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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:

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - March 23, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith      March 23, 2018  
Spring has sprung across Gunflint territory, and March remains like a lamb. Question is will winter have a last gasp or has the “old man of the north” called it a season?                                            
Signs of the past week show this neighborhood could be in for extended mud times if the lamb-like conditions continue. I remember though, a few short years ago, up to two feet of winter filled up the Mile O Pine in the last few days of April, while snow has fallen on the walleye fishing opener in May, so we “Gunflinters” should not get too hyped about spring just yet.                                                                                    
Currently, this neck of the woods has been void of measureable moisture in any form for over three weeks. Something has to give soon or we’ll be facing a dangerous situation with receding snow cover. As we know too well, the woods can get explosively dry in one day with high temps and gusty winds.                                                                                                                                                       
In spite of beaming sunny days during the past week, we are still making ice at night, but perhaps we are beyond the sub-zero stuff. To this point, it has been a slow melt up at this end of the Trail. Ice locked lakes have a good deal of snow cover with as much as one to two feet on top of frozen water.                                                                                                                                    
As the close of trout season is but a week away, several ice fishing people tell of needing extensions on their auger units to access water. Guess there can be anywhere from two to four feet of hard water depending on the drilling site. This being said, we are likely a ways from ice out.                                                                                                                                                                          
Foretelling what’s in store during this budding vernal transition is up in the air. Nevertheless, early indicators are readily perking up throughout the wilderness.                                      
 I’m noticing wells forming at the base of trees in the yard. This situation points to the fact our forest canopy is soaking up the powerful rays, stimulating juices of life to renew the run skyward.                                                                                                                                                        
Speaking further of the forest around us, during a trip down and then back up the Trail, it appears the coniferous characters are suddenly sparkling with a brighter shade of virescent (green) after bearing up under mounds of snow and a drab army green tone since late October..   
With tree juices beginning to run, north land syrup makers are surely getting into the “tap a tree/or trees a day” routine. Although the upper Trail does not have a quantity of maples to provide a serious boiling effort, there’s a trio of sap tappers along Gunflint Lake who will likely be at it soon. They aptly call themselves the “three sap suckers”, and while their yield may not be measured in gallons, they have a swell time consuming a little ale and watching sap boil to sweetness.                                                                                                                                                       
Another sign of spring times was observed recently when I came across one of the first hibernators. In this case, it was one of those black and white aromatic dispensers. The “skunky” critter was found on the Trail as a casualty of not looking before crossing, therefore deceased, before it had much time to celebrate the season of re-birth.                                                                               
As yet, I’ve not heard of any bear appearances. However, those mommas might be getting restless after a couple months cooped up with hungry cubs and getting a whiff of warmer air.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
As we close in on the “fools’ day” of April, canine family babies are but days, to just a few weeks away from coming into this world. Neighbors down the road are hearing coyotes at night, with a trio of them making darkness hour visits to their bird feeding remains. In another “howling “ note, the Gunflint/ Loon Lake wolf pack has been spotted down at the east end of Gunflint Lake, eight members strong.                                                                                                                                                           
From southerly heavens, crows have returned to the area with a chorus of rackety, yack, while air traffic at the Wildersmith feeders has slowed as other avian kin have taken to nesting in preparation for continuing their species.                                                                                                                                            
So the advance of cold to warm is on. It’s sad, the crystal beauty covering up “Mother Natures’ rough edge is giving way to this not too comely time of year. Biding our time, we beings of the northern universe anxiously look for the days of June to blossom with emerald camo.                                                                                                                                                                       
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as we trade mukluks for knee high galoshes.



Great Expectations School News - March 23, 2018

Great Expectations School News with Tristan and Sol.
March 23, 2018



West End News - March 22, 2018

West End News 3/22/18

You may have noticed a lapse in the West End News last week. Well, rest assured, I have a good excuse! I was out of town on my first trip to our nation’s capital, Washington DC. I had the good fortune to be invited to join a group of intelligent, well-spoken, and extremely well-informed people to lobby Congress. We were there to visit with Senators and a few Representatives regarding the proposed land-swap that would give almost 7,000 acres of Superior National Forest land to the Glencore company, the parent company for the PolyMet mine outside of Duluth.

