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North Shore Weekend

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  • Saturday 7-10am
Genre: 
Variety
Host CJ Heithoff brings you this Saturday morning show, created at the request of WTIP listeners.  North Shore Weekend features three hours of community information, features, interviews, and music. It's truly a great way to start your weekend on the North Shore. Arts, cultural and history features on WTIP’s North Shore Weekend are made possible with funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

 

 


What's On:
Abby Tofte and Sam Hedstrom with Aren and Freja

West End News: August 17

Congratulations are due to the Tofte family this week. Abby Tofte and Sam Hedstrom, along with their extended clans, have welcomed the newest addition to their family. Aren Andrew Tofte Hedstrom joins big sister Freja, and we couldn’t be happier for them. While Abby and Sam have not yet had the good sense to move back to Tofte and instead reside a bit further east in the county, they are both lifelong residents of the North Shore and it is wonderful to see another
generation coming along to carry on the great legacy of two such wonderful families.

Volunteers Ginny Cooley and Nancy Koloski are joining forces with RSVP to offer bone builders exercise classes at Birch Grove. This is a very popular national program aimed at helping prevent and treat osteoperosis. The weight bearing
exercises focus on increasing bone density, gaining strength and improving balance. If you are interested in learning more, they will be having an information session on Wednesday, August 23, at 10:30 a.m. at Birch Grove. The class times are
not set yet so if you have any interest at all, come to the meeting and let them know what times work for you. Classes will begin the first week of September. Thanks Ginny and Nancy!

A soggy summer, with a hint of sun every now and again, has made for a lush and bountiful woods. The blueberries back in the west end woods are at their peak, right now. It sounds like they might be past their prime elsewhere, but our patches
are still full of plump blue delights. We’ve also been harvesting an abundance of lobster mushrooms this week. Lobster mushrooms are large, often fan shaped, bright orange mushrooms that grow in the duff on the forest floor. The color is
similar to cooked lobster meat, and they even have a faint seafood-like aroma. Interestingly, the odd shape and color are actually a result of a mold attacking a mushroom. The underlying mushroom is overtaken by the lobster mold and a
beautiful, weird, delicious fungus is created. You prepare them by cutting off any brown spots then sautéing them in a pan of butter. We stirred ours into a risotto. As always with mushroom hunting, it is best done the first time with someone
who knows what they are looking for. Eating the wrong fungus could have really nasty consequences.

Also found in the woods with great abundance this season are woodchucks. We have had a number of the cute little visitors waddling around our place for the last week. They are adorable, and they haven’t discovered my tomato plants yet, so for
now we are coexisting quite happily. I’ll take that arrangement anytime.

For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley with the West End News.

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The wonderful new sign at Chik Wauk Museum and Nature Center, as mentioned by Wildersmith last week.

Wildersmith on the Gunflint August 11

Lest WTIP listener/readers think I might have slipped and hit my head while scribing the news last week, I did not.  As you might recall, I spaced off into oblivion while sharing about the “blueberry moon” and subsequently short circuited right into a discussion about the coming eclipse as a lunar experience.

Obviously, I must have had an “eclipse of the mind” to have not caught such a dimming blunder before it hit the air waves. 

Furthermore, any number of proof readings by we Smiths never caught the snafu, and it even got by staff scrutiny at the station.                                                              

The reporting glitch didn’t come to my attention until shortly after the second airing when I suddenly remembered the heavenly occurrence is of the solar nature. By then it was too late, and must have had folks scratching their heads in wonder as to how I could make such a foolish mistake. But I did, and regret wasting people's time putting out incorrect information while jeopardizing the integrity of future reporting.                                                                                                                         

So all the other info listed was correct, it will happen on August 21; the celestial phenomena will not be total for us at 48 degrees north; and the best view of “Sol’s” brief disappearing act in the Midwest will be a couple states to the south.    

