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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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When not chasing rabbits, pine martens can sometimes be found eating bird seed

West End News: March 17

 
Everyone was pleasantly surprised this week by the announcement from Cliffs Natural Resources that they would re-open Northshore Mining in mid-May.  The plant in Silver Bay has been in shutdown since December, causing the layoff of 540 employees.  The good news came because the domestic steel market has picked up a little faster than many industry experts were predicting. Even the threat of curtailing sales of below cost steel from foreign producers seems to have perked up the market, along with a number of other factors.
 
The bottom line for the West End, though, is that many of our immediate friends and neighbors will be back to work full time – and that’s a relief.
 
I was a little distressed to hear that the Silver Bay city council banned the sale of Bent Paddle Beer in their municipal liquor store. The reason given was Bent Paddle’s membership in the Downstream Business Coalition, which is a group of about 80 regional businesses that support clean water and sustainable economic development. Full disclosure: I’m a member of the coalition, so I’m biased on this subject. However, I think the city council would reconsider if they could have a good conversation with the fine folks at Bent Paddle Brewery. The coalition is very supportive of iron mining and doesn’t even oppose sulfide mining. It is just opposed to the risk of water pollution that historically accompanies sulfide mining.
 
It’s all a bit of a tempest in a teapot, but I would like to point out that the only purchase that I made in the Silver Bay liquor store this year was a couple of cases of Bent Paddle Beer. I do think, no matter where people stand on the sulfide mining issue, that spirited discussion is healthy for our communities and people should not be threatened with business retaliation for their honestly held political opinions.
 
Mining news continued last week with a couple of serious setbacks for the proposed Twin Metals mining project near Ely. Governor Dayton wrote a public letter to the company expressing his grave concerns about sulfide mining directly upstream from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  The Governor said he was unwilling to allow the risk of pollution in the wilderness, calling it “a crown jewel of Minnesota.”
 
Just a few days later, the Bureau of Land Management denied automatic renewal of two key federal mineral leases that have been held by Twin Metals for decades. These two developments, along with a depressed global metals market, may well spell the end for the Twin Metals project, at least for the foreseeable future. Time will only tell.
 
The 2016 Great Place Project is accepting applications until the end of March. The Great Place Project a collaborative effort of the Cook County Chamber of Commerce and the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic’s Moving Matters initiative. The Great Place Project is a friendly, local opportunity for funding of high impact, low cost ideas to create great places in our communities. Funding amounts range from $250 to $1,250 per selected project. This year, the Minnesota Power Foundation has joined as a major sponsor of the Great Place Project.
 
The theme for 2016 is “playability.” Projects that enhance or create a place that welcomes people with a playfulness or whimsy, especially for children, will be favored. You can find more details, examples and some really fun and well-produced videos by googling “Great Place Project – Cook County.”
 
It was a good week for animal viewing on the back roads. I saw a pine marten chasing a snowshoe hare down the road. The pine marten ducked into the woods as I drew near, but the exhausted rabbit could barely climb over the snow-bank. Moments later I passed a second marten that was closing in on the rabbit from the other direction. I have little doubt that the rabbit became lunch not too long after I passed.
 
The next day I saw three lynx on the road. The largest of the three cats stayed on the road, but kept glancing toward the woods, where I spotted two adolescent kittens. Once the kittens ran off, the adult followed, disappearing with two effortless leaps.
 
It’s always a thrill to see wildlife in the woods. It reminds me why we love living here in the West End.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Construction on new Two Harbors location

"Hunger Hero" initiative will aid local residents

March is National Food Shelf Month and the North Shore Federal Credit Union is offering to match donations as part of its "Hunger Hero" initiative.

President Mark Summers spoke with WTIP volunteer Yvonne Mills about this initiative on North Shore Morning.