The Forest Service already approved the land-swap, but the agency valued the land at 550 dollars per acre. In case you haven’t looked at the price of land in Northern Minnesota recently, that’s pretty darn cheap. The valuation is being challenged in court in four separate lawsuits. This is the normal process for a land-swap of this nature. An important part of the process is the opportunity for public input and judicial review. If Congress decides to force the land-swap through, it will nullify these lawsuits and remove any opportunity for public input. Effectively taking our public lands and putting them in the hands of a foreign corporation for a song. This is a bad economic deal for Minnesotans, never mind the environmental consequences.

Our Minnesota senators are silent on this issue at best. At worst, they are actively supporting the passage of this legislation. Congress is working on a budget bill, as this West End News airs, and rumor has it that the land-swap bill will be added on to the budget bill as a rider. If you, like me, don’t think this the right avenue for this project, please call senators Amy Klobuchar, Tina Smith, and Chuck Schumer, today and let them know.

Speaking of the water quality of Lake Superior…
This Saturday, March 24th at 10 am Sugarloaf Cove will be presenting the program “Taking Lake Superior’s Temperature.” You don’t have to be a scientist to know that Lake Superior is big and deep. These factors make it difficult to collect data such as temperature and water quality. Fortunately, the University of Minnesota’s Large Lakes Observatory and the EPA have come up with a solution – gliders.

On Saturday, you can join EPA researcher Tom Hollenhorst at Sugarloaf Cove where he will take you on a journey through the waters of Lake Superior. Tom will explain gliders, also known as autonomous underwater vehicles, which collect data by diving down into the water column and back to the surface as they travel according to programmed GPS coordinates. All the while they continuously measure things like water temperature, particles in the water, chlorophyll and colored dissolved organic matter.
There is a suggested donation of $5 per person or $10 per family for this event. Sugarloaf Cove nature center is located on the lakeside of highway 61 just past mile marker 73.

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


Eleanor Waha has given thousands of hours to a number of volunteer activities

Eleanor Waha: the ultimate volunteer

If you live in or visit Cook County, it is likely that you’ve encountered Eleanor Waha somewhere. Eleanor has been volunteering in the community for decades in several places.

She is now a volunteer with the RSVP program, administered by the Senior Corps of Minnesota. The RSVP Program provides an opportunity for volunteers to put their skills, talents, and life experiences into motion for others – and benefit our Minnesota communities in the process. Sharing the skills they have spent years developing, RSVP volunteers like Eleanor put those skills into practice to improve the lives of community members throughout the state.

Eleanor and Nancy Frischmann, coordinator of the RSVP program in Cook County, recently visited with WTIP volunteer Barb Heidemann to share more information on the RSVP program – and a bit of information on Eleanor’s work through the years.

WTIP file photo


Predawn Sky SSW April 2 2018

Northern Sky: Mar 17 - 30

Northern Sky by Deane Morrison -  March 17-30 2018

March came in with a full moon, and it's going out with a full moon. Meanwhile, there's plenty going on in both the morning and evening skies.
Look to the south an hour before dawn and you'll see Jupiter blazing away. Then look eastward to see the stars of Scorpius, especially bright red Antares, the heart of the scorpion. Moving east again, we have the Teapot of Sagittarius. Right above the Teapot, Saturn seems to float motionless from day to day. But Mars is moving eastward against the background of stars, and it's rapidly closing in on Saturn. Mars stays to the west of Saturn until the end of March, but in the first week of April it's going to zip right below the ringed planet.
If you look above and east of Saturn and Mars, you'll see the Summer Triangle of bright stars high in the southeast. And off to the west of Jupiter, and higher, we have Arcturus, the brightest star in the northern hemisphere of sky. If you're ever in doubt as to which star is Arcturus, you can find it by extending the curve of the Big Dipper's handle.
In the evening sky, Venus is low in the west after sunset. So is Mercury, but not for long. The best night to see it was March 15. But now it's fading and dropping toward the sun because it's on its way between Earth and the sun. On the 17th Mercury is to the upper right of Venus, which is by far the brighter planet. On the 18th, a young crescent moon appears with the two planets--that will be lovely. But by the 21st Mercury will have dropped down to the level of Venus, and then it just plummets out of sight.
Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, is still up. It's somewhat low in the south to southwest after nightfall. If you've never seen it, do take a look. And while you're at it, grab some binoculars and look for the Beehive star cluster, an inconspicuous little jewel that is now high in the south.
The Beehive is between two bright stars. One star is Pollux, the brighter of the Gemini twins. To find it, start with Sirius and look up to the bright star Procyon, and then up about the same distance again. The other star is Regulus, the brightest in Leo, the lion. It's east and a little south of Pollux. The Beehive is a bit dim, so you may need a star chart to get its exact location. But seeing it through binoculars is a real treat.
The spring equinox arrives at 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday, March 20. At that instant, Earth will be lighted from pole to pole and it won't be tilted with respect to the sun. That's because our spring equinox is an inflection point, the point at which the Earth’s orientation to the sun switches so that the Northern Hemisphere starts tilting toward the sun. The tilt changes fastest in the days closest to the equinoxes; therefore, these days we're gaining daylight at the maximum rate, approximately three minutes a day. Also, starting at the spring equinox, days get longer as you travel north.
March gets its second full moon on the 31st. This qualifies as another blue moon. The moment of fullness comes at 7:37 a.m. However, the moon sets over Grand Marais at 7:10 that morning. If you want to see the moon at its fullest, you might want to get outside by 6:30, or even earlier if there are obstructions to your view of the western horizon. Or just enjoy it the evening of the 30th.



