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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:
Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush)

Dr. Seth Moore: Elevated blood mercury levels in newborns linked to fish consumption

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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 beautiful 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 of concern to the Grand Portage Band.

In this segment, Dr. Moore talks about mercury in fish, a 2011 study showing elevated blood mercury levels in newborns in the Arrowhead, and a recent $1.4 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to reduce mercury exposure risk for women and children who live along Lake Superior’s North Shore.   Produced by Carah Thomas.

(Photo via Wikimedia Commons, and is the work of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee, taken or made during the course of an employee's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.)


A shot of the girls waiting by the coop

Magnetic North: Migration Station

FinalCut_MagNorth_20121022.mp35.96 MB

Welcome back to Magnetic North, migration central for the past month. Despite the hard freeze, gaggles of Canada geese devoured our lawn. Day after day. Frost after frost. Chowing down on the grass, still green and juicy under their blanket of fallen gold aspen leaves. And frustrating my two young domestic geese, Sophie and Olivia, by taking flight at dusk. 
The wild geese were in no hurry to migrate south. Not just yet. Every day at dusk they soared high above the earth, circling the meadow and landing, loudly with trademark honks on our little pond. There to float, sleep and dream the snowbirds dream of summer.
Sophie and Olivia, my new three-month old geese, watched all this with the fascination of all youngsters. They are African geese. In my opinion, the prettiest domestic geese I’ve ever seen. Predominantly gray, with brilliant white breasts, soft honey colored beaks and feet, with black toenails and eyeliner. Their wings, when spread are easily three-feet across. 
But that is just how they look. How they feel, a soft beyond soft, is their greatest feature in my book.
However, until the Canada geese showed up, Sophie and Olilvia didn’t know they were geese. How could they? Since arriving in their bread box-size bassinet in August, the two have seen only me and my yellow Lab, Zoe, plus our cat, chickens and an occasional two-legged and featherless human visitor.
And so, barring a mirror or a true biological mother, the two goslings assumed they were one of us. 
Paddling on their flattened clown feet next to me and Zoe, Sophie and Olivia make their appointed rounds. 
To the mailbox. 
To the goat corral. 
To the chicken and duck coop. 
And on occasion, when the new storm door sticks open a mite too long, even into our living room. This last destination is their favorite, because it always results in our old brown tabby cat, Basket, attempting to scale the walls and perch atop the ceiling fan. A sensible move for a cat faced with a bird three times its size.
But their inner goose emerged when first the goslings saw those handsome black and white honkers. Watched them rise like super sonic jets off the lawn. When that happened, Sophie and Olivia raced on their tippy-toes toward the pond, their beautiful white and gray wings spread wide and flap-flap-flapping, and their twin voices raised in song. Well, maybe song is too strong a word for a sound that resembles an accordion with the croup.
Sadly, they succeed only in crashing into the cattail marsh, wings tangled in rotting stems. Their big feet mired in muck. And their song strangled by the bitter pill of man’s interference with evolution. My poor adolescents plodded, utterly crestfallen, uphill to the house. A sight many would find funny. But not I.
What, I ask, is harder than seeing ones young first taste failure? Especially when it is repeated daily for weeks.
I suffered for them. And so, I let the storm door stay ajar on purpose and sacrificed my poor cat so as to raise the goslings spirits.
Does this smack of anthropomorphizing? Attributing human emotions to a bird or non-human? Guilty as charged.  And yet I think I know hope and despair when I see it. So what if Sophie and Olivia won’t do as we do,  tucking this failure away in their cocoa puff size brains, to root and grow into a crippling neurosis? I feel their pain, however fleeting.  And I know what soothes the ache. The sight of another creature having adjustment problems. Ergo, Basket to the rescue.
The largest census of honkers on our meadow and pond came to 17 birds. All chomping grass by day. Leaving their mini-cigar-shaped calling cards as they feasted. Then relaxing on the pond by night. But even as their numbers grew slowly throughout the autumn, they thinned suddenly. One day there were a dozen birds. Then six. Then the only two.
At last, even these left us. That day, the goslings burst from their straw bed in the garage, flapping out to greet their wild cousins, and finding only an  empty landscape. But they took it better than I expected.
No, my fledglings assume the “easy come easy go” attitude we humans envy. Life is good for them, given a bit of grain and grass and drink. It is in part this quality of peace that attracts me. Pulls me outside to tempt them close. To touch and sometimes even hold one of them close for a time. Stroking their soft neck feathers, searching their bright amber eyes for some hint who they are and laughing as they pull gently at wisps of my hair.
This is pure joy. In fact, for me, there is no more potent nostrum for bringing about a state of peace and calm. And, at times like these, I have to admit, I am grateful they cannot fly away. And I fanciful imagine that they are as well.

