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AM Community Calendar/photo by masochismtango on Flickr

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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:
Dr. Seth Moore working with radio-collared moose.

Dr. Seth Moore: Moose & Wolf Studies at Grand Portage

Finalcut_Seth_Moore_20111026.mp39.09 MB

October 26, 2011

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 a historic fur trade site with spectacular northwoods Lake Superior shoreline.

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's A.M. Calendar program, talking about the band's current and ongoing projects.

In this segment, Dr. Moore talks about two studies currently underway at Grand Portage Trust Lands; one tracking moose via satellite radio collars, and another analyzing wolf scat to determine prey species.   Produced by Carah Thomas.

Photo courtesy Grand Portage Trust Lands

Bob, with Kelly (Photo by Carah Thomas)

Behind the Work: Bob Brandt, Driving Instructor

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Bob Brandt has served as Cook County's Drivers Education instructor for 14 years. In this edition of Behind the Work, WTIP's Kelly Schoenfelder gets behind the wheel with Bob as he shares his philosophies on working with teenagers as they learn to drive.

Music in this feature:
"Lost in Detroit" -Rolfe Kent (Up in the Air-Music from the Motion Picture)
"Ceremony" -New Order (International)
"Little Honda" -Yo La Tengo (I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One)

Feeling under pressure to get all those projects buttoned up before the snow flies? Tis' the season! Photo by wwarby on flickr

Gunflint Notebook: Pressure

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This time of year is a season of preparation. It's a race against the clock, the clock of seasonal change. It happens quick. The list of things “To Do” adds pressure cooker-type pressure which Steve is feeling in this edition of Gunflint Notebook.

"How's that for warm and cuddly?"

Wildersmith October 28

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Who would believe that October has come and almost gone? There she goes on the flurry of wings things headed south. November is creeping in on wilderness folk, like a ghost sneaking across the border.

Better late than never, the late month rain has finally favored us with our annual autumn aroma. One day last week, I got a fragrant whiff of that delicious damp woods ground and decomposing leaves that almost escaped us in the long dry weeks of this transition season.

Now’s a time for waiting, waiting for that great northern express to roll over the Canadian hills on those winds of month 11. The quiet wrinkles often forming on the smaller lakes by now have not had their ticket punched, and the gray clouds of the past days are bulging with what might be a belly full of snow. They are just waiting for an uplift to pierce them for the first big delivery of winter. I for one can hardly wait!

In the meantime, trends of the season are happening in stride. Tamarack spires, which now light up the forest, are about to sift gentle needles down to their final resting place, thus extinguishing the final sign of flora life in 2011. Whitetails are growing into amorous moods, and the last of spring-born waterfowl are just a skim of ice away from moving on. An inquisitive weasel stuck its head out of a hole the other day and it’s almost an ermine.

Yours truly has also made another move in anticipation and hope for that first white blanketing, by hooking on the snow blade. I’ve noticed that happening at a couple other places along the Trail too. Those involved with the cross-country ski business have been busy mowing and cleaning up the miles of trails throughout the territory. I would guess that pretty much everything is in readiness for a visit from the Old Man of the North.

The colder trend of late has excited some of the avian critters in the neighborhood. My gray jay pal has been coming each morning about daybreak to see if I’m out serving breakfast. However, I’ve yet to get out there in time to greet it with a hand full of treats.

In recent days, my tramping around outdoors has found the chickadees swarming about my cap. A few red-breasted nuthatches have been busy chirping about their expectations too.

Thank goodness I have at least some sunflower seeds on hand, as I see that the price has gone through the roof. It makes me wonder if there is anything that ‘big oil’ doesn’t control in this country.

I’ve been told by one winged critter provider, who went to a lesser menu item, that the blue jays come in for a nibble and just spit it out. Guess we’ve created a gourmet attitude that may require some adjusting. Come to think of it, more than just the birds need an attitude adjustment these days!

In my last couple trips up and down the Trail, I’ve come across several foxes. They are rapidly accumulating that fine winter coat, and those feather-duster tails are magnificent. I can just imagine them curled up in winter quarters with that fabulous furry appendage drawn up and around in insulation against the northern elements. How’s that for warm and cuddly?

Keep on hangin’ on, and savor a thought of the next wilderness adventure!

Airdate: October 28, 2011

Photo courtesy of Mike Baird via Flickr.

High-speed internet

Cook County OKs 1% money to Arrowhead broadband

The Cook County Board of Commissioners Tuesday signed an agreement to designate $4 million in 1% sales tax dollars to help finance Arrowhead Electric Coop’s broadband build-out.

The agreement recognized Arrowhead’s receipt of an aggregate amount of $16,137,484 under the federal Broadband Initiative Program. The money is designated for building broadband infrastructure in the areas of Cook County served by the Arrowhead and Grand Marais electric utilities.

The county board agreed with Arrowhead’s request that their project meets the requirements of the sales tax language passed by voters in 2009. The law and subsequent referendum specifically states part of the sales tax is to be used for “the construction and improvement of a county-wide high-speed communications infrastructure network.”

