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North Shore Morning

AM Community Calendar/photo by masochismtango on Flickr

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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!

 


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Dalmatian Toadflax

'PlayCleanGo' event focuses on stopping spread of invasives, June 13

This Saturday is “PlayCleanGo” day – part of a national campaign to educate the public on the risks of transporting invasive plants. WTIP volunteer Yvonne Mills spoke with Laurel Wilson, Cook and Lake County Invasive Species Coordinator, on North Shore Morning.

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PlayCleanGo Day - Saturday, June 13th
The Cook County Invasive Species Team is staffing a booth at Cascade River State Park and we are planning a variety of family fun activities and invasive plant tours. Saturday is also National Get Outdoors Day and Minnesota State Park Open House Day. Visitors to Minnesota State Parks receive free admission.

 

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Ollie i Skratthult Poster

Cook County Historical Society hosts June 19 fishcake dinner fundraiser

A fishcake dinner fundraiser, several new exhibits, plus tours of the harbor are summer events offered by the Cook County Historical Society. WTIP volunteer Yvonne Mills spoke with Carrie McHugh of the Cook County Historical Society on North Shore Morning. 
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The Cook County Historical Society’s Annual Fishcake Dinner
Friday, June 19 at 5:30 pm

Special guest talk by Phil Anderson about the world famous Swedish Vaudeville performer Olle i Skratthult.
Fishcakes and a full meal—all you can eat until it is gone! No reservations required.

Broadway and 5th Street, Grand Marais

For information: history@boreal.org or 387-2883
 

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Monarch on Milkweed - Photo by Wplynn on Flickr

Magnetic North: Planting for butterflies

Welcome back to Magnetic North where Mother Nature has decided to give us the cold shoulder off and on. After several weeks of faux summer and a few gentle drenchings to turn all things green, she gave us rain, wind, frost and even a brief snow shower.

But am I bitter? Heck no.

For once, and probably for the only time, I have used Mommy Dearest’s fickle nature to my advantage. Because this weekend I sowed five packets of milkweed seeds in the meadow down by the cattail stand. 

Milkweed seeds, unlike just about any other seeds I know of, like to chill a bit after germination. And where better to do that than in the on-again-off-again warm, then cold, then hot, then frosty Cook County June.

Now friends tell me that growing milkweed - a favorite food of Monarch butterflies - is tricky when starting from seed. 

Frankly, the whole venture is a gamble, with the gorgeous black and orange butterfly declining in numbers over the past few years. Migrating from Canada to Mexico then back again, the Monarch is simply running out of food. Our bad, of course. We gobbled up the fields where their milkweed grows to plant corn and big box stores.

Still, I believe that the most fragile appearing living things on our planet often are the most tenacious in clinging to life. Butterflies certainly fit that description.

A few winters ago, I read a book centered on Monarch butterfly migratory challenges. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver is part apocalyptic fantasy, part woman’s coming into her own. The novel is rich in unpleasant truths about the plight of Monarchs as their food sources disappear. And though it is long and pretty frightening, I highly recommend the book for its beautiful images painted in prose.

But as disturbing as I found the biological truths in Flight Behavior, I also found hope. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been clumping around my cattail wallow broadcasting milkweed seeds last week. 

As I let the mahogany-colored flat seed pods fly from my palm to the loamy earth around the cattails, I remembered my granddaughter Jane dancing in a cloud of Monarchs in my back yard several summers ago.

She was out there simply to pick dandelion flowers for a garland. The lawn seemed a solid carpet of yellow that day. And the warm breeze off the meadow made basking in the August sun a truly delicious experience, with the dandelion heads releasing their pungent perfume. Jane bent at the waist carefully choosing her garland specimens when suddenly she started. For no apparent reason, Monarchs, hundreds of them, were swirling about the six-year-old's bare legs. Tickling and delighting her.

And yes, I had my camera. For once. Drawn upright like a marionette, Jane merged into the flashing orange and black wings, giggling and shrieking to “Look!” “Look!” 