News of this week finds the entry into August week two as north woods nice. Although shy of a good rain, there have been spotty incidents of shower downpours off and on over several days, but not amounting to much.                                                                                                                                                                         
Meanwhile, complaints about the temps being either too hot or too cool are not being heard. This goes for the lake water temps as well. Here on the Gunflint, the rippling liquid has been holding in the low to mid-70s, just right for fun in and on the “old gal.”                                                            

At the mid-point of official summer, autumn continues to nudge its way onto the scene. The fall advance is noted in places with sugar maple leaves fading to a lesser green tint; rose hips along the Mile O' Pine gaining some scarlet tone; and roadside grasses at the seed stage with flaxen shades of their final hurrahs.                                                                                                                    

With summer not yet giving way to the harvest season movement, another hatching of mosquitoes reminds us “it’s not over ‘til it’s over." This batch is of smaller character, but seems hungrier than their cousins of a few weeks ago.    
                                                                                                             
The Smiths meanwhile encountered a couple of “wild neighborhood” critters recently. It turned out to be a near-miss situation as they crossed our vehicular path without looking both ways. In fact the meeting was a double jeopardy incident as a food service 18-wheeler was coming at us from the opposite direction. The scene turned out to be a lucky day for a momma moose and her calf as well as both vehicle occupants when making moose-burger was avoided.    

Cruising the Trail a day later, I had a similar up close meeting with a young "Bruno.”  It too must have been more concerned about getting to a blueberry patch than watching for traffic along the road. Once more, a collision was averted, and the startled bear stopped long enough to look back at me in wonder. I suppose thinking, from where did that noisy, iron beast come.                                                                                                                                                                                           
Being absent for a good share of the summer, hummingbird flights have returned to our international feeding terminal. Arrivals and departures are nonstop. I’m supposing they have been on nesting duty, and with parenting out of the way, the hovering minis are free to begin bulking up for the soon to come southern trip. So the hum of birds is now in concert with that of mosquitoes buzzing about in search of a little protein.                                                                                                    

Speaking of concerts, the sound of music will be in the air on the Trail Sunday. Woods, Winds and Strings Concert (and a little jazz too) number five will be in the Fire Hall at 4:00 p.m. A reception will follow in the Schaap Community Center next door. Ticket reservations are still available at broadcast time, but must be made ASAP by calling Patsy @ 313-673-6202.                                                                 

As of this newscast moment, results of the goings-on at the Mid Trail hoedown this past Wednesday are not available. A report of their events will be included in next weeks’ Gunflint news.  
  
For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where every day is great, in a land of majestic backwoods history!
 
 

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West End News: August 10

If you spend time along the north shore of Lake Superior, chances are you’ve tried your hand at cairn making. Stacking the oblong lake rocks on top of each other in a tall, slender, stack is a time honored past-time on the beaches in our area. No does it better though, I’d venture to say, than Peter Juhl, professional stone balancer. He will be giving a presentation on his unique method of stacking of rocks at Sugarloaf Cove on August 12 during their annual ice cream social and membership meeting. Activities begin at 1pm with a short meeting followed by ice cream sundaes and a presentation by Peter. If you haven’t seen his work before, it is often recognizable by his unique ability to balance large rocks on tiny slender ones. His talk at Sugarloaf will begin with an on-screen presentation at the visitor center, then a short walk down to the Cove for some hands-on balancing practice.

A reminder that Birch Grove Community School is having their open house for the saplings program on Tuesday, August 15, from 4-7 p.m. Come find out about the great saplings program for kids ages 3-5. It runs Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. September through May. The program has flexible hours for busy families, a high quality staff, and focuses on kindergarten readiness. I tend to believe that an early childhood education like this program offered by Birch Grove is a key to a healthy start for any child. Come check out the school on August 15 and see what would be a good fit for your little one.

August 11 is the deadline to submit your comment to the US Forest Service regarding their proposed withdrawal of approximately 234,000 acres of National Forest lands from disposition under mineral leasing laws. Basically, the agency is looking at the whether these lands in the Rainy River watershed adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness should be protected from future mining projects for the next 20 years. The purpose of the withdrawal is the protection of the natural resources and waters located on the national forest lands and the potential for adverse environmental impacts that arise from mining exploration and development. This withdrawal would only apply to federal, public, national forest system lands, of course. Private land owners in the area are free to do as they wish.

This is a major proposal, and there are only a couple of times during the review process that the public has any input. Now is one of those times. You can submit a comment by mail or email, just Google Superior National Forest Application for Withdrawal and you’ll find the links from the Forest Service. Public comments are all taken into consideration. If you have a well supported comment, it is much more effective than simply signing your name to a petition. This isn’t a popularity contest, it’s a close, hard look at the potential impacts to our region. The deadline for comments is August 11, so don’t procrastinate any longer!

