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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:

Gus' Wild Side: Mojave Desert tortoises and an unexpected encounter

Gus recalls his research on the Mojave Desert tortoise, along with an encounter with another resident of the desert.

Gus’ Wild Side is a regular feature on WTIP. Gus writes about our connections to Nature as he explores wildness from the High Arctic to his own backyard along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

(Slideshow photos courtesy of Gus)



North Woods Naturalist: Sap and syrup

How does the maple sap run change with a warming climate? WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about the uncertainty of maple sap volume.

(Photo courtesy of Glass House on Flickr)


Grand Marais artist Neil Sherman visits Dave and Amy

A Year in the Wilderness: March 2 - On the move again

Cook County adventurers Dave and Amy Freeman are spending a year in the wilderness. On a regular basis they’ll be sharing some of their experiences traveling the BWCAW.

(Photo courtesy of Dave and Amy's Facebook page)



Northern Sky: March 5

Deane Morrison is a science writer at the University of Minnesota. She authors the Minnesota Starwatch column, and contributes to WTIP bi-weekly on the Monday North Shore Morning program through "Northern Sky," where she shares what's happening with stars, planets and more.

Opposition of Jupiter; a new moon on March 8; the Beehive; Mars, Saturn and Antares in the morning sky; moving to Daylight Savings Time on March 13.

(photo via Wikimedia Commons)



Wildersmith on the Gunflint: March 4

“Old Man Winter” remains in a fickle mood as I begin this week's Gunflint scoop. Our last weekend of February had one day of almost spring-like character and then slipped back into more normal seasonal conditions the next. 

Sunny skies and temps around the freezing mark had roof tops dripping last Saturday. Evening saw the thermometer crash rapidly and light snow was soon to follow. By Sunday morning at Wildersmith, the mercury was back near the zero mark and a few inches of fresh flocking had re-decked the forest.

February then went out like a lion, it was a real howling and not from the local wolf pack. Strong northwesterlies, the likes of which we have not seen this season, shook the house at times as “Mother Nature re-arranged our snow cover. The result is some splendid nature made snow sculptures. Talk about a capricious atmosphere!  

Strange happenings are going on deep within the bowels of our granite landscape. The normal flow of sub-surface springs into area ditches and culverts has not occurred. Thus, frozen culverts with the usual ice dam build up at the points of entry, is just not there. Although the inconvenience of these mini-glaciers is mitigated along many back country roads, it does not bid well for adequate run-off when the final meltdown occurs. The ability to replenish water levels on any number of upper Gunflint lakes looks to be alarming. 

It seemed as though the area was reasonably wet when fall was put to bed. But I guess such was not the case, as aquifers keeping liquid trickling under ice and snows apparently were drier than assumed. This scenario is also troublesome when flora begins to dry out in late April and May. We can only hope “El Nino” cools into oblivion during the next two months, and ushers in much needed rain before the June green-up. 

As it might relate to peculiar quirks of nature, there seems to be a chance the “great old man of the north” has put a spell on me. A couple weeks ago, I spent several hours cleaning heaps of snow off the roof, only to have it snow again one day after my job was completed.  Since then a few more droppings have built a lesser, but new accumulation. With the bright day of last Saturday, I decided to catch up once again. Sure enough, my clean roof job didn’t make it 24 hours this time, and more was predicted as I was keying this current report.  

Maybe Mr. Winter’s trying to get even with me for giving him such a bad time on a rather wimpy performance thus far. A connected thought comes to mind, with my kind regards for snow, if it takes cleaning off the roof to stimulate snow fall, perhaps I should spend more time on the ladder with my snow rake in hand. 

Furry weasel activity has been hot and heavy the past week. We had an after dark battle royal, apparently between two critters, leaving blood on the deck. Suppose it could have been two pine martens in confrontation over a poultry part, or maybe a marten and an un-suspecting flying squirrel. Regardless of the match-up, a winner cannot be announced. 

Two residents along the south Gunflint Lake shore report visits from a cousin of those pine martens. A fisher, or fishers, have been making nightly rounds at their places in the past few days. They could have been in this yard as well, based on some larger than usual marten-like trails around the place, but have not been observed. One neighbor shared a trail cam picture of one pilfering a chunk of suet from a bird feeding tray. The animal looked to be lush and healthy. Hopefully this guy/gal will avoid a trapper's doom.  

In spite of difficult ice conditions, the annual trout fishing derby is still a go for this coming Sunday.  Gunflint Lake ice is thick enough to support pedestrian anglers but not the usual vehicles. Fisher folks must sign in before setting out on their quest. Registration is between 9 and 11:00 am. All contest catches must be posted on the big board by 2 pm. The usual raffle, cook-off, and award ceremonies will be held near the boat launch area of Gunflint Lodge. Good luck to all!  

