Listen Now
Pledge Now


North Shore Morning

AM Community Calendar/photo by masochismtango on Flickr

  • Monday 8-10am
  • Tuesday 8-10am
  • Wednesday 8-10am
  • Thursday 8-10am
  • Friday 8-10am
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:
With an early ice-out this year, Bill believes the fishing will be better during the first part of the season.

West End News May 10

FinalCut_WEN_20120510.mp310.65 MB

Last week I talked about school trust lands in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and how the legislature ignored a carefully crafted agreement developed by a legislative working group that included all the stakeholders, and instead passed a bill that seemed to be written by the mining lobby.

Now, our congressperson, Representative Chip Cravaak has introduced a similar bill at the federal level, which would force the Forest Service to trade the state lands in the wilderness for national forest lands outside the wilderness. As is so often the case in modern politics, both bills are being represented as being for the benefit of Minnesota’s children, when the reality is that they actually benefit multi-national mining companies, that are unlikely to care much about Minnesota’s school children. I know it’s a lot to ask in an election year, but hopefully cooler heads will prevail and these bad bills will just fade away.

Dave and Amy Freeman are technically residents of Lutsen. I say technically because they live in the most remote northern corner of Lutsen Township, which is deep in the Superior National Forest. Their home is a tent, but it’s a really nice, large canvas tent on a permanent platform. Most people would consider living in a platform tent to be roughing it, but for Dave and Amy it represents permanent luxury.

The truth is, they are hardly ever at their home in Lutsen because this week they launched another leg of their 12,000 mile North American Odyssey. They plunked their kayaks in Lake Superior at Grand Portage and will end the trip next April in Key West, Florida. This leg of the trip will be relatively tame by their standards as they make their way through the Great Lakes, down the Erie Canal, and finally down the eastern inland waterway. The previous legs of the trip included paddling up the Pacific coast to Alaska, hiking across a big chunk of that state, paddling up the Yukon River, dog sledding through the Northwest Territories and finally canoeing from Great Slave Lake to Grand Portage last summer.

They half jokingly refer to this trip as their honeymoon, because they began shortly after their wedding two years ago. It isn’t all just for fun though. Dave and Amy run a non-profit education program call Wilderness Classroom. They stay in touch with tens of thousands of school children via a satellite connection to the internet. The kids are highly involved in their travel plans and participate in many different learning projects. Dave and Amy stop and visit schools along their route, where they present a wildly popular program that educates kids about wilderness and the natural world. You can follow their progress at

The North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum in Tofte is continuing their ongoing “Stories of the Fishing Life” series with a presentation by members of the Spry family on Saturday, May 19 at 2 p.m. The Sprys are an old and well respected fishing family, mostly associated with the Hovland and Grand Portage area, who continue their fishing connections right up to the current day. As always, the program is free, open to the public and yummy treats will be served. Check the North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum website, or contact WTIP for more information.

While we’re on the subject of history, mark your calendar for the opening of the William F. Roleff Forest History Photography exhibit at the Cross River Heritage Center in Schroeder opening on May 25 at 10 a.m. This fascinating display of photos from the early days of logging is on loan from the St. Louis County Historical Society. It ties in with the Heritage Center’s theme for the year: “Timberjack Logging on the North Shore.” Call Suzanne Frum at 663-7706 or check their website for more details.

I’ve had a lot of phone calls from people wondering how the early spring will affect the walleye’s appetite for minnows, leeches and night crawlers during the early days of the fishing season. My answer is that it is anyone’s guess. The ice left the lakes so early this year that there is literally no precedent to rely on to make predictions. Generally, an early ice-out means that fishing will be better during the first part of the season. In any case, the arrival of full summer in the deep south, by which I mean south of Two Harbors, seems to be piquing the interest anglers, hikers, bird watchers and canoeists. The busy season is upon us.

"Looking at other community centers" interview series

Looking At Other Community Centers: Part 3

Comm Center Interview 3_Chanhassen_20120504.mp36.76 MB

As planning for a new Cook County Community Center continues, we're taking a closer look at schools around the state that have attached community centers, to find out how that’s working and what they’ve learned. To finish the series, we spoke with Bluff Creek Elementary School Principal Joan MacDonald from the Chanhassen School District. They built their attached community center along with the school when it was built in 1995, and there are 535 students in the school.