Cook County Local Energy Project

CCLEP and Higher Ed sponsor energy workshop for contractors

Cclep_workshop_repackage_20121022.mp34.74 MB
Cook County Higher Education (CCHE) and Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP) will host a Residential Energy Workshop for area contractors, builders and anyone interested in residential energy issues. 

The workshop will take place Saturday, October 27th at the Higher Ed North Shore Campus in Grand Marais. Sign-in and registration is from 7:30 – 8:00 with the workshop from 8:00 – 4:30.  Lunch will be served.  To register, call Higher Ed at 387-3411.

(Click on audio mp3 file above to hear an interview about the workshop with CCLEP coordinator Virginia Danfelt.)  

Presenter Don Sivigny will cover residential energy issues that include ventilation and building science strategies, building durability, radon gas and an introduction to the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Mr. Sivigny, MN State Energy Specialist since 2001 and Sr. Building Code Representative in the State Building Code unit, is known nationally for his work with building codes, building durability, air quality, energy and green building issues. He is a certified building official, licensed builder with MN, and HRAE certified in residential mechanical ventilation systems designs and installations. Sivigny has sat on the State Education Committee, the Annual Institute for Building Officials Committee, and the Board of Directors for the regional chapter of ICC. He was awarded the Russell Smith Educator of the year award in 2005 and has authored 2 books on energy issues and building energy codes and contributed to 6 other publications. 
This workshop is part of the educational component of CCLEP’s Residential Energy Efficiency Program, REEP, and is made possible, in part, by a grant from Clean Energy Resource Team (CERT) and support from Cook County/Grand Marais EDA, Buck’s Hardware Hank, Isak Hansen Inc., Superior Lumber and Sports, and Sawtooth Lumber.   

Jupiter (bright object at top of photo), Venus and The Moon (Dave Schumaker/Flickr)

Northern Sky: Jupiter, opposition and more in October

FinalCut_NSky_20121022.mp33.85 MB

Deane Morrison is a science writer at the University of Minnesota, where she authors the Minnesota Starwatch column. In the second half of October, we get a closer look at Jupiter, Venus is in the morning sky, there's a full "hunters" moon, and much more.

Read this month's Starwatch column.

Tamarack (Kim Faires/Flickr)