Wildersmith on the Gunflint - March 17, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith      March 16, 2018

The northland reaches the mid-point of month three with winter on hold as the “old man of the north” has taken another week of spring vacation. At this scribing, the character of the season remains pretty much in evidence for most of unorganized territory. However, there’s a feeling its days are numbered.                                                                                                          

Since our last meeting on the radio, with only a scant dose of snow, temps have been normal for March to this point. Here in the Wildersmith neighborhood, we’ve had a few nights below zero while mostly sunny skies have provided a rapid recovery into daytime comfort.                                                                                                                                                                        

As the “vernal” season edges ever closer, the power of our “day star” is shrinking roadside snow banks away from the Trail in spite of deep freezing nights. For the time being, the Gunflint Byway is totally clear of winter driving conditions, the first time in many weeks. However, the bleached white beauty of a trek up the Trail is tainted with a grungy look of urban windrows exposing gray sludge and littering remains of human occupation.                                          

Another sign of the times is being revealed as the innards of “mother earth” are moderating to release the frozen grip beneath our only paved access to civilization. This subterranean turmoil is magnifying those jaw-jarring dips in the Trail blacktop. For the traveler not knowing of these hidden locations, the bounce as your vehicle bottoms out and the head hits the roof can be a stunning roller coaster shock.                                                             

Meanwhile, on local unpaved roads, winter to spring driving conditions prevail. Users can expect anything from packed snow to glazed ice, to mud and even a few dry patches. I’m still observing any number of indentations in the ditch snow banks indicating several metropolis visitors have no idea of the need to slow down on our backcountry pathways.                                          
If I wanted to work full time, it seems a towing business could be lucrative. I know of one fellow down the road who has already pulled seven vehicles from the white mire.                                                  

Speaking of littering along the Trail, it would seem appropriate that lake property owner groups might be organizing volunteer crews for a debris pick-up when the snow is gone. According to information from the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Committee, the days of May 14 through May 24th have been established for such policing. Collection bags are to be placed along the Trail for pick-up by the County. Of course, one does not have to wait if the opportunity to pick up some unsightly trash should appear before the organized dates.                        

Another issue has again gained the attention of area residents and businesses. After being discussed a few years ago, the proposal for construction of an ARMER communications tower in the upper Trail region is being re-examined.                                                                                          
ARMER (Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response) is Minnesota’s program to connect agencies and public safety departments. MnDot has been legislatively mandated to install towers throughout the state to connect agencies under one communication system.                                                                                                                                

While it may seem hard to argue issues of public safety agency connections, the sacredness of the adjoining BWCA or living in the area of such a tower (not in my backyard) has many in a contentious mood.                                                                                                                                             

MnDOT, Cook County, and the GTVFD are collaborating to examine options to address filling in the current communication voids to the satisfaction of all concerned. Editorially speaking, though changes are never easy, “the process would seem more palatable if such a communication spire could be constructed to look like a tall white pine or a rock on a point of high elevation.” I’d bet it could be done.                                                                                                                                        

A public informational meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 10th at the Schapp Community Center (mid-Trail). The gathering will begin at 6:00 pm. Everyone is encouraged to attend; become informed, ask questions and explore connecting communications alternatives.       

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, while we contemplate more winter or early mud season. 