"Looking at other community centers" interview series

Looking At Other Community Centers: Part 2

Waconia_Communitycenter_rajen_20120504.mp33.62 MB

As planning for a new Cook County Community Center continues, we're taking a closer look at schools around the state that have attached community centers, to find out how that’s working and what they’ve learned. On Day 2 of the series, we spoke with Waconia School District superintendent Dr. Nancy Rajanen. They built their attached community center 11 years ago, and there are 3,260 students in the district.


"As we enter the month for blooming flowers and such, feelers for rain are still being extended to Mother Nature..."

Wildersmith May 4

Finalcut_Wildersmith_20120503.mp38.51 MB

It’s great to be back in the woods after a run southward to visit friends and family. The trip also included another stint as an official at America’s Athletic Classic, the Drake Relays.

Sure is amazing that as warm as the Midwest has been during the past few months, the three days of that track and field extravaganza in Des Moines found conditions to be quite up-north-like during late April. Cloudiness, cold temps and threatening skies were a cause for considerable whining, but for yours truly and my dear wife, we felt pretty much like we were right at home by the lake.

A check of the rain gauge upon my return found that nothing much has changed during our absence, still dry as a bone in border country (only four one-hundredths of moisture for the past seven at Wildersmith).

So as we enter the month for blooming flowers and such, feelers for rain are still being extended to Mother Nature. Further, I was surprised to find some splotches of white remaining in the ditches along the Trail, and a mini-glacier still tucked back in the woods on the Mile O Pine. So temps have remained on the cold side as well.

As April ended, following the warm temptations of March, leaf-out in the area continues to have stalled. Thus, phenology for this part of the universe remains logical, that all growing things will happen only when the DNA of these worldly beings says it’s OK.

Among those many creatures of the woods are black fly terrorists that have been held at bay (thanks goodness) with a cool month four. I suppose that if we are going to have May flowers and green leaves, those bitin’ buddies are sure to be just around the corner, so I’m bracing for the coming onslaught.

The trip homeward along the beautiful Gunflint Trail last Sunday evening was enhanced with another rite of spring. Our first black bruin of the season was observed. It was a big old Teddy that meandered across the black top near county road 92.

We were immediately welcomed home by a bunch of hungry neighborhood squirrels, an equally voracious pine marten and a hammering pileated woodpecker. Based on their habitual rapid appearance upon our returns, I’ve got to think that any number of wild neighborhood critters have become accustomed to the sound of our vehicle coming down the driveway or to the sounds of an opening garage door. It’s so nice to be wanted!

The fifth annual Ham Lake half marathon, 5K and runts run kicks off the first of many warm season events along the Trail on Sunday the sixth.

This is a growing event marking the five-year anniversary of that tragic wildfire event in 2007, which scarred 75,000 wilderness acres and affected the lives of numerous upper Trail residents. Several events are scheduled in concert with the running feature. Check for more details and get out in support of the runners.

Complementing the run, another Gunflint Green-up is also happening, Saturday, May 5. This event is under the leadership of the Gunflint Lodge folks and focuses on planting more trees in the burned out area near Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center, plus the release of trees planted in previous Green-up endeavors. It’s not too late to get involved, but hurry, time’s a wasting! Check the Gunflint Green-up website,, or call Gunflint Lodge 218-388-2294 for last minute details, all hands are welcome!

Keep on hangin’ on, and savor an adventure in the wilderness!

Airdate: May 4 2012

Photo by: Stephan Hoglund

Tommy Turkey

Magnetic North: Christmas in May for us Birdbrains

Magnetic_North_finalcut_20120503.mp35.74 MB

Welcome back to Magnetic North, the destination for every migrating feathered beauty on earth - or so it seems to us birdbrains. By that I mean every bird lover, not just the watchers. 

Oh, like everyone, I watch the incoming warblers and Canada geese. I journal the date the first honker or Goldeneye duck puts down on our pond.

But watching isn’t enough for this kid. In addition, I feed, fawn over and dispose of vast amounts of income on birds that could never arrive in this climate on their own and, given the choice would probably live anywhere else - like Kauai or Key West.

I’m talking chickens, flightless egg-laying ducks, heritage turkeys and guinea hens. Ever since I retired the Christmas tree to the goat corral, I’ve pored over the poultry catalogs. It was a given that I’d replace dear old Tommy turkey, Paul’s pet gobbler. Some nasty beast feasted on the 5-year-old bird last fall.

The big problem with getting a duplicate turkey is that hatcheries have minimum numbers they will ship. My favorite nursery, Murray McMurray in Iowa, put the turkey order minimum at 15. That’s a lot of turkey.
So I resorted to our local Internet bulletin board and offered to raise 13 of the 15 for anyone willing to pay the price of bird, shipping and feed.

