at noon anyway.

Guess we can consider ourselves fortunate in one aspect as the humidity has been bad enough, but not complicated with additional moisture. Then on the other hand, another week with nary a drop of rain around this neighborhood and the fuel load throughout the forest has grown tinder dry. The agencies charged with monitoring forest conditions are not being too public with concern, but we who live here know it’s dangerously dry on the wilderness floor.

This in mind, it would be a good idea for area residents and businesses to crank up the wildfire sprinkler systems (WFSS). Doing this not only assures their unit is in readiness, but also acts to dampen down property holdings.

I’ve found that an hour or so of WFSS operation in the early evening can do wonders cooling the house down during these miserable warm days. It makes for much more comfortable sleeping conditions if one does not have artificial cooling.

All this being said in regard to our atmosphere, it’s nice to bid this crabby hot July farewell. One positive, while planet earth bids this chapter adieu, if skies are clear we will be blessed with the “blue moon” on her last day.

The “thunder” moon, as it's called by Algonquin tribes, sends us off into August. The hope in these parts is those notorious “dog days” of month eight will be few and far between.

This magnificent million-square-mile wildflower patch continues blooming its fool head off. Early blossoms are fading to seeds while mid-summer varieties have taken over. It’s a time for drifts of Daisies, Black-eyed Susans and Fire Weed to escort one’s trip along the Byway.

A local fishing guide shared a recent experience he had not encountered in over 20 years of hosting fishing excursions. His angling customers were taken out on an area lake in search of big Northern Pike, and I was told they did get their wishes, but nothing extraordinary. Near the end of the day, one of the catch was released. No sooner had it hit the water, than an eagle appeared from high in the sky and swooped in for its catch of the hour.

If that wasn’t enough of a thrill for this fishing party, moments later a bear swam by their craft. It actually came close enough to provide some great photo ops. What a wonderful wild woods and water gift.

Later, as the group trailered the boat to head home, a trifecta of critter observations was completed when a moose met them on the road away from the launching access. One could not have scripted a better north woods encounter. This northern reality show will no doubt be etched in these folks’ memories for a lifetime, and probably will lure them back to this wilderness paradise often.

Fishing fortunes here at Wildersmith are not often met with success. In all likelihood, it’s because we aren’t fanatics about doing such. However, the grandsons were here for a visit last week and angling luck briefly turned around. On a trip up to Saganaga Lake, Tuesday before last, grandson, Lane Smith from Iowa, had the thrill of his young life. He hooked onto one of those Walleye “hawgs.” After an arm wrenching battle of several minutes he netted a 29-inch beauty. Lane says a big thanks to his guide, Adam!

It has been his family’s rule if anyone ever catches a “whopper,” it was going onto the wall. So this green and gold trophy was frozen and headed south for proper preservation and a “wall of fame” induction.

A week from this coming Sunday (August 9), the third annual Gunflint Woods, Winds and Strings chamber music concert will be presented at 4:00 pm in the mid-Trail (Schaap) Community facility. Many accomplished area professionals will be engaged in the collection of performing musicians. A reception will follow where one can meet and greet the players. Time is running out for seating reservations. If you haven’t reserved yours call Susan 388-9494 before it’s sold out.

This is Fred Smith, at Wildersmith, on the Trail. The great Gunflint Territory awaits you!

(Photo by Kenny Murray on Flickr)

 

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Superior National Forest Update: July 31

