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North Shore Digest

North Shore Digest airs on WTIP Monday-Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. (hankoss/Flickr)

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News & Information
North Shore Digest airs from 5-6 p.m. weekdays and is the place to get caught up with what’s happening in your backyard and beyond, with international and national news from the Associated Press and local news from WTIP's News Department. The program always incorporates local announcements and events, significant interviews with local people and newsmakers, a mix of music, and features like National Native News, School News, and the Minnesota News Connection. 

What's On:
Trout fishing, same time, next year...

West End News: July 14

The theme for this year’s exhibit at the Cross River Heritage Center in Schroeder is “Boom Town to Ghost Town: Taconite Harbor.” In keeping with the theme, the Schroeder Area Historical Society is convening a panel of former Taconite Harbor residents and workers that includes Bud Buckman, Gary Hansen, Charlie Nelson, Charlie Tice and Steve Quaife.  It is a great pleasure to have all of these experienced and respected men together to discuss the fascinating history of Tac Harbor. The panel discussion is at the Cross River Heritage Center in Schroeder on Saturday, July 16, at 11 a.m.  All are welcome and I’ll be surprised if cookies and coffee are not served.
 
On the same Saturday, July 16, the new North Shore Winery and Sawtooth Mountain Cider House are celebrating their grand opening with wine and cider tasting, tours, neighborly visiting and live music. The winery is just a little way up the Ski Hill Road in Lutsen on the right hand side. The celebration runs from 2 until 5 p.m., so it’s the perfect destination after catching the Taconite Harbor panel in Schroeder. Be there, or be square.
 
The U.S. Forest Service has scheduled a listening session to collect public opinion about the renewal of public mineral leases for the proposed Twin Metals copper-nickel mine near Ely. The session is scheduled from 5 until 7:30 p.m. at the Ely Memorial High School in Ely.
 
The issue at stake is a little arcane, as it revolves around the renewal of expired public mineral leases that were purchased by Twin Metals’ predecessor in the 1960s. The leases have been renewed more-or-less automatically in the past. The original leases were purchased before the passage of federal laws that protect water, air and land against industrial pollution.
 
The Twin Metals mining project abuts immediately up to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and water flows downhill from the proposed mine into Voyageurs National Park and Quetico Park in Canada. If built, it would be the largest mine in the history of North America.
 
The long and short of it is that the mining company has captured the hearts of most local political leadership up to and including the Congressional level. However, the vast majority of Minnesotans, including a solid majority of the people in northeastern Minnesota, strongly oppose the mine.
 
The pros and cons of large scale sulfide mining aside, Twin Metals presents a very interesting political situation where many of our elected leaders whole-heartedly support the mining, while the majority of their constituents do not. This says a lot about modern American politics and begs the question of just whom our elected officials feel beholden to.
 
It is fair to say that a significant minority of Minnesotans do support the mine, usually citing the jobs that it will create. On the other hand, much evidence points to the job creation being counter productive and unsustainable over the long term.
 
In any case, I urge everyone to educate themselves on this crucial issue and make your opinion known to the Forest Service and your elected officials at all levels of government. The very nature of our region hinges on it.
 
There is a famous play and movie called “Same Time, Next Year.”  It tells the story of a couple who carry on an intimate relationship for a few days each year for 26 years. I have had this same kind of relationship for going on for nearly 40 years. The big difference is that my annual liaison is not an affair, but a trout fishing date.
 
My friend, Dale Kauffman, has been staying at the Baker Lake campground since 1955. He remembers the first year because his family traveled from Iowa in their brand new 1955 Chevy station wagon.
 
At some point in dim history, Dale and I began trout fishing the same stretch of a local river for a single day each year. Other than an occasional phone call around the holidays, our relationship has been based on this singular annual event. 
 
After Dale married, his wife, Priscilla, joined us on our visit to the stream. Priscilla liked to fish, but she didn’t like to trout fish for some reason, so she would sit on the riverbank and write poetry while Dale and I enticed brook trout with our size “OO” Mepps spinners.
 
Sadly, Priscilla suddenly and unexpectedly passed away a few years ago, but Dale and I have fished on. The bond between the three of us had become so strong that I was invited to participate in the spreading of Priscilla’s ashes near her favorite campsite. After the ashes were spread, Dale and I went trout fishing, with Priscilla never far from our minds.
 