In less than two weeks, all 13 were taken by eager local folk eager to feast on “Heritage Bourbon Red” turkey next Thanksgiving.
Frankly, I imagine that a few will end up, like me and my tender-hearted husband, adding an irresistible bulky pet to their family and not to their freezer.

My other order included a few chickens, some extra laying ducks - having become totally addicted to their eggs for baking - and, fool that I am, two geese.

This is the first time I’ve admitted publicly that I have once again tried to house geese on our property. Our last pair, a pair of white Chinese, were universally hated by my friends, family and neighbors. This variety of goose is well-known for being aggressive, mean, loud and given to fastening on the nether regions of all. Even I, the Goddess of Food, was not spared in the end. But the end did come and I gave the pair away.

Buff geese, McMurray’s catalog avers, are different. Calm. Sweet, even. And so, I caved and ordered two Buffs. I’ll keep you posted as to the outcome. But just in case, I would be delighted to find a nearby Al-Agoose meeting. Just to help me set boundaries, detach and well, you know, survive.

All my flock is doing great, despite the recent appearance of a small timber wolf pack in Colvill. Three dogs have been taken, as well as my entire flock of eight guinea hens.

This wipeout was the first since old Tom got gotten. And it was total. All I found was one uneaten heart and eight mounds of feathers. But I would be fibbing if I said I mourned their loss. Guinea hens are not mean. They are not fun, either. They screech constantly. The males fight. Although they did, as advertised, eat so many ticks that for once in 20 summers here, neither Paul, nor I or our other pets lost a drop of blood to a tick last year.

But the guineas had a fatal attraction besides the tiny tick: freshly laid chicken and duck eggs. And that, as all egg-lovers will agree, is a capitol offense.

So I had three plans: build them a coop of their own, give them to unsuspecting folks and thus make lifelong enemies, or eat the little criminals.

I chose the last plan. In fact on the eve of their execution, I’d collected a number of tasty-looking recipes for guinea breast and gotten directions for butchering. My only qualm was the distress I imagined catching them would engender in my sweet ducks and always-hysterical hens.

So, thanks, you voracious wolves. Just know that should you return for any more grub around here, I am packing pepper spray, plus a Red Rider BB gun.

At this writing, I am also awaiting the birth of a few wild ducks and geese. If the pair of honkers haunting our meadow since March is nesting and the male mallards have gotten lucky, I’ll be on guard down by the pond 24/7 in a few weeks.  Just about the same time that the local deer start their new families.

With all of this to watch, the extra hours of daylight are barely enough to take it all in, let alone plot and plan for new arrivals in the mail.
But that day is coming, when the post office calls and announces: “Your birds are here - you ARE coming in soon, right?” Ha! I’d sooner skip Christmas morning!

Photo by Vicki Biggs-Anderson

Sawbill dock, photo by Ruthie Hansen

West End News: May 3

WEN_finalcut_20120503.mp35.41 MB

I don’t think I’m the only one who has been disappointed in this year’s Minnesota Legislature.  I’m not personally invested in the Vikings stadium issue, because I’m a fair weather fan a the best of times, but Vikings fans must be incredibly frustrated with the legislature’s inability to bring closure, one way or the other to that issue.

My frustration lies with two bills that were signed into law last week that deal with school trust lands and specifically school trust lands in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  School trust lands are large tracts of land that were put in state ownership when Minnesota first became a state to provide income, paid to a permanent trust fund, the proceeds of which were to be used to establish and support Minnesota’s public school system.  It was a great thing and it worked pretty well.  Most of the land was sold and the trust still exists, but in the modern era it only pays a tiny portion of school funding.

The first bill creates a new legislative commission – often a bad idea just on the face of it – to manage school trust lands, taking management away from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  Apparently, the legislature felt that the DNR was too conservative in their management on the state trust lands, taking into account things like ecosystems, watershed protections, wildlife habitat, recreation opportunities like hunting, fishing, hiking and other silly scientific hoo-haw.  The new management is specifically instructed to maximize the return from the lands and damn the torpedoes.  I have no doubt that over time, the new land managers will realize that the best value is derived from land by managing it under careful scientific principals, not the principals of under-informed politicians or rapacious multi-national corporations.

