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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:
Loren Acton

West End News: June 8

Meeting new people is one of my favorite parts of the summer visitor season. With a wide array of things to do and see in the most popular Wilderness area right in our backyard, people from all walks of life are drawn to Cook County. You just never know who is going to walk through the door, and I love it.

This week a nice fellow stopped by my office to inquire whether I, or someone I knew, would like to buy is his old Kevlar canoe. Now, he is not the first person to ask me this, nor is it really something I usually do. I have plenty of my own canoes to deal with. This man was so nice, however, that I thought I’d at least take a shot at finding a new home for his canoe. He and his wife were hitting the road for Montana the next morning. Fellow Sawbillian Jessica Hemmer sent out a few texts and lo and behold, Adrian Hess of Lutsen was in the market for a new-to-him canoe. The next morning, the gentleman came back to our store and while Jessica was helping him get the canoe off his car he casually mentioned “well, something kind of interesting you can tell your friend, he just bought this canoe from an astronaut.”

Sure enough, our kind visitor turned out to be none other than Loren Acton, a physicist who specializes in solar physics. Loren flew on STS-51-F/Spacelab-2 Challenger in 1985. It took seven years of training to prepare and at the end of the mission he had spent just over a week in space, and traveled over 2.8 million miles in 126 Earth orbits. Currently, he is a research professor of physics at Montana State University. Loren and his wife Evelyn are two of the nicest people I’ve met, which would’ve been great in and of itself, but it’s not everyday that an astronaut strolls into your office - that’s for sure!

The much anticipated Lutsen 99er bike race is coming up on June 24 this year. While registration for the race itself is closed, there are still volunteer opportunities to be had. If you are interested, you can get a hold of Signe Larson by emailing her at signesummer@gmail.com. There are pre-race jobs on Thursday and Friday as well as places to help during the race itself. The race is quite the event, and something well worth checking out. The big start is at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday at Lutsen Mountain near Rosie’s Chalet and spectators are welcome. After the race there will be live music at Papa Charlie's.

Speaking of biking, the sun is shining and it’s time for me to hit the trail.

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

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Dr. Seth Moore

Dr. Seth Moore: Engaging tribal youth in an environmental career path

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 project that hopes to engage Grand Portage tribal youth in environmental education and careers.

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Ovenbird

North Woods Naturalist: The ovenbird

There’s a small, camouflaged warbler with one very familiar song and a second song that few people recognize. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about the ovenbird.

(Photo courtesy of Kent McFarland on Flickr)

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Chik Wauk has been enjoying watching loons like this one.

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: June 2

The last hurrah of winter has now evaporated from this neighborhood. It took the better part of five months, but alas the season of cold, ice and snow is sent off into history.                                           

Conditions still remain on the cool side as I key the Gunflint scoop over Memorial Day weekend. Showers measuring in the few tenths range have kept the dust down, and forest duff damp during the past seven.                                                                                                                                          
Forest green-up is making headway, but seems to remain a week or so from completion in my estimation. “Mother Nature” operates in strange ways it would seem. Many quaking aspen tokens have reached fullness, while others right alongside have barely broken the green tip bud stage. Same is true for many other deciduous floras. It’s difficult to understand, but the “old gal” in charge of all things natural obviously has a plan.

I was in the lake this past weekend with a friend putting the dock out. In spite of donning the wet suit, the H2O got my immediate attention. Dipping the thermometer after the last pallet was in place, I found the temp at a depth of four feet to be only 44 degrees, burr!            

Many great residents along the Trail having been showing their Gunflint pride this past week doing the road side clean-up. Big thanks to everyone who pitched in with the pick-up. A good friend and yours truly did our two-mile stretch and came up with a sundry of debris in the amount of six garbage bags full, plus any number of items not a fit for the bags.  