Honestly, I don’t even need to look at those photos to remember vividly that miraculous dance. My beautiful little blonde girl - the prima ballerina in a Monarch ballet. That’s when I fell in love with the creatures. 

And I am not alone in feeling that way. I have it on good authority - Google, of course - that the butterfly, any butterfly, carries all kinds of good portents on its fragile wings. Immortality of the soul, in ancient Greece. Fertility, love and summer breezes in China. Joy and longevity in Japan. And they are pretty and make little girls giggle when kissed by them.

My Jane isn’t a little girl anymore. She is an eye-rolling tween and doubtless will not be looking for flowers for garlands when she visits me this August. But along with her big brother, Jackson, I am confident that she will still insist on pumping the old well’s clunky hand pump and holding assorted bunnies and chasing around the pond and meadow with Zooey and Jethro, my two bone-headed labs.

Along with that, though, I hope that Jane will also find herself admiring butterflies, Monarch butterflies, as they partake of some succulent homegrown milkweed. If not, I’ll show her the pictures of the butterfly ballet she starred in when she was “little.” And I will tell her, “they’ll be back.” Because I do have hope. And because I do so want Jane to have butterflies in her world. 

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Rose Arrowsmith-Decoux

Stage Door - Rose Arrowsmith Decoux

‘Stage Door’ takes us behind the scenes at the Grand Marais Playhouse. It’s a chance to meet the artists involved in our local theater…in addition to the people involved in production at the Playhouse.
 
Stage door is produced by Tina Krauz for the Grand Marais Playhouse and WTIP. 

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{USDA /Flickr}

Surveying food waste at local businesses

How much food waste is out there in Cook County?  The Northwoods Food Project wants to know; they are surveying Cook County businesses that generate food waste.    North Shore Morning host Sherrie Lindskog spoke with Molly Hoffman and Peter Igoe of the Northwoods Food Project on North Shore Morning.
 

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American Red Start - Guatemala {Dennis Jarvis /Flickr}

Bird Banding at Sugarloaf Cove

Birds are active along the shore, and Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center is studying them.  North Shore Morning host Julie Carlson spoke with naturalist Margie Menzies on North Shore Morning.  
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Bird banding sessions:  Saturdays June 6, June 13; Friday June 19; Thursdays June 25 –August 27.  Hands on, drop-in sessions, anytime 7am - noon.  Sugarloaf’s naturalist will be banding birds to help scientists understand more about North Shore birds. 
 

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: June 5

As Gunflint Country bid adieu to May, an exasperated “old man winter” took a brief swipe at the area. A couple mornings found low temps in the twenties at some locations. And believe it or not, a couple snow squalls blew through the Seagull/Sag/Gunflint Lakes around eight hundred hours on Saturday.               

The cold had many gardeners on edge for sure. At Wildersmith, we skimmed some ice on the bird-watering shell, and I overheard one fellow’s comment about the cold snap, suggesting “he guessed we’ve had our summer.”

Since that time, conditions have upgraded as our month of the full “strawberry moon” closes in on week one. It seems hard to grasp we are into month six, and his “lunar highness” is already into the books.  What a beautiful moon it was.                                                                                                                                              

We had some swell days, most of which ended with those magnificent “Canadian Sunsets” over Gunflint Lake. Those molten iron beams from “old Sol” as he called it a day in our land of “sky blue waters” remain spell-binding. There aren’t enough descriptors to duly honor the fiery reflections rippling up the lake during warm season evenings.

A couple miniscule showers over the past week helped put the finishing touch on border land green-up.  We are now consumed with foliage to the point where one can no longer look into the woods and see some critter looking back. All sorts of wild perennial blooms are popping out, and we’ve harvested rhubarb from the Wildersmith yard.

More moose sightings have come in than I’ve heard in several years. This is good! One fellow tells of counting six north woods icons in the past week, all being in varying locations along the “Trail” so they obviously were not the same one.