It should come as no surprise that I fully support the withdrawal. Public lands are here for all of us to enjoy. It might be our backyard, but it belongs to all Americans. All that protects these special places are some words on paper in Washington DC, and the hard work of people like us. It’s our turn now to take up the constant effort to educate others and preserve our greatest resource. I think we can all agree that we love our Wilderness area and the outdoor opportunities we are afforded here. Let’s keep the long view in sight and protect this way of life for our kids and grandkids.

For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley with the West End News.

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Ring nebula, courtesy of NASA

Northern Sky: August 5 - 18

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

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Joe Pye weed by Liz West, Flickr

Wildersmith on the Gunflint August 4

It’s been delightful along the Gunflint if one is partial to 80 degrees and a beastly sun beating down. The stickiness of last weekend made for an unpleasant few days in “moosedom” and caused yours truly some crankiness.                                                                                                               

As luck would have it though, a brief blessing from the rain gods last Sunday afternoon tempered the heat in border country. Although more precip is always welcome, beginning this week's scoop, some natural air conditioning has calmed my mood.                                                                                                                           
Having departed July and moved into August, the universe is but days away from the Ojibwe, full “Blueberry Moon.” In the words of North Country phenologist Larry Weber, “August is awesome” as our natural world is seeing new things blooming, others maturing and many more fading into next season obscurity.                                                                                                                                            

If this isn’t enough mysteriousness, the “man in the moon” will eclipse parts of the planet into total darkness later this month (on the 21st). Word in this territory indicates the lunar path will not make it 100 percent at this latitude. Nevertheless the heavens will be somewhat dimmed of lunar illumination around here. I’m told Missouri is the place to be for the full affect in the Midwest.      

New floral blooming is taking the byway spotlight by storm. Fireweed, black eyed Susans, goldenrod, yarrow and an early patch of Joe Pye weed have caught my attention on several up the Trail treks in recent days.                                                                                                                                                                                                         
The shower mentioned earlier couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m certain these new flowering Trail starlets are drinking it up. The power of “Sol” has dried the area considerably since we last met. Thus low level wild fire risk, during the past several weeks (since Memorial Day) has hiked up into the moderate danger category. Everyone is urged to exercise common sense/caution when it comes to sparking that primeval survival force of a fire at the campsite or wherever.                                                                                                                                                                                  
In addition to all these nature made comings and goings, several manmade affairs dot the calendar. The “biggest blueberry contest” continues into week three.                                                   

WTIP listener/readers are reminded once more of the Mid-Trail fundraising event taking center stage Wednesday, the 9th at Fire Hall  No. 1, beginning at 12:00 noon.                                                        

Next is act two in the Mid-Trail date book with the Woods, Winds and Strings Concert, Sunday, the 13th. It too is held in Fire Hall No. 1/Schaap Community Center beginning at 4:00 p.m. Ticket reservations can be secured from Patsy @ 313-673-6202. 

Then two weeks from now, on Saturday, the 19th, a celebration of National Honey Bee Day will find special presentations at the Chik-Wauk Nature Center. Running from 11:00 a.m. til 3:00 p.m, activities include a pollinator-focused nature hike at 12:30; Bumblebee Identification; Building for native bees; Making seed paper; Wax crafts and Children’s bee and flower crafts.

Featured speaker, local beekeeper, Mark Ditmanson will talk on diversity and importance of the wild bee population along with beekeeping in the Boreal forest at 1:00 p.m. At approximately 2:00 p.m., a couple of Master Gardeners will discuss the need for pollinator plants and bee habitat in garden plots. Things look to be a buzzing that day at end of the Trail.                                                                                                                                                                                    
If area folk were not in attendance for the programming at the Chik-Wauk Nature Center last Sunday, you missed an energetic and informative session with Saturday morning WTIP commentator and outdoor specialist, Larry Weber.   

In this day of alleged “Fake News,” he gave attendees the real scoop on “Spiders of the North Woods.” It was so enlightening I am now counting spiders in the same category as beavers in terms of top level engineering design and craftsmanship excellence. Mr. Weber clued us in on architects of the original “world wide web," from identification of our crawling eight-legged neighbors, to separating the boys from the girls; and to their abilities in silky web construction. Not only are these beings awesome fine line fabricators, they are terrific recyclers! Should Larry ever pass this way again, it is well worth the effort to spend time with him!                                                                                

Along with the mention of beavers a few lines ago, I found a thought-provoking article worth reading in the August/September National Wildlife magazine. While a lot of folks out this way have little good to say about the gnawing critters, specifically in regard to their cutting this or blocking that on and along our water-ways, this scribing looks at the busy “aamikwag” (Ojibwe) differently and sees “Beavers as Ecopartners.” The commentary, by Anne Bolen, may not change North Woods opinions but nevertheless provides an alternate perspective. Hope all beaver fans, or otherwise, can get a chance to read it.                                                                                                                                                     
For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail at Wildersmith, where every day is great, with the “greatest show on earth” right outside our front door!
 