What a shame that a segment of byway users would be so irresponsibly careless and inconsiderate of this precious place.  As I walked along climbing in and out of ditches, a few observations came to mind:      

No. 1, as the Trail is a one way in and the same way back out, I found I was picking up far less on the north (inbound) side than my friend on the south going (outbound). Clearly, the littering folks are pitching their garbage on the way out rather than taking it home and/or disposing of it properly.                                                               

No. 2, another conclusion is there is great wonder why more fires aren’t started in the dry ditch cover with all the cigarette butts cast out vehicle windows.                                                                                

No. 3, the most obvious view confirmed an un-countable number of visitors cannot go anywhere, or do anything without an alcoholic beverage in their hands (and what’s more, while behind the wheel). This fact is borne out by the beer cans, bottles and booze containers collected during our pick-up mission.

It seems unimaginable a number of Trail users, who to give lip service to this territory being such a cherished environment, are so thoughtless to not “walk the talk” by “leaving no trace.”                            

One more item, though not related to the clean-up, is based on the vehicles passing us during the walk. It is fairly obvious the 50/55 mph speed limit is being interpreted as 65 to 70, and more. Cook County financial woes could surely be tempered if these speed demons were corralled more frequently and had their wallets lightened.                              

Stepping down from my soap box to happier wildland tidings, my commentary goes beyond garbage collection. No matter if one has seen just one, or perhaps dozens of “wild neighborhood” critter situations, every new sighting remains energizing. Such happened to the Smith’s in our travels during the past week.                                                                           

Our first encounter found a momma moose and her calf interrupting our travel down the Trail. This little brown tag-along could not have been very old as it gamely attempted galloping to keep up with mom in order to get out of our way. Then a few days later, we came upon a young bull munching in a pond along the Trail. This handsome fellow was in sleek summer attire with lush black velvet on his rack, what an iconic dude!    

Bears have made it to the Wildersmith neighborhood. Sure enough a clamoring on the deck one evening after dark found one snooping around. Turning on the outdoor light spooked it, and Bruno panicked forgetting how it got up there. After stumbling around, it decided to slide under an opening in the deck rail. The last I saw of it to this point, the bear was clinging to the deck by its claws, not aware it was about ten foot to ground level.  By then I was out the door with my trusty blank starting pistol, firing wild-west fashion. Turns out, there was a little companion below the deck and the last I saw of them, they were sprinting off into the darkness.                                                                                                                   

A day later, during a trip to the village a wolf crossed our way. This was a highly unusual scene where the stately Canid seemed curious of us as we were with it, not skittish in the slightest. We spent the better part of ten minutes watching the animal investigate us in our vehicle only to have it lay down in the ditch a short distance away, eyes in deep fixation on this strange happening in its world. Fumbling with a camera, we never did get a good photo op, and as we departed, the north woods hunter remained at the scene eerily watching as we rolled away.

In addition to these animal meanderings, we’ve also had a nocturnal visit from two fishers. One came in the evening and the other, a larger version, in the wee morning hours, each causing a ruckus. Both were in search of sunflower seed nutrition that was no longer available.                                             

A final note comes from the nesting platform at the Chik-Wauk Museum site. Tragedy has occurred as one of the loon pair has disappeared. Not knowing what may have become of the missing partner, a single parent is now sitting on the nest 24-7. With only brief times off the nest, to get in a little fishing, the scene is being watched with care to see if hatching and early nurturing becomes a reality.  

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail at Wildersmith, where every day is great, with Mother Nature's caring ways looking after the menagerie.

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West End News: June 1

For many west enders, summer means swimming in the Temperance River. While the river is unforgiving in many places, there are a few relatively safe spots where many a memory can be made. Kyle Puelston and his family were doing just that one summer day a year ago. Kyle had received a Go-Pro camera from his wife and was wearing it on his head, capturing thrilling footage of his family jumping into the river. What happened next probably didn’t surprise his wife much, but on one big jump, the camera slipped off Kyle’s head and was immediately carried off by the current. The family quickly resolved to never see it again.