A couple reported seeing a cow and her calf in the swamp opposite side of the road from Mayhew Lake. Meanwhile a gal residing on Leo Lake had a young bull casually wander through her yard and briefly step out onto her dock for a little sight-seeing. If she’d been calling for “all hands on deck” this was surely more than one could expect. I’ve included a digital of this gawky guy with his velvet head dress along my website column at WTIP.org.

Other babies are now coming into the world, notably, whitetail fawns. Folks are reminded to leave them alone if found lying quietly in apparent abandonment. Momma deer often leave them for short periods of time, and are generally not too far away. In other words, don’t fool with “Mother Nature.”

Members, residents/visitors are reminded of the first summer meeting for the Gunflint Trail Historical Society. The gathering will be held at the Seagull Lake Community Center this coming Monday, June 8.

Beginning at 1:30 pm, after a brief GTHS business meeting, Mr. Steve Elliot, Director of the Minnesota State Historical Society, will speak about issues related to the Gunflint Trail. As usual, treats and conversation will follow.

GTHS members and friends are invited to the second annual “Shrimp Boil.” This fundraising event, which will include a bake sale, was a delicious success last year so mark your calendars for Sunday, June 14, and don’t miss it! The event will be held at the Seagull Lake Community Center beginning at 4:00 pm.

Keep on hangin’ on, and savor some Gunflint magic!

(Photo by Lee Zopff)

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Superior National Forest Update: June 5

Hi.  I’m Mary Ann Atwood, administrative support assistant on the Gunflint Ranger District, with this week’s edition of the Superior National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For the week of June 5, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
After several days of soaking rains, this weekend looks like an opportune time to get outdoors.  With the forest greening-up and the rain, the fire danger has been greatly reduced.
Fire crews completed the 130 acre Hungry burn June 1 & 2. If you are interested in taking a look at the burn area and watching the post fire environment, you’ll find it one mile past Devil Track Campground on the north side of the road.  You may be surprised at how fast the forest recovers.
Speaking of recovering forests, our silviculturists have completed their spring planting season.  275,000 trees were planted across the Tofte and Gunflint Districts.  Several of those trees were equipped with paper ‘bud caps’.  Now…they may look a bit silly, but these white pieces of paper stapled onto the tops of saplings protect them from hungry deer.
Two active logging operations continue on the Superior.  Continue to keep an eye out for logging trucks on the Shoe Lake and Greenwood Roads, as well as along the Gunflint Trail, the Four Mile Grade and on Forest Road 369.
 
The Boundary Waters Expo, organized by the Cook County Visitors Bureau, starts Friday June 12.   Forest Service participation includes presentations from Forest historian and archeologist Lee Johnson, recreation assistant ranger Suzanne Cable, and interpretive naturalist Steve Robertsen.  Details are available on the Visitors Bureau website “visit cook county dot com”.
Superior’s Wildlife biologists have been “Battling for the Bats”.  Bats are contending with the threat of white nose syndrome, a disease from Europe that kills 90% or more of the bats in an infected hibernating location.  This week, biologists have been staying up late!  They’re netting and banding bats along the Gunflint Trail in an effort to find out more about the Minnesota bat population before the disease strikes here.  Some of the bats are being equipped with tiny radio transmitters which enable biologists to track the bats to their roosting spots.  For those of us who may have a bit of a “problem” with bats… well, keep in mind their estimated value in pest control to agriculture is 3.7 to 53 billion dollars each year.   AND that’s in addition to their reducing the mosquito population.
Visiting the Grand Marais lighthouse this weekend?  Few people realize that Artist Point is actually part of the Superior National Forest.  There are two new information packed signs.   For instance, did you know that two large observation towers had once been located there?  We’d like to thank the Cook County Historical Society for providing historical photos and research help, as well as Paul Sundberg for the use of his photographs.
I’ll close with another bit of Forest trivia:
Did you know that the Superior has the highest and lowest elevation points in the state of Minnesota?  Think about it.
Have a great weekend, enjoy the Forest. 
Until next week, this has been Mary Ann Atwood with the Superior National Forest Update. 
 