Wildersmith October 19

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The Wildersmith two are back on the Mile O Pine following a run south for a family visit and reunion with some great friends from my pre-northwoods days. Once more I’m indebted to Rosey, the Hungry Jack Lake canine and her dad, for filling in during my absence.
Our southern trip found the fall progress in that area to be somewhat lagging compared to where we are here in border country. We returned to an autumn segment that is taking its final bows.
This final curtain call finds the tamaracks in full golden splendor, with some having already shed their gilded needles. Meanwhile the great white and red pines, along with other coniferous cousins throughout the Wildersmith neighborhood, have completed their annual needle dispensation, leaving the cooling earth textured in a fawn-colored carpet.
The deciduous part of the forest has seen the last of its summer canopy as few leaflets are left clinging. These trees have taken on that skeleton look for October. The scraggy branches lurking from a zillion different angles and directions surely seem to make this part of the universe one of the spookiest Halloween scenarios. A bit scary, yes, but still beautiful in a unique demeanor.
Dryness along the Gunflint byway has not improved, although the rain gauge did contain about one-third inch upon my return. From the looks of several summer posies scattered about our deck and yard, there must have been some frosty cold nights since the departure.
With exception of getting daytime temperatures cooled to accept the white stuff, I would say that Mother Nature is in readiness for a snowy coating that will endure until next May. Some of us year-round wilderness critters can hardly wait; it’s almost November!
In spite of my desire to get our snow season under way, I must say that being away from the usual “getting ready for winter” tasks for eight days has put me behind. Thus the coming days are faced with a stepped-up attention to things like snow plow mounting, window-washing and sealing, sand-bucket filling and the rotation to winter wheels/tires, to name but a few. There’ll be no slacking off from now on, and I would guess that other residents are also making preparations with haste.
My return to the woods has found the beginning of silent times. It is quiet now except for the whisper of wind through the pines and an occasional rustling of fallen leaves.
The usual gang of wild things that frequents feeding stations around our yard seems to have been confused by my recent truancy. They’re most often flitting and scurrying about in anticipation of a handout, but many of the regulars are noticeably missing upon this homecoming. I’m assuming that they will be checking back soon as they hear the clatter of renewed activity around the place.
With the annual MEA hiatus from state educational activities, this weekend will be the last fling for many visitors coming into the area until cross-country ski season commences. It’s “moose madness” time throughout the county. Hopefully, the moose will not be “mad”, and will come out for a few photo ops while avoiding shots from a brave hunter’s slug.
Still can’t figure out why we are shooting even one of these northern icons when the herd is going through such a dreadful time of rapidly dwindling numbers. As usual, in Minnesota, like all over our country, it must be a greed and money issue. Certainly, common sense is not the prevailing consideration.
Your last chance in 2012 to visit some north woods magic at Trail’s end is Sunday, as the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center will be closing for the season. The third year of operation has again been highly successful. Huge thanks are extended to all in the Gunflint Community who pitched in with volunteer energy, and to everyone from points all over the globe who stopped by to learn a little bit about the Gunflint Trail story.
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor a forest of silent beauty!

