Listen Now
Pledge Now


North Shore Morning

AM Community Calendar/photo by masochismtango on Flickr

News & Information

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!


What's On:
Frank Moe - Sled Dogs to St. Paul

"Sled Dogs to St. Paul" musher Frank Moe talks about journey

Frank_More_repackage_20120312.mp37.09 MB

Billed as "Sled Dogs to St. Paul: The Race to Protect Minnesota from Copper Sulfide Mining and Acid Discharge Pollution," Cook County musher Frank Moe left Grand Marais by doglsed on Thursday, March 1st carrying petitions to the state capitol with more than 13,000 signatures asking State and Federal authorities deny any permits for sulfide mining that will threaten Minnesota's water or natural resources.  

After spending a week on the trail and travelling more than 350 miles, Moe arrived at the state capitol on Monday, March 8th.  Moe is back home in Cook County now, and he stopped by the WTIP studios on Monday, March 12th to talk about the experience and why he did it.  

(Click on audio mp3 above to hear the interview with Frank Moe)


Rosey preps for her recording

Nosey Rosey March 9

FinalCut_NoseyRosey_20120309.mp310.06 MB

Rosey’s a bit under the weather today, so this is Rosey’s dad filling in. I’ll spare you the ruffing and barking. That’s her gig.

Are you thinking pink? There will be lots of pink thinkers having fun and raising funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation during Mush for a Cure. Who could resist a pajama party, head shaving, big burly dudes cross dressing in too much pink, pseudo-drunken pseudo-pirates, dogs pulling humans, humans pulling dogs and an ample supply of silliness? It should be fun

The silliness begins Friday night at Windigo Lodge with a pasta feed and head shaving. Dennis Neitzke and Don Kufal will be the victims – I mean shave-ees. Of course Dennis has gone the extra mile by dying his silvery shock of hair electric pink. That was after meeting the halfway point in his fundraising goal. He’s been sporting very non-USFS color coordinated hair for a while now. But it’ll be all skin tone Friday night! The pink pajama party begins around 8 PM, so get out your pink stuff, be ready for silliness and come join the fun.

On Saturday, the fun begins around 10 AM with skijoring at Gunflint Pines Resort. Skijoring is one dog or sometimes two dogs pulling one human on cross country skis. It can get pretty exciting – especially when the dog to human weight ratio is just right. I hope my friend Thor will be there with his human April. Thor REALLY likes to be in front of everybody, which is a good thing when you are racing and his enthusiasm has great entertainment value for everyone - except April. But I think she kinda likes to win too.

At noon, the dogs will pull humans and sleds from Gunflint Pines toward Trail Center and around 3 PM the humans will pull dogs! I think that race will be much shorter and it should be interesting to see how well the dogs keep their humans under control.

Back at Trail Center, they’ll be getting all pirate-y with Jack Sparrow. Then the party kind rolls on into the evening with lots of other pink fun, music and fundraising.

If you’re looking for a slightly less silly way to spend your weekend you might just stay up late and hope for cloudless skies. There is a HUGE solar storm coming our way, and while that messes up all kinds of communications and electronic stuff, it also brings on the Northern Lights. This promises to be one of the best displays we’ve seen in a while. Find a good view of the northern sky and check it often. If you’re into taking pictures it might be a good time to try out that bulb setting on the camera.

I’ve always maintained that you can tell a lot about a person by their dog. We’ve recently lost two long-time Gunflint Trail residents who had some of the most interesting and fun dogs I’ve had the pleasure to know. Frank Shunn was a great guy, an excellent carpenter, a top-notch fishing guide and had a way with dogs. One day, I was picking up some guests at the Saganaga landing and stopped to talk with Frank’s wife Pat, who always had something to say. Their dog was wading around in the shallow water looking down and obviously following something. I asked Pat, “What is your dog doing?” “Fishing!” she said, without the slightest bit of irony. “It’s Frank’s dog. What else would it do?” At that exact moment, the dog shoved its snout down into the water and nabbed a large minnow in its jaws, raised its head up and looked right at Pat wagging its tail. Well, that dog is gone, Pat left us a few years ago and Frank is now fishing everyday too. I’ll bet that dog is right there in the boat with him and they both have a crooked smile.