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A lovely young buck was spotted on Moose Pond Road this week.

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: July 28

Summer is humming along out Gunflint way. With month seven on its last legs and August pushing the issue, there’s a subtle hint of fall showing in Trail territory.                                          

Dogbane turning gold, lupine blooms fading to seed pods and rose hips popping out on wild rose bushes, validates summer is peaking. Further authentication, of the season at hand, finds berry picking season in full swing.                                                                                                

A trip along the upper Trail requires drivers to maintain keen observation as the blueberry picking folk might be caught pulling their vehicles from secret off road places, while others, in a frenzy to get out in the patches, barely get off the hard surface. In either case, traffic safety is jeopardized for a few weeks.                                                                                                                                                            

In regard to the excitement of blueberry season, week one of the Gunflint Trail “biggest blueberry contest” is ending, and week two commences this weekend. What a unique idea by whoever suggested such. I find the contest interesting in that it’s called the “biggest” when the big winner each week will be measured in grams.                                                                                            

Weigh-in stations are located at several places along the Trail from Bearskin Lodge to Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center. I was present for a weigh-in at Chik-Wauk last Saturday when a young gal presented her largest purple pearl. It came in at a whopping .78 of a gram. After the official documentation, she promptly ate it.                                                                                                                                                                                            
There are some neat prize opportunities for the weekly winners. Sorry, but no store purchased specimens allowed. Learn more here. 

Final results of last week's canoe races have been tallied. This year's fundraiser for the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department generated a donation of just over $20,000. Another great effort, and thanks to all!                                                 

This in mind, with August but days away, the second event on behalf of the Trail Fire Department & Rescue Squad is coming on fast. The annual Mid-Trail Flea market, Gift Boutique and Live Auction happens on Wednesday, August 9th. Event activities begin at 12 p.m.  in Fire hall # 1, Mid-Trail.                                                                                                                                                     

The now famous Mid-Trail quilters have another work of art that will be given away to conclude the afternoon festivities. Tickets continue on sale for that drawing from folks living in Trail Center neighborhoods. The Live Auction is always a raucous happening with lots of frivolity, so mark your calendars and don’t miss it!                                                                                                                                  

The month eight Gunflint calendar features another event on the second weekend. The fifth annual Woods, Winds and Strings Concert with a little jazz too, hits the Trail on Sunday, August 13th, also in the Mid-Trail Fire Hall facilities.        

Beginning at 4:00 p.m., this event has continually been a sell-out with only 150 tickets available. Ticket reservations can be made by calling Patsy at 313-673-6202 or by email at pcoleman@chem.wayne.edu.

This performance is an outstanding chance to hear the talent of many local musical artists together in concert amidst great outdoor ambience.    

Before all of these August happenings, July begins its fade away at the Chik-Wauk Nature Center this coming Sunday the 30th. Nationally known phenologist, retired Duluth science instructor and Saturday morning  WTIP commentator, Larry Weber will be the featured program speaker.                                                                                                                                                                     

Living in an area where uncountable insects and crawling things command our attention, Mr. Weber will be acquainting attendees with one of those classifications. Having written many books on our out-of-doors, he will be telling us about the original fiber optics producers, “Spiders of the North Woods.” The program begins at 2:00 p.m.                                                                    

An added note on the Chik-Wauk facility comes to mind with the new signage along the Trail. It’s located at the turn off onto Moose Pond Drive (County Road # 81). If you haven’t been out and seen the new unit, I’m telling you it’s a work of art.