A year later, Chris Flores and his brother were snorkeling downstream of the swimming hole when lo and behold, they came across a Go-Pro camera, still dry inside its waterproof case. Delighted with their find, the took it home and downloaded the footage. What they found were hours of family movies and adventures. Quickly realizing that this was more than just a cool river find, Chris dug in to find the camera’s owner. He was able to read a Chisago SWAT patch, worn by Kyle, the camera’s owner, in one particular video. A few quick phone calls later and they connected. Kyle was so touched by Chris’s efforts to return the camera, that he told him to keep it, just send along the video card.

You can see a short video about this story by going to the West End News tab on WTIP’s website. The video shows some of the footage taken after the camera fell into the river. You can briefly see Kyle swimming around above it, searching. Then some tumbling river rocks, and finally it comes to rest facing up, the outlines of fish passing back and forth overhead.

Here’s the link to the video: http://www.inspiremore.com/sunken-gopro-found-year-lost/

Next Saturday, June 10, Kah-Nee-Tah gallery in Lutsen is hosting a celebration of Anishinaabe Artists and their craft. The event is from 1:00 - 3:00 in the afternoon and features Author Colleen Balrica of the Pembina Band of Ojibwa, who will share stories and talk about her book, Tree Spirited Women. Also featured is artist Susan Zimmerman of the Grand Portage Band of Ojibwa, who will be introducing her new collection of handmade gourd drums. Weather permitting, Colleen Baldrica will lead a drum circle and folks are encouraged to bring their own hand-drum and join in.

Finally, high school graduation is upon us this Saturday. A special congratulations goes out to former Birch Grovers Madysen McKeever and Will Lamb of Schroeder and Erik Lawler of Lutsen. A job well done you three, we can’t wait to see what adventures you get up to next.

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

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Marsh marigolds

North Woods Naturalist: News from spring

The spring flowers are budding and the birds are singing, and the insects are buzzing and flitting about.  WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about news from spring.
 

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Brown creeper

North Woods Naturalist: Brown creepers

They’re small and well camouflaged, with a distinctive tree climbing habit. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about brown creepers.

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West End News: May 25

Happy Memorial Day weekend! With holiday weekends, long days and sunshine, summer is upon us. If you have a West End kiddo still looking for summer activities, Birch Grove still has some openings for both Summer Saplings and Campfire Kids. Saplings is for kids ages 3 to 5 and is open June 12 to August 29, with the exception of the Fourth of July. The program runs Monday through Friday, 7am to 5pm. There are weekly nature themes, projects, activities and lots of time to play outdoors. If you have elementary aged kids, then they would enjoy the campfire kids program. It runs the same time as the Saplings and will include filed trips, bon fires, and cookouts, plus a fun overnight at Lamb’s Resort.

The qualified and caring staff at Birch Grove always put a lot of effort into these programs, so it’s worth checking them out. You can find out more information on the school’s website www.birchgroveschool.com under the Community Education tab, or by calling 663-0170, extension 26.

The Gala for the Grove is also coming right up on June 3. There are only a handful of tickets left to this wonderful event held in the Lakeside Ballroom at Surfside in Tofte. This event is a fun and spirited opportunity to socialize for a good cause. Dinner, drinks, and a live auction are all not to be missed. Call Birch Grove to snag one of the last tickets.

I often make mention of the great music opportunities here in the West End and this week is no exception. On Friday, June 2nd, there will be a unique show happening at Papa Charlie’s. Jeremy Messersmith is bringing his micro tour to the Papa Charlie’s deck. What’s a micro tour? As far as I can tell, it’s something Jeremy Messersmith made up. This summer he will be travelling around Minnesota performing 30 free, open to the public pop up shows. The shows will each be 15 minutes of unamplified music in a scenic and notable public place. All the songs can be found in his songbook titled 11 Obscenely Optimistic Songs for Ukelele. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own instruments and also to sing along. All the micro shows will be live streamed on the web. The view of Lake Superior and Lutsen Mountains from the Papa Charlie’s deck is nothing if not scenic and I’m sure the micro show will be a hoot. Again, it’s happening on Friday June 2nd at 6pm, don’t be late!