Hi, this is Mary Ann Atwood, Gunflint Ranger District Administrative Support Assistant, with this week’s edition of the Superior National Forest Update. For the week of July 31st, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
FIRE
Due to sporadic rain over the last few weeks, the Superior National Forest is beginning to transition from moderate fire danger to high fire danger.  Keep this in mind while recreating in the forest. 
District Offices
Before, or after, your superior recreation - stop by the Gunflint or Tofte District Offices.  Not only will you encounter a plethora of information but you’ll discover a variety of wilderness books, games, animals (that don’t need feeding) and maps in the Interpretative stores.
Let those truckers Roll 
Timber trucks continue to roll down many of the roads on the Gunflint and Tofte districts.  Drive cautiously and keep in mind; the gravel roads are very dry. A dusty cloud may indicate a vehicle is coming your way. Also, the washboard affect abounds on our gravel roads. 
Forest Facts
Did you know that the Superior National Forest: contains more than 2,000 lakes which total 440,000 acres of lake and 3,400 miles of stream?
With those facts in mind, it’s no wonder water plays such a vital role in Cook County.   This weekend is the 86th Annual Fisherman’s Picnic. The Grand Marais Fish Pic began in the days when the area's economy was based on logging and commercial fishing and the community would gather for a shoreline fish fry of fresh Lake Superior herring.  Which reminds me…How can you tell if a fisherman is going deaf?                                            * Give him a herring test.
Keep an eye out for Smokey Bear and his friend Murray the Moose over the weekend; they are bound to make an appearance in the parade Sunday, August 2nd at 1:00 in downtown Grand Marais.
2015 has been a busy year on the Superior.  Here’s just a sampling of accomplishments:
*      ¼ million trees were planted;
*      Wilderness rangers on the Gunflint Ranger District partnered up with a Conservation Corps of Minnesota & Iowa (CCMI) crew spending 3 ½ muddy days replacing a failing boardwalk on the Meeds to Swallow portage.   This project began last February when wilderness staff used snowmobiles to freight over 40 tamarack planks up to the Wilderness line on the Poplar to Meeds portage. 
Our Faces of Tomorrow crews are having an exceptional summer.  By the way, Faces of Tomorrow is an initiative to increase the diversity of our seasonal workforce.  Some of their achievements include:
*      Building a new 360 foot boardwalk on the South Lake Trail.
*      Rerouting Bower Trail Portage which includes a new boardwalk
*      Constructing stairs on the Northern Lights Trail
Summer brings countless visitors to the Superior’s trails and campgrounds.  When recreating keep in mind:
*               Your behavior has an impact on others.
*               Store food carefully, bears are starting to get active. 
*               Don’t leave campsites unattended for more than 24 hours.  Leaving your gear on a site as a way of “reserving” it - is not allowed.

Carve out some time to spend in the Superior National Forest - you won’t be disappointed - after all, the Superior has been listed as one of the 50 greatest places to visit in a lifetime!  
Keep hydrated throughout these warm summer days.  Until next week, this has been Mary Ann Atwood with the Superior National Forest Update. 
 
 
 

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Locomotives on the rail line between Taconite Harbor and Hoyt Lakes

West End News: July 30

The closing of Minnesota Power’s Taconite Harbor power plant continues to be on the minds of West End residents.  It takes time to absorb such a large blow to the community.
 
I was intrigued by Cook County News Herald editor Rhonda Silence’s suggestion that the railroad between Schroeder and Hoyt Lakes be reactivated as a scenic railroad.  I’ve hiked quite a few sections of that rail line and it is beautiful.  The tunnel is particularly spectacular, not just for its capacity to scare the young Rhonda Silence, but for breathtaking views from both ends. 
 
The kind of thinking that Rhonda is doing is exactly what we need to turn the end of the power plant era into a new era of prosperity for Schroeder and Taconite Harbor.  It seems to me that any place where a rail line meets a Great Lakes shipping line is bound to be useful to someone.
 
The 15th annual Gitch-Gami Trail Association North Shore Bike Ride is coming up on Saturday, August 15.  The ride takes place on the Gitchi-Gami State Trail along with some connecting roads and offers a 28-mile, 37-mile, and 55-mile option.  The ride starts and ends at Gooseberry State Park.  Riders should gather there around 9:00 am in order to start riding before 10:30.  You must wear a helmet and be willing to sign a liability waiver.  There is a small charge for participation.
 
The North Shore Bike Ride was the brainchild of the late Congressman Jim Oberstar.  He wanted the event to call attention to the trail each year, especially to highlight the additions to the trail year by year.
 
Jim Oberstar was, among many other accomplishments, the leading advocate for bicycling in the U.S. Congress.  It was his vision that will result, when complete, in an 88-mile bike trail along the shore of Lake Superior from Two Harbors to Grand Marais.  Twenty-nine miles are complete now with some significant new sections coming soon.
 
The Birch Grove Community Center would like to introduce you to Pickleball, if you aren’t already acquainted.  Pickleball is a fun game that combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong.  It can be played indoors or out with a paddle and a plastic ball.  It is a sport that can be enjoyed by people of all abilities.
 
Birch Grove has Pickleball every Thursday and Saturday at 10:00 am.  They are especially encouraging new players at this time and will make sure that you are comfortable and have fun.  Call Elizabeth at 663-7977 to give her a heads-up if you plan to attend.
 
The folks at the Clair Nelson Community Center in Finland are organizing an invasive weed pull on August 6 at 5:00 pm.  That is the same night and time as the popular farmer’s market, so you can stock up on fresh goodies and perform some community service at the same time.  The Lake County Invasive Species Team will be on hand to provide instruction on identification and techniques for removing invasive weeds.  Bring your gloves.
 
Congratulations to a couple of couples from Lutsen who tied the knot last weekend.  Josh Schmidt married Kim Coffman and Steve Bragg was wedded to Teresa Hansen.  Both ceremonies were loaded with locals and family from afar, all of whom enjoyed the most perfect North Shore Saturday of the decade.  It’s good to feel the love in the air in the beautiful West End.
 