Kudos go to Bruce Kerfoot and Bill Douglas for the magnificent stone work foundation, and the Seatons (Dave and Nancy) for their design and production of the woodwork. A few ladder signs are yet to be completed, then the new display board will better head visitors in the right direction for stories about the Gunflint Trail.                                                                                                                                     

A week of news from the Gunflint doesn’t seem complete without a story of a critter in our “Wild Neighborhood.” This time the wilderness celebrity is a white tailed deer.                                                      

Over the past several years, members of our venison herd are seldom seen in these parts due to an imbalance in the predator-prey environment. So the gal that spotted this one was quite surprised “when what to her wondering eyes should appear,” but a handsome young buck in the early day sun.                                                                                                                                              

Of amusing significance is the copper-tone beauty was observed not on a typical wild land trail, but on Moose Pond Road near--what else?-- the moose pond. What a whimsical situation! See a digital of “Mr. Bright Eyes” walking toward the photographer’s vehicle alongside this report.

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail at Wildersmith, where every day is great in the “Land of Sky Blue Waters.”       

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West End News: July 27

I am sad to report this week that the West End has lost one of its fixture members. Mike Nelson, of Tofte, passed away peacefully this week after a short battle with cancer. Mike raised four daughters in Tofte - Alana, Sarena, Gina and Christina. Among many wonderful qualities, they say they will especially remember his love for his friends and family and his great sense of humor through everything. There will be a celebration of life for Mike on August 5 at 11 a.m. at Zoar Lutheran Church in Tofte. I will miss seeing Mike parked on the Sawbill Trail at the Temperance River crossing, pausing to appreciate the day.
 
On Tuesday, August 15, Birch Grove is holding their Dress to Play open house. The whole communitiy is invited to join current, past and potential Birch Grove families at Birch Grove in Tofte. From 4-7 p.m. you’ll be able to meet school staff and school board members, ask them your questions, tour the school and connect with other Birch Grove families. There will be free hot dogs, S'Mores, a bouncy house and art projects for the kiddos. They will also have registration information available for the Community Service Program, the Saplings program for 3-5 year olds, and the K-5 program. Bring your family and friends and dress to play! Again that’s coming up on August 15 from 4-7.
 
On Sundays from now until August 27 you can catch Music on the Mountain at Mogul's Grill and Taproom in Lutsen. Each week from 5-8 p.m. different bands will play outside on the deck. It’s a great excuse to sneak away to Lutsen for an evening and enjoy some outside time during our all too brief summer.
 
The Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters and Sustainable Ely are having a Boundary Waters Grill-Out on Thusday, August 3, from 4-7 p.m. in the Grand Marais Rec Park lakeside pavilion. I realize that’s not in the West End, but the Boundary Waters is, and if you’re curious what these organizations have been up to, please join us on Thursday to hear their update. The Campaign is providing all grill items and beverages, so feel free to bring a side dish to share if you like. There will be a bonfire, lawn games, and music as well as Campaign information, updates and merchandise.
 
Even if you aren’t familiar, or are even suspicious of groups like Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, I encourage you to join for an evening of fun and get to know each other. I recently attended the US Forest Service’s listening session in Virginia, Minnesota, regarding the agency's proposal to put a moratorium on mining leases on a portion of land adjacent to the BWCAW. Emotions ran high at the public listening session where people from both sides of the issue argued passionately about their view points. I had my one-year-old Kit along, so I spent a fair amount of time wandering the hallway just outside the meeting room. There were quite a few mining advocates also milling around this hallway, and Kit and a I had a wonderful time chatting with them about life on the Range, funny kid stories, and, of course, the weather. It was a much-needed reminder that even though we are on polar opposite ends of an emotional issue we are still neighbors first, and really, Northeastern Minnesotans have a lot more in common than we don’t.
 
For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley with the West End News.
 

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Northern Sky: July 22 - August 4

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

Photo courtesy of ESO/E. Jehin

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: July 21

Another superior weather week along the Gunflint is into the books. Heading into the final stanza of month seven, the territory has escaped the miserable heat and humidity to date that has had areas to the south in a strangle hold for weeks. If we can get by another few weeks, the area will have had a marvelous “up north” summer.  

Rain accumulations have slackened over the past days, but still dropping just enough in this neighborhood to keep the dust down and wildfire danger low. Nevertheless, residents and visitors can never take fire potential for granted. It’s always plausible where there are people.  

The rising lake level of the past six weeks on the Gunflint Gal has stabilized, and dropped ever so slightly since peaking with my DNR measurement mid-month. It seems as though this body needs in excess of at least an inch a week in the watershed to hold steady against the outflow toward its final destination in Hudson’s Bay. Here at Wildersmith, we’ve had slightly over one-half inch since we last met.