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West End News: June 4

 
I enjoyed Brian Larsen’s article in the Cook County News Herald about the history of the Schliep family at the Taconite Harbor power plant in Schroeder. There is no living person with more knowledge of the plant than Jim Schliep of Tofte. 
 
Jim’s son, Tim, and grandson, Jory, work at the power plant now, keeping the Schliep family tradition going forward. The picture in the paper made it clear that the Schlieps are getting taller with each successive generation. If the trend continues, Jory’s kids will be professional basketball players.
 
Unfortunately, the occasion for the Schliep family reunion at the power plant was the permanent closing of Unit 3, the largest and newest of the three turbine units at the plant. Although they are ten years older, Units 1 and 2 were retrofitted with 50 millon dollars worth of pollution reduction equipment about 8 years ago, so as the dirtiest of the three units, #3 had to be closed for owner Minnesota Power to meet clean air regulations.
 
Minnesota Power has been up-front with the community about the closing of Unit 3 and the eventual closing of the entire power plant. That is, of course, a hardship for the West End and the entire region. It’s never a good thing when good paying jobs are lost within our small population.
 
Minnesota Power has looked long and hard at how they could keep the Taconite Harbor Energy Center functioning, but its location and age make every alternative too expensive. There is no hard date for the closing of the remaining two units, but it appears to be inevitable.
 
It’s always difficult when global conditions hit home at the local level, but nothing lasts forever, and there are very good reasons that the old, inefficient coal fired power plants are at the end of their usefulness to society. There could well be another generation’s worth of work at Taconite Harbor as the plant lives out the rest of its life and then is decommissioned.  
 
All we can do as a community is look to the future. If we tap the skills and work ethic of the Schliep family and the many other local people with ties to Taconite Harbor, hopefully we can make the best of a bad situation.
 
The winds of change affect every industry. This season’s display at the Cross River Heritage Center in Schroeder is titled “Lost Resorts.”  It provides a glimpse of more than 50 resorts that operated in the West End since the early 1930s. Only eight of those resorts are still in business today. 
 
On the surface, it sounds like the tourism business has suffered a severe decline, but the opposite is actually true. The tourism economy in the West End is bigger and healthier than it’s ever been. The big reduction in the number of resorts is, in my opinion, the result of market forces that made the little “Ma and Pa” resorts unprofitable, leading to the rise of the large, commercial resorts. Many of the small resorts morphed into large operations. In Tofte, for instance, Olsen’s Resort and Edgewater became Bluefin Bay, with many millions of dollars of new investment.
 
It’s natural to feel nostalgia for the old days, but in my opinion, we’re lucky that all the large resort properties in the West End are still owned by local people who live here and are active in community life. 
 
In any case, I hope you’ll join me in visiting the “Lost Resort” exhibit at the Cross River Heritage Center in Schroeder.
 
Also, mark your calendar for the Schroeder Area Historical Society Annual Meeting at the Heritage Center on Sunday, June 21, starting at 1 pm.  The speaker this year is Tim Cochrane, Superintendent of Grand Portage Monument, who will talk about the American Fur Company which had a strong connection to the West End. Tim is a fascinating speaker with a vast knowledge of our region’s history – and if that isn’t enough – ice cream will be served.
 
It seems like just yesterday that I was talking up an unknown little bike race called the Lutsen 99er. I don’t have to talk it up anymore as it has morphed, in just a few short years, to one of the premiere mountain bike races in the country. It not only provides a big shot of tourism revenue during race weekend, but it has put us on the map as a biking destination. Congratulations to all the West Enders who work so hard on this fantastic event. 
 

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All community members welcome at the Tennis Block Party on June 6

WTIP spoke to Lee Bergstrom, president of the Cook County Tennis Association, and Emily Marshall of the Cook County YMCA about the upcoming Tennis Block Party. This event will be held on June 6 at 10 am at the public tennis courts and will open to anyone, regardless of age or skill level. Listen in to hear more about the activities at this event.

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