Superior National Forest Update - March 16, 2018

National Forest Update – March 15, 2018.
Hi.  I’m Hayley Henderson, CCMI contractor with the Forest Service, with this week’s National Forest Update, a round-up of everything that for the next two weeks may affect your visit to the Superior.  We are on the edge of spring but don’t get too excited yet.  Remember that March is one of the heaviest snowfall months of the year and you never know what might happen.
What has happened so far though is some deterioration of our winter trails?  Right now, trails are mostly rated as good, with some icy conditions on south-facing slopes.  With about of warm weather ahead of us though, users should beware of more glazing of trails and possible bare spots.  Snowmobile trails are rated fair to good, with a couple of very goods, but still, watch for soft spots as melting is expected to continue.  But it is March, and we still may be in line for a good dumping of snow before winter is done, so don’t put away your snow toys yet.  Don’t forget that snowmobiles are not permitted on ski trails; we’ve had indications that a couple of people appear to have missed that message.

The roads are much like the trails.  They are still firmly frozen and good for travel, but just be aware that in the sun the layer of frozen snow may be turning to truck-eating mush in the near future.  If you are unsure, get out and check the road before you go down it.

We are coming close to March 19th, the date ice houses must be removed from lakes in northern Minnesota.  Ice fishing will continue, but you cannot leave your house on the ice unoccupied overnight.  Every year, it seems someone pushes the season and ends up floating out into the lake, or having a vehicle drop into the water.  Don’t let it be your embarrassing picture that is in the news; check ice thickness and be careful.  After all, it could be a lot worse than just embarrassment.

There’s still too much snow on the ground to worry about fire danger, though we are sending some of our fire people to southern forests where the fire season has started already.  But, it’s never too early to start thinking about Firewise!  Firewise is the idea that you can help protect your property by managing it in a way that reduces the possibility of a structure fire.  Materials about Firewise are available online and at the Forest Service offices in Tofte and Grand Marais.

There isn’t a lot of timber activity right now on our eastern side of the Forest.  Hauling is taking place on the Greenwood Road, the Firebox Road, the Greenwood Lake Access Road, the Homestead Road in Lutsen, the Caribou Trail, Cook County 39, the Ward Lake Road, and Forest Road 333.  The Firebox Road and Forest Road 333 are also snowmobile trails, so be extra careful traveling on them.

Biologists have been conducting owl surveys at night recently.  This is the time of year when owls can be quite vocal, so they are easy to locate.  Hawks generally have to fly south in the winter because the snow covers the ground and the hawks can’t see the mice to catch them.  Owls, on the other hand, locate their prey by hearing and can hear the mice right through the snow.  This saves owls the work of migrating and also allows them to start nesting long before the hawks arrive to compete with them for nest space and food.  The facial disc that gives owls their distinctive face is actually part of their hearing mechanism.  The visible disc is the edge of a reflector made of harder feathers that works like a satellite dish to bring sound right to their ears. 

Enjoy the warmer weather, and maybe use it to take a walk outside at night and listen for owls.  After all, they are probably listening to you.  Until next time, this has been Hayley Henderson with the National Forest Update. 