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"What the Health?! How do we plan for Community Vitality?" presentation on March 23

"What the Health?! How do we plan for Community Vitality?" is the topic of an evening of improvisational theater, discussion and dinner. WTIP volunteer Yvonne Mills learns more in this interview with Kristin DeArruda Wharton and Tane Danger.

The Sawtooth Mountain Clinic is sponsoring “What the Health?! How do we plan for community vitality?” on March 23 at 5:30 pm at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts. Childcare will be provided, and RSVP by calling 387-2330, ext. 163.
 

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School News from Oshki Ogimaag: March 15

Kiara reports the latest School News.

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Birch Grove Community School

School News from Birch Grove: March 14

Goshi and Kalina report the latest School News.

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New documentary on the North Shore steamer 'America'

Before the internet, telephones and even Highway 61, Minnesota's North Shore was served by water, with frequent visits by a steamer called the 'America.' WDSE from Duluth/Superior has now produced a documentary on the America. 
 
WTIP host LeAnn Zunker spoke with producer Karen Sunderman on North Shore Morning.

Documentary airs on WDSE:
Monday, March 14 at 7 pm
Wednesday, March 16 at 8:30pm
 

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Superior National Forest Update: March 11

Hi. This is Chris Beal, wildlife biologist on the Gunflint District, with the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For the beginning of March, here’s what’s happening on the Forest.

The main story on the forest this week is the end of winter and the beginning of the mud season. Winter recreation is coming to an end as snow melts and ground is exposed, and yet it still isn’t warm enough for most of our summer fun to begin. It is a good time of year though to go on a wander through the woods looking for signs of spring. The chickadees are singing spring songs, there’s a smell of moist earth in the air, and on a sunny day, you can tell that summer is just around the corner. Beware though, winter is still here on this side of the corner. It is actually easy to become hypothermic this time of year. People dress optimistically for the warmth of the middle of the day, but the temperature can drop quickly. Damp air and rain can cool a person much faster than dry winter air and snow, so your body may actually lose heat faster than in midwinter. Be aware that it ain’t summer yet, and dress according to what the weather is, not what you are hoping it will be.

Lakes are very slushy, and even if fish houses do not have to come off the lakes yet, it is a good idea to get them off early. The DNR has set a date of March 21st for most of the Forest, and March 31st for the Canadian border waters, but given the slushy conditions, it may be hard to haul houses off the lake by those dates. Be sure to check ice thickness before you venture onto the ice, particularly if you are using any equipment to move your fish house.

If lakes are slushy, roads are icy. Compacted snow on roads has changed to ice in many areas, and the clear portions of roads are very soft and muddy. Cook County has imposed seasonal weight restrictions due to the soft roadways, and shoulders of roads are becoming particularly untrustworthy. Some of our field going personnel have reported that there are many stretches of roadway where they’ve been forced to travel at 20 miles per hour or below due to the combination of ice and soft roadways. The weight restrictions do mean that there won’t be any timber hauling going on, so you shouldn’t have to worry about logging traffic.

If you are trying to squeeze a little more winter in, and decide to go skiing or snowmobiling, be prepared for the conditions. 4 inches of snow cover are required to legally run a snow machine cross country, and we are running out of snow fast. On trails, remember that it is easy to damage soft trails in the spring, and if you want nice trails next winter, you should treat them carefully now. It is harder for a skier to damage a trail, but skiers need to watch out for the trail damaging the skier. Trails in spring can be icy and fast, and when you are coming down a hill at top speed and hit a patch of bare ground at the bottom, you come to an abrupt stop. Through the years, several people have discovered that this is an easy time of year to break your leg.

If mud season is starting to sound pretty dangerous and gloomy, don’t forget that it is also the time of returning life to the forest. Eagles are on eggs, ravens are flying around with sticks in their beaks, and birds are starting to sing. It is great time to be outside, just be careful how you get there!

Until next time, this has been Chris Beal with the National Forest Update.