On a final note, speaking of fishing and angling fortunes, yours truly got an excited call last weekend from my grandson, Lane, of Sheldon, Iowa. He and his dad had been fishing behind the Lewis & Clark Dam near Yankton, SD, when he hooked into a monster. When finally pulled into the boat a 40-plus pound paddlefish was on the end of the line. What a day! “Google” tells of this finny creature being a kind of throwback to prehistoric times, but not too uncommon in some river systems. It was some kind of ugly, but certainly a fishing memory for the books.       

This is Fred Smith, on the trail, at Wildersmith!  The “March” is on!

(photo by via Wikimedia Commons)


Birch Grove Community School

School News from Birch Grove: March 3

Sophia and Silas report the latest School News.


Cascade River

West End News: March 3

Birch Grove Community Center was hopping on Tuesday night when 88 people showed up for the Democratic Farmer Labor Party caucus night. In Cook County as a whole, 462 Democrats participated in their party caucus. I’ve attended the caucuses pretty reliably for my whole adult life and I’m pretty  sure that this year set the all time participation record. It even beat 2008, when Senator Barack Obama was causing a lot of interest in the presidential race.
I couldn’t find specific numbers for the four Republican precincts in the West End, but county wide, 109 Republicans participated in their caucuses. Best guess is somewhere between 30 and 40 West Enders caucused with the Republicans, which is also a very good turnout.
One of the most interesting outcomes on the Democratic side was a resolution opposing the sulfide mining in Minnesota that passed easily in the precincts from the North Shore all the way through the greater Ely area. New polls are showing growing resistance to this new form of mining across the northland and around the state. The resolutions were careful to distinguish the difference between mining sulfide ores and the existing taconite mining, which is supported by the DFL Party.
The Birch Grove Community Center sure is looking busy and successful these days. It was great to see it bursting with happy and engaged community members, cheerfully engaged in making their community and country a better place for all.
As always, it was fun to see the students’ artwork on the walls. One especially eye-catching display featured the students work in a slide show displayed on computer tablets mounted on a hallway bulletin board.
Birch Grove Community School Board member, Sara Somnis called to tell me about ten computer tablets that were recently purchased for students to use. This is part of a major trend in education as sophisticated learning apps are becoming cheap and commonplace. This trend works especially well for small, but highly motivated rural schools like Birch Grove. Sara also reported that new laptops were purchased for each teacher, making their work easier and more efficient.
Birch Grove is selling its old desktop computers and accessories to community members. So far the sale has raised more than $600, which will be used to buy more tablets. Much equipment remains to be sold, so if you’re looking for an old, but serviceable desktop computer, or other computer furniture and equipment, call Caroline at Birch Grove to schedule a shopping trip.
In a not-unrelated item, remember that the annual meetings for the Townships of Lutsen, Tofte and Schroeder are on Tuesday, March 8. Voting stations at the town halls are open from 5 until 8 pm with the annual business meeting starting right away at 8. 
Township annual meetings are the essence of the old saying that “the world is run by those who show up.” The annual budget and the priorities for the coming year are literally proposed and voted up or down by the residents who attend the meeting.  It’s also a great way to meet your neighbors and eat a few cookies together.
I urge everyone to attend their township annual meeting and I especially urge all to vote in favor of significant township investment from all three towns in the Birch Grove Community School and the Birch Grove Community Center. In my opinion, it is money very well spent and provides tremendous benefit to the entire West End.
Word is out the Cascade River is in great shape for skiing. You can hike up past the falls from the highway to ski up the river, or you can get dropped off at the Pike Lake Road Bridge and ski down to the highway. My sources said the trail is solid, smooth and well broken for both ski and snowshoe travel.
The Temperance River is also looking good. When we get into the warm/cold-night cycle next week, it is likely to develop a good crust, which will make it an ideal track for skate skiers. Of course, any time you travel on a river you should travel in a group, stay alert for hazards and carry rescue ropes and dry clothing.
My motto is, “When the river skiing is good, drop everything and go!” I doubt that anyone ever lay on their deathbed and regretted too many river skis. It’s just one of the perks to living in the beautiful and ever-changing West End.

(Photo courtesy of Cascade Property Rentals)



North Woods Naturalist: Hard crust on the snow moon

Rain and freezing temperatures can dramatically change the nature of the snow pack. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about the hard crust on the snow moon.

(Photo by Creag on Flickr)



School News from Oshki Ogimaag: March 1

Matty reports the latest School News.



A Year in the Wilderness: February 25 - Reflecting in the sleet

Cook County adventurers Dave and Amy Freeman are spending a year in the wilderness. On a regular basis they’ll be sharing some of their experiences traveling the BWCAW.

(Photo courtesy of Dave and Amy's Facebook page)