The second bill outlines the state’s proposal to trade the school trust lands in the BWCA Wilderness for Superior National Forest Land outside the wilderness.  On its surface this sounds like a good idea, and it is a good idea, except the legislature ignored the recommendations of a panel of stakeholders that has been negotiating an agreement that would work for everyone and passed a simplistic plan that is only to the benefit of the state – or to be more exact, the benefit of large timber and mining interests.  Of course, the state legislature can’t force the federal government to do anything, so their action has just set the whole issue back, probably for decades.

Just like the Vikings stadium issue – lots of posturing and pretending and very little actually getting done.

Meanwhile, here in the good old West End of Cook County, kids are being happily educated, starting in pre-school with opening of enrollment for the 2012 – 2013 Saplings Pre-School at the wonderful Birch Grove Community School in Tofte.  The pre-school runs from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday on every regularly scheduled Birch Grove school day.  You can enroll your pre-schooler to go all the time or part-time to fit around your schedule.  The teaching staff is highly qualified weaves together the Core Knowledge Sequence and the Minnesota Early Learning Standards, all of which helps your child succeed all through school and life.  Free transportation and scholarships are a possibility, so call Diane at 663-0170 for details and information.

You may see a vaguely familiar face around the Bluefin Bay Grille this summer.  Emma Tofte will be on the wait staff there this summer. Although Emma hails from White Bear Lake, her presence represents a deep connection to the pioneer days of Tofte.  She is the daughter of Tofte native Scott Tofte and the granddaughter of Orton and Marge Tofte.  When Emma announced on Facebook that she would be spending the summer in Tofte, her father posted the following advice on things she should do:

  • Have lots of bonfires by the lake.
  • Catch fireflies in a bottle.
  • Play Star Light Star Bright with your cousins. You won't believe how dark it is when you try to find them.
  • Let your uncles take you out to Sawbill Lake and fish off the dock.
  • On your way, stop and get water from the spring.
  • Hike up to Carlton Peak.
  • Learn to be a rock skipper. You never run out of rocks.
  • Lay back on the beach and look up at the stars. If you're really lucky, you'll see the Northern Lights one night.
  • Swim at the Temperance every nice day.
  • Have fun.
  • Love, Dad

Good advice indeed.

Spirit Tree -photo by Travis Novitsky

Anishinaabe Way: Anna Deschampe & Allan Aubid

Anishinaabe Way Anna Deschampe Al Aubid-Mixdown.mp317.49 MB

Anna Deschampe and Allan Aubid are the parents of two young sons. They live on the Grand Portage Reservation in northern Minnesota.

In this edition of Anishinaabe Way, Deschampe and Aubid discuss raising children to have traditional values while living in mainstream society, and the role of the community and elders in parenting. They also share the lessons they have learned along the way and the dreams they have for their kids.



YMCA CEO Chris Francis on Community Center partnership

YMCA_Chris Francis_Comm Center_20120502.mp39.94 MB

As planning for a new Cook County Community Center continues, one of the options being looked at is a management partnership with the Duluth YMCA. We spoke with Duluth YMCA CEO Chris Francis during the Wednesday, May 2, AM Calendar show to learn more about what that partnership might look like.

Photo courtesy of joelsp via Flickr.


"Looking at other community centers" interview series

Looking At Other Community Centers: Part 1

Comm Center Interview 1_Redwood Falls_20120501 Web.mp318.05 MB

As planning for a new Cook County Community Center continues, we're taking a closer look at schools around the state that have attached community centers, to find out how that’s working and what they’ve learned.  To start the series off, we spoke with Redwood Falls School District superintendent Rick Ellingworth.  They built their attached community center 12 years ago, and there are 1,213 students in the district.


Temperance River in Cook County, MN

Study monitors turbidity in Lake Superior streams

Many streams along the Minnesota coast of Lake Superior have been listed as impaired from either high turbidity or high fish mercury concentrations or both.  In this interview, WTIP volunteer Veronica Weadock talks with Elaine Ruzycki about her research into the correlation of turbidity and total mercury to total suspended sediment in many disturbed watersheds.  

Ruzycki is a research fellow at the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) ( at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD).  In a study that was funded in part by Minnesota Sea Grant (, turbidity and total mercury concentrations and loads were estimated in four western Lake Superior watersheds from 2005-2006 using automated in-stream turbidity measurements. (Ruzycki EM, Axler RP, Henneck J, Will NR, Host GE. 2011. Estimating mercury concentrations and loads from four western Lake Superior watersheds using continuous in-stream turbidity monitoring. Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management.)

Photo by Rufus Sarsaparilla.  This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Rufus Sarsaparilla at the wikipedia project. This applies worldwide.