Although our friendship goes back more than 40 years, we’ve only spent a few dozen days together. But, I treasure Dale’s friendship and the memory of Priscilla as much as anything in my life – well, except maybe for his corny jokes. This week, Dale and I will be back on the river, and with the good Lord willing, we’ll be back there --- same time, next year.
 

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A Year in the Wilderness: July 12 - Day 285

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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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.

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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 WTIP.org – 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!

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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.

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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 grandmarais@citizensclimatelobby.org.
 

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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)
 

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LSProject: Why do we love Lake Superior?

Lake Superior is a big part of the landscape in northeastern Minnesota…and it has special meaning for most visitors and residents. In this edition of WTIP’s ongoing series, The Lake Superior Project, producer Martha Marnocha heard from several people with their thoughts on this huge freshwater lake.

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A Year in the Wilderness: June 27 - Snipe Lake side trips

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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Moose down

West End News: June 23

The annual Gala For The Grove was a smashing success again last week, bringing the West End Community together to raise a solid nest egg for the Birch Grove Community School. The generosity of the community is truly a wonder to behold, even if it does happen reliably year after year. Dozens and dozens of raffle and auction items were donated from businesses and individuals from Grand Portage to Silver Bay. The bidding was reckless and occasionally hilarious, with some people bidding against their spouses or even themselves.

It's all for a good cause though, as Birch Grove Community School is the heartbeat of the West End. If we can't support our children, then what good are we?

In the midst of the auction, Charles VanDoren, from Schroeder, offered an interesting auction item. He had four tickets to an alumni football game on July 2nd at Cook County High School in Grand Marais. I think this means that the former Cook County football players will suit up and play against the current football team. While this makes me profoundly grateful that I am not eligible to play, it does mean that Charley VanDoren has agreed to play. He will be the oldest player on the field, representing the alumni as a current three-time and soon to be five-time grandfather. I wish him the most sincere luck and best wishes for not getting hurt. The proceeds from the fun will go to support the girl's basketball and volleyball teams, along with the boy's football team.

A few years ago, my girlfriend, Cindy Hansen, participated in the much less risky alumni cheerleading exhibition. While she did avoid any serious injury, I did notice that the Advil bottle was in active use for a couple of weeks afterward.

While it is great to see Birch Grove thriving, we will soon need to turn our attention to a couple of levy referendum questions that Cook County School District 166 will place on the ballot this November. While I disagree with the system of funding public schools through periodic referendum, I do recognize that it is how things are done now and we should wholeheartedly support the District 166 in their request. Most of our Birch Grove graduates end up attending 166 for their middle and high school years, so we need to keep the system strong for the sake of future generations and the future of Cook County - in my humble opinion.

The Lutsen 99er mountain bike race booked every room and many campsites in the West End for the weekend of June 25th. The race started with 80 riders five year ago and registered nearly 2,000 riders this year and that's with registrations being cut off at 1,800 - all this on a June weekend that didn't come close to selling out in the past. It's just one example of the growth in the tourism industry since the Visit Cook County organization was formed and funded. It's amazing what we can accomplish when we all work together.

The storm of Sunday, June 19, exacted a tragic toll in the BWCA Wilderness, with the death of a fine teacher from Rochester and the serious injury of his 14 year old son. The property damage from the storm, although substantial, paled in comparison to the loss and grief for the Walz family and their larger community in southeastern Minnesota. Our hearts go out to them.

In Lutsen, many trees went down, including a few that fell on renowned sculptor Tom Christianson's Last Chance Gallery. To add insult to the injury to Tom's roof, his larger than life, multi-colored steel moose sculpture was blown over. On the following Tuesday, Tom was surprised to see the moose spontaneously back on its feet. This bordered on a miracle, because the moose weighs a ton, so putting it upright was no small task. After an incredulous posting on Facebook, it came to light that the Good Samaritan was Mike MacMillan and his merry crew at MacMillan's Tree Service. They had been called to remove the trees from the gallery roof and while they were at it, they used their heavy equipment and considerable skills to upright the giant steel moose. It's not only a story of neighborliness, but also an apt metaphor for how the West End community takes care of each other in the practical matters of food and housing and also in attending to our artistic and culture needs. It's just a part of what makes the wonderful West End a great place to live.

For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.
 

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