The $4 million in sales tax money will be used to fill in deficiencies in the federal funding in order to complete the project by the end of 2013 due date.

According to County Attorney Tim Scannell, who drafted the agreement, there are safeguards in the language. Among other things, the county will forward sales tax funds only after they receive documentation that the work billed has been completed satisfactorily. Progress is also reported on a regular basis to the Rural Utilities Service, administrator of the federal grant and loan to Arrowhead.


Polar River valley

Ski Hill to continue taking water from Poplar River during drought

The DNR said on Wednesday that it's taking steps to let Lutsen Mountains keep drawing water for its snow-making operations despite a drought that has caused the river running through the north shore ski area to dwindle to a relative trickle.

A new state law that allows Lutsen Mountain Corp. to draw up to 150 million gallons from the Poplar River this fall normally would require it to quit pumping when the flow falls below 15 cubic feet per second for more than five straight days. The DNR said the river, a designated trout stream, has been near that threshold for weeks.

But the law lets the DNR issue a special permit for "just cause." Given that the resort is an anchor of the local economy, the DNR is citing the potential economic impacts and is taking public comments through Nov. 4.

In a statement issued yesterday, Lutsen Mountains Co-President Charles Skinner thanked the DNR for its use of the “just cause” provision. He said, “by issuing this additional permit, the ski area will be able to continue to make snow on the same basis it has in past years.”

But DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr also said the Poplar River is not a long-term sustainable source for the ski area. He said Lutsen and legislators need to commit themselves to finding an alternative, probably Lake Superior.

Skinner said the corporation, for various environmental reasons, has come to the conclusion they need to find a water source other than the Poplar River. “We are therefore aggressively working on engineering and a financing plan to secure public funding for a pipeline from Lake Superior as our primary source,” he said.

Lutsen estimates it would cost more than $3 million to install a pipeline to Lake Superior that would meet its needs.


The Heart of the Continent Partnership has been meeting throughout the week

West End News Oct. 27

finalcut_WEN_20111027.mp39.87 MB

This is the time of year when the community turns its attention to the Birch Grove School and Community Center. First up is the popular and long-standing Birch Grove PTO Halloween Carnival. I can't remember when the carnival started, but it has long been an important community event in the West End. This year it falls on Sunday, Oct. 30 from 2 to 4 p.m. It includes games, bingo, costumes, a cakewalk, haunted house, treats and basically a wahoo good time for everyone. If you've attended in the past, you know what I mean. If you haven't attended before, I guarantee that it is big fun for kids of all ages. Of course, all the proceeds go to support the programs at Birch Grove.

Hard on the heels of the carnival comes the annual lutefisk dinner for Zoar Church, Nov. 12 in the Birch Grove gym. This will be the first year that the lutefisk will be prepared in the beautifully remodeled school and community kitchen. I assume the kitchen design took into account the rigors of lutefisk preparation, including adequate ventilation. When my kids were students at Birch Grove they claimed that they could smell the lutefisk for two weeks after the event. All kidding aside, this is a great West End community event, and ham is also on the menu for those few people who don't love lutefisk.

Next up is the Birch Grove Foundation's annual Papa Charlie's dinner and dance at Lutsen Mountains. Save the date for Friday, Nov. 18. Dinner and the silent auction run from 4 until 8 p.m. The fine local band, D'Merritt, will play for dancing from 8 until they stop. Most, if not all, of the labor and supplies for this event are donated, which makes it an exceptionally good fundraiser for all the great things that the Birch Grove Foundation does.

As I speak, I am in the far east end of Cook County attending the Heart of the Continent Partnership conference at the Grand Portage Lodge and Casino. The Heart of the Continent Partnership is an informal coalition of public land managers and local stakeholders from both sides of the international boundary in northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Ontario. It includes public land managers, business owners, non-profit groups, elected officials, and virtually anyone with an interest in the truly beautiful ecosystem that includes Lake Superior, the Superior National Forest, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Quetico Provincial Park, Voyageurs National Park, the Chippewa Tribal lands, First Nation lands, many smaller state and provincial parks, and various units of government from local to national. The idea of Heart of the Continent is to create a regional identity around our shared ecosystem and cooperate in exploring how we can work together to improve the economic health and sustainability of the region.

The four-day conference is the first of its kind for this region. It is especially valuable in bringing Canadians and Americans together to see what we have in common. When you combine the long driving distances and the inconvenience of crossing the border, we almost never see each other, even though we live very near each other as the crow flies. The most immediate benefit of this effort is just getting to know one another and acknowledge that we are all in the same boat. And the people at the conference are also working to launch specific projects that will improve and protect the already great quality of life in the region. Among others things, this includes cooperative marketing to studying problems and solutions related to climate change.