 

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Cook County Local Energy Project update

 The Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP) recently hosted a solar workshop and tour. WTIP volunteer Mary Manning talked with Virginia Danfelt of the Cook County Local Energy Project on North Shore Morning.    
 
For more information on CCLEP contact:

Virginia Danfelt
localenergy@boreal.org
www.cookcountylocalenergy.org
 
 
 

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The Lake Superior Project/Logo by Lauryl Loberg

LSP: Tettegouche State Park

There are eight Minnesota state parks between Gooseberry Falls and Grand Portage. One of those parks, Tettegouche, is located near Finland and features a rugged landscape of inland lakes, the Sawtooth Mountains, and Lake Superior shoreline. In this edition of the Lake Superior Project, park naturalist Kurt Mead talks about what makes Tettegouche State Park a special place.

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{Michelle Kinsey Bruns /Flickr}

Annual Book Sale supports Library, July 30-Aug 1

It’s books, books, books and more at the annual book sale, courtesy of the Library Friends.  WTIP volunteer Yvonne Mills spoke with Nancy Backlund and Karen Kobey of Library Friends on North Shore Morning.
---------------------- 
 
The Annual used book sale sponsored by the Library Friends of Cook County will be held Thursday, July 30th through Saturday, August 1st at the Community Center in Grand Marais.
Thursday night is for the Library Friends members only between 5:00pm and 7:00pm.  Memberships will be sold at the Community Center one hour prior to the sale on Thursday afternoon. 
Friday the book sale hours are 8:00am to 4:00pm.  Saturday hours are 8:00am to noon.  
The Library Friends of Cook County is an all-volunteer nonprofit service organization that conducts the sale each year to raise funds in support of the library mission for the Grand Marais Public Library and all of the school libraries in Cook County.  

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Lioness Club Annual Fish Cake Buffet Dinner and Silent Auction, July 29

Fish cakes and more this Wednesday evening courtesy of the Grand Marais Lioness Club. WTIP volunteer host Mark Abrahamson spoke with Judy Siegle and Ann Mershon of the Grand Marais Lioness Club on North Shore Morning.

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2015 Grand Marais Lioness Club Annual Fish Cake Buffet Dinner and Silent Auction.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm 
St. Johns Catholic Church
10 East 5th Street
Grand Marais, MN 55604
This annual dinner and silent auction hosted by the Grand Marais Lioness Club is the kick-off event to Fisherman’s Picnic Weekend. 
Buffet & Silent Auction open at 5 pm
Tickets at the door.
All proceeds help fund Lioness Academic & Leadership Awards and Local Community Organizations.

 

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Blue Moon {tonnyetone /Flickr}

Northern Sky: July 25

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.

Saturn easy to find on Saturday July 25; a Blue Moon (hear Deane's explanation of the term) on July 31; Draco the Dragon; Sirus the Dog Star 'adding its heat' to the Dog Days of August; plus New Horizons news from Pluto at nasa.gov.

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Wild blueberries

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: July 24

Gunflint area atmospheric conditions remain on the sticky side as I commence with this week's scoop. Rain has been on the scant side since my last scribing and back country roads not treated chemically swirl with vehicular dust storms at every passing.

Summer is now officially a month old as we pass this fourth of five Fridays in month seven. The many Gunflint Community events of the past month have kept a lot of folks so busy, July has slipped away, barely being noticed. Although a few more special Gunflint events are on tab in a couple weeks, the area gets a brief break to just slow down and enjoy the magic of tromping out in the green forest, canoeing or fishing sky blue waters, berry harvesting, catching a critter adventure or continuing the process of “getting ready for winter.”

Mosquitoes must be reloading somewhere because they have lessened their onslaught around here, at least for the time being. This has enabled me to stop procrastinating on a few summer projects from my pre-winter check list. With five structures to maintain, keeping up with preservation is ongoing. Thus I have begun staining one side of each building in the second year of a four year sequence. You just gotta love it!

Speaking of berry harvesting, those collecting gurus have rung the picking bell. Reports confirm the crop is less abundant than in the past few years. However, the first batch I saw in a serving bowl was deep blue and scrumptious as ever. Since the blue pearl crop is apparently not a bucket buster, a real battle could be shaping up between bear and mankind to get their fill. Pickers will want to be leery of “Brunos” who may not be so willing to share a sparse patch. This time of year usually finds Ursa confined to blues picking, but our meager fruit crop could have implications for increased traffic around areas of human inhabitance. All should beware of the necessity to be good housekeepers so as to not tempt the hungry critters into becoming troublesome.