You can usually tell it’s Memorial Day because the blackflies and mosquitoes seem to arrive along with the visitors. Up in the woods here, the bugs aren’t quite out yet but a few have made their presence known here and there. The fish also seem to be waking up and the walleye are beginning to be enticed by a well-placed jig. For many of us, longer hours of sunlight each day mean a few more moments lingered in the woods or on the lake shore. Cheers to the season friends.

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

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A piliated woodpecker has been at work here.

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: May 26

Month five along the Gunflint is dwindling. Where has May gone? Gone to re-birth everywhere. By the next time we meet on the radio, June will have taken over.                                                

For those outside the territory, wimpy as our winter has been, the last of lingering character remains in a few piles here and there along back country roads. I count three such semi-white heaps slow to melt along the Mile O' Pine. Whereas the brunt of our cold season seemed short, it’s amazing we still see reminders with month six but days away. A good bet will find warm season in full command soon, and snow pilings will be history.                                                                                                                                                                             
Full-fledged gardening up the Gunflint continues to see planters stymied with some frosty upper Trail mornings during the past week and only intermittent sunshine. While a little moisture has been added, most days have been gray and damp.              

In spite of the atmosphere seeming less than favorable for growing things and a few returning migrants, this is the season of birds and blooms. A sure sign of better things to come is noted in a return of the ruby throats. These hardy “hummers” know when it’s time, and they came into Wildersmith for the first stop-over last weekend, though most likely shivering.                                          
Rains in the past ten days, although light in this neighborhood, have jump started the leaf-out almost overnight. A lime green haze has been cast over our granite hillsides as fronds of “Quaking Aspen” are trembling at the slightest breath of air.                

At ground level, tough wild perennials are blooming in defiance of extended coolness. Siberian squill, violets, marsh marigolds, wild strawberries, and of course, dandelions are lined up in prelude of Technicolor to come. I’ve also noticed fiddlehead ferns un-coiling along the MOP, while rhubarb has popped up in the sunny spot lighted places.                                                                      

As all creation's beings are in a constant state of searching for nourishment or the shelter of a place called home, it is never more evident than with “wild critters” out here in the forest. An interesting location along the Mile O' Pine provides proof of both a quest for edibles by one species emerging as a new housing development for others.                                                                

In this case, a towering aspen having reached the end of its time has come under attack by the neighborhood pileated woodpecker.  As a source of easy insect protein, during the pecking/hammering process, this “Woody” woodpecker look-alike has created a pile of sawdust and shavings the like of which resembles a wood milling operation at the tree base.                                                                                                                                                                   
In offering the appearance of potential living quarters for any number of flying folk or small rodent creatures, this has been an interesting exercise in wood shaping skill. A digital rendering is provided with this column on the web at WTIP.org.                      

The blackfly season is off to a tortuous start. While getting after outdoor chores, the biting warriors have been tormenting to say the least, and mosquitoes are waiting in the wings. So far I’m winning the battles under my trusty bug net. But any slip-up and I’ll pay the price.                                                                                      

More on stinging things, the May-June issue of Minnesota Conservation Volunteer has an informative article on wasps. It is titled Wonderful Wasps and the commentary offers some interesting insights into these winged critters of which we are often so fearful.                                            

Did you know “there are more than one hundred thousand species or kinds of wasps world-wide?” It is suggested reading for folks who tramp around in our northern back country.                                                                                            

As we celebrate Memorial Day be reminded again “the” destination at end of the Trail opens for the season. Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center are places of special north woods magic, sharing stories of mortals and the natural world shaping their times along the Gunflint Trail.                                                                                                                                                                    

Make a date for a visit or two during the coming season and watch for special programming announcements, too.                                                                                                                      
Another holiday weekend notice goes out to one and all for the YMCA Camp Menogyn pancake breakfast fund raiser.  Be on the shores Sunday morning for the pontoon trip across West Bearskin Lake for food, fun and conversation at yet one more rite of spring on the Trail.    

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where every day is great, and “silence roars, in the northern woods.”