We also lost our good friend and neighbor Sue Jankovich of Hungry Jack Lake. Even if you have lived on the Gunflint Trail for a while, you might not have known Sue. She was a quiet, behind-the-scenes kind of lady. She moved here in the early ‘70s to get away from Chicago and raise her two boys. She worked at Nor’Wester Lodge for many years until she retired just two years ago. Last year, she moved to town and just recently passed away. She was very kind and gentle, and loved her dogs like they were children. She had several dogs over the years we knew her, all of them very unique and loaded with personality and surprises. I think there was more to Sue than any of us knew. Her dogs certainly knew. Sue was a very devout person, lived her life simply, found joy in small things and took joy and inspiration from her morning walks with God. She and her dogs are probably out for a walk right now.

That’s all from the Gunflint Trail where we have plenty of snow, the people are friendly, and the dogs are extra special.

This is Dave Seaton, for Nosey Rosey, for Wildersmith, for WTIP Community Radio. Have a great weekend and don’t forget to hug your dog.

Airdate: March 9, 2012


There are lots of skiing opportunities on the West End after the latest snow!

West End News March 8

Finalcut_WEN_20120308.mp39.77 MB

 Congratulations to Frank Moe of Hovland who recently completed a sled dog trip from Grand Marais to the state capitol in St Paul. Frank made his trip to raise public awareness of the danger of water pollution from several large-scale precious metal mining operations that are proposed for sulfide-bearing rock in northeastern Minnesota.

I’ve observed two things from the discussion that Frank’s trip has provoked. The first is that very few people are against mining. The second is that everyone is in favor of clean water. The difference of opinion seems to revolve around how much risk we’re willing to accept along with the mining. The people supporting Frank’s effort are asking the legislature to adopt a policy that would require the mining companies to prove that there will be no harm to the watershed before they are allowed to start mining. The mining companies and their supporters are asking that we trust them to protect the water, in spite of a record of truly terrible pollution from this type of mining in the past.

I feel that due to the long history of catastrophic pollution associated with mining sulfide bearing minerals, it’s perfectly reasonable to require the mining companies to prove that there will be no significant harm before they open a mine. Our clean water is just too important to gamble with.

On the local scene, a group of Hobbits is getting organized in Tofte. Hobbit is an acronym for: Hearth Building, Bread Baking Initiative Team. Jeanne Larson and Bill Higgins are working with the Birch Grove Foundation and North House Folk School to build an outdoor hearth oven at Birch Grove this summer. Their organizing announcement on Boreal News last week is so good that I’m going to quote it word for word.

“Hear Ye! Hear Ye!
A Gathering of H.O.B.B.I.T.’s (Hearth Building, Bread Baking Initiative Team)
We believe that in these challenging times there is value in strengthening the essence of our community. By having a place where we can gather together and bake bread, have “pizza-pot-luck” suppers and other events, we can nourish relationships and cultivate the support and resources that attend to the needs of our community (and have cheap fun!) Currently, we are in the planning stages to build a community hearth oven at Birch Grove Community Center this summer. A priority in our planning includes YOU! We want to know your interest and role in this endeavor. Here are some of your options:
1. I love to eat artisan breads and I support the project.
2. I am interested in attending “pizza-pot-lucks” and other community bread making gatherings.
3. I would like to be a HOBBIT - a founder. I want to help build the oven this summer, contributing my time and money 4. I am not interested in building the oven but would contribute money for the project.

Please contact Patty Nordahl at Birch Grove Community Center either by email or call 663-7977 and share your number(s) of interest.”

For those of you who are thinking about attending kindergarten next year, don’t forget the Birch Grove Community School Kindergarten Round-Up from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 13. It includes an invitation to Birch Grove Community Lunch. Call Diane at 663-0170 for more information.

When my daughter Ruthie attended her kindergarten round-up as a 4-year-old, she was delighted to be given a popsicle. She remembers thinking that kindergarten was going to be awesome because you got popsicles there. Ruthie just turned 30 and to this day she reports, with a trace of bitterness, that she never received a single popsicle while actually in kindergarten.
West End are now fully open and groomed for the first time this season. Everyone is reporting wonderful conditions, so take advantage of them while they last. With this crazy winter, who knows how long they will stay in good shape?

Frank Moe & His Dogs/Cathy Quinn

Sled Dogs to St. Paul arrive in Duluth

FinalCut_Duluth Anti-Sulfide Rally_20120305.mp33.09 MB

Yesterday, Frank Moe and his team of sled dogs arrived in Duluth's Lester Park, marking the fourth day in their journey from Grand Marais to St. Paul in protest of sulfide mining in Minnesota. WTIP’s Kelly Schoenfelder has this report from the rally.