I don’t know if recent bear looting up near the end of the Trail was caused by a lack of berry opportunities, but several repetitions of breaking and entering resulted in considerable damage to properties and scares to people. Eventually this annoying animal had to be dispatched to the “great hunting ground in the wild blue.” This is unfortunate, if in fact, we two-legged beings carelessly provided this four-legged animal with favorable circumstances for criminal activity.

Hummingbird traffic to area nectar stations is back on track. After probable nesting hiatus, the mini-drones are a blur both landing and taking off from our sweetness jar at Wildersmith. It’s obvious they must possess the most intricate global positioning system in the universe to be able to avoid mid-air collisions with not only each other and on occasion, yours truly, but also countless stationary obstacles is beyond wonder.

Speaking of more Gunflint wonders, The Gunflint Community and many others from around the county stepped up big time at last week's annual canoe races event. A final tally of proceeds in support of the Trail Volunteer Fire and Rescue crews counted a record net of slightly over $23,000. What a tremendous effort by all involved! Another congrats and thanks to everyone!

This is Fred Smith, at Wildersmith, on the Trail -- enjoy the peak of summer along the Gunflint!

(Photo by Cynthia Zullo on Flickr)

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Superior National Forest Update: July 24

Hi.  I’m Ali Bickford, Information Specialist at the Forest Supervisor’s Office in Duluth, 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.
The Superior National Forest is roughly the size of the state of Connecticut, and the Supervisor’s Office, or SO, is its capital city.  We at the SO provide support and forest level direction to the five ranger districts.  In addition to administrators, there are biologists, archeologists, computer specialists, and public relations people all working for the Forest in Duluth to help our field going people in places like Tofte and Grand Marais, as well as Ely, Cook, and Aurora. So Next time you’re in Duluth, feel free to stop in and say hi, we would love to see you!
This should be a good weekend for outdoor recreation, so you may want to postpone that trip to Duluth for a rainier day.  There are some logging operations going on that you might run into during your travels, so watch out for log trucks near Harriet and Wilson Lakes as things wind down on those timber sales. But a crew just started by Hogback Lake this week, so there will still be some traffic on the east end of the Wanless Road and on Lake County 7.  Another crew is on the Dumbbell River Road and log trucks will be hauling there for at least the next week.  Those trucks will be heading west on the Wanless Road, toward Hwy. 1. 
There may be the odd log truck on the Grade and Sawbill Trail, as well.   Be aware that the Fourmile Grade between Richey Lake Road (FR 346) and Lake County #7 was closed this week to replace a large culvert at Wanless Creek.  The plan is to have that open for this weekend, but there is always the possibility of a delay.
Our midsummer is marked by two of what you can call “55 mile per hour flowers”.  These are plants you can identify from your car window when cruising past at 55.  You’ll see the broad white umbrellas of small flowers that belong to a cow parsnip, significantly taller than the other plants along the roadway.  This giant plant can get up to 8 feet high in one season.  It is a native species, but is often confused with a non-native invasive species called giant hogweed.  Giant hogweed is a relative of cow parsnip, but hogweed makes cow parsnip look small.  Hogweed can easily be taller than a house, but its main problem is that touching it causes an awful rash and blisters that can last for a year.  Luckily for us, it isn’t found here yet. Like many invasives, it is brought into an area by people on their travels.  You can help keep plants like hogweed from coming into our area by cleaning your shoes and recreation equipment before you travel back to the Northwoods.  By the way, cow parsnip can also cause a rash for some people, so if you need to clear it, cut it by hand, and use gloves don’t use a weed whip as they spray the juices around.
Our other 55 mile per hour plant is a lot friendlier.  The purple magenta flowers of fireweed are seen along many roadsides from now until the end of summer.  In fact, this plant counts down the summer with flowers starting at the bottom of the spike, and progressing upward each week.  When the flowers reach the top, summer is over.  The plant is called fireweed because it grows in openings after a fire, but it is just as happy to grow in openings caused by roads. 
Also in those openings, you will find ripe blueberries.  That means that you will also find lots of cars parked along the sides of the roads where people are blueberry picking.  If you are parking, try to find a wider spot in the road so you don’t block the roadway, and pull off as far as you safely can.  You may want to have a passenger get out and help spot the edge of the roadway though, many of our roads have an abrupt drop off, and you want to avoid accidently parking in the ditch.
Many of our fire crews have been out west helping with wildfires in Washington and California.  This is possible because so far, this has been a year with low fire danger on the Forest.  Remember that even in low danger times, you need to make sure any fire you light is out when you leave it.  Don’t decide that it is ok to just let a campfire burn out just because it isn’t a high fire danger day - always put your fires out.
With that though, have a great weekend, and enjoy the Forest.  Until next week, this has been Ali Bickford with the Superior National Forest Update. 
 

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