While talking of water, the temperature of the lake at my dock has been registering in the high 60s to 70 at a depth of four feet. It will get one’s attention at first dipping, but becomes more comfortable after the old body adjusts.  

A few mornings ago, following a brief early-hour thundershower, I was sitting at my window to the forest world. Clouds were parting, and the flora was dripping as spears of sunbeams danced about wherever openings in the foliage would allow. The magic of the moment was captured as growing air movement had rain droplets wiggling loose from a trillion needles and leaflets. Catching the glistening rays, the rainy residuals were falling like sparkling diamonds.

Whereas the masses of droppings were crystal clear, a couple hangers-on found a spontaneous moment in the sun, refracting light into eye popping sapphires. Lasting for only an instance, the liquid blue gems were suddenly gone, lost on the forest floor to nourish the beings of “mother earth.” What a sparkling way to kick off another day as the beat of wilderness enchantment goes on and on with adventure after adventure!

Quiet as a windless north woods night, a momma bear and her three cubs came through a couple's yard one night recently. Although windows were open there was no “bear talk” to be heard by those inside. However, the “Bruno” family wasn’t aware of their cameo appearance on the trail cam, so like us humans in this day and age, you never know who might be watching.

While thinking of bears in the woods, it dawned on me the hungry blueberry consumers are soon to be in the patches scarfing up the purple gems. A gal up at Chik-Wauk came by on my volunteer day last week to show off a handful she had picked on the site. So the purplish treasures are on the way, and pickers might expect to share the patch with not only friends, but maybe a bear. We should all remember bears were here first, so it is prudent to yield without question! 

Canoe races hit the waterfront at Gunflint Lodge this last Wednesday evening for the 40th time. Another big turn-out enjoyed the aqueous events, especially the canoe tug-o-war and of course, the gunnel pumping.  

Congrats and thanks to Canoe Races chair, Arden Byers, and his great crew of volunteers for putting together another super-organized Community event. A report on proceeds from the fundraiser will be available next week. 

Finally, after a splendid program last Sunday on” Wolves at Our Door,” the Chik-Wauk Nature Center has another interesting program on the docket this weekend. Plan to be there Sunday, July 23, at 2:00 p.m. for the story of a Wisconsin logging company located in Port Arthur, Ontario, which built and traveled the “Gunflint and Lake Superior Railroad.” Historian David Battistel will take attendees back in time for another look at events shaping the Gunflint Territory.

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail at Wildersmith, where every day is great, with countless places to see and things to do!                               
    
 

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Grand Canyon sunset

West End News: July 20

I often talk about the myriad outdoor opportunities to be had here in the West End. One of my favorite aspects of the landscape here is that it is so accessible. While out in the woods and on the lakes I’ve seen people from all stages of life, whether it be babies on their first excursion, or 90-year-old grandparents revisiting their favorite lake from a lifetime ago.

If you are closer to that second category than the first, you should be aware that the Senior Pass for National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands is increasing in price from $10 to $80 on August 28. So for the next week, if you are over the age of 62, $10 will get you access to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by six federal agencies, including the National Park Service and the US Forest Service. The pass covers the entrance and standard day-use amenity fees. Your traveling companions can also enter for free on your pass. You can get your pass at any federal recreation site that charges an entrance fee.

Speaking of our national treasures, the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are holding the last official public listening session on the issue of mining near the Boundary Waters this Tuesday, July 25, in Virginia, Minnesota. These listening sessions give the federal agency the opportunity to hear from the public about their concerns, on the record. Those who want to speak will be chosen that day through a lottery system. Each person selected has three minutes to speak. You can also defer your three minutes to someone else if you are chosen.

The listening session will be held at the Virginia High School auditorium from 5 to 7:30 p.m., doors open at 4:30. The session is focused on the fact that on January 13, federal agencies initiated an environmental revew of the watershed surrounding the Boundary Waters Wilderness and Lake Superior region to determine the impacts of potential sulfide-ore copper mining. So, if you have something you’d like the officials to hear about this topic, please consider taking the trip over to Virginia and make your voice heard.

While the world sometimes feels small in our little corner of Cook County, these are good reminders that we are part of a larger community both here in Minnesota and in our nation. It is up to us to be good stewards of our land, nobody else is going to do it for us. We have a long and proud legacy that is closely tied to our landscape. I hope we can speak loudly for this quiet place and keep it out of the hands of large foreign corporations. We owe it to ourselves and our community.

For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley with the West End News.