"Down a few hundred more from the '10-'11 count, the spiraling downward decline of moose is cause for considerable... concern"

Wildersmith March 2

FinalCut_Wildersmith_20120302.mp38.8 MB

Finally, a little bit more winter along the Gunflint byway! February ended and March came in on somewhat lion-like terms.

It’s hard to tell whether the bashing and bantering about Old Man Winter being a wimp is the reason or not. But the past week has resembled more what the season is about than any time since 2010 and ’11.

In any event, the snow depth out this way, after being stable for the better part of a month, has shown a marked increase in the past 10 stanzas. Everyone is excited, needless to say, as the territory cannot get too much moisture, and more is always welcome for help in replenishing a dried-up wilderness landscape.

Last Sunday, with the quiet white dropping from the heavens, the wilderness world seemed completely at peace. An occasional gust from the northeast was all that broke the silence of tender flakes plummeting from thousands of feet aloft.

Wildersmith had several deer browsing in the yard that afternoon. Splendid is not enough to describe the wondrous effects of Mother Nature as she blanketed not only the ground, but also the backs of those peace-loving white tails. Nothing can match the magic of snow falling in the boreal forest!

Barring any major spike in the temps, it would appear that there will be plenty of cover for the sixth annual “color me pink” gala that’s now just a week away. So while the Old Man of the North is coloring us white for the time being, organizers of this effort on behalf of breast cancer research have to be smiling with relief.

Sad news broke last week when the MN DNR released the latest estimates on the northeast Minnesota/Cook County moose population. Down a few hundred more from the 2010-11 count, the spiraling downward decline is cause for considerable upward concern about what can be done to help these icons of the territory.

It seems researchers are pointing toward an accumulation of multiple possibilities. From a layperson’s view, it would seem fairly easy to start addressing possible causes by eliminating maybe a couple items that could be on that list.

Number one would be to place a moratorium on the hunting season. Shooting even one in this time of survival turmoil for the herd seems beyond reason. And number two would be to eliminate the obscene amounts of snow/ice melting chemicals placed on county roads. These applications not only draws them into vehicular harm’s way, but is also ingested in copious amounts (who knows what it’s doing to their innards). Just a couple thoughts!

On a happier note, two fishermen heading up the snowmobile trails to Northern Light Lake had the good fortune to come across four of these regal northwoods stalwarts. Guess there was a fine looking bull in the accompaniment of a younger bull and a cow with her calf. All were said to appear quite healthy.

Then on their return trip, more viewing luck came their way, as a quartet of lynx were spotted. Tracking single file, it appeared that the felines could well have been a family. This sighting adds to several that have been observed recently from Greenwood Lake clear up this way and on into Canada.

To top off their excursion, in between the critter sightings, they caught a lot of fish. This must be the fundamental example of a hat trick, northwoodsy, in the truest sense.

Keep an eye toward the night sky, as the full Ojibwe “crust on the snow moon” (Onaabani Giizis) will be growing into its pre-vernal glow by the time we meet next. Also known by another tribal name as the full “worm moon,” it will be our last of the lunar winter season, so get out and enjoy!

Keep on hangin’ on and savor the border country forest, adorned in white lace!

Airdate: March 2, 2012

Photo courtesy of Doug Brown via Flickr.

Grand Portage Tribal Council Vice-Chairman John Morrin speaks at the Grand Marais rally / photo Stephan Hoglund

People rally against sulfide mining in Grand Marais

Finalcut_DogsSledMining_20120303.mp34.55 MB

On Thursday about 100 people gathered in Grand Marais Harbor Park. They came to show their opposition to sulfide mining in Minnesota, and specifically to mark the beginning of Frank Moe’s dogsled adventure to the Capital. Moe will deliver a petition against sulfide mining to the legislature.

Photo Stephan Hoglund / graphic Lauryl Loberg

LSProject: Giganawnedaamin Nibi ("We must take care of the water")

Finalcut_MikeWiggins_LSP_20120302 2.mp313.22 MB

There are valuable minerals in the rock around Lake Superior—copper, nickel, and iron. And people want to get at it. There’s money to be made and demand for the material. But nothing comes with out a price, and for some the environment is far too vulnerable and valuable to justify mining. In Wisconsin an open pit iron mine in the Penokee Hills is on the table. Under current Wisconsin mining law it could never be permitted. But in Madison, legislators are working to rewrite existing law. The proposed mine sits at the headwaters of the Bad River Watershed. The area is home to the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Mike Wiggins is the band’s Chairman. He and his people fear the destruction of their homeland and way of life.