Airdate: October 19, 2012

Bull Moose

West End News: October 18

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I was honored to be a part of an event that involved many West End residents last week, when Trevor Huggins of Tofte was married to Erin Bonner on the beach at Kadunce creek.  The couple asked me to preside over their marriage vows.  Many people are surprised to hear that I could do this, because they know full well that I am not a minister or an officer of the court.  I became a minister a few years ago by sending $15 to a church in California that sent me a nice certificate proclaiming that I am ordained by the Universal Life Church and have all the rights and privileges to perform the duties of the ministry.
I originally thought, as anyone would, that this is a somewhat sketchy arrangement from a dubious church.  I was pleasantly surprised, though, when I went to the church’s website.  It is a real church, but it is completely ecumenical, welcoming members of any, all or no faiths.  They were very up-front about saying that their $15 ordination program was specifically designed to enable friends to legally perform weddings, funerals and baptisms for their friends.  They made a strong pitch to take any such ceremonies seriously and warned against representing yourself as a “real” minister.  They also recommended that engaged couples seek out professional marriage counseling, from someone with real training, before they tie the knot.
I think Trevor and Erin’s wedding was certainly a lovely success, with a meaningful ceremony on the beach, followed by an amazing potluck and dance at the Hovland Town Hall.  Congratulations to the lovely couple and my profound thanks for including me in their special day.
Al Hodnick is the CEO and Chair of Allete, which is the parent company of Minnesota Power, who operates the Taconite Harbor power plant in Schroeder.  He was in the West End recently to have a conversation with the Taconite Harbor Community Advisory Panel, which is a representative group of citizens from Lake and Cook counties that meet monthly to learn and discuss on issues related to the power plant.  Al is certainly not your typical corporate CEO.  He was born and raised in Aurora and worked his way up through the company from the entry level to the top leadership.  His style is friendly, forthright and familiar to anyone from northern Minnesota.  He has a complicated job, to put it mildly, but the main concern for Taconite Harbor is that sometime in the not-too-distant future, the 50-year-old, coal-burning power plant may be forced to shut down due to concern about carbon dioxide and its contribution to climate change.  Some coal-fired power plants will be able to switch to natural gas and keep operating, but this is unlikely to happen at Taconite Harbor because gas isn’t available here and would be too expensive to bring in.  Minnesota Power has always been a good corporate citizen in this region with deep ties to the community.  I appreciate that they are being up front about the potential closing of the plant and keeping everyone well-informed as the process plays out.
Care Partners recently gave a presentation at Senior Lunch at Birch Grove in Tofte.  Trained Care Partners volunteers provide friendly visits, phone check-ins, and presence at the end of life. They may visit, play cards, or work on a legacy project. Care Partners focuses on supporting the family and caregivers.  You can call the Care Partners Nurse for more information at 387-3787 or email  More info is available on the North Shore Health Care Foundation website.
Birch Grove School PTO's Halloween Carnival is Sunday, Sept. 28 from 2 to 4 p.m.  There will be bingo, a spooky house, prizes, lunch, games and a cakewalk.  If you can bring a cake, people will be there until 6 on Friday. Or, you can just bring it with you on Sunday.
On Nov. 1, the Violence Prevention Center will host a facilitated small group discussion titled "Focus on Safe/Healthy Relationships" at Birch Grove. This is part of the Violence Prevention Center’s ongoing work to figure out how we can all work to maintain and promote a safe community for everyone. Please call the Violence Prevention Center at 387-1237 or sign up on Birch Grove Foundation's Facebook page.
Congratulations to Silver Bay Fire Chief John Fredrickson, who has been nominated to be Minnesota Fire Officer of the Year by the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs’ Association. John is a Silver Bay native who has made many contributions to his community over the years and the honor is well-deserved.
Moose season ended last week.  It has become a pretty low-key affair with so few moose and so few hunters.  Of the groups I talked to, about half got a moose and about half went home empty-handed. 
Three Sawbill crewmembers were driving home from a climbing tip to Carlton peak last week when they had an uncomfortably close encounter with a huge bull moose.  First it ran in front of the car, then turned and charged straight back at them. The driver was able to gun it away from the unhappy bull, but just a short distance later was forced to pull over with a flat tire.  They changed the tire with one nervous eye cast behind them, in case the angry moose caught up to them.  Fortunately, everything ended peacefully.
For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.

Airdate: October 18, 2012

Photo courtesy of Visit Anchorage PR via Flickr.

Lake Superior

Anishinaabe Way: A Sip of Lake

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Rick Anderson owns Sweetgrass Cove Guesthouse & Bodywork Studio in Grand Portage, and is a member of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. In this edition of Anishinaabe Way, Rick shares a poem about Lake Superior.


Lumberjacks circa 1900.

Moments in Time: Schroeder's logging legacy

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At the turn of the 20th century, northeastern Minnesota was teeming with lumberjacks, drawn by virgin forests of pine, fir, spruce, birch, aspen, and cedar.  The town of Schroeder, on the West End of Cook County, traces its heritage and its name to this era in North Shore history.  Produced by Carah Thomas.

Lumberjack photo via Wikimedia Commons (photo in public domain).

Elementary Teacher Natalie Shaw

School News from Sawtooth Elementary, October 15

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Natalie Shaw is the new 1st grade teacher for Sawtooth Elementary School.  Natalie began her career with Sawtooth Elementary and is excited to be back working with her delightful 1st grade students.  This week, Natalie brings us Sawtooth Mountain Elementary School News.

Nosey Rosey

Nosey Rosey October 12

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Nosey Rosey takes over for Wildersmith on the Gunflint this week, and she's been busy! She’s been grouse hunting on the Gunflint Trail, making new friends, looking for deer and rabbits, as well as taking plenty of naps. In this edition of Nosey Rosey, our favorite canine correspondent brings us another report from up the Gunflint.