It almost goes without saying that much of the discussion revolves about how we can best take advantage of the outstanding natural features of lakes, rivers, forest, trails and wilderness that are so abundant here. Within the Heart of the Continent region there are more than 5 million acres of public land. The trick is to use these resources in a way that provides a rich and dignified life for local residents and is welcoming and fulfilling for visitors, while protecting the region's natural character for our children, grandchildren and beyond. On the personal level, I've enjoyed revisiting Thunder Bay's Old Fort William Historical Park, where the first half of the conference was held, and the Grand Portage community, where the second half was held.

Although the leaves are now fully down, the tamaracks are at their golden peak. While November can be a cruel month here in the northland, it does have its own stark beauty. I have my fingers crossed for the lakes to freeze smoothly this year, because skating on "wild ice" is never far from my mind. I think it would be interesting to explore the Pagami Creek fire on skates, but failing that, on ski or snowshoes for sure.

Northern shrike

Fall to winter -- the changing of the seasons

ChangingSeasons.mp313.53 MB

Fall moves toward winter – sometimes in slow motion, sometimes quickly.  Jay Andersen of WTIP North Shore Community Radio spoke to local naturalist Chel Anderson about snow buntings, shrikes and deer in the changing season.

At her first job, Ada spent most of her time planning what she would do outside of work

Of Woods and Words: The Weekend Warrior

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About six months out of college, I discovered what it meant to “live for the weekend.” I’d just started as an administrative assistant for an extremely small international accounting recruitment firm. This start-up company seemed to think it needed an administrative assistant. In reality, it did not. And since I was the one getting a paycheck out of the illusion, I wasn’t about to let them in on this little secret.

Every day, I spent 45 minutes commuting to a two-person office that they’d managed to cram three desks into. I was in a city far, far away from my friends and family and while the glamour of it all was enough to buoy me along for a while, eight hours with nothing to do each day was still a very long time. In those early days of Facebook, there simply wasn’t eight hours of Internet surfing to do every day as I waited for the phone to ring or my coworker to find some new task for me that would take all of 10 minutes to do.

So I spent my days in the stuffy office planning my weekends. The week became something to be conquered; the weekend something to savor. If I could make it through the week thinking of things to search on Wikipedia, I was rewarded with museums, movies, hikes, and other adventures for two whole days come Saturday and Sunday.

But I haven’t worked a conventional 9 to 5, Monday through Friday job for two and a half years. My two back-to-back days off come smack dab in the middle of everyone else’s work week and those days off are often consumed by side projects like this here writing gig. While my schedule makes perfect sense to most people in this community where seasonal and hospitality jobs reign supreme, I have a harder time explaining myself to farther flung friends. The weekend warrior I once was is a thing of the past, although it is necessary for me to put up a fight if I want a Saturday and Sunday off during the summer season.

As a result, I am not only the friend who moved back to her hometown, then took a left at the woods and kept going, I’m also the friend who is constantly sending her regrets. I say no to bachelorette parties, showers, and casual get-togethers. I am the girl who has to explain why it will be a minor miracle if I make it to a holiday weekend wedding, let alone be a bridesmaid. The weekend everyone else is savoring is just the middle of the week to me.

When a friend asked me commit to being a bridesmaid 10 months in advance of her Labor Day wedding, I balked. I had no idea how it would work for me to be gone for at least three days over one of the busiest weekends of the year. But when I pleaded the bride’s unreasonableness, another friend took the bride’s side. It probably would be helpful for the bride to have her wedding party figured out. Turns out she wasn’t being a stick in the mud: I was.

And if I’m the stick in the mud, it seems I’m destined to wallow in the muck for a while. I don’t see a return of breezy weekends in my future. As a sole employee, I have major problems finding alternative staffing for weekends and will continue to have trouble until I get a coworker or another job. Even when I do finagle a weekend away, I often feel the weekends are exhausting, half-realized events. When it takes a good chunk of the day to get anywhere off the North Shore, the weekend jaunts are fleeting at best.

Anymore, my friends and I share a mutual confusion about weekends. I can’t understand how they can possibly need my bridesmaid dress measurements 10 months in advance; they can’t understand why I can’t commit to a weekend 10 months in advance. The distance between us is apparent not only by the miles, but also our differing weekend cultures. We’ve started to speak different languages.

TGIF? What’s that?

Airdate: October 17, 2011

Photo courtesy of Michael Gil via Flickr.

Bret Higgins, Miranda Mulholland, Tony Dekker, Erik Arnesen, and Greg Millson

The Great Lakes Swimmers front man on his music, songwriting and upcoming performance in Grand Marais

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The Great Lakes Swimmers hail from Toronto, Ontario. The band is known for its haunting sound and for pushing the musical boundaries of folk, country and indy-rock. For a project that has seen a slow upward trajectory since its humble beginnings in 2001, the Great Lake Swimmers are suddenly getting exponentially more attention across North America and Europe. The band will be performing in Grand Marais on Friday, Sept. 16 during the Mountain Stage Program at the North House Folk School. Tony Dekker is the band’s front man and he spoke with WTIP about the songs he writes and where his inspiration comes from.