A snow covered picnic table at Sawbill Outfitters/ photo Bill Hansen

West End News March 1

Finalcut_WEN_20120301.mp313.03 MB

We had a little excitement here at Sawbill last weekend. If you remember, that was two storms ago, when we had the first significant snowfall of the season that Sunday. Here at Sawbill we got 9 inches, but in the snowbelt, 5 to 10 miles inland from Lake Superior, we got more than a foot. As usual, we had a couple of winter camping parties coming out of the wilderness that Sunday afternoon, hoping to head back to home and family in the Cities.

Unfortunately, their vehicles were not able to make it down the unplowed Sawbill Trail. I tried to break a trail for them with my big pickup plow, but as we got closer to the snowbelt, even my truck couldn’t make way. We returned to Sawbill where I turned up the heat in our crew housing and scrounged up some foo,d and we hosted seven men for an impromptu sleepover. Although the two groups had never met each other before, they were delighted to find a 30-pack of Schmidt beer that had been left by last summer’s crew, and they all soon became fast friends.

In the morning, we provided them with fresh coffee cake, orange juice and coffee. They were so enjoying being snowbound, that they stayed for a couple of hours after the road was plowed, drinking coffee and swapping winter camping stories.

This isn’t the first time, or probably the last, that we’ve had to lend a hand to winter campers stranded here at Sawbill. About 15 years ago, we hosted a solo camper whose car wouldn’t start when the temperature dropped to minus 20 the day he planned to leave. I had to push his frozen car into our heated workshop, where it took five hours to warm up enough to start. Meanwhile, the camper joined us watching the Super Bowl. We’ve kept in touch ever since then and he still camps here frequently with his family.

It’s all part of the fun when you live at on the edge of the wilderness.

The Bloodmobile will be in Tofte, in the parking lot of Zoar Lutheran Church, Monday, March 5 between 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. I urge all West End residents to give blood if you are willing and able. Not only is it important to our community to maintain a ready blood supply, but the whole event is a fun chance to visit with random friends and neighbors. The process itself is almost painless and the Bloodmobile staff is friendly and efficient. Dennis Rysdahl, who manages Bluefin Bay and several other large properties in Tofte and Schroeder, is a regular donor, even though he is self-confessed to be deathly afraid of needles. If Dennis can do it, so can you! To make an appointment call Polly Erickson at 663-7398.

The Friends of the Boundary Waters organization is offering a new program this summer for an advanced internship in wilderness advocacy. It is called the Bill Rom Advocacy Fellowship and it’s part of their strategic focus on building the next generation of wilderness stewards. Bill Rom, along with his wife Barb, was a pioneer of the outfitting industry for the BWCA Wilderness. They founded Canoe Country Outfitters in Ely, which is still in business today. The internship is geared toward college or graduate students. It features a trip to Washington, D.C. with Friends staff to get firsthand experience in advocacy, meeting with members of Congress, federal agencies, and partner organizations. The application deadline is March 16. You can find more details and application forms on the Friends website, which is easily found by Googling “Friends of the Boundary Waters.”

Patty Nordahl at the Birch Grove Center in Tofte is wondering if anyone is interested in learning how to build an outdoor brick oven. Birch Grove is hoping to host a North House class in brick oven building this summer. It’s a win – win event with students learning a traditional craft and Birch Grove ending up with a brick oven for delicious bread and pizza baking. Call Patty at Birch Grove, 663-7977, if you are interested.

The latest storm canceled last week’s senior lunch at Birch Grove, along with the guest nutritionist from Essentia Health. However, her presentation was videotaped and will be shown at Birch Grove at a later date. The blood pressure and blood sugar screenings will be rescheduled. Time and date will be publicized as soon as it is set.

Patty also would like to remind everyone that Birch Grove is still selling Spring Light 60 watt compact fluorescent light bulbs very cheaply, with profits going to support the Birch Grove Foundation. She also notes that Early Childhood Open Gym is every Friday school that is in session from 9 to 10 a.m.

Congratulations to Jackie Dillenbeck and Plamen Dimitrov who are the newest members of the Birch Grove School Board. They join a long list of West End Community members who have pitched in to make Birch Grove School and West End children successful and productive.

There is a great event coming up soon in Silver Bay. It’s an evening of Folk and Classical music presented by members of the Duluth Symphony Orchestra and the Blue Canvas Orchestra from the Big Top Chatauqua in Bayfield. The show starts at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 3 at William Kelley High School Auditorium. You can pick up a ticket at either the Grand Marais or Silver Bay libraries or tickets are available for sale at the door. The sponsor is the wonderful Northern Lake County Arts Board with help from the Minnesota State Arts Board’s Legacy Fund, Silver Bay Area Tourism Association and the Minnesota Arts & Culture Heritage Legacy Fund. Be there or be square.