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: March 11

I sound like a broken record in recounting the week's upper Gunflint weather. Trail residents went through a third consecutive weekend meltdown. This past episode took on more serious connotations in terms of winter packing up and calling it a season. With a forecast of unseasonal warmth in the offing this week and beyond, it would seem “old man winter” has played his last hand.

Sadly, if such is the case, this has to be one of the shortest winters in memory. When borderland normal usually ranges from November into May (a good half calendar year), we barely experienced three months in ‘15 and ’16. Whether this is a cyclical phenomenon or another outgrowth of self-serving mankind abusing the environment, guess we might as well accept this is probably the new norm.

A brief reflection of what our season of cold and snow has been, finds snow accumulation at Wildersmith to date measures 66 inches. Most of this has fallen in minimal doses of two, three or four inches with no meaningful droppings at least in this neighborhood.

Meanwhile we did not experience the traditional multi-day siege of sub-zero in January. In fact, we had only a handful of morning low temps in the minus 25 to 30 realms. This followed a bumbling December with minimal frosty personality and February having little bitter clout as well. To further illustrate the meek north woods air, the National Weather Service sensation of wind chill has been almost non-existent. Bluntly speaking, my favorite season has been simply wimpy!

Here we are heading into the second week of March, warm, slushy and slimy slick under foot. Trail-side snowbanks are showing the look of icky urban crud, and “mud season” seems just a few more warm days off and early to say the least. Adding to our winter catastrophe, rain showers, hail, thunder and lightning pelted various places up the Trail early this week.

It would seem the Ojibwe full, “crust on the snow moon” will be inappropriate this time around. The way things are going, there may be no snow left as we reach the “Vernal Equinox” and the full lunar rising about the same time.

On another note, this coming Sunday (2:00 am) marks another instance of our society tinkering with the natural world, as we nonsensically “spring ahead” on our time pieces. To yours truly, time passes by fast enough, surely lessening the need to jump our clocks ahead every year at this time. Furthermore, the “fall back” come November is little noticed and always seems a lost cause in the total scheme of late autumn happenings.

Getting down off my “soap box” now, I’m happy to announce the annual trout fishing derby made it just under the wire as winter staggered under a beaming “Sol” last Sunday. Somewhere over 70 ice anglers registered for the competition on sloppy Gunflint Lake ice.

A big crowd of onlookers gathered to enjoy a day in the sun as they stood on the ice in ankle deep slush and water. Miraculously, there were no issues with the uncommonly thin frozen surface. Guess it was safe enough though as any number of pickup trucks ventured onto the gooey mess, and at day's end, spun their way back to the mainland.

The purpose of the day was trout catching fun, but only a few were pulled through the hard water holes. The fish, once again, had the last laugh as only five were posted by quitting time.

In the end, two Grand Marais gals were at the top of the leader board. The $500 first prize, for the largest catch of the day, went to Lynn Christensen, with Britney Trovall coming in second. Congratulations and thanks go out to the organizing Cook County Ridge Riders, on braving the difficult lake conditions for another swell event.

At broadcast time, the “Dog days of Winter” are still on the docket for Sunday in spite of the big warm-up. The dogsled derbies and skijoring will be held on Poplar Lake at Trail Center Lodge. To keep track of any possible scheduling changes due to the reeling winter conditions, check visitcookcounty.com.

This is Fred Smith, on the Trail at Wildersmith, savoring the thought of real yesteryear winters and looking for first buds of the next generation.

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Anishinaabe Way: The Inherent Right of Sovereignty, Part 5

April McCormick works in the Land Trust office on the Grand Portage reservation. She defines the various types of land ownership at Grand Portage, and the tribe's land acquisition initiative, an effort that has resulted in a 98% ownership of lands held in trust by the tribe. Land repatriation is also a priority at the Red Cliff Reservation, where the tribe recently finished work on Frog Bay Tribal National Park, the first tribal owned and operated National Park in the country.
 

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A Year in the Wilderness: March 10 - Rain and warm

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)

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