Lady and the Scamp - Cilla Walford

Travels with Sarah  -  Part One

I am walking a well-trodden path down to a sandy beach by the Mississippi River. The day is lovely, but Sarah, the black dog who should have been running in front of me, off-leash, as she generally was, stopping occasionally to look back and make sure I was still following her, was gone. She should have been scurrying from smell to smell, reading the wonders of the trail with her nose, and trotting off again, her feathery tail describing joyful spirals in the gentle autumn sunshine. She should have been there to enjoy this walk with me, as we had enjoyed countless walks over the past fifteen-and-a-half years, but she was newly dead, and my grief was a raw wound.
When I acquired a dog, I never imagined that I would grow to love her so much. For years I disliked dogs. When I was growing up my mother always had dogs, often several at a time. Sometimes one of them bit me, "You must have been teasing him, darling!" They were always undisciplined, accustomed to having the best seats, to begging at the table, barking for food, licking the dinner plates, jumping over passengers in order to get out as soon as the car door opened, scrabbling with sharp claws and emitting fetid breath. Dogs were a nuisance. My mother would often say “I much prefer dogs to people” and “I always wished I could have whelped pups instead of you lot.”
The dogs lived at home, while from the age of eight to seventeen I was packed off to boarding schools. This was the 1950s British way; thus we middle-class children acquired a stiff upper lip and the Received Pronunciation (RP) as linguists call it of the Queen’s English. At school, I slept on horsehair mattresses and sheets that the school matron cut and sewed “sides to middle” when they wore thin, so that at night the rough seam insinuated itself along the length of your body. At home, my mother’s dogs slept with her on the big bed in the master bedroom; my father, when he was home, was relegated to the spare room. Through her dogs, my mum expressed her bitterness and frustration with life in general. When the English Setter swept my grandmother’s antique Crown Derby coffee pot off a low table with a brush of his tail, shattering it, my mother’s first instinct was to laugh. Her dogs were her “Up yours” gesture against the world.
For years I thought I didn’t like children either. I was afraid of them. I never wanted any of my own. Children, like dogs, were undisciplined nuisances.
When I had my son I was nearly forty. Inevitably he was born a dog person, a gene no doubt inherited from my mother. As soon as he could walk he would toddle up to dogs and I would cower behind him for protection.
“Please can I have a dog!” he would plead as soon as he could talk. “I’ll take care of it! I’ll pick up after it! I’ll feed it!”
His father and I finally agreed to get him a dog for his eleventh birthday. A dog-loving friend advised me to get a Cockerpoo. “They are intelligent, sweet-natured, sturdy enough to play with a child without getting hurt, and they don’t shed.”
She loaned me a dog crate, and we were off looking at puppies. We visited puppies in their homes, and people brought carloads of puppies to us in parking lots. They were adorable, but none of them seemed to click with our son. And anyway, I thought, they would grow up to be dogs and there would be no sending them away to boarding school. I hoped our son was cooling on the idea.
One visit was to a couple in South Minneapolis who had advertised Cockerpoo pups in the local paper. The puppies' mother, a Cocker Spaniel, was a black shadow inseparable from one of the women. The father, a curly poodle, jumped around us with his son, the last of the male dogs to find a home. 
“That’s your dog,  ” I said to my son, watching the puppy leap about in a hyperactive way. “He reminds me of you.”
“No, I like this one,” he said. I turned to look at a puppy so far unnoticed in a corner of the dog crate. She was sitting watching us, her ears black ringlets framing brown eyes. “That’s my dog” he continued. “Her name is Sarah.”
“Are you sure? Don’t you want a male dog?”
I tried to dissuade him, but he had made up his mind. We wrote out a check for one Cockerpoo puppy and agreed to pick her up two weeks later as she was not quite ready to leave her mother. 
On the way home I asked my son, "Why Sarah?"
"Because she reminds me of Sarah Dagg. You know. Your friend with the ringlets." 
My friend said she felt honored, although she had spent much of her childhood being called Sarah Dog.
So it was that on a snowy evening, we collected Sarah-the-dog, then two months old, and took her home with us. I carried her out to the car under my coat, against my heart. 
I carried her around her new home, much as my husband had carried our newborn son around our first apartment. I showed her the bedrooms, the bathroom, the sunroom, the living room and the dining room. I showed her the dog crate under the kitchen table, and I lay down on the kitchen floor and touched my nose to hers. Knowing my long-held antipathy to dogs, in general, my husband muttered, “I never thought I’d live to see the day”.
The first night in her crate, Sarah cried. I got up and took her outside, after failing in my efforts to wake my son. “I’ll take care of her, I promise!” drifted away on the night air. I watched as she skipped out into the snow and squatted, her tail a graceful arc. Her mother, Rose, had house trained her litter, leading them outside to squat behind her, an ellipsis of black dots in the snow. Back inside, I placed Sarah in her crate with her blanket and went back to bed. As the males in the house slept, I listened to Sarah cry. Unable to bear it, I got up and cuddled her. I took her into my son’s room. “Your dog is lonely. She wants to sleep with you.” I placed her on the foot of his bed and covered her with one of his old baby blankets. After a minute or two, she began to cry again, insistently. Soon, my son stumbled into our room with his dog. “I can’t sleep. She’s keeping me awake.” And so it was that over the objections of my husband, Sarah trained me to sleep with her.



St. Urho's Day Celebration - Finland, MN

The annual St. Urho's Day Celebration is this weekend, March 16th - 18th, in Finland, MN.
Honor Schauland talked with WTIP's Jana Berka about the many activities.


Cross Quetico Lakes Ski Tour

Cross Quetico Lakes-Ski Tour

In this interview, WTIP's CJ Heithoff talks with Chris Stromberg, an interior park warden at Quetico Provincial Park, as well as a coordinator with the Heart of the Continent Partnership.

Stromberg is the organizer of the Cross Quetico Lakes - Ski Tour which takes place March 17, 2018

The event is an old-time ski tour across the ungroomed lakes and portages of Quetico Provincial Park.

More information is available at the Travel the Heart website.