It sure is a relief to see that real Minnesota winter is here at last. All the trails are now open and ready for fun. The snow back in the woods is over-the-knee deep and more is arriving all the time. Time for me to go wax my skis.

Dr. Dorscher

Anishinaabe Physician Joycelyn Dorscher, M.D.

Anishinaabe Way Joy Dorscher MD-Mixdown Final.mp37.28 MB

This edition of Anishinaabe Way features Dr. Joycelyn Dorscher, an Ojibwe Family Practice Doctor who also heads the Center of American Indian and Minority Health at the U of MN Medical School. She discusses her path to becoming a physician, the cultural challenges faced by Native medical students and issues surrounding Indian health.

Round River Farm, a CSA in Finland, MN, is hoping to make Birch Grove a weekly delivery point for veggies this year

West End News Feb. 23

Finalcut_WEN_20120223.mp39.7 MB

It was good to see what I am calling The Big Snow Storm of 2012 drop a season high 5 inches of snow the other day. I can remember years when a 5-inch snowfall was met with a shrug and a broom to clear the steps. This year it’s worthy of news stories and celebration. Here at Sawbill we’ve been luckier than most of the state, with 37 inches of total snowfall for the season so far and 19 inches currently on the ground.

Another big story this week was the reworking of political districts that follows the general census every decade. It is heartening to observe that the non-partisan judicial panel that actually does the redistricting actually was non-partisan and fair. In this time when partisanship seems to be creeping into every aspect of life, I give credit to the redistricting panel itself and to the Minnesota Supreme Court that appointed the panel for keeping the best interests of the whole state in mind.

That said, I do think the panel screwed up our legislative district. I’m not saying they did it for political reasons, but it does appear that they don’t understand the geography of northern Minnesota very well. Our old legislative district, numbered 6A, used to be all of Cook County, all of Lake County, which includes Two Harbors of course, and a slice of St. Louis County that included the townships just east of Duluth. The new district is numbered 3A and includes all of Cook County, all of Lake County except Two Harbors, northern St Louis County and – in my opinion, oddly – all of Koochiching County.

If you just look at the map, this seems to make sense, but the reality is that Cook and Lake Counties have little in common with Koochiching County and plenty in common with Two Harbors and the communities just east of Duluth. There is not even a direct road between Cook County and Koochiching County and it takes almost seven hours to drive from Grand Portage to International Falls. That’s roughly how long it takes to drive from Grand Portage to Northfield! I mean no disrespect to the good people of Koochiching County, but due to the geography, we have little day-to-day interaction with them.

From the perspective of party politics, it probably won’t present a huge change. Our incumbent representative, David Dill, who caucuses with the Democrats, lives in Crane Lake, which is pretty much in the middle of the new district. It’s probably fair to say that Koochiching County tends to vote a bit more Republican than Two Harbors and the Duluth area townships, so it will be interesting to see what happens in the next couple of elections.

Birch Grove Foundation Director, Patty Nordahl, reports that the Timber Beasts, led by team captain Ryan Blaisell, won this year’s Boot Hockey Tournament. This is their second consecutive annual victory. The other teams were Awesome, Mixed Nuts and Superior Hot Shots. The event was a big success, thanks to the participants, spectators, and sponsors, especially Grand Marais State Bank and Sven and Ole’s Pizza. Everyone is looking forward to next year’s tournament on the brand new rink.

David Abazs, from Round River Farm in Finland, spoke at the Birch Grove senior lunch last week. Round River Farm practices what is known as community supported agriculture. They sell shares in their output before the growing season starts for a flat fee. Each shareholder gets an equal portion of the produce as it is harvested throughout the season. They share the bounty, but also share the risk, which makes life a lot more predictable for the farmer. Here at Sawbill, we have purchased a share from David and his partners for many years and I highly recommend it. This year, David would like to find three more shareholders in the West End community and make Birch Grove a weekly drop-off point for veggie deliveries. A share can be split among two or more families. You can get a discount by working two four-hour shifts on the farm. The healthy, delicious produce comes with a newsletter that details what’s going on with the farm and recipe ideas for that week’s produce. You can find contact information by Googling Round River Farm, Finland Minnesota on the Internet.

And finally, it’s not too early to mark your calendar for the Lutsen, Tofte and Schroeder annual township meetings, held in the evening on Tuesday, March 13.