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A turkey on the Gunflint Trail

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: May 19

The Trail is a happening place, both for us human invaders and the natural world. On the mortal side of things, spring means house cleaning time for us. 
                                                                       
It’s time to grab a few garbage bags and hit the Trail. The Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Committee is encouraging volunteers to do a pick-up of winter's trash along the Trail during the next week, beginning this Monday, May 22. Many of our friends and neighbors have already picked a stretch, but there are several sections closer to town needing attention. If you can lend a hand, please give Nancy Seaton a call (388-2275) and sign up. Clean-up days run through Thursday, May 25, with the County scheduled to round up the accumulated roadside bags on the final collection date. Let's get the byway spruced up as another example of Gunflint Community power!      
                                                 
Meanwhile, on Mother Nature's side of the ledger, deciduous green bud tips of seven days ago are slowly beginning to unfurl. Most notably are the aspen (popple), with a few birches starting to follow suit. Coniferous tree cousins, particularly the red pines, are showing buds at the wick stage of their candling toward the next generation of branches.

At this writing the territory has grown quite dry again. Until a brief dampening in the past couple days, there’s been little to no precipitation around here since the “May Day” frozen stuff.  If the rain gods would cough up a decent rain, all things green would really pop, and fear of someone setting off a fire would be eased.                                                                                                    

Not only has our great weather of late lifted people's spirits, members of the “wild neighborhood” are making increased candid appearances. A couple reports have come in telling of momma bears herding their multiple winter deliveries through the forest.                                    

One such is a momma bear with a foursome of fur balls. Then another tells of a trio of cubs following their mom across the Trail around the Fox Ridge Road/Trail intersection. No doubt there are many yet to be revealed twin sets out there, too. So it looks as though the deity of fertility has favored growing the Bruno population in ’17.  

I’ve received no reports of bear vandalism yet, but knowing they are hungry, it’s only a matter of time until they’ll be tempted by an ill-prepared resident or unsuspecting visitor.      

Speaking of more forest newborns, a couple fellows have been in the right place at the right time to see moose cows with calves. One observation was a singleton while the other was a set of twins. Hurrah for moose regeneration!                                                                                                                    
Although it is not open to the public yet, good news from Chik-Wauk Museum staff is shared concerning the annual loon return. The iconic couple is back, and they have been sitting on the nesting platform for going on two weeks. With all incubation things going as hoped, new chicks should be hatching shortly after the Chik-Wauk opening Memorial Day weekend.                                                                                                  

On an added Chik-Wauk note, a wonderful new temporary exhibit featuring history of the Ham Lake Fire will be ready for viewing on opening day. There’s also some great programming on tap for the coming season. Check the Chik-Wauk website for a weekly event menu, and for GTHS members the recent newsletter release includes many special event listings. The Museum and Hiking Trails will be open daily 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., while the Nature Center is open 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.                                                                                                                                                               
While some think there are plenty of “turkeys” living out here in the woods, none of these would garner attention from the DNR. A report has come my way that an honest to goodness wild bird of the turkey species has been spotted by a couple living over on Leo Lake. It was noticed on their road recently, and luckily they were able to get a digital record for verification.                                                                                                                                                                    
Gunflint nature photographer, Nace Hagemann, has also told of seeing one in about the same vicinity. Perhaps it was the same bird. Nace further tells he’s heard of several additional turkey sighting reports from around the county. Community radio listeners can get a glimpse of the mid-Trail wild gobbler posted alongside this column on the web at WTIP.org.                                                                                                                                              
While it’s considered unusual to see one this far north, trends have been growing to indicate the “big birds” are moving this way with warming climatic conditions. So we might expect to see more of these critters strutting about in the years to come. Hmmm, looks as though there could be some new “fast food” opportunities in store for carnivores of unorganized territory.                                                                                                                                                               
It’s with sadness I report the passing of two long time Gunflint territory residents. News comes on the recent passing of Donna Preus and Mary Katherine (Kate) Lammers Blank. Both of these two ladies resided with their families along the shores of Gunflint Lake for many decades. Their Gunflint Lake and Trail Friends and neighbors extend deepest condolences to the families on their loss.                                                                                                                                                  

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where every day is great, with angler tales of the one that got away, growing by the inch.

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